You can't see a sky blue parrot in a blue sky. That's simply a fact. You can't see a fully flighted sky blue jet fighter parrot flying through a blue sky either. And when that sky blue fighter pilot parrot is the size of a banana you'll be working hard to spy him in a tree bursting with new Spring growth as well. The only tracking device you are left with is the flock call.
It's a very powerful tool. A flock call will do multiple jobs at once. It's the Swiss Army Knife of parrot communication. Our flock calls told Kirby, our IRN, we were there, we were looking for him and we were not far away. The banana in our hand would later let him know we came with offerings of good taste.
We walked the street calling, then listening. The anticipation and need for a return call is so painful, so deep. But you have to carry on, and you have to flock call appropriately. I used my "hide-n-seek" flock call. It's the one I use when we play the game. Dad used his "I'm home!" flock call. Dad had already been calling for a good 20 minutes before while I got busy at the house.
I had put the cockatiel aviary out in the yard so Kirby could see them and hear them. I opened the windows, put the macaws in their cages and left them to deliver their normal windy day calls through the open windows. Well, I successfully put ONE macaw in his cage. Butters wasn't cooperating. She knew what was up, and she was fired up. She couldn't cooperate with me, because I couldn't properly communicate with her. I don't do hurry up transitions. And here I was trying nothing but hurry up. So while she stubbornly stuck to the top of her tree stand I ran to the computer to quickly shout HELP online. (And let me tell you the cascade of concern and answers was amazing and deafening and humbling, but that's another article)
Cali came back from his initial 20 minute flock call and I met him in the driveway to tag and take over. He went in the house to handle Butters and I went lakeside. Kirby had done this a few years ago. He had spent hours in a line of trees across the street lakeside. So there I stood, in the middle of the street banana in hand, flock calling. "KirBEEEEE!!!!" That's our hide-n-seek flock call. It's rather like a pig call. SueWEEE!!! I called and called. Cali was back to join me in the street. A lakeside neighbor came out and asked if we lost a cat. "No", I answered. "Our bird."
And then Kirby answered. "KirBEEE!!!" We found him! He was in a tree right behind our standing neighbor, lakeside. I stormed the other neighbors fence gate and went into their backyard, (Thank you Tina and Brad! I'm glad you didn't lock that gate. I would have had to drive the truck through it otherwise). I almost fell off their dock into the lake once, I almost fell into their pool twice. Finding line of sight was imperative, at any cost.
We called, he called back. Oh, but it's hard to see a little blue bird 25 feet up in a tree full of spring growth! But we easily heard him. And so Cali, our neighbor and I triangulated the tree and worked hard at seeing the happy voice coming from it.
Cali spotted him first. From that moment on I knew we would go home together. I spotted him with Cali's help and we both shook our heads as Kirby called "KIRBYKIRRRRBEEE!" Then he preened his chest. Yeah we were the only ones worrying around here.
Now here's the thing. And really, it needs to be understood. Our flock calls didn't send a fear signal. We only used the familiar happy calls, ever. For Kirby that meant we were there, we were looking for him and we were near. By the time we literally put eyes on him he had been in that tree or nearby tree hearing us for 30 minutes or so. He knew his flock was near. Kirby was not in fear at all. A fully flighted and confident parrot who lives a life of choice wouldn't be. So he looked down at us, long and hard. And he yelled, "GoodboyKIRBEEEE".
This would take a while.
It behooves the situation to say at that moment I understood what it meant to be the oddball out in communication and understanding. We were now in a parrot lifestyle, NOT a human lifestyle. I laughed quite a bit because that bird had zero worries and it was obvious he had no intention of going anywhere. We were there. He liked it there. And we brought snacks! The snack bit wasn't going to play for the humans in the long run. He and the rest of the flock had breakfast with dad earlier. Scrambled eggs and jelly toast. He was a fully fueled blue fighter pilot.
And so we three communicated back and forth and back and forth. Kirby stayed in that tree happily looking down at us, over the lake and back. He preened. He called. He turned around. He moved between branches. And we called with bananas and necks aching. We scrambled to find a better line of sight and a better line of branches for him to come down. He would come down and we knew it. We scrambled, he relaxed. This parrot lifestyle is REALLY odd feeling. He could fly off at anytime, but he wouldn't because his flock was here. Yet, as a human, without constraints and controls all we had was a parrot's faith in the definition of flock.
Finally about 45 minutes later he started his downward branch hopping. We moved to the best location for him, right in front of a main tree arm and suddenly, like magic, there was our Kirby two feet in front of us. Proudly displaying open shoulders, pinning eyes and a very impressive HERE I AM! flock call. Still unnerved, we humans turned around to start walking home and said, "Come on Kirby! Let's go!" He hopped onto Dad's shoulder "KIRBEEE!!"
Cali and I turned to face each other, I handed him the useless banana and asked Kirby to step up on my hand. He did. He hopped and landed with a grand flurry of flock calling and a very proud display of raised shoulders and tippy-toe lean, as only a ringneck can deliver. I pulled him into my chest and laid my other hand over him and we all went home.
There will be no wing clipping. The adventure didn't happen because Kirby can fly. I firmly believe in a mixed flock all parrots should be fully flighted for communication and territorial balance. I believe full flight adds to heart and lung/airsac health and there is no other replacement for it. I believe full feathering delivers personal balance and confidence as no other replacement can. Kirby will not be clipped because we humans let our guard down.
We humans will add additional reminders and rules to compensate for our guards. It's on us.
Finally, know this; your flock call language built together is a powerful force. Create it wrapped in trust and recall games. Practice it together until it is literally second nature. That language is as strong as a harness. It's just a little unnerving, being the human in the parrot lifestyle.