Out of Sight Out of Mind

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Jelly & Button

Something’s really put a bit of a damper on my festive spirit this year. One of my neighbours has some sort of parakeet in a cage in their back yard. It’s not tiny, but it’s not overly spacious either, and made of metal roofing sheets mounted on top of four poles. I guess that it’s about two metres on each side. All I can see is the back of it, but I think it has wire mesh on one side. They’re both out every day, and they don’t have any children so nothing happens out there at all, apart from troops of monkeys zooming in and out. I’ve been trying not to look at it, or think about it, but that birdie guy in there spends a lot of his day calling, and he sounds mournful and miserable as hell, so the thought of what his life must be like locked up in there year in and year out, alone, and in all weathers, pops up in my thoughts all throughout each day. It must be absolute hell. It’s hell for me just thinking about it.

I know that most people don’t get to spend as much time with their pet birds as I do with mine, and I understand that cages are the recognised homes for them. I think it’s bad enough that many parrots never get to leave these cages, often spending their days alone in empty homes while their owners are at work, and get fed what and when their owners choose, but to park such a wonderful creature out in your yard in a metal box just seems beyond cruel to me.

A couple of things that stand out for me as far as my own feathered horde are concerned – firstly is how incredibly intelligent they are. They get happy, sad, angry, and occasionally bored. They have clear thought processes. They have senses of humour. They feel emotion. The second thing is how loving they are. They so obviously feel love and affection. Thirdly is that they have no malice. So if I had to compare birds or animals to my human neighbours and ask who’s the better person I most certainly wouldn’t vote for the humans. No other creature on this planet purposely imprisons any other, and they certainly don’t knowingly or unknowingly torture them. Only people do that.

I’m not sure what, if anything, to do about the neighbour’s back yard bird, or if I’m over-reacting because I’m such a fan of the feathered, but I’m trying anyway to think of something that won’t offend them or bring wrath on that feathery guy’s head. But I can’t carry on listening to his sad calls, or catching glimpses of that contraption on sticks, and still be able to concentrate or get any work done. It’s so much easier when you aren’t forced to look at animal suffering. Out of sight, out of mind. I’m sure a lot of people would think that there’s nothing wrong with keeping a bird like that. Definitely the people who believe that animals are not sentient beings, and most certainly don’t have feelings or souls, or the right to freedom. You can’t free animals after being bred and kept in captivity anyway, but you can give them the dignity and comfort every creature deserves – at least to the best of your ability. And you can stop capturing and breeding new ones.

My wish for 2014 is that every person who wants buy any sort of bird, from a cheap little budgie to the most expensive parrot, first finds out how to care for it from someone who really knows. Find out how long your potential bird is likely to live (some live to a hundred years), and to behave, so that if having a lovely pile green poop on your shoulder now and then, or discovering that he likes to munch on furniture and has a voice like an air-horn is going to be a problem – avoid it before it happens, and you end up closing that cage door for good, and stealing the life of an animal designed to fly free. It shouldn’t only be about what the human wants or needs. Unless anyone has had a direct message from The Big Guy Himself saying that He is well pleased with the way we treat his creatures, I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t want consideration for their lack of freedom and happiness to be ignored.

As I’ve listened to the fireworks and parties, this year for some reason I just can’t stop thinking about those little souls around and about who have no reason to celebrate, because they don’t have the choice of how they get to spend their lives, and most humans don’t consider their lives of sufficient value or importance to give them that choice. I think we’re on a slippery slope believing it’s alright to do something just because we have the power to, and because we say so, and because just like me, most of us lack the balls to say something when we see these things. Easier to look away. I believe that humans instinctively know right from wrong – I think we’re born with that knowledge. It doesn’t matter how your parents raised you, if something feels wrong to you, it very probably is. So as we go into our shiny new year, spare a thought for those furred and feathered members of our families who never get to vote at family meetings.


23 thoughts on “Out of Sight Out of Mind

    The Story Reading Ape said:
    January 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

    As an all creatures lover myself I can understand your concerns Jo, but apart from talking with your neighbour about how sad their little one seems, (without locking the humans into a cage of their own to let them get some experience of what it’s like for themselves – BTW, DO NOT DO THIS JO LOL) I’m not sure what else you can do.

    They are probably not being deliberately cruel so be gentle with them 🙂


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      LOL – sounds like a good plan to me! I agree with you that they’re not being deliberately cruel – my guess would be that they found him too loud inside or maybe they think he’s better off in the outside rather than alone in the house, or they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of building the “cage”. I’ve never met them but they look like decent people. I just think it should be obvious to anyone that he must roast on hot days in that metal, and I can’t imagine what it’s like in there with some of the storms we’ve had lately. I think that there are loads of bird lovers around that can’t afford a bird like that who would love to take him into their lives though – so sad for him on his lonesome. 😦


    Mark Myers said:
    January 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Sounds like this came straight from Suzette’s mouth! We write from our experiences, eh? I had a little too much of a fiction crush aka Wilma Flintstone on Suzette! But I digress…
    I don’t know about birds, but once had a neighbor who chained his 2 dogs every day to his garage so they could go in and out. I found them once chained to each other wrapped around a tree after they had escaped. I got another neighbor and we told him politely, but firmly, that he could either find a different way to care for them or we could. He finally built a fence. I don’t know if it’s time for action, but it sounds like you might be ready.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 6, 2014 at 2:20 am

      LOL! Cool Mark! I could use a Suzette too – I’ll have to try to channel her – ha ha haaaa – brilliant! The world a much better place with guys like you in it, who do have the strength to step in for those poor animals that can’t help themselves. People who chain up their dogs like that really suck! You’re right – I want to just leap over the wall and take that bird out, but I’m going to introduce myself instead, and try and gently help them see that how they’re keeping him is all kinds of wrong. 🙂


    Jake Adler said:
    January 1, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    It might be that they don’t want the birds but don’t know how to rehome them. To give them a fuller life with their own kind, why not try contacting a bird sanctuary? There are special ones out there, once you have some information for an ‘alternative’ and explained how much happier their ‘pet’ would be in such a place, phone numbers etc, if you softly drop it into the conversation and provide them with the details, perhaps they would leap at the chance of giving it a new, better life there. You could even offer to take the bird there yourself if they’re local to you. You never know, maybe a few emails/phone calls to bird sanctuaries will lead to a happy ending? I am an animal lover too and recently rehomed my two cockatiels in bird sanctuary, with open aviaries and lots of contact with their own kind, plus lots of visitors if they miss human contact each day all day, as it is also a zoo! It was a hard thing to do, but I knew they were miserable, two males, wanting a female mate and spending many hours each day in a cage, only let out in the evenings, that is not a full life for any animal. Good luck and happy new year!


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 6, 2014 at 2:16 am

      That’s the most wonderful thing I’ve heard in a long time Jake! You’re a wonderful person to give your two little guys a great new life. Absolutely brilliant! That’s actually really good advise – I’ll definitely find out about a sanctuary first, and I’m sure we can make a happy ending for that guy. Thank you, and may you have the very best year ever! 🙂


    alisonjackauthor said:
    January 2, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Poor bird. I hate seeing an animal in a cage, particularly an animal built to fly. I agree with the comment saying your neighbours probably don’t intend to be cruel. A lot of people mistreat their pets out of ignorance, which I know doesn’t make it excusable, but hopefully things will change for this unhappy bird if you have a friendly word with his humans. Fingers crossed!


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 6, 2014 at 2:12 am

      I’ve found out that they are generally really nice people, and love and care for their dogs really well, so my plan of action is to make friends and then see if I can help the little guy out in some way. Difficult for introvert me – but I’ll do it anyway. You’re so right about mistreating pets through ignorance – most people don’t intend to be cruel, but still – it’s pretty rotten for the poor animals. And hold thumbs too! 🙂


    Sherri said:
    January 6, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Hi Jo, I am in process of catching up after Christmas/New Year’s/moving my son, so on and so forth but I feel as I’ve been out of the loop for too long! Anyway, had this saved to read and I just wanted to say that yes, I agree with all you share here. We have many pets of all kinds and I can well imagine your distress at having to listen to your neighbour’s pet bird’s mournful cries. We have a neighbour right behind us who has two (big) dogs who are left outside every day all day while he and his wife to go work. I work from home so on most days I have to hear one of the dogs in particular barking and whining incessantly. I will never understand why people do this – have dogs, only to leave them alone all day. I wish I had a solution to your problem but I don’t sadly ;-(
    I hope you had a lovely Christmas Jo, and I wish you a very Happy New Year for 2014 🙂


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 6, 2014 at 9:26 am

      It’s good to have you back Sherri! Those poor doggies – it really is such a shame. I suppose these people only see the ecstatic greetings when they get home, and the sad cries never even occur to them. I’m going to lurk around outside until I get to know these people, and gently try to make them see that what they’re doing is really not good at all. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas in between all your zooming around, and wishing you all the happiness in the world for this year. 😀 xx


        Sherri said:
        January 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm

        Thanks Jo, good to be back, even if not quite at full throttle! Yes, that sounds like a good idea, getting to know your neighbours first (lurking, lol!!) Best to treat these situations gently…and yes, those poor doggies indeed. It’s not too bad at this time of year as we have our doors and windows closed so will have to see what happens when the weather improves…although at the moment the storms are showing no let up and flooding continues…
        We had a lovely Christmas thanks and hope you did too and wishing you the very same for a wonderful year ahead… 🙂 xxx


    davidprosser said:
    January 6, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I can never understand why anyone would want a pet if they don’t have time or want to be with them. I used to have budgies but though they had cages, it was to house their food and water and for them to sleep in ( if they chose). The door wasn’t locked and I loved having them sit on my shoulder as I walked about the house.though the sound of them cracking my hair between their beak was deafening. I’ve suffered footprints through my mashed potatoes and gravy prints across the tablecloth before now as well as having my wife in hysterics if one got the hiccups after drinking pepsi. Pets offer companionship and there’s not much of that from the inside of a cage.Maybe a gentle word with your neighbours about hat you see or hear when they’re out all day would do the trick.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 6, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Your little guys sound gorgeous David! I can just see those footprints in your mashed potatoes, and the hiccups – ha ha haaaaaa! That’s hilarious! I’m trying very seriously to “meet” them in a casual way, and try a gentle word. I don’t want to barge in with guns blazing because I really think that they don’t have a clue, but one way or another, that bird can’t carry on living like that. Thank you so much David, and Huge Hugs right back at you! 🙂 xxxx


    Harry Nicholson said:
    January 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Your story tugs at my heart. It brought back a memory of a visit to a workshop in Malta. In the gloom I saw a dusty and depressed little robin in a cage. Some Maltese men seem unable to leave their few scraps of wildlife alone.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 25, 2014 at 8:14 am

      That is so sad Harry. It’s such a pity that people don’t respect these poor little guys right to their own lives. Watching what my lot get up to all day, I don’t know how anyone can’t recognise that they have feelings and get really sad. And they have tastebuds too – so it must be awful to live on a couple of seeds now and then. 😦


    ghostbusterbev said:
    January 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Jo, I agree that birds need attention and distraction to occupy their time. I had a Monk Parakeet “Ronnie” for 10 years and he was free to fly around the house. Even with the attention I gave him, he started plucking at his feathers and ended up with bald spots. I realized he needed to socialize with other birds and so I was in the process of arranging to give him to a man who had several birds when Ronnie escaped through an open door. I watched him soar higher and higher until he disappeared from sight…I followed and kept calling to him but I never saw my pet bird again. I was sad to see him go, yet I was happy that he had that last opportunity to soar freely.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 28, 2014 at 2:46 am

      You’re so right Bev. It must be the most amazing thing to be able to fly, and the most awful thing to never be allowed to – a bit like a human been locked up all his life in a room and fed on beans and toast every day. My little guys are not keen on the outside world ever since their road trip from Zimbabwe. 😀 xx


    jjspina said:
    January 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I don’t think birds are meant to be in cages. It is sad for the birds since they are meant to be free to fly away. I love the birds around our home and my husband fills two large feeders almost every other day. They eat enormous amounts. We even have turkeys eating out of the feeders. Now that is a sight to see!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I hope you will visit again as I will to yours. Best regards.


      jorobinson176 responded:
      January 28, 2014 at 2:42 am

      I’d love to see those turkeys! We had two as pets, and they were the most affectionate and sweet guys to have around. I’ll definitely carry on following your blog – it’s cool. 😀


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