Bird Shows for Conservation

Often when I talk about my birds and the fun I have with them, I get those people who think I am a horrible person. Birds, they tell me, belong out in the wild, able to fly and mate and raise young. I gently withdraw from talking to those people. We can’t even agree to disagree. They are just, plain wrong.

Do humans belong in caves, hunting and gathering? Should we give all lands back to the first people who lived on it? Can we put all the wealth in the world in one place and hand out an even share to everyone alive?

043017 eagle hunter
Mongolian eagle hunters.

No matter how you feel about those issues, you pretty much know that’s never going to happen. The first because progress can’t be denied, except on individual levels. The second because too much time has passed. And the third because those who control the wealth won’t even think about doing that.

Birds, from canaries to parrots, are firmly in place as companion animals. Whenever these creatures came to be our friends, their roles in the wild changed as well. Some went extinct, some moved closer to extinction. Some became a source of food for people. And there are advantages to these birds being in our care.

041716 another chicken

When an illness wipes out flocks of wild birds, people can do research and apply medicine and save the birds that are in their care. When infertility or low numbers for breeding or slow reproductive rates push a species toward extinction, people can invent artificial insemination, or collect eggs to encourage more eggs to be laid, or hand feed the chicks to guarantee their survival.

043017 cag
Congo African Gray Parrot

In my house and my aviaries, the birds are safer from starvation, disease, and predators than they would be in the wild. Notice I say, “safer”. Ants and mice still get into my house. Hawks and other raptors harass my aviaries. If I am not watchful, my flocks might run out of food and water. And some illnesses get in no matter how vigilant I can be.

043017 sick cockatoo
How to tell if a bird is sick

Which brings me to the topic for this blog. Hang on, this is important! Because here is where I took a different path than the people who want to release all birds into the wild.

Bird Shows. Actually, I would sit through any animal show anywhere. I spent all the time I could at the county fair watching dogs herd geese and pigs race around a track. But at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park,  even the old Busch Gardens and Six Flags Magic Mountain, I sat enthralled watching the parrots perform. They would roller skate, play basketball, talk and sing, fly over the audience and get money, and do so many wonderful things.

043017 macaw love

Meeting Of The Macaws by Harry Spitz~~ “Busch Gardens Tampa in the fifites~All they had was their bird show. They would put a macaw or some other sweet bird in my lap and leave it for me to love. They had all the exotic birds, and probably started my love of birds.”

What if I could live around lots of these birds? But also, what if I could keep these birds safe, give them mates and let them breed, and get them medical attention when needed? That would make my life so much fun. So fulfilling and so enjoyable.

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A hawk in the free flight bird show at the San Diego Safari Park

Many other people feel the same way as I do, but channel their interest into fields that take a step closer to the folks who want all the birds to be in the wild. These people work to collect species of parrots and other birds that are nearing extinction and breed them with the goal of reintroducing the offspring into the wild.

So that brings us back around. Birds in the wild, collected and trained for shows, inspire people like me to devote our lives to learning to be companions for these amazing creatures. No doubt Dr. Irene Pepperberg chose Alex due to a love for intelligent birds. No doubt Don Scott rescues cockatoos due to his love for these loving parrots. And no doubt canary fanciers the world over feel the enrichment sharing their lives with birds has brought.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.



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