I have a blog about parrots, how could I not write about this show? If you haven’t seen it yet, follow this link to Parrots Confidential, a PBS show on most of the points I make in this blog.
They focus on the instinctive nature of parrots and how that works in captivity. Now, there are many people expressing concerns about “but what does this mean for the parrot adoption rescues out there!?” since the show does paint a very bleak picture of what happens once the birds lose their homes.
I have spoken to thousands… and I mean thousands of people over the years; people who don’t know anything about parrots and I have to introduce to the basics. Usually it’s the Green, environmental, espresso drinking yuppies that look at me in shock with some of my first statements. I would start each tour by asking how many people knew anything about birds and almost every time I’d see that poor sap dragged along with their spouse that likes to point out “I believe birds belong in the wild!” with a smug look on their mocha latte drinking faces.
My first step that wins over most of these types of people who would prefer to be walking a dog or two is stating bluntly that, “So do I! In fact, parrots make awful pets!” I’d then go into the details of that fine line that reputable avian rescues walk in trying to push for adoptions while also educating people on why they shouldn’t have birds as pets.
The entire thing is one huge, gray area.
Personally, I’d rather see a good person denied a bird than see the wrong person adopt a bird. The damage a single lapse in judgment can cause is irreversible when the person leaves your door with a bird. Will they keep in touch? Will they take good care of it? Will it end up homeless again? Will it live a healthy life? Will they breed or sell it? There are no guarantees.
On the other hand, I’ve seen perfectly lovable, adoptable birds, very much bonded with humans, that get stuck in a “forever” sanctuary with a bunch of other birds who have no clue how to be a bird. They beg for attention every time they see you, they want nothing but head scritches and one-on-one time. It’s heartbreaking. These birds definitely need to be with human companions, as the “imprinting” has already done its damage.
Yes, imprinting. As a Wildlife Rehabber, you see it often enough and it’s considered a “disability”. I suppose in legal terms, you would call it a “mental defect”. The bird loses all ability to relate to their own species and considers themselves human. That bird will never be able to go back to the wild… ever.
Unfortunately, the documentary failed to cover this. It showed some very respectable people, doing some wonderful things, but never shows the reality of the aftermath. How much enrichment time can a single person spend with a bird who falls in love with them, when they have 900 other birds who also need their attention? I’ve been in that situation… it sucks.
Still when in doubt, I’d rather err on the side of caution and not have people bring birds into homes that aren’t equipped to handle them, even if that means denying a potential home to a person who might be a match.
So far, I’m still waiting to see that one sanctuary that does it right – weeding out the poor adopter choices by going on an anti-bird breeding, keeping, raising rant and then taking those that are left and showing them how much love and affection a bird can bring them. I’d rather start with people who believe birds make poor pets and belong in the wild and convince that mindset of person to adopt a bird, than deal with the opposite!
As for this blog? There’s going to be a major life-altering event taking place in our household soon and I’d like to take some time to use this blog as a way of documenting some of the trial and errors that come with raising a human baby with the feathered members of the household 🙂