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Story with a happy ending, and a political moral for contemplation

This past weekend I had an emotional scare when my pet parrot flew away and out of sight. Before telling the story however, a few philosophical points came to light and being that I consider you all extended family, I thought to share the account:

Several years ago, I was unexpectedly given a Meyers parrot named Rumi. Rumi is a sweetheart, and I gladly accepted her into my home.

One thing which bothered from the beginning however, is that Rumi largely lived an encaged life. So I would let her fly free in the house/(apartment) and take her various places in my truck. I also purchased a little harness, so that we could enjoy the outdoors [photo below]

Not too long ago, I discovered a movement popularly called 'free flight', which attempts to restore dignity to a bird's life with trained flying first indoors, then outdoors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74uqeVMGtxg

Though not a professional, I've been gradually training her inside by offering treats from point A to B. I also have slowly introduced doorways with her harness off and on my shoulder. Additionally raising the first issue to be further discussed, I've moderately clipped her wings, so as to limit her extended flight
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-clip-trim-the-wings...

Fast forward to this past Friday: en route to a community meeting concerning local issues (I similarly happen to be a candidate for local office), I had some extra time and decided to visit a local park which interestingly, is a site from the Revolutionary battle of Germantown in greater Philadelphia
http://d1l1ifh5i7l9sd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/20...

Per usual, I carried Rumi around with her harness and after some time, released it so that she could perch on my shoulder in a doorway.

At some point though, she became startled and flew high into a tree beyond my reach. Being that her carrying cage came undone once before where she flew into a tree but then came back, I was hoping for a repeat performance. Rumi however appeared distressed with greater height and raising a 2nd issue, I was saddened that her natural gift of flight seemed foreign to her.

Eventually she was chased out by (I believe) a squirrel, and she took off over the treetops and out of sight.

My stomach was in my throat as I searched the area and later put up flyers while informing neighbors. A third yet familiar issue crossed my mind of whether birds should be captivated at all since the sky is their natural domain.

Anyway and after filing Lost reports with local animal shelters and online (ie. Craigslist), I went to bed early with a heavy heart (but also an earnest prayer for Divine assistance).

Late that night and while sleepless, I (repeatedly) checked my e-mail: word came through where someone apparently found my parrot! Immediately I called and miraculously, it was a neighborhood friend who discovered Rumi in his fountain 1/4 mile away! I was even luckier since he was a previous African Grey owner who was familiar with avian care.

The next morning I met my friend and passed along a few bucks for his care, and brought Rumi home (not being ashamed to admit welling up for my beloved little pal too : )

Now the political critique

i. Should birds be held in captivity as pets?

When Rumi's time naturally draws to a close and despite my dear affections, I don't think I would get another bird because it seems unethical to deny a healthily sentient creature its rightful freedom (ie. open air as opposed to cats/dogs and their earth-bound habitat).
Others have suggested chipping should she become loose again (she did come with a simple ID leg-band when bred in Canada; btw she is indigenous to mid-continental Africa), but I can't conscientiously disenfranchise her own order of privacy

ii. Should a bird's wings be clipped?

Grudgingly I do this since practically, it assists my handling of her while she is in my care. Ideally though, I'd like for Rumi not to experience the disturbance of cutting her dry feathers

iii. Finally I suppose that I could be criticized when exposing Rumi to risk with continued free flight exercise, however I intend to do so responsibly with gradual training and adequate safeguards (ie. clipping, leg-band etc)

While further fascinating when considering the parallels towards the human realm, I reckon that the moral of the story is that genuine freedom has risk, but a life without conscionable choice has no authentic quality



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