I’ve had this idea for a long time to start a non-profit to promote bird keeping as a way to raise awareness about the plight of birds in the wild. Here is my business plan. I’m half hoping someone will just take it and run with it as it would be a huge undertaking.
I wrote a previous post expressing my feelings about euthanasia. Even if you believe in it, it’s a vague decision. You can’t run a test on a bird and determine that the time has come.
Someone retold to me the criteria used by Brian Speer DVM of the Medical Center for birds. It still has subjectivity, but it’s still very useful and simple.
You start by thinking about the 5 things your bird enjoys most, or enjoyed if they are already in bad shape. If the bird can do at least a part of 3 out of five of the list, then the assumption is that they are still getting enjoyment out of life. Anything below that is time for euthanasia.
A friend of mine shared the 5 things for one of her birds dying of cancer:
- Bossing other birds around
- Hanging out with her mate and being affectionate
She’s still alive and doing all 5, but they are all diminishing.… READ THE REST
Standard disclaimer: I’ve never advocated a 100% seed diet for birds. I do believe they can part of a healthy “real food” diet for birds that can contain vegetables, fruits, insects, nuts, and other wild foods.
Whether intentional marketing or not, the pet food industry has always used words like “kibble” for processed dog and cat food and “pellets” for processed bird food.
First off, let’s look at one of the most comprehensive studies on processed food consumption from the British Medical Journal. This article defines what it calls “ultra-processed food” and documents the downsides.
… READ THE REST
Ultra-processed foods are industrial formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives, with little, if any, intact food. [Editor note: Pellets are powdered food and additives, which are then extruded]
Participants in the highest quarter of ultra-processed food consumption had a 62% relatively higher hazard of all cause mortality compared with those in the lowest quarter.
NOTE: This is not an endorsement of any particular style of building an aviary. I present this as a design I found compelling enough to use and the things I learned over time.
Two years ago, I built an aviary in the backyard. Just last month, with the help of a carpenter this time, I finished a significant renovation and expansion. I incorporated a large number of changes based on my first design. For those not interested in my detailed description of the new aviary, here is a photo gallery.
The original aviary was approximately 128 square feet, while the new one totals around 192 square feet. But because of the layout, there is a much longer flight path the birds can take so it seems much more enjoyable to them.… READ THE REST
It’s generally regarded as a fact that birds have very sensitive respiratory systems, far moreso than humans. Much of this comes from the proven sensitivity of birds to smoking Teflon products.
When heated to temperatures above 260C (500F), this otherwise stable material emits several flourinated prolysis products that are known to be rapidly lethal to birds.The Avian Respiratory System: A Unique Model for Studies of Respiratory Toxicosis and for Monitoring Air Quality—Environmental Health Perspectives—Harvard School of Public Health—February 1997
However, an extensive and exhaustive study in a journal called Environmental Health Perspectives by the Harvard School of Public Health paints a much more nuanced picture. The article starts with a detailed look at the entire respiratory system of birds, then looks at orally administered toxins, inhaled particulates, and toxic gases.
The general summary is that the bird respiratory system is not uniformly more problematic than ours. Sometimes it behaves similarly to humans, sometimes it’s more sensitive, and sometimes less.… READ THE REST
There are some topics in the bird community that are very controversial and for which opinions are very divided. Wing clipping is near the top of the list.
It’s not hard to find articles weighing the pros and cons of wing clipping, so I wasn’t wanting to write another one. However, I feel that in these articles, important downsides to wing clipping are not mentioned. To have an honest debate, all the arguments need to be on the table.
Here’s just one example. The article only presents one downside: lack of exercise. The text I quoted makes people feel bad about not clipping wings and typical of articles you’ll find.
… READ THE REST
If you care about your parrot and want to keep them safe, then clipping their wings is generally a good idea. Whether your parrot stays inside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or not, the bottom line is that you don’t want your parrot to fly away where they can get into harm’s way.
There are many resources on keeping birds in captivity. Most people search online but there are also books and magazines. However, these resources typically don’t mention much about how various bird species live in the wild.
The reason this is important is that unlike dogs and cats, birds are significantly less domesticated and some argue they are not domesticated at all.
An important distinction to make is that learning to behave nicely around humans is very different than being genetically programmed to like humans! Usually, domesticated animals mesh well with human lifestyles because the animals have been selected to like people. A domesticated dog puppy with limited experience near people will still approach humans for affection and play because thousands of generations of dogs before it were allowed to breed only if they were friendly toward humans.Wild, Invasive, Domesticated, or Tame: How to Describe a Bird—Constance Woodman—AFA Watchbird
The more that animals are bred to integrate with how we live our lives, the less they are like their wild ancestors.… READ THE REST
I used to breed cockatiels starting in the early 1980s, selling over a hundred birds a year. I used to advertise them in some town papers with my phone number.
When people called, I would find out whether this would be their first bird. If so, I would give them my standard speech to make sure they knew what they were getting into. Maybe 25% of the time, they would decide to think about it more before buying a bird and in some cases they would decide a bird was not for them.
Here’s what I would tell them:
- Birds are really messy! There’s really no getting around it. Feather dust, feathers when moulting, seed strewn everywhere, chewing on everything they can find, and they seem to find a way to poop in impossible locations.
- With very rare exceptions, birds don’t like to be pet like dogs, cats, or rabbits.
There are sharply divided opinions about euthanasia and I’ve grouped them into 3 categories that I’ve encountered.
- Euthanizing an animal is fine if they are sick, annoying, or you just want to try out a different pet
- Euthanasia is a final option if all medical options are exhausted and the bird is on the edge of death (this is typical in humans)
- Euthanasia should be applied to animals that are suffering and there are no available options to alleviate it other than a lifetime of painkillers
There is also the added issue of financial burden. Categories 2 and 3 are evaluated differently if medical options are unaffordable.
With a blog called Free Range Parrots, I predictably believe in the third option. Part of being free is being free from unending suffering. How do you tell if your bird is suffering?
- It’s not playing or singing or chirping much
- It’s fairly inactive
- It acts much better after giving a painkiller, indicating they are in considerable pain
- Sometimes you can just intuit it by looking at the bird
Euthanising a bird is an extremely difficult thing and obviously should be given a lot of consideration.… READ THE REST
Many of us has grown up believing that fat makes you fat and that fat causes heart disease, diabetes, metabolic disorder, and obesity. A low fat diet has been recommended by the USDA, doctors, and nutritionists since the 1980s despite lack of solid research to support it.
This opinion has been mirrored by the bird world where processed (pelleted) diets are universally low in fat and high in carbohydrates. Also, feeding fatty seeds like sunflower and safflower is highly frowned upon.
However, research going back to the early 20th century contradicts this conventional wisdom, but has always been drowned out by organizations such as the American Heart Association, the USDA, and the Sugar Association, all of which have strong industry ties.
In the last 15 years, an avalanche of research has predominantly exonerated fat, including saturated fat, from causing these diseases. Carbohydrate intake was the culprit all along. Low carbohydrate diets aren’t very controversial anymore but the link between high consumption and disease is now much more ironclad.… READ THE REST