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A parrot harness or bird flight harness may enable a tame pet or companion parrot to be taken outdoors, but some parrots may dislike wearing a harness and bite at it. Parrots that are harness trained from a very young age may accept them willingly, but more often, parrots must be very carefully and gradually accustomed and trained to wear a harness. Care must be taken that the parrot does not feel threatened. Properly trained parrots often appear to enjoy wearing their harnesses if they associate them with going outdoors; some owners[who?] report their birds will bring their harnesses to them when they want to go outside.
With a properly designed harness and leash, a tame parrot can be taken outside. It can even be given some limited flight outside. However, this can be potentially dangerous for the parrot, which may be initially frightened by unfamiliar events, noises, and objects. It is usually best to first take the parrot out in a cage or carrier to let it become accustomed to being outdoors. Parrot harnesses are available commercially in a range of brands and sizes, fitting small birds such as budgerigars and cockatiels, all the way up to the largest macaws and cockatoos. Some parrot owners may choose to make their own harnesses.
Heavy harnesses that require assembly with metal buckles and clips can be uncomfortable. They may be broken or unlatched by some larger birds with strong beaks. A leash should always be fastened securely to the person holding the leash (such as by an elastic band around the wrist) to avoid the possibility of dropping the leash, as a dropped leash may become entangled in a tree or other object if a parrot flies off. A harness should only be used when the parrot is supervised and should never be used to tether a parrot to a perch or other object.
The best way to train a parrot to wear a harness is to use positive and negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is used to reward the parrot until it overcomes its fear of the harness. Food treats are used as positive reinforcement to reward the parrot for putting on the harness. A well trained parrot will put the harness on itself by slipping its head through the collar.
Harnessed Tanimbar corella or Goffin's cockatoo preparing to land
African grey parrot wearing a harness
A harnessed African grey parrot named Tinkerbell flying at Green Island, Taiwan
African grey parrot in her harness riding a motorbike in Chiayi, Taiwan June 2005.
Notes and references
- "Flight Harness Training Parrot". Retrieved 5 November 2010.
- Putting Harness on Cape Parrot
- Fundamental principles on using harness on parrots
- Video demonstration of fitting a parrot harness
- Tinkerbell - account of a flighted African Grey parrot in Taiwan taken out in harness to fly in the mountains and forests
- Tinkerbell UltraLite harness -How to make one sized to your bird
- Feathers, Flight and Parrot Keeping
- Article and video about taking parrots to a park wearing flight harnesses