Saturday, July 4, 2009

Of Parrots and People

I just finished this book and it's wonderful. I recommend this book to anyone that owns birds. It's not the best for new bird owners because it's very critical of pet owners, breeders, and importers. I had to skip parts of the chapter on parrots being imported from Mexico. It's very sad.

The theme of the book is that people should not own birds that are purchased from breeders or imported. Presumably, the author would find it acceptable for people to own a parrot from a rescue because the rescues are over crowded. In addition, the author herself owns a parrot. Ideally, though, we should only enjoy birds in their natural habitat.

I have struggled with many of the ideas in the book. I try to give Audrey and Conner the best life that they could have by giving them attention, large cages, and toys, but I'd love to have a larger parrot, such as an African grey.

When I was little, we had an African grey parrot named Merlin and he was wonderful. He knew over 200 words. He had a great setup too. He lived in the pantry in branches that were cut regularly from outside. He had no cage. He received constant attention and was very happy. Merlin died of natural causes after over 15 years in our care.

I would love to have another African grey, but I could never give him the requisite attention. My boyfriend and I work pretty long hours. Plus, any attention that I gave to a parrot would be taken away from the cockatiels. Conner would be really hurt by that.

I've thought about getting more cockatiels. Mickaboo is a parrot rescue that, as a result of the recession, has received so many cockatiels that they can no longer accept anymore. That means that people who want to give up their cockatiels may give them to a rescue that euthanizes them or simply put them outside. But again, I don't have the time for more birds. Plus, I worry that if I got one, I'd want to get them all. Sometimes I daydream about having a room dedicated to cockatiels, filled with fresh tree branches and toys for 20 birds. But that's only a daydream.

"Of Parrots and People" provides an excellent argument for why we should not buy birds from breeders. Of course not all breeders are like the ones described in the books, people who keep the birds in cramped cages with one perch that causes their feet to form sores, with no toys, and too many hours in the dark to encourage breeding. But even if the birds were in ideal situations, taking their babies away is cruel.

On a happier note, the book describes a trip with Dr. Munn to Brazil to visit hyacinth macaws that sounds wonderful! Someday when I'm ready to spend money on a vacation, I want to visit Dr. Munn's Wildlife Lodge in Brazil. Mary has some great entries about the Tiskita Jungle Lodge, which is also on my list of places to visit. Does anyone have any experience with an ecotourism lodge? If so, I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments.


  1. Sounds like good reading. I'll have to see if Amazon carries it.

  2. It is a good book.

    PS: Cockatiels are parrots. ;-)

  3. Thanks, BP. The blog entry is fixed.

  4. I agree with you completely on this one. Some is hard to read, though true and it is hard to imagine my life without parrots. Still, I can hardly watch nature documentaries anymore, I feel so incredibly guilty for the millions of parrots in captivity, as well as my own. I know, at the very least, we need to fix the huge problem with poor breeders, and impulse buying in pet stores, I won't go further than that!

    Oh, and I would love a room full of tiels! I can hardly keep myself from bringing home every one I see on craigslist!

  5. Meg, don't feel guilty! You're helping so much by fostering parrots.

    I'm afraid that if I started, I'd become a hoarder and fill my house. Especially with cockatiels. :-)


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