What is alive and what isn’t and what should we do
about it? Theories: about the nature of the thing. And of the soul. Because people die. The fear: that nothing survives. The greater fear: that something does.
Richard Siken, excerpt of The Language of the Birds from War of the Foxes
theres a post going around saying how you should NOT get a parrot even if you are a dedicated owner. i do not personally agree and am actually a bit mad at the way they portray parrots, almost teaching people to fear them. whats your stance on it?
If you’re referring to pepperandpals’ post, I agree with it. Had you asked me this question a few years ago I would probably say otherwise but after all the experience, knowledge and dedication I’ve put in to learning I no longer believe that parrots should be sold in the pet trade under most conditions.
You haven’t a clue how many birds get mistreated, left with dowel perches, no UV lighting, small cages, seed only diets, forced to aggress, get placed in homes with teflon products, and end up living miserably with these people up until their lives end way earlier than they should have. Too many people think that exotics are just that, exotic, a decoration, something to brag about and end up not actually caring for it as much as they should. Too many people believe that they’re doing right or don’t need to be doing more and as a result the bird suffers.
When it comes to people who do do their research, have previous hands on experience and really care for a bird the best they can, it’s rarely ever enough when you compare, and the average person is not able to provide that sort of lifestyle for them. Using myself as an example, I spend all day with my birds, I spend all my time adding things to environment, switching up diets, giving them exercise, mentally stimulating them, cage cleaning, rearranging the bird room, it’s no exaggeration when I say I spend a solid 12 hours that they’re awake caring for them and then spend the whole evening trying to think of ways to improve the care I’m giving them for tomorrow. Despite how hard I try, how much research and how much i provide it never feels like enough. because it isn’t enough.
I do my best to show you guys all the work I put in to caring for my little girls, I constantly receive messages telling me how amazing I am for giving these birds this life and all the work I put in to them but in all honesty, you guys don’t see the half of it. You don’t see the thousands of hours of research I put in to every aspect of their life, their diets, their housing, their natural foraging experiences, safe plants, cleaning, moulting habits, behavioural situations, space division, possession, territory layouts, and so much more go on on a daily basis. You don’t see all the work I have to do to make sure that these highly territorial species doesn’t fight and kill one another so that I can continue to have them both out as much as possible, only having them out one at a time would take away so much space and enjoyment from their lives. You don’t see the vet bills, the preparation, the stress reducing, you don’t see the costs, the time, the energy that goes in to trying to keep them happy. You all seem to have this idea that the care I give my birds is way beyond exceeding expectations but let me tell you something, what I do I consider to be bare minimum.
All the effort, expenses, time, and work is absolutely necessary for them to be content with a captive lifestyle, if I was away at school or work full time I would consider this care to be subpar, to be inadequate, they would be unhappy with that lifestyle because that’s not what they’re designed for. They are not meant to live this way and not everyone has the time, space, personality or tolerance necessary to care for them the way they deserve.
Can you look at those and tell me that they can possibly be perfectly content and happy this way without the time and effort I put in to it?
Can you tell me that a bird so intelligent, so so smart can be removed from that environment and so perfectly adapt without any problems?
Can you look at this bird and tell me that they’re happy with this lifestyle?
Plucking is a behaviour that only happens in captivity it has never been recorded in the wild. Plucking is a behaviour caused by boredom, understimulation, stress, inadequate diet, and sometimes even happens just because they’re depressed.
You can not tell me that parrots are happier this way, you can not possibly tell me that taking something so perfectly adapted to a single lifestyle, perfectly designed to fly forever is okay having that removed. You will never be able to convince me that something perfectly designed to work with flight will be happy to have them chopped off for human enjoyment. My own Mia used to be clipped because she was from a store, my own Mia was depressed because of it, she did not move very much, she did not want to play with toys, she did not want to interact with people, she was miserable that way. But people wouldn’t notice that, they would dismiss it as the bird’s personality or just adapting or some other excuse to ignore the fact that the bird is having a horrific time. You will never be able to convince me that this:
you will never convince me that being captive is healthy.
Parrots are a full time job, they are not a pet, they are not a decoration, they are not a toy, they are not a phase, they’re a commitment and a hell of a big one. Birds should not be readily available in pet stores, owners should have to go through tests to see if they’re capable of providing a stimulating environment for the ones that already stuck in this trade. I think that breeding should be focused on maintaining health and maintaining the survival of species such as the endangered blue throated macaws and I think that species such as hyacinths, or cockatoos shouldn’t be in homes at all. Keeping those birds isn’t a matter or giving them an enriching life, it’s a matter of doing your best to prevent them from suffering.
In this world ignorance is bliss, a few years ago I would have thought just the same as you, I believed it’s just a bird it’s sold in a store it will be just fine. But as soon as you learn, as you soon as you see all the harm and the suffering these birds go through you’ll change your mind.
If you are a dedicated owner, if you have the experience and knowledge you should have before you even get a bird a pet store wouldn’t even be an option. There’s a reason that every reputable person, blogger, trainer, or other animal worker will always consider adopting before all else, it certainly isn’t a coincidence that the most educated refuse pet stores. Breeding has resulted in so many god damned problems, I’m certain you’ve heard of the feather duster budgies caused by poor breeding or the numerous parrot hybrids, while pretty they serve no purpose.
I’m certain some of you saw this post going around featuring the feather duster budgies? Do you have any idea how many comments said “I want one”? These birds are a genetic failure, their feathers keep growing and never stop until they die, they either die from overheating, they can’t breathe, they can’t walk to make it to food so they starve or are generally crushed under the weight.
The fact of the matter is that birds aren’t designed for this lifestyle, they are not domesticated they are wild they retain all that natural behaviour all those natural needs, they bite, they scream, they fly, they make a mess, they destroy things, they’re active, and demanding, the average person, and I’d go as far as to say a solid 70% of most bird owners, can not handle their care. How many times have you read “my bird won’t stop screaming”, “I’m considering getting rid of my bird”, “my bird won’t stop biting”, “my bird only likes one person”, “my bird hates me”, “i can’t afford this vet bill”, “I don’t want to buy a UV light or a filter”, a lot, right?
All of those problems happen because people didn’t do their research, they didn’t know how to handle the bird, how to react to the problems when they started showing up, they didn’t know what to look for they were unprepared for the care that they need.
The majority of birds from pet stores and breeders suffer, by the time they make it to 2 years old and they start acting like proper adults they get sent to shelters. When they become adults they don’t take shit from anyone, they have 0 tolerance for your foolishness and lash out when you ignore their body language. People don’t want a bird that wants to be treated with respect, they want one that will sit there, do tricks, talk, and look cute when they want it to, they don’t want mutual trust, they want obedience and don’t want to work to get it.
I don’t care how good of an owner you think you are, once you stop blocking out everything you’ll see the damage the pet trade has on these birds and your mind will change. It’s not a coincidence that the most educated or experienced will advise you against buying pet store birds or breeder birds and I sincerely hope you listen to them.
I know I will certainly never purchase a bird from a breeder or a store, I hope you won’t either.
birds are loud. they never shut up unless they want to and can be heard through the whole house.
birds are mean. they have tempers. they are too clever to be obedient because you told them to be. they bite. even when theyre playing they bite. it hurts.
birds live a long time. theyre expensive. bird food is expensive. bird toys are expensive. cages are expensive. vet bills are expensive. theyre smelly. theyre messy.
birds are not domestic. they are unlike any animal we keep around as pets. theyre frustrating and have a will of their own.
if you still want to get a bird, do research. go get experience handling birds, go to a shelter or a friend or a pet store if you have to. know what kind of bird you want. know what they need. what kind of temperament they have. how to read their body language. visit bird blogs (they will tell you how hard it is) @flock-talk@poifish-animals@wordsonbirds
if you feel like youre ready for a bird, DONT buy from a pet store. dont support breeding. give your home to a bird that needs one, not one that is bred for one. adopt if you can. if you must, look through craigslist. make sure you are willing to put down a lot of money for the bird. you not only need to get the bird but you need to buy the best cage you can and the best food you can and give it the best environment you can. dont you dare skimp out on your bird’s life.
a bird is a very big responsibility. theyre loud, clever, mean, smelly, messy, and expensive. they arent pretty little living decorations you can just keep locked up in a cage and take care of when you want to. theyre living creatures with needs that wont be convenient for you.
Do birds of prey show much body language? Are pack-hunting hawks more communicative than others?
Birds of prey definitely use body language! It’s just not always as obvious or easy to read as it is on other animals, like dogs and cats. The only pack hunting hawk I can think of would be the harris hawk, which is typically thought of as more intelligent and communicative than other hawks. I don’t know if this is necessarily true, since I’ve never flown one personally, but being social definitely makes them easier to work with. It’s one of the reasons they have become so popular as falconry birds.
I learned how to read basic bird body language from the red-tailed hawks and kestrels that I flew in the past, but nothing has taught me how to “read” a bird like working with my imprint goshawk. Imprints react to people the same way their species in the wild would react to other birds. This means you get to see a lot more of their natural behaviors and body language play out. It’s part of the reason why raising an imprint is so cool! Some signs are very obvious and easy to read, while others are so subtle that only a well-trained eye will pick up on them. I’ll try to list some of the more common ones for you.
Aggression: hackles (feathers on back of neck) raised, head dipped, wings held out, one shoulder dipped
Possessiveness: mantling (wings out, tail fanned), turning back to you, side glances
Nervousness: feathers held tight, neck elongated, eyes wide, standing higher on legs, wings slightly out (ready to fly away), shifting weight, rapid glances
Fear: mouth open, wings held out, feathers raised
Comfort: feathers loose or poofy, one foot tucked up, rousing (shaking feathers), tail wiggling
In the first photo, Jasmine was busy being interesting in and exploring the laundry basket, and he didn’t want to get a head scratch from me just then. Therefore, he communicated that clearly to me by pulling his crest and body feathers back, opening his beak, and taking a few warning swipes at my approaching finger.
In the second photo, Piper was already looking at me and sitting at her perch with feathers puffed, showing that she was calm and open to possible head rubs.
Parrots have times when they are up for cuddles, and times when they don’t feel like it at all. Some birds like cuddling more than others. Some birds may never prefer to cuddle or be touched at all.
No matter which type, please respect your bird’s individual personality and needs. Put yourself into their (adorable dinosaur) feet, and look at the situation from his or her perspective. Try your best to read his or her body language, to understand what your bird is trying to tell you, and he or she will appreciate and trust you even more for it.
The funny thing about the historical usage of the term “adventurer” is how it gravitates to extremes. You look at any given “adventurer”, and I guarantee you, either they’re a murderous grave robber with delusions of grandeur, or else they just wanted to look at birds and it sort of got out of hand. No middle ground whatsoever.
NOTES: Verbs with (!) are strong/irregular, (s) means seperatable. This list doesn’t contain bird names but if you want to I can make a list of those if there isn’t one already. Some words may be scientific.
der Vogel (Vögel) – bird
der Ornithologe/Ornithologin (Ornithologen/Ornithologinnen) – ornithologist
die Ornithologie / die Vogelkunde – ornithology, study of birds
das Wirbeltier (-tiere) – vertebrate (lit. vertebra animal)
die Feder (Federn) – feather
das Gefieder/Federkleid – feathering, coat (of feathers)
der Schnabel (Schnäbel) – beak
der Flügel (Flügel) – wing
die Kralle (Krallen) – claw
hohle Knochen (sing. der Knochen) – hollow bones
die Kloake (Kloaken) – cloaca
die Bürzeldrüse – uropygial gland (a fat producing gland)
die Drüse (Drüsen) – gland
das Ei (Eier) – egg
das/der (Ei)dotter – egg yolk
das Eiweiß – white of egg, protein
die Brutzeit – breeding season
die Balz – courtship display
das Balzverhalten – behaviour of courtship display (dancing, singing, etc.)
die Mauser – moulting (change of feathers, fur, etc.)
der Singvogel (Singvögel) – songbird
der Laufvogel (Laufvögel) – flightless bird (lit. running bird)
der Zugvogel (Zugvögel) – migratory bird
der Vogelzug – bird migration
der heimische Vogel – local/regional bird
das Nest (Nester) – nest
das Küken (Küken) – chick
der Nesthocker – altricial animal (lit. nest croucher)
der Nestflüchter – precocial animal (lit. nest escaper)
der Flug (Flüge) – flight
der Sturzflug – nosedive
ein Ei legen – to lay an egg
flügge (sein, werden) – to fledge (to develop wing feathers so the bird can finally fly)
aus dem Nest fallen – to fall down from the nest
fliegen (!) – to fly
etwas im Flug fangen (!) – to catch sth. on the fly, in flight
mit den Flügeln schlagen (!) – to flap one’s wings
flattern – to flap
landen – to land
abstürzen (s) - to fall (down, from the sky)
(aus)brüten (s) – to breed, (to breed until the egg hatches)
(aus dem Ei) schlüpfen – to hatch (from an egg)
singen (!) – to sing
krähen – to crow
zwitschern – to tweet, to chirp
flugunfähig – flightless, unable to fly (lit. flight-unable)
Sara Tuss Efrik, from “Dark Parasite, the New Light (Automania of Takashi Miike’s Imprint and Alejandra Pizarnik’s Fragmentos Para Dominar El Silencio),” tr. Paul Cunningham, published in Witch Craft Magazine
“We fly like blackbirds through the orange groves, floating on a warm wind. When we run, we own the earth. The land is ours. We speak the birds’ language. Not immigrant no more. No stupid Mexicans. When we run, our spirits fly. We speak to the gods. When we run, we are the gods.”