I have said before that I will not clip my birds unless they have some physical injury that requires it. They love flying and they have far too much fun going from room to room (with supervision, of course). Wild birds aren’t kept to one place; they have the autonomy to choose where they go. Obviously, a companion parrot doesn’t get this luxury in quite the same way, but O. and I try to allow our flock some choice.
Our birds have as much freedom as is reasonable and safe. Essentially, they have the pick of whichever room we’re in… often the study or living room. We leave the doors open, and they have free access to the hallway as well (with birdie hazards removed, of course). If we humans are in separate rooms, the birds love to fly from one of us to the other. It makes them very obviously happy to have this small measure of choice in their lives.
Every morning, Mishka’s cage is opened. Her cage lives in the hallway, and she is free to join us after she’s eaten. Often, she flies to the study first, this being O.’s place of dwelling. She’ll perch on the door; she’ll come down to the back of O.’s chair and preen, and then hop down to the desk to chew on paper or toys. We’re planning out a small, relatively portable play gym for her, too, that will soon be placed nearby. Mishka is very rarely locked away in her cage – the hallway is bird-proofed. Because of this, she has a variety of choices: a perch on the front of her cage, anywhere inside, or anywhere on the top. She can fly to us at any time, wherever we are. If she needs a ‘cool down,’ we can close all the doors temporarily. She likes this, and it makes her much easier to handle.
Ptak and Pip, because they are so much smaller than Mishka, do not get the luxury of freedom in quite the same way. Ptak is, in fact, so tiny and inquisitive that he is in danger of wiggling – or nibbling – his way into something unsafe, or being sat on. They both get lots of out-of-cage time and the choice of where to go, but they’re supervised much more diligently. Miskha is still supervised, mind you. She almost always chooses to be in the same room as one of her humans, and if she isn’t, she prefers the safety of her cage anyway – which is a matter of feet away from us no matter where we are in the house.
Our flighted birds are happy, confident, and able to remove themselves from things that they perceive as dangerous – plus it’s the best and most natural form of exercise for them. On the negative side, they can put themselves into danger – which we, their humans, work as hard as we can to remove.
It’s all in the life of a bird slave.