How Do Parrots Fly?

Parrots are one of the loveliest birds to have as a pet but have you ever wondered how do parrots fly? They have god-gifted abilities to fly high in the sky. After all, it is also a bird. However, there is a sharp difference in its flying technique to that of the other birds. The surprising thing is that not all parrots are that good at flying. 

If you are worried about your pet parrot flying away and escaping, well, your apprehension may turn out to be true. Fortunately, in most of the cases, it has been seen that they do come back due to the natural bond of love and loyalty with their owners. 

Probably this question has popped up in your mind: how come a parrot can fly? Well, we will discuss their flying technique and several other interesting facts, along with several other interesting pieces of information about their ability to fly away. Come on, let’s dive into the details!

Flying Technique Of The Parrots 

By birth, the parrots that are wild and untamed possess the exclusive ability to fly. They are quite proficient at it. They have the behavioral characteristic of flying away to forage for food or to go on a quest to find a new shelter for themselves. They often migrate by flying to places having warmer, more humid climates. 

Two parrots sitting on a human palm Two parrots sitting on a human palm

Parrots have got super large, strong feathers that are solely used for flying. They also have smaller-sized secondary feathers in their bodies. They succeed in flying only if their primary flight feathers stay intact.

To ensure they have a smooth time flying, the parrots’ bones, feathers, and respiratory system coupled with the four-chambered heart work together to help them fly efficiently without falling down. 

All species of parrots are blessed with the ability to fly. However, several captive parrots are born with clipped wings. Thus, they cannot fly and are primarily stationary. 

Usually, the parrots have the habit of flying in flocks or clusters. They live together to seek shelter from hostile weather and defend themselves from the attack of the predators. 

Parrots prefer the daytime most for flying. They rarely go flying at night. Naturally, the predators get very little chance of attacking upon them as they go about wandering at day and take rest at night and that too high up in the trees- quite impossible for the hungry predators to attack them. 

Difference Between Flight And Gliding 

The confusion between flight and gliding among the masses is not uncommon. To understand more about a parrot’s flying technique, it is imperative to understand the distinction between flight and gliding. 

Gliding refers to the flying mode in which the bird stretches its wings or holds them straight continuously. Small Birds use this method to avoid getting tired when they know they have a long way to go ahead, miles of distance more to travel. 

Birds are endowed with the ability to flight by a tendon that is present behind the bone of the ulna wing. This very tendon ensures that the parrot’s feathers are well-spread at an equal distance from the body. It can lift its body due to the presence of secondary feathers. 

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If you are dead scared about your pet parrot flying away, far from you, you may consider clipping its wings. However, that will be brutal on these little creatures. After all, they too deserve some degree of independence, don’t they? 

Are Parrots Capable To Fly Long Distances? 

The distance to which a parrot can fly depends upon the species to which it belongs. Parrots having a large body size are not vulnerable to the attacks of predators. 

So, they usually maintain a flying radius varying from 1500 to 3000 acres. They tend to look for food and water sources from places located in proximity to their dwelling territory. 

On the other hand, parrots like macaws usually travel for distances up to 50-100 miles each day to search for food and seek shelter. 

parrots perched on a tree branch

They are compelled to travel long distances in the rough and dry seasons that prevail in the rainforest regions as food availability gets scarce at that time. 

The small body of parrots fly together in flocks and go on a collective quest for food and shelter. This togetherness also gives them security from the attack of the carnivorous animals. 

Just like the macaws, Amazon parrots and cockatoos can travel up to 10 km per day. 

The orange-bellied parrots have the potential to fly 150 km relentlessly without even stopping for a while. Thick-billed parrots also can travel straight for 100 km without halting in between. 

The cape parrots have flying capabilities, almost as same as that of the macaws, that is, 10 km per day. Migrating parrots are pumped up with the strength to fly to greater distances. This is because they often have to fly to far-off places to find the best spot for shelter. 

Flying Mechanism Of The Parrots 

Parrots have two sets of feathers- primary and secondary. There are about ten primary feathers in total that are located on each wing of the bird.

Any damage caused to the primary feathers will rob the bird of its ability to fly. The secondary feathers help the parrot lift itself into the air, and these mainly make up the inner feathers of its wings. 

Removing the secondary feathers from the parrot’s body will not take away its ability to fly. Still, it will make it falter in coordinating properly while flapping its wings up in the sky. 

The feathers located at the tail of the parrot help it to maintain proper balance while flying. Moreover, it is these feathers that aid the bird to pause or push a brake while flying. 

Thanks to its almost weightless digestive system and beaks, a parrot can lift its body quickly into the sky. Its supple muscles are strong enough to support its entire body weight while the bird is airborne. 

Flying Speed Of The Parrots 

Like the flying distance, the flying speed of parrots also varies greatly depending upon the species to which they belong. A majority of them have a flying rate ranging from 20 to 30 mph. 

Usually, the parrots love to fly at a moderately low pace until they perceive impending danger from the predators. 

parrot perch

It has been revealed by the Public Library of Science that the parrots’ flying speed has no relation to the size of its body.

Its current stage of evolution and the level of functioning of its feathers also determine its flying pace. That is the reason why not all parents have the same flight speed. 

Can A Parrot Fly Away From Home? 

Parrots can fly away from home if their wings are unclipped and left open to roam about in the house. By birth, they have a natural love for flying. After all, is there any bird that doesn’t wish to stay free and fly away as per its wish? 

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The same goes with your pet parrot. The moment it finds a chance of escaping, it’s going to take complete advantage of it.

Regardless of how much you take care of your pet parrot or how well you feed it or take care of it, it will always look for the right opportunity to stretch out its wings and take off for the greater heights of the sky. 

how do parrots fly

Usually, a pet parrot doesn’t fly more than one mile from its owner’s home. But, captive parrots have a record of flying up to 30 miles just in 1 day. What is worse is that if the parrot doesn’t know the way back home, they may get lost and never return to you. 

In such a case, either you need to keep track of its movements, which often becomes impossible, or depend upon the people in the locality to ask about the whereabouts of your pet parrot. 

If you fail to trace your parrot, don’t worry. Eventually, the parrot will grow thirsty and hungry and will return home on its own. However, if the parrot is not treated well in the home, the chances are that it is not going to return. Some other owners may find it and adopt the parrot in such a case. 

Ways To Bring The Parrot In Your Hold While It Is On The Ground 

If your parrot loves to go flying, you may have a hard time restricting it from going anywhere. Suppose it lands on the ground for some time; you can quickly get hold of it by approaching it slowly and stealthily without creating much noise. 

a parrot

Try to provide your parrot with the required assurance that you are not going to harm it. Lift the birdcage and then place it in an open area with some of its favorite treats so that it gets tempted to enter inside it. In this way, you can get your dearest parrot back with you. 

Can Parrots Fly Away Even After Their Wings Are Clipped? 

Although clipping their wings is difficult, you may do it if you wish to keep the parrot secured with you in the home. Consult an avian vet and only then go for the wing clipping procedure.

After the parrot’s wings are clipped, it will still have the ability to control downward flight, but it won’t lift its body in the sky. 

Clipping the parrots’ wings is not a painful procedure. However, it stands as a symbol of curtailing the freedom of an innocent bird.

Wing clipping has its drawbacks as its muscles cease acting correctly. This muscle weakness may turn out to be a fatal condition in the parrots later. It is a gross procedure to deprive your parrot of its natural ability to fly. 

Do note that the clipping of the wings is not a permanent change. After the new feathers start growing, the old and cut feathers disappear and start becoming less prominent. 

So, if you wish to do the clipping procedure, make sure that you do it after the molting of the parrot has been completed. This will reduce the chances of the parrot escaping or flying away. 

Steps To Be Taken To Bring Back Your Parrot After It Has Flown Away 

It is indeed a moment of tension if your pet parrot flies and gets lost and fails to return home.

Apart from distributing posters and pamphlets among the people in the neighboring areas, there are specific measures that you can adopt to get a trace of your parrot.  Finding your pet bird will be more difficult if it belonged to a flock of wild parrots previously.

a parrot perch

This is because the wild parrots have great flight speed, thus making things all the more difficult for you. Let’s see how you can bring your pet home. 

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Lure Your Parrot By Keeping Meats Out In The Open

The pungent smell of raw meat will lure the parrot to return home if it is present at a close distance from the house.

If your parrot loves eating fruits, seeds, and nuts, you may throw these items outside the door of the house. Stay on high alert as you need to catch the bird just as it comes to eat the food. 

Call Out Your Parrot 

You may have sign language with your pet parrot. So, you can use that language to call your parrot.

Make some familiar sounds so that the parrot understands that you are trying to reach out to him. Playing the music of bird calls or your parrot’s favorite music will also draw it to you. 

Make Use Of A Bird Net 

If you go on chasing your parrot, it is going to elude you all the more. Keeping a bird net with you is going to solve your problems to some extent. If you spot it somewhere nearby, you can easily catch it with a net.

It is likely that by the end of the second or the beginning of the third day, your parrot will be compelled to come to you with hunger and thirst after getting exhausted. 

Keep The Cage Outdoors 

Go outside and keep the birdcage outdoors, at some familiar place for the parrot so that it returns to it after getting exhausted.

Make sure you have kept the door of the cage open. You may even use the trap door latch in the cage so that the parrot gets automatically locked inside it, just as it steps in it. 

Go Searching In The Neighbourhood 

Do a quick scanning of the local area and check the trees and bushes if it is present there. You may even distribute pamphlets among your neighbors and friends so that they can inform you if they spot it anywhere. 

Preventive Methods To Not Let The Parrots Fly Away From Home 

parrot sitting on a cage

Some preventive methods can be used to curb the flying ability of your pet parrot. Let’s see what these are!

  1. Clip The Feathers Of The Parrot 

To prevent your parrot from flying away, ensure that its feathers have been clipped so that it doesn’t get the chance to fly away from home. 

  1. Keep The Parrot In A Mobile Cage 

While going out on a short walk or to some far-off places, keep your parrot in a mobile cage, that is, a cage that can be used to support a bird inside it while moving or traveling. 

  1. Trim The Flight Wings Of The Parrot 

Trimming the flight wings of the parrot is a good idea to ensure that your parrot continues to live with you and doesn’t leave you by flying away. As soon as you spot the newly grown feathers, trim them to prevent those from getting longer. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can A Bird With Clipped Wings Fly? 

A bird with clipped wings won’t fly because its primary feathers that help it in its flight are trimmed off. 

What Is The Lifespan Of The Parrots? 

While the kakapo has a lifespan of 40 to 80 years, the macaw lives for up to 50 years. 

Can Parrots Regrow Feathers? 

The feathers of parrots regrow within 12 months from when their wings have been clipped or trimmed. However, if not done correctly, the skin’s underlying structure may get damaged, petite body and its feathers won’t regrow. 

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Gulshan
Hi, I am Gulshan, a pet blogger, and author. I've been working with the local pet groups for the past five years. I have been fascinated by our pets and am here to share that wonder with you.