Size does matter when we are talking about heart. Size is irrelevant when we are talking about the container to that heart. Budgies are parrots, too. I saw this graphic somewhere on Facebook. A fabulous photo of a proud budgie with those words. My first thought was, "Well of course! That's obvious." But it takes a big heart to see that truth.
Budgies, parakeets (linoleated, Bourkes, grass, IRN, monk), parrotlets, lories, cockatiels, pigeons and companion song birds (finches and canaries) have through retail messaging and commodification been pushed to the sidelines. Every one of these lovies await that big heart to trigger their own big heart. They are companions as true as any macaw, grey or Too. In fact, science caught up to reality and declared cockatiels literal cockatoos. And if you share your lifestyle with a cockatiel, you know that's true! And yet, for the uninitiated, or pet store initiated these littles with big hearts are labeled, "beginner birds". As if they are some sort of gateway bird you can practice on. As though, by their size, it is safe to assume you can not take them seriously, try things out on them, and not worry about mistakes made. As if!
Size matters in the hearts of humans because it will take a big heart to see truths inside the companion parrot lifestyle. All companions have big hearts, their parrot size is irrelevant to their potential to reaffirm your emotional investments in them.
Their only fault is their size. And they pay the price of it. Small, easy to transport, easy to display these littles are bred and shipped ad nauseam for distribution through large pet store systems. But let's look at the why of that so we can truly discuss the realities of their plight.
In a big box pet store a budgie/parakeet can be sold for approximately $25.00. They are had simply for the asking by a shopper in these locations. Now comes the reason for selling parakeets et al. Cages, toys, perches, bowls, food and treats. According to the pet industry trades a $25 purchase will trigger an additional $150 to $200 profit immediately. The investment was far less than $25 dollars through wholesale and large quantity ordering. That all sounds horrid, doesn't it? That's because it is horrid. It's vile actually. And we need to remember that retail value looks as square footage and the profit that can be turned inside that square footage. Retailers look at profit numbers by how many square feet gets used to make that profit. Since you can fit, say 15 parakeets in a square foot display, and each parrot is sold for $25 and we'll say for sake of argument each parrot triggers the low end of expenditure of $125 at time of sale, the possible end gross profit for that display square foot is $2250.00, Net after expenses and cost of parrots and inventory is probably closer to $1000. Vile, blatant cold hard math. BUT this line of inventory profit is nothing compared to the rest of the store and if modified by ending the practice, would be a small change in income relative to the whole. This big truth matters, too. This is a lie that has gone on long enough.
You won't see macaws in these stores because they take up too much room, they are hard to manage by the every day employee, they eat quantities of expensive foods and you can't fit one parrot in one square foot. The big truth is square footage profit rules. It also spelled doom for small companion parrots inside commodification.
Size matters in truth as well. I prefer operating in truth rather than emotional innuendo, anger, triggered moral rage or hair on fire photos. The truth of the matter is we do need these stores to be profitable and stay open. They serve a large section of companion parents of fur to scale to feather to shell. Personally I have no anger. Business does not think about ethics. If you learned that in college, you should know you were in a philosophy class rather than a business class. Business is in business to profit. Period. These are big truths as well.
What business needs is educated, logic driven users presenting requirements to win our business and word of mouth. Bringing passion to a business conversation never works. Bringing clear requests, calm conversation and alternatives so that we get what we want, and they get profit, THAT is where success happens. And if you can actually find tone and common ground, powerfully big things happen! I want that last part.
Now that you know the truth about the underbelly, you can help me these coming months to change the lie to truth. In the coming months I will need your help, I can't do this alone. I will need calm, strong, clear and targeted help to tell the truth. I won't be using online petitions, or horrid photos to throw around social media. I will not facilitate hate, anger or hair on fire vitriol. I won't appreciate any of that in my name either.
Angry social media does not work in the long term. You remember Cecil the Lion who was murdered. Angry Social Media came forward like hell's wrath. Africa ended lion hunting. The Dentist was vilified. Hunters were sent home from active hunts. National leaders spoke emotionally against it. TEMPORARILY. The hunts are back, the Dentist is being a dentist and discussing hunting again. National leaders haven't mentioned much. And we all just learned from PBS that thousands of lions are bred and raised to be killed in "hunts" in Africa. What of all those Social Media hell's wrath petitions, shares and bonafides? Why, they are buried months deep in news feeds forgotten. You were cleverly traded immediate emotional satisfaction for the real thing. Change. Big truth; change was never going to happen that way.
Change only happens through the long hard slog of communication, repetition and determination. Nothing good is easy. Nothing true is cheap. Nothing meaningful comes from a button click in protest.
We are going to do big things for little parrots. We are going to do big things for big parrots. Because they are all the same size in their hearts. We are going to do things differently. We are going to do them together and we will do it better.