Safety First

When you take your parrot outside or in public places remember, it is your job to keep your companion safe and defended from harm or theft. There are those that will only see dollar signs when they look upon your companion.

Safety First

I want to address the proactive and aggressive way you can protect yourself and your feather babies while out in public. This will not address the general items of concern such as flight risk, weather risk, heat, food etc. This is strictly limited to personal and parrot safety as it applies to self defense and mitigation of threats by bird thieves.  For all intents and purposes, personal self defense and safety training of an individual CAN be applied to you and your bird as a single unit in public.

I will bring my years of martial arts practice, self-defense training, weapons disarming training, and F.A.S.T. (Fear, Adrenaline, Stress Training) to this discussion. I do not hold myself out as a certified trainer. I'm not. I do hold myself up as someone who trains, practices and uses all this training in my own daily life. So I hope to share what I know, what I have tried, and what I have witnessed when it comes to being safer in public settings.

We're always concerned about our birds "flying away" when out and about. We tend to worry about things around us scaring our bird. We pay attention to wind, rain, items, traffic, the sun, the heat, water needs, food needs, and what our feather baby may be grabbing at out of interest. We think of these primarily, because we think of our feather babies as our children, not an object with financial value on the open market. This isn't a THING we carry. This is our baby! And THAT is just what a thief hopes you'll be thinking.

Let's start with the simple fact that a thief is only interested in valuable items and targets that are EASY to acquire and leave with after the theft. Street thieves and criminals are NOT interested in a long drag out of an encounter.  The majority of street criminals you may never notice are prowling for easy targets, because, they aren't trained at this thievery stuff.  They really don't have any skill at it as much as intimation and surprise. They are just criminals.They benefit from our fear.Our fear is born from not knowing what to do about it.

That being said; many threats can be eliminated with preparation,awareness, and proper voice command. You will probably never need to get "physical" about these types of threats if you execute preparation, awareness and attitude right up front.  In the end, it's all about attitude.  Remember criminals of this street theft variety are looking for an EASY target.

Don't be an easy target.

1) Consider carefully where you want to take your bird.  Seriously. Don't romanticize the situation.  If it's a large public place full of unknowns and masses of people (a big farmer's market).  Your odds of trouble just went up.  If it's a Parrot Event...the odds are low. 

2) Stop being so nice.  I know, that read oddly.  But, it is the nature of kind people to look for the best in others.  We may have a moment where we "feel" like something is off about this particular individual now in our presence, but we want to be nice.  Stop it.  TRUST the feeling.  It's pretty powerful, and generally correct.  If you are out with your bird, and some one, or some thing doesn't feel right or makes you feel uncomfortable, disengage and leave. No good byes, no "I'm sorry". Just go.

3) "Can I pet your bird?"  No.  If you don't know them, neither does your bird.  This isn't a dog.

4) "I hear those are expensive to buy."  Thieves sometimes take the tack of "passerby friendly" to get information and to test you as a possible target.  Again, if it's a stranger and your "feeling" goes bad, don't answer.  You don't have to answer. If pressed by this individual, walk away. If followed and pressed; own your space, control and block your bird and tell this person to "Back Off." The longer he takes to get it, the louder you get.It won't last long. You are loud and difficult now. You also are no longer an easy target.

5) It's okay to tell someone you do not want to talk to them.  This flys in the face of my grandmother's instruction, but she didn't live in 2015.

6) Be aware.  Take in your surroundings and notate places that could be safer.  Notate people or groups of people that are avoidable.  Own your space.  There's two types of space.  Personal and extra personal.  Consider this exercise.  You and a friend walk 10 paces apart. Turn around and face each other. Now let's roll play.  YOU be yourself.  Your friend is, say, the mailman.  Walk up to each other under those conditions.Now notice where you stopped to greet each other. I doubt you are close enough to hug your mailman. Now YOU be the mailman and repeat the exercise. Unless they are family or friends, NO ONE needs to be closer than the mailman.

7)  When walking around with your bird do it with purpose, intent and a keen look on your face.  No snuggly wuggly business here.  Portray yourself as a problem to a thief.  You WANT to be a problem to a bad guy.

Now that we've improved your difficulty rating lets talk practical bird safety in public.

1)  Harness your bird.  If your bird is mobile for you, he's mobile for a thief.  This isn't a deterent persay.  Purse snatchers are violent when a purse is anchored.  BUT the harness just made your bird difficult.  WEAR that harness band around your wrist.  Use a red harness.  Let them see just how that bird is tied to you, let them realize you aren't an easy target.

2)  Let your awareness sesitivity match the level of risk.  The higher the risk, the less you will tolerate.  Be more difficult.  Be a PROBLEM to a thief.

3) Microchip your bird.  A bird thief will try to sell your baby to a pet store, breeder or a known buyer.  The odds are better a vet will find that chip and run it.  This is a passive act, but every small choice can yield big results.

4) Never pass your bird to a stranger. Period. I'd rather be considered a jerk than be in mourning. That stranger may not be the thief, but a thief is watching and sees an easy target, or a passive bird OR it's a bait and switch. The initial person is helping the thief by getting it away from YOU, then in some friendly "Oh wow" moment passes your bird to the REAL thief.  This is done by pick pockets all day long in big city settings. NEVER pass your bird to a stranger. Period.

5) Change your routes and times.  If you and your bird love doing certain visit places, or walks...change WHEN you go often.  Much like a singular runner or a single person should NEVER establish strong easily read routines, neither should you and your bird.  

This is a short list of some powerful steps you can implement.  There are a myriad of ways to add to this by action, reaction, choice and modification.

These are my opinions and training and experiences. PLEASE DO NOT consider this the be all, end all of taking care of your yourself or your bird. I'm not a professional, just a student.  So, don't get cocky.  Just get smart.

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