My husband and I drove from very south San Diego (Otay Mesa) , near San Ysidro, on a bright, sunny, very very warm day to visit Free Flight. Even though we have a Yellow Nape Amazon of our own, that we’ve had for over 28 years, I enjoyed looking at Free Flight’s websites and the many photos of people interacting with various birds. So, off we went, arriving about 2 PM.
We were quite disappointed! For one thing, the area where the birds are on display is considerably smaller than the photos imply. If you wish to donate the cost of entrance to Free Flight which helps support the care given to these birds, fine.
However, just know that most of the birds we saw were untouchable. There were perhaps four that would stand on an arm or allow you to touch them. When trying to interact with most of the birds (having one step up and stand on my arm, I was told something to the effect, careful that one bites.
The website shows many sunny photos, photos with birds of the same feather sharing a perch and interacting with one another; not so at the sanctuary.
We do understand that this is a sanctuary so some of the birds have behavioral issues, i.e. feather plucking, which has left them literally bare of chest, under the wings, etc. with no feathers. A couple of these birds had something like sweaters covering their bare skin. One in particular did not and was shivering; even an attendant near me commented something to the effect: you shivering (gave the bird’s name), you’re cold; but did nothing.
What I saw:
The sanctuary was overgrown so not a lot of sunshine (and warmth) reached the birds.
The dirt floor was muddy (not wheelchair friendly) in many areas (apparently hosed down), giving a slight dank odor.
Not all pathways leading to some of the birds were wide enough to allow access for a wheelchair.
Yes, you could buy food (produce, seed) for them; however:
1) there were no food (or water) cups in any
of the cages. The caged birds generally
weren’t offered food purchased by a
2) also, there were no feed cups on any of
the branches; so if no one bought
food to offer the birds, they had nothing
3) keep in mind, not all birds were
approachable to allow someone to feed
them. I actually observed a young boy
offer a bowl of food to the African Grey
and this bird reached around the bowl to
strike out at the boy’s hand, the boy
jumping back laughing;
4) lastly, and perhaps most important, none
of the birds (in cages or on perches) had
I think management needs to assess this bird sanctuary and make some much needed changes.
It tears at my heart to see these conditions.