Free Flight

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were the enthusiastic greetings we were met with at the entrance . Flabbergasted and trying to find the source of this euphoric reception, I realized it was a charming military macaw !!!!

Welcome to the free flight exotic bird sanctuary. Compared to its big cousins in the city, San Diego Zoo or Sea World, this is a tiny establishment tucked in the corner of Del Mar. Free flight offers up-close personal interactions with some adorable birds. Its simple ambiance is quite distinguishable from other San Diego wildlife parks. A perfect weekend excursion for locals. Even for visitors in the city, spending an hour will be a memorable experience.

Free flight is a non-profit organization that “maintains a sanctuary that shelters, nurtures, and re-socializes parrots while educating the public to inspire a lasting concern for the well being of exotic birds”. They house a wide variety of parrots - Congo Grey, Cockatoo, Yellow Naped, Blue & Gold, Superb, Scarlet, Military, Red Lored and so on. Similar to humans, these individuals have different temperament and personality profiles. Most of them are well behaved. With cue they jump onto your arm and shoulder. Some are friendly but a bit “ill-mannered.” One leaped onto my back and did not want to get off ! Few of them are, um..kind of “difficult”. They stay inside cages and have limited interaction with visitors. Only on request, staffs take them out. Only couple of them is “very difficult” like “Princess.” She is a crowned crane and is known for her cantankerous nature.

Free flight is open 7 days to public 11.00 A.M.- 4.00 P.M. Entrance fee is $7. Though it is not a very busy place, parking might be tricky sometimes because there is an animal hospital next door.

After our visit to free flight, I got curious about these charming birds. Here are some interesting fun facts I found on the internet -

1.Parrots are found all over the world. Parrots in South America, Central America, and Mexico are called New World Parrots. Asia, Africa, and Australia are the habitats of Old World Parrots.

2.They are great at imitating sounds. In the wild, they do so to protect themselves from predators. When domesticated, they not only mimic sounds but also understand several words.

3.Parrots have zygodactyl feet, which works pretty much like human hands. Unlike most of other birds, it allows them to eat with their feet.

4.Parrots tend to live long. Larger parrots like macaws live 80-100 years and inevitably outlive their owners!

5.They are monogamous. When domesticated, parrots usually find "mate' amongst the people they live with for whom a typical bonding behavior is generally displayed.

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