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National Bird Day 2004: New awareness about birds as pets
Monday, January 05 2004 @ 06:34 AM UTC
Contributed by: Admin
Views: 6979
Conservation The Animal Protection Institute (API) in coordination with the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) is calling on activists around the U.S. to take action on behalf of captive birds by drawing attention to the exploitation of other country's native birds by the U.S. pet industry on January 5 -- National Bird Day.

"National Bird Day" is not only a good day to take time to appreciate the native wild birds flying free outside our windows, it is also a perfect time to reflect on how we treat the native birds of other countries. While we have enacted laws to protect our native birds -- such as blue jays, cardinals, and crows -- from commercial exploitation, we fail to recognize the inconsistency in allowing the pet industry to exploit the birds of other countries.

Even when bred in captivity, exotic birds are not considered domesticated animals, and all their inherent behavioral and physical needs remain intact. Sadly, when it comes to birds, deprivation of their natural behaviors (to fly and flock, for example) is an inescapable component of their captivity.

Each year thousands of birds are sold into the pet trade to individuals who are under the mistaken impression that a bird will make a perfect pet. Eventually, whether due to frustration, disinterest, or concern, many people attempt to rid themselves of the responsibility of caring for their birds. Unfortunately, few of these birds will find a loving home, and most will spend their days isolated and confined to their cages. Others will bounce from home to home as their caretakers tire of them, and some may be abandoned at local shelters and birds rescues, set free to fend for themselves or euthanized.

Meanwhile pet stores across the country, including Petco and PetsMart, continue to treat birds like merchandise peddling them into the pet trade. Pet stores that sell live animals are routinely faced with conflicting responsibilities between caring for the health and well-being of the animals and protecting the store's bottom line. More often than not it's the bottom line that prevails.

You Can Help

Join API and the Avian Welfare Coalition in its second annual National Day of Action for Captive birds by helping to educate the public about issues affecting captive birds and by asking Petco and PetsMart not to sell live birds in their stores.

There are many ways you can participate:

  • Hold a peaceful protest and leaflet in front of a Petco or PetsMart to educate their customers on why they should not support Petco or PetsMart so long as they continue to sell birds. Or drive to your local Petco and PetsMart stores and place flyers on the windshields of cars parked in the parking lot.
  • Write letters to Petco and PETsMART and let them know why you won't patronize their stores. Sample letter and contact information available at
  • Send a letter to the editor or Op-ed drawing attention to the plight of captive exotic birds in this country. Sample letters available at and
  • Set up an educational display. Community centers and local or school libraries often have exhibit cases that can be used for educational displays. Just ask the manager or librarian how to make a reservation and be willing to agree to some guidelines.
  • Host a video showing. A video showing can consist of close friends or family members viewing a video at home or reserving a classroom with a standard television or big screen for the public.
  • Give a presentation at a school, children's museums, boy's and girl's club, or library. Ask the kids to draw or write on the theme "Born to be Wild," comparing and contrasting our native birds to the native birds of other countries, comparing and contrasting how birds live in the wild and how they live in captivity, or how the wild bird trade impacts birds. For more ideas for kids visit

Three videos are available from AWC members:

  • "Stalking the Wild Amazons." Harvard biologist Mike Schindlinger introduces the parrots he studies as they move through their daily lives with an intelligence not dissimilar to our own. VHS 1 hour: Cost $29.95. Visit
  • "The Fire and the Wings." Mary Margison, Media Presentation Coordinator, Foster Parrots Ltd, documents the challenges faced by bird rescues and the reasons captive birds become homeless. VHS 29 min: Free. Contact Mary Margison at
  • "Wild at Heart." The Animal Protection Institute (API) examines the impacts of the pet trade on exotic birds in captivity and in the wild and offers ways to help. VHS 15 min. Free. Contact API's Monica Engebretson at

Let us know your plans!

We would like to compile a list of activities complete with contact information so that interested people team up to participate in planned leafleting and tabling events in their area. So once you have decided what you want to do, email Monica Engebretson at so we can add your action to our list of participants and activities. If you get a letter to the editor published in a newspaper, please let us know and send a copy if possible to API, P.O. Box 22505, Sacramento, CA 95822.

Posted 09/09/03

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National Bird Day 2004: New awareness about birds as pets | 1 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Puritan on the bully pulpit
Authored by: visualizer on Saturday, April 24 2004 @ 09:38 AM UTC
Let's get something straight about the parrot trade: it has been in full
swing in the Americas for at least six thousand years. There were huge
parrot and macaw breeding facilities in northern Mexico and parts of
Arizona, run by the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians and other
indigenous peoples. Parrots and their feathers were one commodity in a
commercial network that spanned what we now call the continental US.

Granted, the historical commerciality of parrots was not on a scale that
this puritan rails about, but it's been going on for a
very long time. Ask around at retirement homes, and you'll find a
sizeable portion of the residents owned parrots when they were young.
(Volunteering to bring your birds to retirement homes is a great idea,
because many of the residents who had birds miss them terribly.)

The puritans want you to overlook this and a few other facts, because
they want you to believe the commercial use of parrots is a recent

Let that sink in for a minute. Then reflect on this:

In many cases parrots are sold to people who purchase them on
impulse. It's a good thing that parrots are relatively expensive, because
people would buy all their parrots at Wal-Mart to save a buck if Wal-Mart
sold them.

We're all just lucky that the bird market in Dubai -- the largest in the
world, and full of parrots -- isn't any closer to the US.

If a bird isn't an impulse buy, people will still hunt for bargains and
avoid thinking of the implications. In many cases their "bargains"
become financial nightmares and heart-rending tales.

The large pet stores (PetSmart and Petco) are notoriously sloppy about
biosecurity. Many Petcos have been cited by local health departments for
harboring birds with zoonoses, which (thanks to their policies and those
of the production-line breeders they support) have resurfaced after
thirty years of careful eradication. The chains do not educate their
personnel about proper care, and regularly relocate and fire employees
who advocate better care for the animals.

I've seen in-house magazines from Petco touting the sales of birds
because the profit margins are so good.

Check your stock portfolio. Unless you buy individual stocks you
probably own part of the chains. They're quite profitable.

In smaller stores -- usually located in large malls -- the same ideology
is at work. It's easier for these businesses and the chain stores to toss a
sick bird in the freezer to die of hypothermia than ensure it has a vet
check when it reaches the store. No one wants to damage the profit

Quality facilities that sell parrots do exist in this country and elsewhere
in the world (contrary to what the puritans fervently believe). They don't
have the same outrageous profit margins because they believe the birds
deserve medical care and decent treatment. Many of these stores
interview prospective owners, and aren't shy about turning away a sale.
The proprietors coach people in caring appropriately for a parrot, and
even insist on education. They'll also take back birds if a buyer realizes
they made a mistake, or if a buyer cannot care for a bird adequately. I
know of more than one store that's coaxed a person into relinquishing a
bird who was not being cared for adequately.

That kind of decency is never mentioned by the extremists, who want to
paint all people who have businesses related to parrots with the same
brush they apply to the chain stores who truly deserve everyone's wrath
and a stringent boycott.

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