A couple of weekends ago, I was speaking with a woman who told me that it is extremely unsafe to live with a flighted bird. I told her that 4 of my birds were not clipped, and their flying abilities ranged from beginner (Daphne) to reluctant flyer (Calypso) to proficient (Beeps) to expert (Max).
Now, before I go too far, I am not advocating that all parrots should be flighted. I truly believe that a decision should be made, taking into consideration the household and the individual parrot. Note that Rocky and Jeff Saturday (when he was with us) are/were clipped. And my birds that currently fly have been clipped in the past. When we first got Max, I believed what I had read and been told about the importance of clipping. But I do believe that it should be a conscious decision made by the parrot owner, and that the owner not just blindly follow the advice of people labeling themselves as experts.
What changed my mind was talking to a few people living with flighted parrots, and reading this article. I thought about the lives my parrots currently lived and what we could provide for them. About how Thomas and I are so active and love exercise -- was I taking something away from Max by not allowing her to fly? Would she be more susceptible to strokes/heart attacks/early death because I forced a sedentary life on her? When Max began plucking, that sealed it. We would try letting her wings grow out and see if allowing flight would stop her plucking.
I am very pleased with our decision. Max and Beeps love to fly. They get fantastic exercise and I believe it helps to bring out their personalities and give them (slightly) more autonomous lives. My "good" fliers, Max and Beeps, are able to navigate around our house and quickly made adjustments for unanticipated events (e.g. kitchen light is off so a U-turn is made to join the rest of the family in the living room). It's a bit of a challenge, especially at first, to train them to stay off of unacceptable perches. However, we view this as a minor inconvenience and have reached a point where we are all in agreement.
We're hoping that flight will start to come more easily to Calypso. I can gently toss him in the general direction and tell him where to go, and he'll do it. But, he'd much rather "fly" with me cupping him under his chest. We don't believe that he was fledged, and we didn't start teaching him to fly until he was about 11 (we got him when he was 9). We remain patient with him, and this assisted flight still gets him exercise.
Daphne is also on the assisted flight plan. Occasionally something will scare her and she'll take off in flight. She is proficient enough to turn corners, but she has not yet flown with volition.
We tried letting Rocky's wings grow out earlier this year in anticipation of teaching him to fly. However, he decided to use his powers for evil and launch himself at me from long distances, so he was clipped. We've had to be a bit more creative in finding ways to get him exercise!
If we had small children, we'd rethink each bird's wings. Because it's just the 2 adults in the house, and we use a double-door system to ensure no accidental escapes, we don't have that worry. Besides, when we lost Max outside, she was well-clipped, so even that's no guarantee of safety.
I think it just frustated me that this woman I was speaking to would not even consider the fact that there could be other options. What works for one person will not necessarily work for the next. After I realized she wasn't listening to anything I said, I politely smiled as she admonished me and warned me that it was only a matter of time until one of my flying parrots landed in a pot of boiling water, and took my leave as soon as was practicable.