Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't Be a Pirate

So, apparently it is not in the best interest of anyone to keep birds indoors.

This seems logical - birds are, after all, winged propagators of terror and chaos. Nothing gives me nightmares quite like the thought of an owl or eagle attacking my dogs... that’s mostly because I live in an area full of aggressive owls and eagles who like to attack small dogs and rip them apart with their mighty talons before regurgitating them in the open mouths of their hairless spawn. Or something like that. It’s all very upsetting.

Winged death-beasts aside, there are lots of reasons not to keep birds indoors. Reasons like the fact that, besides species of fowl (like chickens and maybe ducks), birds are wild animals who have not been bred to be kept in captivity. Their ideal environment is outdoors and, removed from that environment, they are generally stressed and unhappy.

Take feather-picking - a disfiguring, self-destructive behaviour which is incredibly common among birds in captivity, especially parrot species, and is unheard of in the wild. The causes are various - sexual frustration (as most captive birds don’t get to mate), lack of exercise, being kept in a small wire cage instead of the open jungle, having your wings clipped (which often triggers feather-picking)...these are a few of the struggles faced by birds kept inside our homes.

I learned this the hard way - after a particularly stress-prone lovebird stayed at my house for a grand total of forty-eight hours, which were the stressiest forty-eight hours I’ve endured so far in my present home. My life became a tormented hell-dimension full of squawking and bird poo. The bird felt similarly distressed, which caused more poo, and more squawks, and more death of my soul. And it wasn’t the lovebird's fault.

It was society’s fault. For allowing people to own and keep lovebirds at all. And, I suppose, it was my fault, for offering to take said lovebird home with me. And the bird’s owner, who was in the hospital. But mostly, I blame society.

Yes, parrots are pretty; so are pictures. Parrots can sometimes repeat things you've said in garbled, sing-song tones; so can a crappy tape recorder. And parrots can be affectionate...but they’re happier and healthier when they devote their affection to the other parrots of their flock - in the wild.

Animals do not exist solely for our amusement, people. And having a parrot that sits on your shoulder will only make you look like a sad, urban pirate.