Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!
I would like to start off 2014 by putting in an appeal on behalf of captive parrots all over Belize. 
People ask me 'how do I make my parrot happier' and my answer - in Belize  - is always give him a chance at a normal wild life. If, for physical or psychological reasons, he can't be released and he does not share a healthy bond with a human, then at the very least give him a mate, a big space, and let him live as close to a normal wild parrot-life as possible. 

I am sad beyond belief for parrots who spend their days alone in a cage. When a parrot laughs or talks, he is not necessarily 'happy' - he is just mimicking us. Only exceptional birds with years of socialisation get to the stage where they are communicating.  Parrots in Belize are wild-caught birds. They are certainly not domesticated - most of the time they are not even tame. In the very best of circumstances they could be described as 'content' with their situation, but I know from 10 years of working with these birds that they would revert back to a wild existence given the slightest chance, which speaks volumes about their level of contentment.

Unlike captive-bred birds in the USA or Europe, wild-caught parrots in Belize are reminded of their roots every single day. Every time they see a wild bird pass over, every time they hear a wild bird calling, every time they see a native tree, hear the rain falling, feel the breeze, taste a wild fruit or berry, every sunset, every sunrise, their inherent, natural instincts come to the surface. 

People will describe a certain behaviour in their bird and I can almost always tell them that it directly relates to a habit he would have in the wild: usually his desire to mate and breed. Freedom and procreation are the most fundamental processes of any living creature, and yet these are the two things we deny our captive birds. Sometimes (if the bird is 'lucky') he will have some solace in an artificial environment and human company, but this is not natural, and generally the bird would be happier with his own species.

Belize Bird Rescue is not interested in 'collecting' well socialised, human bonded birds, but birds that are caged and alone day after day would be far, far better off in our hands. We can offer that wild bird the best chance at a natural life, or the closest thing to it that his temperament and health will allow.

In case you're still unsure - I can tell you that I have had so many birds go through the rehab programme whose owners genuinely believed the bird could never be free, and yet within a week of introducing him to the rehab flock in the flight aviary, I can no longer tell them apart. The human vocalisation stops, they usually find a friend to cosy up to, they make wild bird noises, they scrap and fly and scream with the other birds - basically they revert straight back to their wild selves. And why wouldn't they? These are not domesticated animals, they are not pets and honestly, they are not 'your friend'. They are wild birds, born in the wild, designed for the wild - and most of the time, they know it. 

May I suggest a resolution for the New Year? If you know of a wild bird in captivity, please, work with the owner to get them to give up the bird. Make them realise that however 'happy' they think this bird may be he would be a million times happier with his own kind. Together, let's make 2014 the year of freedom for captive parrots in Belize. 

 Happy New Year to all living creatures!
(In case you're wondering, for the first time ever, I have dramatically edited a published blog. I was extremely harsh on people who do take care of their birds, so I have toned it down a little! My apologies - I was provoked. I have calmed down now)

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