Judgements in the Parrot World

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It might just be me, but I find that bird people (and I suppose all online animal enthusiasts) are very judgemental to people they do not know personally! Since the only record of these people I have is what I see them post, I try not to be judgemental… people have different situations and beliefs and reasonings that I cannot know or predict. But some people.. yikes! I feel so bad for them, that if it were me, I’d be crying.

But amazingly.. the things they are often criticized for, I do also!

For example, I’ve been called lazy, ignorant, cruel, and selfish for having Douglas clipped. This is the first time I’ve clipped him, and I did because his hormones were raging and he was attacking Kyoko. Of course, a lot of people deal with that situation, but not my exact situation. Do they know I pretty much live in a dorm room with two birds? Do they know that it’s hard to keep them separated? But i’m still called all those nasty words regardless, albeit indirectly.

I’ve been told indirectly that I shouldn’t own birds, because I often can’t afford to take my birds to the vet for yearly examinations. I have money saved for emergencies (although right now that is depleted… due to a recent emergency with someone else’s bird), but being a student, I can’t afford to spend $500 each on both of my birds to find out things that I already know. Mind you, if my birds were acting strange, or out of the ordinary, I would not hesitate to take them to the vet.

I’ve also been told multiple times that it is selfish to keep two birds that dislike each other in such a small space. But at the same time, it is mean of me to rehome them… not sure how to fix that situation then.

Recently, a thread on a parrot forum was brought up about a high school project to collect bugs and pin them. I pretty much do this for a living, since I work at the Royal Ontario Museum. There is a room with THOUSANDS of skin specimens of birds alone, and MILLIONS of other ones kicking around the museum… heck, i even saw a closet sized space with hundreds of jars with at least 20 bats in them each!  So I guess I am a monster eh?
Well now a days we don’t often kill birds for skins. They are usually birds that died from natural causes. But bugs are still often collected as well as other animals. I had a school project where we went around a field to collect bugs and we killed them and then learned to properly pin them. Is it terrible cruel that I didn’t even blink an eye, or hesitate at this? (Actually pinning was pretty gross). Heck! I even know how to skin a bird (i hope i never need to do that!) But all these things, that are advancements in science, are seen as cruel… evil… unnecessary…

Right now, I am working on barcoding the DNA of about 300 specimens from New Guinea, in order to see how birds are related, whether they need to be divided into subspecies… and basically I am just barcoding birds to be added to the Tree of Life. (Check out the project HERE. This is my project database here… BARCODE OF LIFE DATABASE.) I suppose it isn’t something that NEEDS to be discovered… but it is a large thing in evolutionary biology to show how every living organism in life is related phylogenetically. But there are also benefits to barcoding and taking samples from the wild…

FOR EXAMPLE: The Spix Macaw. Since all the babies currently in captivity are very closed related (inbreeding, etc.) in order to create offspring that survive and are healthy, scientists barcode the DNA of all the parrots, and try to  match up the two parrots that are the most genetically diverse. Sure, it’s not QUITE the same thing… but the point is, because I do what I do, does not make me an evil animal killer/hater.

What else.. I’ve also been shamed for not trying harder to feed pure organic food. It’s frowned upon that I keep my birds banded. The list goes on (although the worst rep i get is for having a clipped bird).

So… basically… according to most of the parrot people out there.. I’m a cruel cruel, ignorant bird owner that is lazy and selfish.. hehe.

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5 responses »

  1. Pingback: Judgements in the Parrot World « The Lovely Feathers | About Parrots

  2. Great post, Ming! I feel the same way. I think this is the main reason I bowed out of the online parrot community because some people become way too wrapped up/obsessed in “ideal parrot care” and in turn become hyper-judgmental of anyone who “seems” to not meet or exceed THEIR standards. It’s ridiculous. Most people don’t intentionally want a lower quality of life for their pets! We have to make do with what we’ve got and our personal situations. I think humans and pets need to meet somewhat halfway. Humans shouldn’t adapt 100% to a parrot’s lifestyle cause if that were the case, we might as well go build a home in the rainforest. Not to say that we shouldn’t try our best but I mean we’ve gotta be realistic. Thanks for bringing up all these things!! =)

    • I really like this:
      “I think humans and pets need to meet somewhat halfway. Humans shouldn’t adapt 100% to a parrot’s lifestyle cause if that were the case, we might as well go build a home in the rainforest. Not to say that we shouldn’t try our best but I mean we’ve gotta be realistic.”

      I think a lot of people should remember that.
      I know a lot of people say they would release their birds into the wild if they could… but I also see they get enjoyment from owning them. Interesting paradox, eh?

  3. I can see now why you thought the above reply was from me! LOL Honestly, I do think there is a baseline for care and feel everyone should at least follow that or not have pets whatsoever. Unfortunately, the baseline is different for everyone depending on their background. Most people here in Hawaii give water and seed, new toys only when necessary, a small cage, and no vet care – and that is taking “good” care of them. Personally, I think that level of care is not adequate but that is how most pet birds live (and survive). I admit I am extremely judgmental toward people who give MINIMAL care to their pets, bird or otherwise, but I tend to try to educate them on better care (and they never listen) or keep it to myself and then Rob hears an earful when I get home. If a person can barely make their own ends meet, they don’t need an expensive pet like a bird. If a person doesn’t want to properly care for their bird and just do what pet stores tell you to do, they don’t need a bird. Poor birds!

    To me, baseline would be clean water, a VARIED diet (at least some fresh foods, sprouts, etc. but I don’t expect people to bake bread for them like us nuts do), rotation of toys, as big of a cage as you can afford/have space for, time out of the cage, and – minimally – vet check ups/care every other year and whenever necessary (I know a lot of people that just let their birds die because the vet bill would cost more than replacing the bird itself). That is baseline, period, for me.

    I personally try my best to give my guys organic foods, a big varied mostly-organic diet, a million toys, nice sized cages, vet funds to cover whatever (how many other birds have their own bank accounts?!) – but if I forget to rotate their toys one week (not like they play a lot anyway ;P ) or buy something that isn’t organic because I’m lazy to drive far or am not able to let them out one day due to a prior engagement I do not see myself as any less of an owner. If I were a bird, I would love for me to be my owner!

    For those that are overzealous with their birds and think that we need to give them an environment as close to their natural home as possible, send your bird to Africa or Australia or wherever their original habitat is so they can live the life you think they deserve!! I think balance is key in EVERYTHING – and I balance my parrots lives with mine. As much as I adore my birds, I have to be able to live my life too.

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