A beautiful multicolored macaw has been snapped flying freely above UK’s Peak District National Park after receiving special training which allows him to soar across the sky on his own, taking in the views while his owner waits far below.
The incredible moments were caught on camera—of Motley the harlequin macaw having fun soaring through the air and taking in the spectacular scenery—by his owner, Chloe Brown.
The zoo biology student and part-time employee at the Royal School for the Deaf Derby has raised Motley since he was just over 21 weeks old, and even hand-fed him.
After researching free-flying—training birds to fly outdoors without any restraint and then return to their handler—Chloe realized the benefits it could provide him, including mental stimulation and exercise.
However, free-flying has to be done very carefully and takes a lot of effort and training due to the fact that, technically, parrots shouldn’t be kept as pets, says Chloe.
However, the hard work has paid off and the close bond between her and Motley has meant she’s been able to let him enjoy regular days out exploring places with her, including Cubar Edge, Millstone Edge, Stepping Stones, Monsal Trail, and Lathkilldale.
“Free flying looked to be an incredible way to bond with your bird, provide enrichment and offer the bird a somewhat natural way of life,” Chloe said.
“At the beginning of March 2020, we practised recall training with Motley, improving his skills until I got to the point he was fully trained to free fly outside. Although I trained Motley myself, I always recommend that others find a mentor or trainer. I am heavily involved in the free flight community and had other friends and professionals to speak to, gain advice, or critic my training to improve.”
Thanks to her efforts, Motley is now able to enjoy amazing moments in places like the Peak District, flying off cliffs and diving through the trees, although Chloe ensures their destinations are chosen carefully to ensure he’s still safe but gets a bit more of a small challenge to enrich his flight time.
While addressing the need for lots of careful planning and training, Chloe emphasizes the need for patience and ensuring birds like Motley are having fun doing it.
“Training, patience, finding what motivates the bird, Motley has a strong bond with myself, therefore he wasn’t interested in receiving food rewards and just loved to have a cuddle once he’s come back,” she said.
“Ensuring all training is done whilst the bird is motivated and enjoying the activity, allowing the bird to have a choice whether to fly or not.”
She also highlighted the need for owners to be aware of the areas their birds could fly in, noting the weather and even the potential for birds of prey.
While fortunately raising Motley herself and developing their amazing bond, she does not recommend that just anyone buy a parrot, especially a larger breed like macaws. This is due to a mix of factors including food and medical costs, the attention they need to stay happy, and also how loud they can be when expressing to owners that they want something, whether it’s to play or eat.
However, despite his time in the great outdoors, Motley is still a pet first, says Chloe, with some of his favorite phrases to share at home being a warm “hello” and “I love you.”