Well, today I let them fly for the first time. This a.m. I gave them just a little food, anticipating this evening when I got home to let them fly. Well, I opened the aviery and they walked out and looked around like,"what's this"? Finally, I gave them a little nudge and they all flew out and around. One homer made a couple rounds then off to the west all alone and I'm thinking, Oh crap! Long story short, they stayed out about 3 hours. they landed on my roof and garage and a big tree way up about 50 feet up. They would fly around a little then land again. I called and shook my food container, but they would not come in. they just hung out around the house flying occasionally then landing and looking. They stayed close, and did not come in until it started getting real dusky, then they came in. I went out and checked on them and everyone returned to the loft ok. Wow, you talk about having to be patient. I think they need to be more hungry next time. All in all it was absolutely great seeing them fly around, they were beautiful.
I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter HOW hungry they are...........being in a settling cage and trapping over and over and actually being OUT of the loft, without the settling cage is two different things.
My birds, when in the settling cage, trap like they are starved. No problems what so ever.......but the few times I've let them out......all of the sudden they aren't hungry any more. LOL
MY take on this is, that once they get AWAY from the loft and the settling cage is gone, they have a different perspective on the loft its self.
When I let my young birds out the first few times, the ones that STAY on the landing board, will trap when I call them. The ones that LEAVE the loft and go to the roof or the loft or the house or the trees, don't seem to be able to recognize the entrance to the loft that they've been using for weeks and weeks.......these are places that they haven't been before and have never had the opportunity to survey the area from that vantage point.
If I call them long enough and they start getting hungry and thirsty and I can convince them to actually come down and land on the landing board, it's like a light goes off in their head and they say "OH....NOW I know where I am" and they will trap right away.
I've always had this problem........I've tried skipping meals, taking the water away the night before.......nothing has worked.
I'm convinced, that once the birds are trapping good, they need to be put in baskets and sat out in the yard, AWAY from the loft, so that they can see the loft from the "outside" so to speak. Going from inside the loft, to a settling cage and back in the loft teaches them to trap, but they don't REALLY know what the loft/yard looks like from any other perspective.
I say this should be done, but I never do it............LOL, so the first few times out, I'm pulling my hair out because the birds won't trap.........however, eventually they get it. Doesn't take but a time or two and they figure it out.
As a side note, I also think that the way the loft is set up makes a difference too. Those who have the California type aviaries, never "change" the way the loft looks. That aviary is ALWAYS there. Those of us who use settling cages, DO make the loft look "different" in the eyes of the bird, because we have this big cage up on the loft, and then all of the sudden that cage is gone, and the loft doesn't appear to "look" the same to the birds.