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 Post subject: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:57 pm 
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I'm looking at you, Lava and Torque :)

I am captivated by parrots. I love them. We have wild parrots in our neighborhood who fly over at least once a day, distinctive by their conversation as they travel. Once in awhile they come to roost on the jacaranda out front or when the jujubes are ripe in the tree. When this happens I can go to my sunroom, be eye to eye with them, and watch as they eat, frolic and chatter.

Birds have the gift of flight. There is nothing more majestic than a bird of prey, in pursuit or circling above. My heart soars when I see the local red tails hunting, or hear their babies screeching, just knowing that they thrive among us.
Is it cruel to house a bird and take away this gift? Given that local lore has it that the parrots that fly above are former house pets gotten loose, why rescue parrots? Why not let them rejoin a flock? Is this possible?

And if not, then, is it good to rescue a parrot? I know parrots are a lifetime commitment.
Would it be cruel to remove a parrot from a rescue if he or she has already bonded there?

Birds are such an amazing source of feathered love. Let's talk about this!

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:18 pm 
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Some conures/Quakers have thrived as wild flocks, this isn't true of all parrots.

A good rescue wont adopt out bonded parrots singly. You have to get to know parrots slowly, so you can start to form a bond.

Rescue parrots often have rafts of psychological problems so adopting one is a many year project of healing and adjustment in a lot of cases.

Our cockatiel has free flight. She loves to fly around. The macaw flies once in a while when we urge him. Molly is clipped because she becomes a psychopath when she can fly. A lot of parrots don't fly much in the wild (compared to other birds) macaws mostly fly just to get to a destination. I'd rather the birds be able to fly if they want. Molly never seems bothered after her wings are clipped; just nicer.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:35 pm 
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Isn't it great to see them doing what they do best, picking the fruit out of a palm, wheeling and screeching with their buddies? We are so lucky to see them like that here in my city (these are the kind we see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plain_parakeet) and I really feel so happy to see them doing their thing, absolutely free.

I really have thought a lot about this, and my thoughts have gone back and forth, especially after half a year working in a big parrot rescue (my experience was very much limited to smaller birds and a few very neglected parrots in my family years ago). I have been moved to tears seeing flocks of birds with huge social structures. Seeing one lonely green parakeet now makes me very upset. These birds have really complex group social bonds and feeding behaviors, and are meant to live in a flock, a big one, and it does seem very cruel.
That said, you can't just go opening the cages. Most smaller group birds (parakeets and cockatiels) don't know how to shelter during colder weather or where to find food. We have maintained shelters for escaped domestic parakeets to survive the winter, but they have all had serious problems (fungus infections, broken beaks, mites) and I really doubt they survive long. These birds have been bred in captivity for characteristics, who knows how different they are from their source genetics in australia, for example, and if their preferred foods are even here.

Here in Brazil, where many birds are hunted and sold illegally for pets, the police do not try to re-release the birds they seize. In best cases, they end up in community flight cages at zoos or institutions. Worst case, they languish in cages. Most are captured as babies and never learned how to forage or survive in the wild, and lack a group to be part of. The biologists in these places say they would never survive if re-released. I would imagine that many of the birds in rescues had similar origins.

Sometimes, seeing some of these big birds literally mutilating themselves in the rescue, I wondered whether it was really kind to keep them alive at all. I could only imagine the decades of suffering. But that quickly evaporated when I saw parrots make progress, when we were able to find ways to get through to birds that had just been dumped as unmanageable.
Birds make strong bonds, and the big ones don't mind bonding with people instead of other birds. There is a great blog about a woman with rescued toucans that makes me smile just thinking about it. They have their preferences and fears, just like dogs.

I think rescuing a bird from an escaped flock to put in a cage is wrong. They have adapted to a new environment. But if a bird has grown up in captivity, and is used to people, then giving it the best life possible is much better than letting it languish in a rescue in a lonely cage with little interaction, or freeze to death outside. There are SO MANY birds to rescue. Birds live a long time- owners die, get sick, change their minds, get evicted, etc etc. A good rescue will not let you take a bird that has a strong bond with another bird. But it can be magical too- I saw birds click with adopters right away (and absolutely no-frigging-way-tantrum with adopters they didn't like). Some birds took me weeks to be able to approach, another cockatoo that nobody had been able to handle decided he loved me.

A bird, even a little bird like our evil Tiki, is very much like a nonverbal toddler that bites. Lots of things going on upstairs! There is a lot of second guessing and mystery, but deep down you are mostly sure the little guy loves you, and when he lets me tickle his little head it is delightful. It involves a lot of effort, I would say lots of ongoing education to make sure you're doing the right thing, and resources. (bird vets are $$$$ if you can even find one).

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:53 pm 
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and to counterbalance all that crepe i wrote (sorry, birds get me all wordy), some substance
http://adventuresintoucanland.com/ (toucan lady blog)

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:22 pm 
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torque wrote:
A bird, even a little bird like our evil Tiki, is very much like a nonverbal toddler that bites. Lots of things going on upstairs!


And see, this is the very best part. They are little winged geniuses. The brain to body mass ratio for parrots is supposedly off the charts. You can tell by looking at them that there's a whole lot going on. And then, if they are verbal, no one will convince me that they don't know exactly what they are saying. At least some of the time.

Thanks so much for your post, Torque. It makes more sense now. My best first step is simply to go visit a parrot rescue and get a sense of the birds there.

And Lava, thanks. I realize that since they are so smart, they are more susceptible to torment and anguish. Their behaviors belie that. I don't want to add to another soul's suffering.

Torque, it must be so awful to be living right where the horrid capture industry is plucking them for nefarious means. That breaks my heart.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:23 pm 
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OMG that toucan! Those beak noises are the very best!

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:25 pm 
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torque wrote:
I think rescuing a bird from an escaped flock to put in a cage is wrong. They have adapted to a new environment.


Of of course! They are positively gleeful out there!
Thank goodness the climate here is kind to them.
I've seen what I believe are escaped Macaws even. In a huge pomegranate tree. It was awesome.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:26 pm 
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Different species have different characteristics and personalities, so making a good match starts there too.

There are som many parrots who need a home full of love and patience. Patience is key since birds are a pain in the butt.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:26 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
Our cockatiel has free flight. She loves to fly around.


OK, this is amazing. I'm now picturing an aviary outside, connected to our back balcony.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:50 pm 
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Well, the reality is a bird proofed house and frequent use of Poop Off and chewed paper if we leave it out. She is such a happy bird though, and is now 18. She is a total sweetheart.

Here is a really quick rundown:

Cockatoos: loud, needy, require a LOT of time, love, patience, routine, and noise tolerance. Also, many people are allergic. Very, very sensitive birds. Many are Velcro birds and want to be surgically attached to their person. This can get old.

Mini Macaws (hahn's, severes, etc): feisty, sweet, can be loud, generally pretty agreeable birds

Scarlet Macaws: not great pets, so many end up abandoned. They are cantankerous, grouchy birds. Not as playful as other macaws.

Green wings: so gentle and sweet. I love these birds. Hyacinths are similar too. These birds are super expensive to feed, entertainm and care for.

Blue & Golds: sweet, very playful, rambunctious, need good routine

Sun conures: feisty, feisty, feisty, and NOISY. Sweet, playful. And fun. I'd last ten minutes with the noise.

Green cheeks: basically everything I say about Molly applies! These birds are snuggle buggle teddy Bears. Not usually great talkers, but very smart, playful, and good at entertaining themselves, so not as generally needy as many other birds. These are the reasons I got Molly. I couldn't commit to most other species, especially when I was in school.

Pretty much all parrots have spiteful streaks and have well defined senses of fair play and justice. Most of them really, really need routines.

Birds are pretty amazing and great and we love our wee flock dearly. They are affectionate, intelligent, and loyal. But they definitely take over. The toddler analogy is so apt!

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:05 pm 
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One warning: vacations or going away are HARD. Rescue parrots often have abandonment issues so you can't leave them for a week to go on vacation. Our macaw would have a permanent nervous breakdown if we left him somewhere. A few times we've been able to get someone to come to the house, but that's hard too because he will not eat while we are gone. My parents couldn't stay for my college graduation because they had do a back to back round trip 8 hours to get back home to him.

My mom and I would have gone somewhere this summer or to visit her family in Ireland after my dad died, but we couldn't leave him. There is nothing we can do about that as much as we wish otherwise.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:40 pm 
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Eeeeee -- good point about the abandonment. So, this project may need to wait until I'm a bit older and less prone to my own flights of fancy. Unless there were some way I could bring a parrot hiking with me...

I love your descriptions. I kinda love the idea of a cantankerous, grouchy Scarlet.

I hear you about the routines. Right now, with Mr. Sz newly retired, there is way too much flux in our home. As well as the three cats including the indefatigable VelcroMort. So, a velcro cockatoo would be especially challenging.

Lots of good birdseed for thought, here.

<3

Thank you!

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:10 am 
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The cockatoos in the rescue were also the most injurious to themselves. Macaws would pluck their own feathers, cockatoos would actually cut themselves until surgery was required. Maybe their emotions run especially deep.

Our cockatiel has always had clipped wings- which is another thing that people get divided about, but it started out as a safety thing so he doesn't fly into a window and break his neck or into the gas flame on the stove, and we kept doing it. He still can fly for short distances, more of a glide than a flight, but he relies on people or climbing to get up high. He has a special shelf up high in the kitchen he can survey his kingdom from. We have all sorts of climbing routes around the house where he can climb up to this perch in my office, to the high perch in the bathroom (we have a hotel bar rack kind of thing), he climbs up the fruit baskets in the kitchen to his shelf.

And no kidding LW, if you have an important document, job contract, etc, the cockatiel guaranteed 100% will poop on it and then chew all the edges.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:15 am 
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~Sz wrote:
it must be so awful to be living right where the horrid capture industry is plucking them for nefarious means. That breaks my heart.

It is too sad, but there is a lot of public education going on, and the police are getting better and better at catching these guys. I hear that that Rio movie had the backing of the environmental police, hopefully educating kids about how birds need to go back to the wild.
The hard part is that as long as buying, selling, and caging some birds is legal and accepted, people will have a hard time understanding why one bird is okay and another isn't.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:54 am 
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torque wrote:
I hear that that Rio movie had the backing of the environmental police, hopefully educating kids about how birds need to go back to the wild.


That is definitely positive.

I can understand controversy about wing clipping but I can also understand necessity for same.

I looked into some local rescues yesterday, one has a strange website I can't quite access (probably some flash thing), but both definitely have strict procedures regarding adoption, as they should. A class is prerequisite, and I will look into that, I'm thrilled they are strict.

Thanks for the insight!

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:16 pm 
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Yes, they are. I wasn't even close to a candidate when I got molly. Just the fact that I was a student, regardless of my references from famous avian vets and my age was enough for them to hang up on me.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:45 am 
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You may also find that you enjoy volunteering with them (and going home to a clean, silent house after your shift!!). You can make just as much of a difference to the birds, and you can still travel, and you're doing work that many people don't want to do. Even something as basic as cleaning cages and feeding/watering, you are having direct contact with birds that need contact, physical and personal, and it can make a real difference.

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 Post subject: Re: Bird Peeps
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:29 am 
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Those are all very good points, Torque. I will look into that!

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