Exotic birds become more popular as an alternative pet, but at what cost?Like humans, birds need attention BY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER Many pet owners wish they could understand what their cat or dog is saying and some swear their dog just said, “I love you”, or “mamma.”
Wouldn’t it be great to really hear them say something? Anything?
Problem solved, get an exotic talking bird like a toucan, cockatoo or macaw.
Mistakenly not all exotic birds have the ability to vocalize or mimic a sound; but from an early age we see talking birds on television telling us to “follow our nose” and we wish we had a bird.
The downside of owning an exotic bird is the fact that they can sometimes out live the owner when the bird is cared for correctly.
But, it is in many cases not unlike other domestic animals that become pets that the owner soon finds the novelty has worn off, or there isn’t enough time in the day to care for them, and the bird becomes neglected and forgotten.
These exotic birds are becoming more and more popular all of the time for potential pet owners.
“People are convinced by pet shops and breeders as well that if a bird is hand raised it is guaranteed to be a forever loving bird- far from the truth,” says Patti Millett an experienced bird owner living in Lake Stevens.
These birds need as much, if not more, attention than their domestic four-legged counter parts, the cat and dog.
Without the attention and social interaction between the bird owner and or a mate, the exotic bird will experience a high level of stress resulting in a number of disorders.
One of the most common but extreme disorders would be feather picking where the bird picks, plucks and/or mutilates its feathers.
Exotic birds in the wild do not tend to have this problem because they are free and have other concerns such as mating and survival to keep them occupied.
Feather preening is a normal behavior in birds because they need to rid themselves of damaged feathers or simply clean them by pulling their feathers through the beak.
Exotic birds are much like humans and they become accustomed to habits, and change can cause stress.
It is often that the birds can experience some sort of stress associated with living in confined areas, experiencing confusion, or having external noises like the TV or having other pets around.
“Many of the birds are abused and neglected, and because of this they often self mutilate; and left isolated and under stimulated, they may go insane,” Millett said.
Millett’s concerns don’t go unnoticed; it was just recently that the Seattle Humane Society law officers confiscated 110 parakeets from a one bedroom apartment in Seattle.
A man in his 50’s had all the parakeets in one cage, saying that he knew they were in less than ideal living conditions and that the birds were beginning to overwhelm him.
The story ended happily though with the parakeets being cleaned and most adopted.
“We do not want anymore birds to end up in the hands of breeders, only to be used as a profit making machine for the human species,” Millett said.
She also welcomes any comments or concerns on birds or anyone needing help taking care of them. Millett can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org