Flocking on an Island

A world view will open more eyes to the truth of Companion Parrots.

Flocking on an Island

There are many questions regarding how a parrot should be treated, fed, cared for in a companion parrot home. There are also a lot of concerns concerning household dangers. Lastly, there are many approaches to parrot care, limited only to the number of personalities caring for them and their own views of humane treatment.The one thing I cannot find any where is the "Authority" on parrot care. I search the internet daily, read blogs, facebook bird group pages, avian welfare treatises, ad infinitum, and while I find an unlimited number of approaches to living with a companion parrot, I cannot find one single answer to any question regarding what is actually right. All of this leads me to believe that all of us in the parrot advocacy arena have our own approach, and as long as we continue to evolve, show patience and a willingness to learn from our companions themselves, and don't spend too much energy following the dictates on self-professed "authorities on what is right and wrong we will all (at least those of us who truly want to) eventually come to an understanding of what works best within the frame work of our own limitations.

My wife Alexia and I live on a small island in the South Aegean. We haven't access to either an avian vet nor even a reasonable facsimile thereof, and as a result we must devote our energies to keeping our birds both healthy and happy in the best ways available to us, basically through what we believe to be good diets, opportunities for exercise, sunlight, foraging and social interaction. We are also limited regarding space, and have tried to manage a suitable living arrangement within those limitations which includes turning our small 2nd floor balcony into a flight cage which is made available whenever the weather permits.  In order to keep little minds busy, we are constantly changing things around within our home to allow for "bird time" when the flighted kids are allowed to roam (more or less freely) throughout the home and prohibited only from the kitchen where the cats are left to sleep (unless they are outside wandering in the field beside our home). There are tree branches strung up everywhere to allow for perching, climbing and chewing, as well as self-made toys of various types and sizes to allow other types of play. We don't have a perfect arrangement, and while it can sometimes become difficult to manage the various needs of our small menagerie (which also includes 4 cats, 1 dog, 1 rabbit and 6 parrots) I believe that we manage to keep all of them safe, well-cared for, and (this last past perhaps most important in my heart) happy. It is not a perfect arrangement, I say again, but I hope it is somewhere near acceptable to all parties involved, and it seems to be.

Every evening, shortly before the sun will set, I have a routine where I invite all of the birds (except Christo the CAG who is on a slightly different schedule) to return to their cages for the evening meal before bed. With the exception of the two 'tiels, they all have there own cages and seem satisfied with the living arrangements. It is also the only time when I actually use any "training techniques" and that is limited to touching a perch where I would like each bird in turn to go, then rewarding them their good manners by offering a treat (pine nuts are a favorite). After that, I close each cage and offer up a small bit of millet (a piece of stick with 4 balls each) to each of the birds including Christo the CAG who watches all of these goings on in anticipation of a millet treat himself for being a good supervisor. While this would all seem unremarkable to most companion parrot owned humans, I find myself increasingly dismayed with the routine, and saddled with guilt at the necessity of locking any of them into a cage; a cage where a creature given the miracle of flight was surely never intended to be. But I believe that any other course of action in regard to my own captive raised flight, is a dangerous course, as they don't really possess the skills nature has bestowed upon their wild cousins, nor the understanding of how the world works bestowed by their wild parents and flock. And so, in the cages they go for the night, seemingly without regard to other options; I, on the other hand, fully understand the other options, and would gladly wish those options so for them if only I could.

On my daily run down internet streets and back alleys, I am constantly struck by the increasing number of stories of parrot abuse or neglect (sometimes worse), and can't help but wonder how such a seemingly systematic cycle of careless disregard can go on being perpetrated considering how easily information regarding parrot care and treatment is accessed now in the age of the internet. When I brought home my first parrot so many years ago, there was nothing but guess work, and books of dubious origin and information. While that is still (in some cases) a problem, if one looks about long enough online he is sure to be able to recieve some foundation for understanding what a successful parrot lifestyle entails and make an accurate judgement whether or not it is a lifestyle choice that fits for him. And yet sanctuaries/rescues continue to grow in parrot numbers, and stories of abuse and neglect show no signs of abating. I am so glad that we are here, and while until now our efforts are young and lacking the strength to eliminate the problem completely, we do make a difference, and as they say: "Rome wasn't built in a day".

While the guilt I feel at caging my babies each night before bed will surely never subside, I am hoping that the guilt I feel for being part of a species that does so much damage to such a giving and intelligent species such as our feathered friends will eventually be erased by an end to the suffering we continue to inflict. It is possible for us to stop taking and give something back, to learn to respect the living world around us, and to consider more than "self" in our daily lives: those of us here are proof of that. Bless you all, and thanks for lending a few moments of time to read the articles here on FlockCall, I hope that within you find some morsels of both truth and help to assist you on your way to a happy companion parrot lifestyle.

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