I want my bird to wear a harness but my bird doesn’t like it – what to do?

 I’m having a heck of a time trying to decide.

1. Which size Aviator flight harness to purchase for my Meyers Parrot (weighs about 80 grams) for the record – Meyers parrots wear X-Small flight harnesses

 2. Would buying a flight harness help after all?


This little parrot didn’t have a great home life when I bought her last July.She has since had a full vet work up in Aug. She’s now healthy and eats a variety of pellets, seed & veggies/fruits. She was molting when I got her. She continues to have pin feathers and until about a week ago was still losing feathers daily.

many macaws on fence wearring aviator flight harneses by parrot university

Get a Flight Harness for Any Size Bird Here

I have not continued to have her wings and nails clipped as the previous owner did. However within the last 2 weeks, she has displayed nesting behavior. She won’t stay on a perch for more than a minute and continues to fly to a distant open staircase in our home. She chews the carpet on the stairs. I’m concerned about her safety. 

I’ve been reading about how to train her to stay on a perch (she used to) but, that will take time. I’m not talking about perching for hours on end – 10 to 20 min would help. If I put her in her cage after I retrieve her from the stairs of course she screams. Anywhere I put her – my finger, arm, etc. she launches and flies to the stairs. She loves my husband but, will no longer stay with him either.

So, I was thinking a flight harness might help now? I do know that I will need to train her to wear the harness and I having been considering a flight harness for outside use for awhile now. Sorry for the long email but, I value your advice and check your site frequently.

PS – she has perches in different locations in the house so, she has variety and she does have toys that are rotated. I’m retired, so I’m home with her daily and try to have her out of her cage as much as possible but, it’s getting tough right now. 


Christine Brown

Hi Christine

Looks like you have your hands full.

Because your relationship is relatively new (especially in bird years) I would put the harness thing on the back burner. Harnesses are counter-intuitive to birds. They bind their body and rub the feathers. They also require a giant leap of faith in the birds part in terms of trust between the two of you. In my sense, the trust still needs some time to fully develop.

I also would not worry about trying to train her to stay on a single perch because you are rewarding her to not do something which once again is not helping further the relationship.

What I would like you to do is watch this video about clicker training “Building Trust With Your Bird” 

You don’t even need a clicker, a clucking sound with your tongue is just fine but five or 10 minutes a day will help get your birds focus improve your overall relationship. This is something that your husband can participate in as well.

The stair thing – From your description it sounds as though you have a male because with Meyers, the males do all the digging, with the females usually directing the male on where to put the newly acquired materials. Male Meyers parrots also tend to get aggressive once in brooding mode

He is chewing the stairs seeking nesting material. One of the things we did for Popcorn our cockatiel was to introduce a foraging box.

 We have since added vine balls and small palm shredders layering them with Lafeber Nutri-berries and Avi-cakes which does keep her focused for a while.

It’s important for your bird to have full-spectrum light over the cage with a timer set for something like coming on at nine in the morning then turning off at 8 o’clock at night. The bird should be put in the cage for those hours to get the most benefit from the light.

I would cover the area of the carpet she is trying to chew up because carbon fiber can have nasty things in it and can cause blockages. Place small foraging or treat areas near the perches that you mentioned you have around the house to give her something to do while she’s at these perching areas.

Meyers like puzzle type toys. They like to work on rope and leather knots. Make sure he has lots of these to keep his mind occupied. If you are light on funds don’t forget to visit our free and DIY bird toy category.

Let us know how it goes and we’d love to see some pictures


cc: catherine


More Free Bird Toys & DIY Bird Toy Videos

Sometimes it’s just hard to rationalize spending money on bird toys that you know will be destroyed.

Gas prices are not going down soon and available funds that we have to devote to our pets seems to be getting diminished daily.

Search the term “bird toy” on Google and you get 7,300,000 results. Windy city Parrot like many sites offers bird toys with free shipping ( $49 minimum order on our site). Bird toy parts although getting harder to find are still available.

Read moreMore Free Bird Toys & DIY Bird Toy Videos

Would you like to spend less on your bird?

Without sacrificing quality of life?
Every once in a while we get a little blow back from the people that sell us the bird toys that we sell to you. They don’t understand why we give you instructions on how to make your own bird toys.
The amount of items available today for cats, dogs, small animals as well as other pets is breathtaking, but at the end of the day a tennis ball, two socks tied together and frisbee will keep the dog pretty happy. A laser pen, a ball of yarn and maybe a mouse on a string will entertain a cat for hours.

Bird toys are not essential for a parrots entertainment. Although they do entertain, they’re actually essential to maintain a high quality of life for caged birds. Thinking of the 60/40 rule – birds in the wild spend 40% of their time searching for food and 60% of their time trying not to be food. This puts (lots of) bird toys squarely in the sights of environmental necessities for keeping birds as pets.


Yes we use bird toys to entertain but really more for our entertainment because it is the birds that entertain us while actually performing essential tasks like foraging. Foraging requires the bird to destroy the foraging object(s). Now let’s circle back to why we’re happy to provide information that will cause you to buy less from us.

Something like one in five homes in America (perhaps one in six now since the recession) have a bird as a pet, so there’s certainly no shortage of customers. Lets do the math. Say you have an Umbrella Cockatoo. Umbrella Cockatoos (we also call them U2’s) can have a voracious appetite for chewing wood. Let’s assume you want the very best for your Cockatoo. Set aside your initial investment in the bird cage, perches and toys you still have to provide an ongoing supply of items to forage.

What happens if you don’t provide foraging opportunities? Your bird will find it’s own.


Everyone wants the best for their pet, but a large bird toy can be $15 or $20 at the low-end, $50 is not uncommon especially when it’s shipped across the country. Let’s assume the average price for big bird toys today is $25. Let’s also assume your Umbrella cockatoo is one happy parrot who can easily destroy three $25 toys a week. That my friend works out to be a $300 per month bird toy habit. So do you cut back on these big and juicy toys? Do you say “I’ll just buy the cheap parrot food the next time I go grocery shopping”?

Now we’re not saying there’s anything inherently bad with the food that you get at the grocery store or a big-box retailer but as with anything in life you get what you pay for. The bird food we sell at Windy City Parrot has been time tested and we offer both mainstream and boutique bird food (15) manufacturers. Because of the complexity of a bird’s metabolism the correct balance of nutritional components is essential to the quality of life for animals that live five, six and seven decades.

So what were saying is don’t skimp on the bird toys. We’re happy to present ideas for free and DIY bird toys so we can help you save a lot of money. We feel that your bird deserves a high-quality nutritional program and by learning how to save money in certain categories of bird care we hope you’ll become a more confident bird care giver while focusing on the best way serve your bird’s nutritional needs.

With more than 350 species of parrots and over 370 species of parakeets, you need a partner that helps you understand your bird’s captive nutritional and environmental needs within an affordable budget.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Following up on last week’s conversation about our birds


You are reading a blog. Blogs are considered social media. I consider myself a social media guy telling my stories to you, listening to yours. We press the digital flesh every day on Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

That said when I pop open a computer screen for the first time in the morning this is what I feel like. Anyone else?

Man and share getting blown away from the sound coming from speaker

A Maxell recording tape ad from the last century.

You’re old if you remember what a pencil and a cassette tape have in common

The sheer volume of people we have the ability to interact with today is simply overwhelming. Many small businesses fail in social media unfortunately. The reason is simple and I see it all the time. “Automated digital social media marketing”.

(“So where is he going with this you ask”)

Follow-ups are the results of Interactions with prior content. This makes social media far more organic than most people realize (Not to be confused with holistic)

followup 1

Popcorn our cockatiel got a clean bill of health from Dr. Ellen Tuesday night. The little paper snowshoe has been removed and her demeanor is clearly better. She’s enjoying preening her feathers much more so than trying to chew off that scary white thing on her left foot.

She wants to thank everyone for the outpouring of well wishes. She’s close to getting her own email account, but she’ll never be getting her own cell phone. 

Back to her normal fun loving self

Redoing her cage before and after’s can be found here – this is going to be the after after where we put all the toys, perches and accessories back but in different places. I’ll be expanding on this in the next week or two.

This exercise is a reminder for what I take for granted, but things like making sure your perches are placed in the cage forward enough because if you have a long tail bird you don’t want the tail banging against the back of the cage and neither do they.

It’s always easier with an assistant when attaching toys and accessories to the back of a cage especially when it’s a big cage. The Devil’s always in the details – more to come

Followup 2

Some good news regarding our post “The government wants to outlaw your bird

Potential parrot prohibition averted in Arizona. American Federation for Aviculture formally commented on Arizona Game and Fish Department’s proposal prohibiting private ownership of all federally Endangered Species Act animals, including several parrots. Mike Demlong, AZ Wildlife Education Program Manager,says that proposal was “included in error” and it was recommended it be deleted. Virginia recently passed a similar modification. There are now 25 states in which it is illegal to possess ESA listed birds.

Not a follow-up but I didn’t know where else to put this.

The question is how to prepare a bird safe pine cone?


rose breasted cockatoo eating pine cone

Hi Bob

I suggest soaking the pine cones in a solution of about 16 to 1 water to vinegar for 15 minutes or so to remove dirt and bugs. Do not heat the vinegar because that will emit toxic fumes.

Let them air dry overnight, a colander works well – once they dry well, then place them on a cookie sheet, cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes in 150 – 200° which will get rid of the molds and bacteria – then you’re ready to roll the peanut butter slathered pine cone over a plate of bird seed or or small pellets.

We prefer peanut butter over honey – less sugar more protein –

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing


Not looking at your bird holistically may be dangerous to its health

How many times have you watched in awe as a flighted bird hops off the top of it’s cage – the “flap, flap, flap” then it lands on an inch wide piece of ceiling crown molding or a computer monitor and in bird speak says “what’s up?” Never giving a thought to that gravity thing that keeps the rest of us tethered to Mother Earth. These are special creatures indeed.

2 cockatoo perched on a barbed wire fence

Do we really give our birds enough credit for their ability to adapt?

It’s been my observation that most caged bird keepers fail (sell, rehome or give to a rescue) because the birds are unable to adapt to the keepers expectations. “She’s way messier than I thought.” “We’ll have none of that flying, we don’t want it to get hurt”, and the heart of todays topic “We gotta trim those nails Marlene, I can’t keep buying new sweaters”.

It’s been awhile since I’ve used the term “holistic” and I have been remiss. If you read enough Facebook threads about birds you hear all the gushing caged bird keepers who extol the virtues of organic and holistic diets for our FIDS (Feather kids) as if the two terms were interchangeable.

One of the many definitions of the word holistic is characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. In other words looking at anything as a “whole”

What that means is that everything we do to our bird, ie clip it’s wings, or even cut it’s nails, impacts everything the bird does. For example, once the bird’s wings are clipped you solve the (not) flying problem but create a balance problem. Ever see a downhill skier without poles?

Take away the poles (ends of the wings) and you can no longer feel where the ground is. If you have a 5 foot tall cage and your clipped bird falls from a top interior perch for lack of balance, an injury may be sustained. This is why flighted birds need different cage configurations than clipped birds. But that’s another story.

What triggered this topic was a call from a woman who had ordered a Jumbo (2 – 3 Inch diameter) manzanita perch for her Moluccan Cockatoo. she call to return the perch because her bird kept slipping off it. She went on to say the perch clearly was defective because her bird “never had this problem” .

I patiently listed to her entire story including the part about just getting back from the vet for a nail and wing trim and the bird was traumatized enough. When she finished, In my dr. mitch voice I said “ there may be a relationship to the shortened nails with blunt ends and her inability to grab onto a piece of wood equal to the diameter of her body, don’t you think?”

cockatiel perched on foot board of bed

Comfortably perched on a 4 inch diameter sleigh bed footboard – whoda thunk it?

We’ve not heard from the customer since so I’m guessing as the nails grew, so did the birds ability to grab the new perch. Which bring us to the moral of this story which is “every action taken with a bird impacts it ability to do – anything”. I’m not saying don’t trim your bird’s nails, but it comes with the understanding that you have an animal whose balance and grip have both been compromised, even if only temporarily.

When you do, as with any change in a bird’s body or environment, watch closely for it’s ability to cope with the new change how ever minor it may be. A 4 foot fall from a perch at the top of the cage, can cause injury to your bird if they were used to being able to recover from a slip before due to longer nails and unclipped wings.

Not that I’m an expert on the subject but having just spent 8 days “helicopter parenting” over our cockatiel whose foot was in a paper cast, made us realize how something not much larger than a postage stamp wrapped around our birds foot and leg changed EVERYTHING in her life!

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