I just wanted to make a point very clear about free flying since I have been making some posts refering to my job - part of which is training raptors for, and hosting, free flight displays.
It is NOT recommended or remotely advisable for owners of companion parrots to 'try out'and I do not want to be misread or seem like Im advocating it at all. In fact, although I train birds to do this as apart of my job and am considered a professional in this sense - I have not even considered training my cockatoos in free flight - and I DO know what Im doing.
Why?? It is EXTREMELY risky - every time you release a bird outside, no matter how well 'trained', you take a massive risk that they will get lost. You have NO control over the environment - wind gusts, predators flying in, you name it. Especially in the case of imprinted birds - chances are they WILL DIE if they get lost or separated from you!! They have no experience in,or fitness for, the actual 'skill' of flying and navigating in wind (flying inside doesn't cut it), they dont know to find food or water, they have no flock or flock security, no territory, and in the case of most parrots in the USA - they are not even native - so climatically, they would stand no chance against the elements.
Yes - I take these risks with the birds I work with but there is a heck of a lot of training and very specific criterea that has to be met before a bird is free flown. And, despite these measures being taken - we DO lose birds, and it is heartbreaking!!
Just wanted to clear this up on the off chance that anyone inexperienced was thinking it would be 'cool'.