A Bird In The Hand Shouldn’t Be

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I read that after the Harry Potter phenomenon, children all over wanted owls as pets. This had me remembering how I cringed when the movie Paulie came out. It’s story about a parrot that talks and thinks like a human, and finds his way home after all sorts of tribulations – blah blah blah, and so on. The reason for my cringing was because I knew that parents all over the world would be off to the nearest pet shop to buy the most expensive parrot they could afford for their little darling. I also knew that ninety nine percent of those birds would spend the rest of their lives locked in cages in dingy corners, being given crap to eat – if they were lucky, and probably covered every time they fancied a shout. Parrots love a good shout – they think it sounds cool. I understand that people don’t just suddenly decide that they like the idea of abusing and neglecting some poor creature for the rest of its days. They just don’t realise what they’re taking on. These movies give unrealistic impressions of these animals, and parents cater to the whims of the children that they love. There are also some people that really couldn’t give a damn, but those sad sacks are another story altogether and generally a waste of oxygen only. Now it occurs to me that my sharing of my feathered flock’s antics might encourage someone to sally forth to buy themselves a parrot, or worse still, go and hoik some wild baby out of a tree somewhere. I wouldn’t want that sort of thing earning me black crosses on my karma. So…

My parrots are eighteen and sixteen years old respectively. They could very easily expect to live another fifty years failing some horrible accident. They are therefore a major consideration in my will. Personally, though I love them with all my heart, having had them for so long has taught me that I really shouldn’t have them at all. Nobody should purposely set out to have any sort of bird live anywhere other than in their natural environment. The weavers being here came from a choice between them being dead or having a life indoors with me. They have a very good life, so my choice was fine. I’m at home pretty much all the time, I try and make sure that nothing can hurt them, and they get on with their crazy little existences just fine. None of my birds has ever been caged for a minute of their lives, and they eat rather better than most humans, so while not ideal, this is alright. My birds do exactly what they want and have the run of the house. They yell, chew, play, and zoom around. They get three fresh meals a day, have piles of assorted seeds, nuts, fruit, salads, veggies, dry dog food, bowls of cereal, water to drink and to bath in, and marshmallows all over the place. They’re particularly fond of marshmallows and cheese. They also eat meat – bacon and sausages being favourites. In the wild they wouldn’t eat these things. I know that it sounds excessive, but in the wild they would get to choose what they want to eat, and those choices would include protein in the forms of bugs and worms as well as seeds, fruit and greenery. Parrots in the wild don’t perch on sticks when they sleep. They generally sleep in hollows in trees. They’re pretty heavy birds so it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to be on their feet twenty four hours a day forever. They need somewhere comfy to sleep. They mate for life and are the most caring of parents too. Such social guys should never be kept alone in a cage for their lives. It’s cruel. I doubt that there are too many people that treat birds as I do, although I’m sure there are a couple. They make a mess, a noise, chew holes in pretty much everything, and need as much love and attention as your average three year old human, if not more. I don’t mind these things, but that’s just me, and I do rather love my feathered flock.

Jelly Sunshine

Please don’t buy a live creature unless you really have its best interests at heart, and are sure that you can give it the best possible care. If you find a wild creature that you think is really cute, but know you don’t have the time to care for, take it to a sanctuary, or if necessary a vet to be put down. If you’ve already made the mistake of buying a bird that proved a little more difficult to care for than you realised, again, take it to a sanctuary, or find it a home with someone who knows how to care for it – and wants to. Remember that a parrot is very likely to outlive you. And if you do have any sort of bird as a pet, try and remember that of all the creatures on this planet they were specifically designed to fly. Why take that away from them? Would you cage your cat or dog? No? Why cage a bird then just because you can? Please don’t ever lock a bird in a cage just to look at or say “Hello Pretty Polly” to now and then. He’s alive, far from stupid, and not an ornament. Don’t feed him irregularly on only seeds or expect him to drink stale water. He deserves fresh food as often as you would have, in a variety that he would have access to if he was not behind bars. That cockatiel that scampers madly up and down is exhibiting the results of mental disturbance from being locked up all his life, not cuteness. And don’t ever expect a child to understand any of these things. It’s your responsibility. If you bought it, you make sure that it has the life that it deserves. Or as close to anyway. Otherwise take it to someone who could do better.

Jelly Wing

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30 thoughts on “A Bird In The Hand Shouldn’t Be

    adelesymonds said:
    March 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Excellent awareness blog Jo. We profess to love animals but then want to limit them to our lifestyles and what is easiest for us rather than what is best for them. I totally agree.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      You hit the nail on the head in one sentence there! I wished I’d said that. Thanks Adele. xxx

      Like

    Ann Watkins said:
    March 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve always fancied having a parrot, but realised that I would have had to buy one as a child to be able to look after it properly for it’s life. I have owned and loved one crazy cockateil who never spent a day in a cage after he arrived with me. Aged 10 when he arrived, his previous owner’s daughter no longer lived at home and they were getting divorced and neither wanted him. He loved going out in the car sitting on the head rest wings spread out enjoying the wind through the window. He made numerous escapes, which found me holding my hand out and whistling to a tree ( many strange looks), but always came back. Sometimes his adventures didn’t take him far, once his misjudged the curtain rail splatted on the wall and slid out of the open window. It was snowing outside and I paniced as I was certain he’d done himself some damage, rushed outside to find him sitting on the washing line shouting ‘Hello Cocky’ over and over til I got to him. Once he flew off into the forestry near me at a place I knew had nesting Goshawks, there he was at the top of a huge pine tree with one of the Goshawks flying over, talk about having your heart in your mouth. He stayed there until it started to go dark and then came down. Unfortunately, he had an eye for blondes and his best friend the cat had opened the window, a thing he’d do quite often and Cocky would walk in and out but never fly off, saw a young lady with blonde hair walk past and he was gone. I went straight out after him, but this time luck was not on my side, I went round and round whistling and calling but no luck. He was found in a neighbour’s garden. I really miss the little guy as I’d had him 11 years, perhaps his 21 years were something that went against him that time.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Twenty one is a very good innings for a cockatiel! I reckon that blonde must have taken him home. They really do creep into your heart these little guys. I love the picture of him in the car with his wings open. Ha haaa! Your little Cocky was really lucky to have you for so long. When I got my first parrot he used to come with me everywhere, but was eventually banned. He used to hop onto strangers trolleys in the supermarket and check out their shopping. Most people didn’t find this as funny as I did though. xxx

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        Ann Watkins said:
        March 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm

        Can see how a parrot inspecting your shopping might not go down too well with some people 🙂 x

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    Christine Campbell said:
    March 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    This was a really interesting and informative article. I have never owned a bird as pet and wouldn’t ever want to. But I recognise how beautiful and amazing birds are in their variety and design and it was lovely to learn a little more about parrots. Thank you.
    Christine

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Christine. They are amazingly clever – which is probably why people buy them. They’re also destructive and loud, so mostly get shut away poor guys. But definitely – all birds should stay free. 🙂 x

      Like

    angus48 said:
    March 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    No one needs a pet Voxavi. They may want one 😉

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    Kate Thompson said:
    March 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Your message should go out to the world! Easter is coming and so many bunnies and chicks are Easter gifts. ugh. I knew someone with parrots who kept them in a cage and brought them out to “perform” for guests. Then back to the cage. How could they not notice how upset the birds were? A little empathy maybe? To them, the birds were just “pets”. I cringe when folks get a dog for a watch dog. Or leave their dogs at home alone day after day. Would they do that to their children? I want a Newfoundland dog, but I haven’t ran out and bought one. We just got our last kid off to college and I’m not ready for another kid. Not yet. I always enjoy hearing about your birds. I can tell they are family and much loved. Thanks for sharing!

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 21, 2013 at 6:45 am

      It’s terrible that people care so little about their “pets”. Unfortunately there are no laws to protect birds in cages. It’s funny how there are so many groups to help them in the wild, but nobody protests when they’re locked up or ill treated. It’s a harsh thing to say, but I really think that there are thousands of miserable little guys out there that would really prefer to be extinct. Newfoundlands are gorgeous! We have a labrador/shepherd cross who is crazy enough to fit right in with his family. He’s a love though – one of the chickens is his best buddy. We’re an odd lot. 🙂

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    ajoobacats said:
    March 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Jo. Commitment to keeping pets is so, so important. I think every child ought to learn the responsibility pet ownership entails prior to getting their bundle of fluff or feathers for life.

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    Sherri Fulmer Moorer said:
    March 16, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Great article. Rick (my husband and I) have 2 sun conures and a budgie. We absolutely love them, but I do remember that movie Paulie and can vouch for the fact that birds are a tremendous resposibility! It’s a committment to be sure, and many people don’t realize that. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Thank you Sherri! I love the sun conures – they are the most amazingly beautiful birds, and clever as anything. Budgies are cleverer than anyone I reckon. I suppose we really are their voice with letting people know how big of a responsibility they are. Thanks for sharing your feathered flock with me. 🙂 x

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    acflory said:
    March 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Great post. I’ve lived with and loved animals all my life but pet birds have always made me sad. In my life, cats and dogs rule the roost, and they make a mess too, but no more than a small herd of children. In a very real sense, that’s exactly what they are. Or should be.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      LOL – love your herd! I like your sentence “pet birds alwasy make you sad”. That really is it in a nutshell. We should never bring them in from the wild. xxx

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        acflory said:
        March 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        You’d love the magpies who have decided they’ll share the garden with me. I think it’s mostly because they like my compost but I’m not complaining. 😀

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          jorobinson176 responded:
          March 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm

          Magpies are cool – I watched a documentary about them once. Clever guys too. We don’t get them here. Just crows and they mainly swipe the dog food. There’s nothing nicer than having wild birds zooming around the garden. 🙂

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            acflory said:
            March 19, 2013 at 3:25 am

            Another blogger, Metan, gets the most amazing birds coming to her garden but we mostly get magpies and kookaburras. I did have one amazing encounter though. Went out the other night because the dog was barking like crazy and was just in time to see something big and grey lift off from a fence post and disappear. I /think/ it was an owl. Hope it comes again so I can get a better look.

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              jorobinson176 responded:
              March 20, 2013 at 8:46 am

              Owls are amazing. We had a barn owl that nested right outside the kitchen at the last place we lived. When the babies started sunning themselves outside their nest every day I could watch them for ages. So cute and fluffy, but pretty strong in the beak and claw department. 😀

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                acflory said:
                March 20, 2013 at 9:18 am

                I’ve seen one baby owl but it flew away thank goodness – before the cats could get it. That’s what I fear most. The magpies and kookaburras just laugh at my cats but I worry about other birds who come too close.

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                  jorobinson176 responded:
                  March 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm

                  I don’t reckon a cat will get an owl. When I thought I should “rescue” a fluffy baby owl wandering around the lawn, I had a goodly gouge delivered by its mom to my head. Kitties are kitties unfortunately – love them anyway.

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                    acflory said:
                    March 21, 2013 at 12:20 am

                    Ouch! I think my guys must have learned their lessons early on because they only seem to hunt mice and rabbits. Now if I could only get them to learn not to bring said mice and rabbits into the house [through the dog flap]. 😦

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                      jorobinson176 responded:
                      March 21, 2013 at 6:15 am

                      Ha haaa! Those are pressies. 😀

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                      acflory said:
                      March 21, 2013 at 8:16 am

                      Yeah…. 😦

                      Like

    Patrick Jones said:
    March 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I can picture the parrot in Walmart picking out the foods he really likes and putting them in the cart!! Great visualization, JO!! 🙂

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Ha haa! It was when he took a big bite out of a lady’s sliced rye that he was banned – funny! 😀 xx

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    jennieorbell said:
    March 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Agree with all you say Jo. To keep a bird constantly caged must be to break its very soul.

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      jorobinson176 responded:
      March 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      It does for sure. Breaks my heart when I see it – poor little guys. xx

      Like

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