The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:17 AM
CyclopticXander CyclopticXander is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Is bird ownership ethical?

I'm really not sure how I feel about this one.

I'm big on animal issues. I don't eat them. I also love animals as pets and think that bonding with animals makes us better more empathetic humans. Birds as pets in smallish cages I'm not so sure about. I can't claim to know whether or not being so unnaturally retrained is distressing to them, but it seems reasonable to assume they would much prefer to fly free. I feel I don't have enough information on bird consciousness to weigh the issue of what they lose from this relationship versus what we gain from it.

I feel like most bird ownership is based more on them as trophies or something pretty to look at as opposed to the kind of companionship we get from dogs and cats. Now I know of course that there are people who feel real companionship and love with their birds and I don't want to deny anyone of that, but I feel that more often they are kept more like fish, a sort of decoration. I'm not sure how I should feel about that as an animal lover.

Does anyone else wrestle with this question?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:25 AM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
As long as the bird...or any pet for that matter...is not neglected or abused, I see no problem with ownership. The pet gets a safe place to live, plenty of food, and a more comfortable life than they'd have in the wild.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:26 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
I'm really not sure how I feel about this one.

I'm big on animal issues. I don't eat them. I also love animals as pets and think that bonding with animals makes us better more empathetic humans. Birds as pets in smallish cages I'm not so sure about. I can't claim to know whether or not being so unnaturally retrained is distressing to them, but it seems reasonable to assume they would much prefer to fly free. I feel I don't have enough information on bird consciousness to weigh the issue of what they lose from this relationship versus what we gain from it.

I feel like most bird ownership is based more on them as trophies or something pretty to look at as opposed to the kind of companionship we get from dogs and cats. Now I know of course that there are people who feel real companionship and love with their birds and I don't want to deny anyone of that, but I feel that more often they are kept more like fish, a sort of decoration. I'm not sure how I should feel about that as an animal lover.

Does anyone else wrestle with this question?
Look up youtube videos for the parrot Marnie and tell me some parrots don't have a better life than you and I.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:28 AM
Yorikke Yorikke is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post

Does anyone else wrestle with this question?
Not quite that dramatically, but yeah, I agree. I wouldn't own a caged bird. Flight is the essence of bird-dom, and to take that away is cruel.

Joe
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:31 AM
dngnb8 dngnb8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
Does anyone else wrestle with this question?
Nope.

As a member of People Eating Tasty Animals, I have no issue or guilt.

But just because I eat chicken, fish, beef, pork, doesnt mean I abuse animals I have. I have 2 boys (I dont even refer to them as pets). They are my boys. I can make the distinction between food and family
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05-03-2012, 12:11 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
It's like any animal. We keep the dog in a crate at night and while traveling for his own safety and our sanity. But we make sure he gets out the rest of the time and gets stimulation. It is fine to keep a bird in a cage, but you should let them out to get enrichment, even if they can't fly higher than your ceiling. A larger cage is also good.

Although I do kinda agree with the OP that some bird owners treat them as decorations rather than family pets, and therefore treat them less nicely than mammals.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-03-2012, 12:14 PM
Barrett Bonden Barrett Bonden is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
I feel like most bird ownership is based more on them as trophies or something pretty to look at as opposed to the kind of companionship we get from dogs and cats. Now I know of course that there are people who feel real companionship and love with their birds and I don't want to deny anyone of that, but I feel that more often they are kept more like fish, a sort of decoration. I'm not sure how I should feel about that as an animal lover.

Does anyone else wrestle with this question?
I understand what you're saying, and I wish I were rich enough to have an aviary with plenty of secure flying room and feathery companionship.

That said, my bird seems to enjoy doing the things he gets to do from his cage, playing with his toys, ringing his bell, and flirting with outside birds and the electric toothbrush.

He's not a trophy. He's a strange little being with a distinct (although not very bright) personality and I got him specifically for companionship.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-03-2012, 12:25 PM
araminty araminty is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
I think, like any pet, some people have the resources to do it right, especially knowledge and time, and some people don't. On average, pet parrots are rehomed seven times throughout their lives.

Some parrots have great coping skills to deal with imperfect care - I work at a zoo and we hear about cockatoos and macaws living for years in a dog crate in a garage, fed on leftover pizza and bird seed and given no enrichment (toys, human attention, time outside) - yet seem to be perfectly healthy. Some birds just don't have the same skills, and resort to self-destructive behavior, like feather plucking. We have an eclectus parrot in our collection who has the best of everything - vet care, nutrition, training, housing, attention, love, enrichment - and he still chews his feathers, and has started pulling some out.

So, if the right bird gets the right care from the right owner, it's great. If not, they're all too often considered disposable, and passed on to the next shmoe.

Despite my profession, I much prefer to see wild birds. Even well kept captive birds aren't the same.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05-03-2012, 01:55 PM
FloatyGimpy FloatyGimpy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
I think it can be cruel.

I have 4 budgies. Two are in one large cage and two are in another large cage. Any time I'm home (evenings, weekends, holidays) the cage doors are open and they are all out, flying around and playing on their various play gyms.

One of the budgies I rescued was so severely depressed when I got him that all he did was sit in the middle of the cage, hardly moving. He didn't understand toys or flying or playing. As the months went on, he started getting more lively and eventually blossomed into a healthy, happy, playful and awesome budgie.

So I think sitting alone in a small cage day after day is very cruel.

Spending some time in a large cage, with bird companions, and some time out of the cage (every day) flying around and playing with a small flock can be a good life for them.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05-03-2012, 02:54 PM
CyclopticXander CyclopticXander is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloatyGimpy View Post
I think it can be cruel.

I have 4 budgies. Two are in one large cage and two are in another large cage. Any time I'm home (evenings, weekends, holidays) the cage doors are open and they are all out, flying around and playing on their various play gyms.

One of the budgies I rescued was so severely depressed when I got him that all he did was sit in the middle of the cage, hardly moving. He didn't understand toys or flying or playing. As the months went on, he started getting more lively and eventually blossomed into a healthy, happy, playful and awesome budgie.

So I think sitting alone in a small cage day after day is very cruel.

Spending some time in a large cage, with bird companions, and some time out of the cage (every day) flying around and playing with a small flock can be a good life for them.
That all sounds awesome and I totally support that sort bird ownership. Of course the money, time, and effort costs for that would be prohibitively high for most people, right?

In any event I wish that were the socially accepted norm for having birds, but it is far far from it.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 05-03-2012, 03:06 PM
FloatyGimpy FloatyGimpy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
That all sounds awesome and I totally support that sort bird ownership. Of course the money, time, and effort costs for that would be prohibitively high for most people, right?

In any event I wish that were the socially accepted norm for having birds, but it is far far from it.
It is a bit expensive at first. Each cage and all the toys inside the cages cost about $500. Then there are all the toys and gyms outside of the cage and they cost about $200. So about $1200 for the set up.

I just think that if they have to be in cages when I'm not home, the cages should be big enough for them to be able to have some sort of a life while they're in them.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 05-03-2012, 03:36 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
I actually think it's cruel to keep any animal confined in a house. As one poster mentioned birds were meant to fly...and cats and dogs were meant to work and roam. People that keep pets do these animals a disservice in my opinion.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:00 PM
CyclopticXander CyclopticXander is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
I actually think it's cruel to keep any animal confined in a house. As one poster mentioned birds were meant to fly...and cats and dogs were meant to work and roam. People that keep pets do these animals a disservice in my opinion.
Isn't the exact opposite true of domesticated species like dogs? My little Chihuahuas wouldn't last very long in the wild compared to the long healthy life they get from living with me. Besides, they absolutely love me and always want to be with me. The little girl dog actually has separation anxiety when I'm not around.

While my dogs are strictly indoor and supervised outdoors, many pet dogs are free to roam wherever they please indoor or out. They are free to leave, but of course they so rarely do so since the pet dog gig is pretty mutually beneficial.

That much seems pretty obvious, unless that was meant as a sarcastic dig at my position on birds.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:04 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Man domesticated those miniature dogs and bred the hell out of them for their own pleasure. I got know problem with that if that's what you want, but don't act all noble that you're doing it for them. Dog's should be primarily working animals and weren't meant to live in houses. Some time along the way some people humanized them and moved them inside, but their still working animals, just doing another job...making you happy.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:44 PM
cochrane cochrane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
If dogs weren't meant to live in houses, why are so many perfectly happy to do so? This includes large dogs as well as small dogs. Assuming the dog has a large fenced yard to exercise in or gets taken for regular walks. My dog is perfectly fine surveying his domain from on top of my couch. He is quite adapted to living inside and seems perfectly happy with his living situation. I find your view of dog ownership to certainly be in the minority, if not a little outlandish. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years. Pet birds are not all that far removed from the wild. Even domestically-bred birds are only a few generations removed from having wild ancestors, as it was common to capture and import wild birds until laws were passed preventing people from doing so. And even now, large numbers of wild birds are still smuggled into countries that prohibit importation of wild birds.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:45 PM
PapSett PapSett is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2005
We get it Omar. You don't like pets. You never miss an opportunity to trot that fact out. NO ONE will ever convince me that my dogs are not happy and healthy and love their lives.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:59 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Man domesticated those miniature dogs and bred the hell out of them for their own pleasure. I got know problem with that if that's what you want, but don't act all noble that you're doing it for them. Dog's should be primarily working animals and weren't meant to live in houses. Some time along the way some people humanized them and moved them inside, but their still working animals, just doing another job...making you happy.

A dog who has a nice pack, a human one will do, somewhere safe to sleep, and plenty of food is a happy dog. That's why wolves moved into human society. It's win-win, except we don't usually need the protection that a friendly wolf brings these days. Cats, I've never really understood cats, although I do like them.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 05-03-2012, 06:08 PM
CyclopticXander CyclopticXander is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Man domesticated those miniature dogs and bred the hell out of them for their own pleasure. I got know problem with that if that's what you want, but don't act all noble that you're doing it for them. Dog's should be primarily working animals and weren't meant to live in houses. Some time along the way some people humanized them and moved them inside, but their still working animals, just doing another job...making you happy.
I'm not acting noble for having dogs, I love them and want them to live with me. I assure you that both sides are happy with this arrangement. What makes you believe that dogs should be primarily working animals? That sounds sort of arbitrary if you ask me. And then you say my dogs make me happy like it's a bad thing. I'm really trying to see where you are coming from here but you're making it pretty difficult to figure out what your point is.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 05-03-2012, 06:14 PM
FloatyGimpy FloatyGimpy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
I'm not acting noble for having dogs, I love them and want them to live with me. I assure you that both sides are happy with this arrangement. What makes you believe that dogs should be primarily working animals? That sounds sort of arbitrary if you ask me. And then you say my dogs make me happy like it's a bad thing. I'm really trying to see where you are coming from here but you're making it pretty difficult to figure out what your point is.
Yeah I can't tell if he hates dogs or hates people who have dogs. Does he not want them in the house because animals belong outside? Working dogs were bred by people just as much as lap dogs were so I don't know what his point is either.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 05-03-2012, 07:23 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Man domesticated those miniature dogs and bred the hell out of them for their own pleasure. I got know problem with that if that's what you want, but don't act all noble that you're doing it for them. Dog's should be primarily working animals and weren't meant to live in houses. Some time along the way some people humanized them and moved them inside, but their still working animals, just doing another job...making you happy.
Take it up with the cavemen who started breeding them.

I have 4 cats in my house. At least three spend hours looking outside, but only one has any actual interest in going outside. And he doesn't go far, although I'm sure he would if we let him out all the time.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 05-03-2012, 07:26 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Man domesticated those miniature dogs and bred the hell out of them for their own pleasure. I got know problem with that if that's what you want, but don't act all noble that you're doing it for them. Dog's should be primarily working animals and weren't meant to live in houses. Some time along the way some people humanized them and moved them inside, but their still working animals, just doing another job...making you happy.
....which is a perfectly legitimate purpose to breed dogs for. Some dogs are bred to hunt badgers, and some dogs are bred to be companions.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 05-03-2012, 07:52 PM
Jennmonkye Jennmonkye is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
I have always wondered about owning a bird like a larger parrot, who might have a lifespan of up to 70+ years. Not that any of us know when we might die, but I don't think I could buy an animal that might potentially live 30-40 past when I might potentially die of natural causes. I would spend too much time worrying about what might happen to the bird when I was gone...is that weird?
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 05-03-2012, 08:50 PM
Askance Askance is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 6,763
Quote:
Originally Posted by wheresgeorge04 View Post
Not quite that dramatically, but yeah, I agree. I wouldn't own a caged bird. Flight is the essence of bird-dom, and to take that away is cruel.
Completely agree, bird cages should be banned for general use IMO.

What got me to this opinion was some time I spent staying in a couple's house around 20 years ago. They had a cockatoo in a cage that wouldn't have been even ten times the size of the bird, by volume. And they'd clipped the wings of the bird. The poor thing had been driven insane by the confinement and mutilation, and screamed day and night - in desperation I seriously considered killing the bird, both out of mercy and to get some sleep. I could not wait to get out of that house and never saw those people again.

Would they cut off the legs of a dog to stop it running away? Those vile inhuman bastards.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 05-03-2012, 08:55 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,107
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
I'm big on animal issues. I don't eat them. I also love animals as pets and think that bonding with animals makes us better more empathetic humans. Birds as pets in smallish cages I'm not so sure about. I can't claim to know whether or not being so unnaturally retrained is distressing to them, but it seems reasonable to assume they would much prefer to fly free. I feel I don't have enough information on bird consciousness to weigh the issue of what they lose from this relationship versus what we gain from it.

I feel like most bird ownership is based more on them as trophies or something pretty to look at as opposed to the kind of companionship we get from dogs and cats. Now I know of course that there are people who feel real companionship and love with their birds and I don't want to deny anyone of that, but I feel that more often they are kept more like fish, a sort of decoration. I'm not sure how I should feel about that as an animal lover.
While my birds do have cages, when we're home (and my spouse is home almost all the time) they're out of the cages. Several rooms have bird perches and/or bird gyms for them to perch on. They are invited to most of our mealtimes and get a portion of what we're eating as long as it's safe for birds (almost all of what we eat is). They get LOTS of interaction with each other and with humans. They like humans. My conure flies to meet me at the door when I come home at night, sort of like a dog with feathers.

Yes, they do get to fly around quite a bit.

As for their cages - they're basically bedrooms, or studio apartments for the little dears. Sometimes, if they get tired, they'll go into a cage for a quick nap all by themselves which is hardly the action of something that views a cage as a prison. At night, when it's their bedtime, they'll also put themselves in the cages without us having to take them there. It's a place they feel safe and protected, not a prison. The bars don't just keep the birds in, they keep the Bad Things out.

While I'm typing this I have two birds on one shoulder grooming each other and another on the other watching TV.

While some people do keep birds as "trophies" or decorative items, and I find that loathsome because of how awful that came be for the birds, who need exercise and social interaction, a lot of pet birds are kept more like dogs - they're out of the cage a lot, they are played with, they aren't trapped in a little box 24/7.

For birds socializing is usually the Big Thing. Sure, flying looks like fun, but it's like running - a little goes a long way and it's hard work and tires them out. But birds in the parrot family like to interact with others, it's what they live for.

Note that things may be different for other types of birds. Finches, for example, become accustomed to humans nearby but they aren't the sort to perch on your finger or learn to talk. They're happiest with a big aviary with other finches in it.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 05-03-2012, 09:45 PM
CyclopticXander CyclopticXander is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
While my birds do have cages, when we're home (and my spouse is home almost all the time) they're out of the cages. Several rooms have bird perches and/or bird gyms for them to perch on. They are invited to most of our mealtimes and get a portion of what we're eating as long as it's safe for birds (almost all of what we eat is). They get LOTS of interaction with each other and with humans. They like humans. My conure flies to meet me at the door when I come home at night, sort of like a dog with feathers.

Yes, they do get to fly around quite a bit.

As for their cages - they're basically bedrooms, or studio apartments for the little dears. Sometimes, if they get tired, they'll go into a cage for a quick nap all by themselves which is hardly the action of something that views a cage as a prison. At night, when it's their bedtime, they'll also put themselves in the cages without us having to take them there. It's a place they feel safe and protected, not a prison. The bars don't just keep the birds in, they keep the Bad Things out.

While I'm typing this I have two birds on one shoulder grooming each other and another on the other watching TV.

While some people do keep birds as "trophies" or decorative items, and I find that loathsome because of how awful that came be for the birds, who need exercise and social interaction, a lot of pet birds are kept more like dogs - they're out of the cage a lot, they are played with, they aren't trapped in a little box 24/7.

For birds socializing is usually the Big Thing. Sure, flying looks like fun, but it's like running - a little goes a long way and it's hard work and tires them out. But birds in the parrot family like to interact with others, it's what they live for.

Note that things may be different for other types of birds. Finches, for example, become accustomed to humans nearby but they aren't the sort to perch on your finger or learn to talk. They're happiest with a big aviary with other finches in it.
This is an excellent informative response to my OP. You obviously know your stuff and clearly birds can be great pets when approached the way you do it.

It does sound a little more high maintenance than owning a dog , so I worry about how many bird owners would be like you. It would probably help if this kind of information were distributed with buying birds as pets.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 05-03-2012, 09:49 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennmonkye View Post
I have always wondered about owning a bird like a larger parrot, who might have a lifespan of up to 70+ years. Not that any of us know when we might die, but I don't think I could buy an animal that might potentially live 30-40 past when I might potentially die of natural causes. I would spend too much time worrying about what might happen to the bird when I was gone...is that weird?
No, that's actually very responsible. It is reckless to adopt a long-lived parrot without thinking about who will take care of it when you die. You really should identify someone who is younger and wiling to take it when you're not able to care for it anymore.
Another option would be to look at parrot rescues for an older bird that has already lost its original owner and therefore will not outlive you. Unfortunately, many parrots do end up homeless so there are plenty in bird rescues.

Last edited by lavenderviolet; 05-03-2012 at 09:50 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 05-04-2012, 09:15 AM
araminty araminty is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
It does sound a little more high maintenance than owning a dog , so I worry about how many bird owners would be like you. It would probably help if this kind of information were distributed with buying birds as pets.
No disrespect to you, or Broomstick's excellent post, but this information isn't exactly secret. Ten minutes of Googling, or browsing library shelves, will give Joe Birdbuyer all this and more. The problem is the people who don't think to look the information up, and then, act on it, every single day, for the rest of the bird's long life. (No one really knows how long most parrot species are capable of living; they've been imperfectly kept in captivity, and are subject to too many external factors, usually human created, in the wild.)

Also, birds don't just come from pet stores - check out Craigslist for your town, around here I'd estimate that around one fifth of the listings in the pet section are birds or bird cages. And someone trying to rehome a bird is obviously going to be doing their darnedest to get prospective buyers to say yes, and is not necessarily putting the parrot's welfare first. As I mentioned before, parrots have, on average, seven different homes throughout their life.

Cultural factors may come into play here too. For many people, a budgie in a tiny cage is part of what makes a house a home, and very little thought is given to the welfare of the animal. Obviously the bigger parrots, like the cockatoo in Askance's heartbreaking story, can make their owner's life hell. The smaller ones don't fight back, at least, not as loudly.

Sorry I'm such a gloomy guts about this subject. I've been working with a parrot rescue here in the Bay area, and I see a lot of neglected birds.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 05-04-2012, 01:58 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Askance View Post
And they'd clipped the wings of the bird
Clarify for me, please...they clipped the primary feathers, or they actually amputated part of the actual wing/limb?
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 05-04-2012, 02:57 PM
dngnb8 dngnb8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Clarify for me, please...they clipped the primary feathers, or they actually amputated part of the actual wing/limb?
They clip feathers so the bird cannot fly away out a window.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 05-04-2012, 03:05 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by dngnb8 View Post
They clip feathers so the bird cannot fly away out a window.
I understand what is normally meant by "clipping wings". But that's in no real way analogous to amputating a dog's legs. Feathers eventually molt and grow back. It's not actual mutilation if you're basically giving a haircut.

Not that I necessarily agree with the philosophy that allows for pinioning, but when you conflate a permanent mutilation with a temporary clipping you cheapen any argument you actually have against the clipping.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 05-04-2012, 03:13 PM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas, USA
Posts: 7,970
Properly done, wing clipping is analagous to toenail clipping, not "mutilation."
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 05-04-2012, 08:51 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,107
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
This is an excellent informative response to my OP. You obviously know your stuff and clearly birds can be great pets when approached the way you do it.

It does sound a little more high maintenance than owning a dog , so I worry about how many bird owners would be like you. It would probably help if this kind of information were distributed with buying birds as pets.
It's not so much high maintenance as different. Cats and dogs are mammals like us. Birds are not mammals. They are more different, they have different needs, different body language, etc.

There are MANY people and groups out there eager to educate potential bird owners. The problem is, far too many people are ignorant of their own ignorance.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 05-05-2012, 09:18 AM
Crab Rangoon Crab Rangoon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
We have a pair of parakeets - it seems to me that the important thing for the birds (and probably for most pets) is the companionship. If you get a bird - especially of the parrot/cockatoo type - you need to be a constant companion and pay them LOTS of attention because that's the way they are wired - they need it. By getting two or more birds, you are ensuring they get the proper mental/emotional interactions - but they will never bond to you if they have another bird to bond with.

In our case - we like having the parakeets as pets, but we don't have the time to have a single human-bonded bird, so it's only humane to have multiple birds. They have a big cage and lots of toys and seem perfectly happy doing all their bird-type things together. They will interact to a limited degree with us, but not the way some birds would who have bonded to their human.

I'm not sure about the "need" to fly. Ours fly around in their cage - but we don't let them out. They actually seem to enjoy climbing and creeping around quite a bit - if we put lots of branches in there - they will climb around like they are on monkey bars.

Also - we have ten chickens out in the yard - we clip their wings every year to make sure they stay in their pen - I'm pretty sure they are happy even without being able to fly (and escape the pen so they can get eaten by the passing fox/bobcat/dog). Clipping is easy and harmless - they don't seem to mind in the least.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 05-05-2012, 09:34 AM
kayaker kayaker is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 15,315
Quote:
Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
If dogs weren't meant to live in houses, why are so many perfectly happy to do so?
We have three dogs. When we are working outside, the dogs are with us. Although they are free to roam hundreds of acres, they head for the woods only when we go for a walk or horseback ride.

In the winter, I let them outside to eliminate. They walk a few yards, squat, pee, then come running back inside.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:17 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,107
Just thought I'd post a pic of the family flock.

You can see the stacked cages. You can't see that their doors are open so the birds can go in them if they want to. Also visible is the bird gym, with things to climb on and play with, a cardboard box for them to hide in/chew up, and a bird bath. This allows them to move around, exercise, eat, drink, bathe, hide, play, and interact with each other.

For the most part, they're happy to stay on the gym though obviously they're not confined and can hop/fly over to a human in the room if they so desire. You can see that the yellow-headed cockatiel has full flight feathers, he's not clipped at all in this picture. The green bird has had the ends of his primary flight feathers clipped - this is analogous to cutting your hair and causes neither pain nor bleeding and the feathers will regrow to full length at the next molt. As done here, this does not prevent him from flying, what it does is slow him down. Since, at times, for his safety he must be in the cage we need to be able to capture him. We do minimal clipping, mostly young birds that are not fully tamed/trained. Our current oldest bird, Sydney (the white headed cockatiel) hasn't been clipped at all for the last five years.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 05-07-2012, 08:36 PM
Askance Askance is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 6,763
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Clarify for me, please...they clipped the primary feathers, or they actually amputated part of the actual wing/limb?
Quote:
Originally Posted by dngnb8 View Post
They clip feathers so the bird cannot fly away out a window.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
I understand what is normally meant by "clipping wings". But that's in no real way analogous to amputating a dog's legs. Feathers eventually molt and grow back. It's not actual mutilation if you're basically giving a haircut.

Not that I necessarily agree with the philosophy that allows for pinioning, but when you conflate a permanent mutilation with a temporary clipping you cheapen any argument you actually have against the clipping.
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
Properly done, wing clipping is analagous to toenail clipping, not "mutilation."
They had removed the whole outer part of the wing, the equivalent of cutting your arm off at the elbow. As the bird never left the cage (while I was there anyway, a few days) I don't think it wasn't to stop it flying away; I presumed it was to stop it injuring its wings against the cage bars. Why they couldn't put it in a decent size cage I couldn't imagine, they lived in a large suburban house on a good-size block so there was plenty of room for an aviary in the yard.

The man of the house was from northern Italy, whether this kind of thing is/was a common practise there I don't know.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 05-07-2012, 08:56 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Askance View Post
They had removed the whole outer part of the wing, the equivalent of cutting your arm off at the elbow. As the bird never left the cage (while I was there anyway, a few days) I don't think it wasn't to stop it flying away; I presumed it was to stop it injuring its wings against the cage bars. Why they couldn't put it in a decent size cage I couldn't imagine, they lived in a large suburban house on a good-size block so there was plenty of room for an aviary in the yard.

The man of the house was from northern Italy, whether this kind of thing is/was a common practise there I don't know.
Okay, that I can't support. That really IS mutilation.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 05-07-2012, 10:32 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 22,887
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
I actually think it's cruel to keep any animal confined in a house. As one poster mentioned birds were meant to fly...and cats and dogs were meant to work and roam. People that keep pets do these animals a disservice in my opinion.
A cat likes a relatively small territory. Once it has room to find a mate, room to be alone, a warm private place to snooze and plenty of food, it's happy as can be. Farm cats will live out their entire lives in the area around a barn, even tho they could travel away if they wanted too. A house- assuming the cat has places to hide- is plenty big enough.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 05-08-2012, 12:36 AM
Bad News Baboon Bad News Baboon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
I'm curious - for those with non-caged birds. Do they just poop anywhere in the house or are they trained to use one spot?
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 05-08-2012, 01:41 AM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad News Baboon View Post
I'm curious - for those with non-caged birds. Do they just poop anywhere in the house or are they trained to use one spot?
Mine live with an open cage. They choose to spend 90% of their time in it and another 5% on top of it, playing 'King of the Castle'.

What little time they spend flying is usually to a couple of favoured spots. Because they're little budgies (parrotlets in the US), the very few transitional poos dry quickly and get vacuumed up. The curtain rails (sometimes the curtains, too) get wiped and the cage gets emptied.

All that combined is much less of a chore than cleaning the late cat's litter box used to be.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 05-08-2012, 01:52 AM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by maggenpye View Post
Because they're little budgies (parrotlets in the US)
I am not a bird aficionado, but I have never heard the word parrotlet. In the US, everybody calls budgerigars "parakeets." Wikipedia tells me that parrotlet is a fancier bird that you're less likely to find at Petco than parakeets.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 05-08-2012, 02:15 AM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Ah well, shows how much I care. Last time I didn't add the other name and people pretended they didn't know what a budgie was and couldn't google it.

Last edited by maggenpye; 05-08-2012 at 02:18 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 05-08-2012, 02:37 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 51,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
It's not so much high maintenance as different. Cats and dogs are mammals like us. Birds are not mammals. They are more different, they have different needs, different body language, etc.
Concur. Keeping a pet bird is interacting with an alien intelligence. They clearly think - arguably, they have an inner thought-life or monologue of some kind, but they don't think like us.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 05-08-2012, 05:54 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad News Baboon View Post
I'm curious - for those with non-caged birds. Do they just poop anywhere in the house or are they trained to use one spot?
We teach them that their gyms/perches/cages are Bird Territory and they spend 95% of their time there. Those spots have newspapers under them, which are cleaned up on a regular basis. This solves most of the problem.

Being birds, they do have occasional accidents in other spots, but since there's a human around supervising them when they're out it's spotted and cleaned up immediately. They aren't pigeons, don't eat garbage, and are a different species that wild birds so their poos are nearly as messy as some of the wild bird poos most of us are familiar with.

I agree, it's no more bother, and often considerably less, than cat litterboxes or what you put up with with dogs.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 05-08-2012, 06:01 AM
kayaker kayaker is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 15,315
Quote:
Originally Posted by Askance View Post
They had removed the whole outer part of the wing, the equivalent of cutting your arm off at the elbow. As the bird never left the cage (while I was there anyway, a few days) I don't think it wasn't to stop it flying away; I presumed it was to stop it injuring its wings against the cage bars. Why they couldn't put it in a decent size cage I couldn't imagine, they lived in a large suburban house on a good-size block so there was plenty of room for an aviary in the yard.

The man of the house was from northern Italy, whether this kind of thing is/was a common practise there I don't know.
This is called pinioning.

Often done to permanently deflight waterfowl. In Hawaii, it is done to Macaws that are on display.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 05-08-2012, 06:08 AM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
Mostly harmless
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: The VunderLair
Posts: 14,591
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
Does anyone else wrestle with this question?
I don't.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 05-08-2012, 08:51 AM
Renee Renee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Can pet birds be allowed to fly around outside once they know where home is? I'm guessing not, since nobody seems to do this, but I'm not sure why. We have chickens that free range all day, and they always go to their coop at night without any effort on our part.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 05-08-2012, 11:09 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 19,107
Homing pigeons are routinely allowed to fly free - but then, they have a strong homing instinct, hence the name.

The more common pet bird species in the parrot family don't have such an instinct. It's very rare that if one gets outside the house you'll ever get it back although there are strategies to improve one's chances of getting the pet back. I did rescue Sunny from a snowdrift a couple years back, mainly because he was at a loss for what to do in this very alien (to him) environment of winter in Indiana and simply screamed until I came and got him. It's wonder nothing like a hawk didn't get to him first.

There are some exceptions - our lovebird Junior, hand raised from infancy by my spouse (his parents tossed him out of the nest within hours of his hatching due to his being handicapped) did get free-flight time in the backyard with my spouse. However, Junior was even more attached to Mr. Broomstick than usual for a pet bird (probably that "raised from a hatchling" thing) and unusually sensible. While he did fly around the backyard he was extremely wary and anxious about it, fleeing back to hide under Mr. Broomstick's t-shirt at the least possible excuse. (He did catch himself some live bugs and worm, though, and nibble on the garden).

I've occasionally encountered people with parrots of one sort or another who had them outside without restraint, but almost always those birds weren't flying, they were willingly perched on the human and indeed very reluctant to step off their human even when asked to do so. This gets back to bird psychology being very different than human psychology. I'm not sure whether this clinginess comes from the desire to stick with the flock, wishing to stick with a powerful ally as a defense against a dangerous world, some obsession with their favorite human, or something else but parrots can become VERY attached to their favorite human(s), obsessively or even destructively so.

There are people who sell harnesses and leashes for birds so one can take them outside and even allow some free movement/brief flights without risk of losing them, but I've never tried it myself. Birds needs to become accustomed and trained to accept such a harness.

There is the problem that even a very attached/leashed bird could very well be attacked while outside. We've had predatory birds slam into windows in our place while trying to snatch our birds sunning on the inside of said window.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 05-08-2012, 11:41 AM
SnakeBabe SnakeBabe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopticXander View Post
.... they are kept more like fish, a sort of decoration. I'm not sure how I should feel about that as an animal lover.
...
Therein lies the problem. When kept as just a decoration then yes, it is abusive to an animal of such intelligence. I have three birds . Each daily has playtime with me and or each other. Large spacious cages with music and lots of toys that are changed weekly. I could go on and on but yes, it does trouble me. Poor things are going out of their minds with bordom. Must feel like prison for them.


And thanks for not eating them
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 05-08-2012, 12:03 PM
Renee Renee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Thanks, Broomstick. Do most small parrot type birds like to sleep in the same spot every night? Like chickens roosting?
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:55 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.