Listing of breeders:
Photos courtesy Phoenix
you could be any animal on Earth, what would you be? A bird, because they
can fly? Maybe that would have been fun long ago, but here and now, birds
are, in terms of numbers, probably the most abused animals on the planet.
Unlike wild birds, birds sold in pet stores can't fly--their wings
are clipped. Our local Petland has approximately 75 birds for sale at any
given time. Parakeets and cockatiels (i.e. small parrots) sold by pet
stores frequently end up abandoned or dead at an early age. Petland also
sells large parrots, who can live for over 70 years. Think of spending 70
years trapped in a small cage. Parrots are intelligent, social creatures.
They require exercise, companionship, a varied diet, and toys to be happy.
Bird rescuers love them but know they are loud, expensive to care for, and
require a lot of cleanup. How many people who buy birds on impulse are
prepared to care for them adequately for many years? There is no need to
buy a bird at a pet store. Many homeless birds are available for
adoption--contact the rescue and education group Phoenix Landing, http://www.phoenixlanding.org/,
and other nonprofit organizations for more information.
less legal protection than almost any other animal. Please read some of
the many articles about the trade in birds at: http://www.avianwelfare.org/issues/marketing.htm
where do all these pet store birds come from? Yes, along with puppy mills
and rabbit mills, there are bird mills, too.
BIRD BREEDING MILLS
of us have heard the sad stories about puppy mills. Hundreds of miserable
creatures huddled in crowded cages-- their only purpose in life being to
breed. However, most people have not been exposed to the avian equivalent,
the bird mill. Bird mills are facilities which are used to mass produce
parrots for the pet trade. Almost all pet stores, especially the larger
chains, purchase their parrots from bird mills.
Most bird mill
breeding facilities resemble warehouses. Breeder birds, many of them
former pets, are kept in small cages with nothing more than food, water,
and a nestbox. They are never handled or given any mental stimulation.
Confinement in such conditions leads to neurotic behavior in many breeder
birds. Not all breeder birds are compatible with each other. If
introductions are not carefully done with acute observation and possible
intervention--and they rarely are in bird mills--one or both birds of a
prospective breeding pair can be seriously injured or killed.
pair does successfully breed and a female lays fertile eggs, they are
removed from the nestbox and placed in an incubator. Chicks are not
allowed any contact with their parents. Assembly line-type tubes are used
to put food directly into the baby birds' crops. This tube feeding makes
it very hard for a chick to be weaned later on because the chick
associates eating with a tube instead of food. Bird mills wean baby birds
using a technique called deprivation, or forced, weaning. During
deprivation weaning, chicks are refused formula with the assumption that
when they get hungry enough they'll eat solid food. Deprivation weaning
can result in malnutrition, starvation, and permanent behavior problems.
Most bird mills wean chicks to cheap seed-only diets in order to
save money. This can cause serious health problems and often makes it
difficult for the birds to be converted to a more nutritious diet later
on. The birds the mills are unable to wean are often turned over to
inexperienced pet shop employees, who in turn sell the fragile creatures
to uninformed buyers. These unfortunate birds usually starve to death or
die at the hands of misdirected people attempting to handfeed them.
Another practice in bird mills is the prophylactic use of
antibiotics as a substitute for good sanitation. This can have terrible
short-term as well as long-term effects on the birds: broad-spectrum
antibiotics destroy the beneficial flora and fauna residing in birds,
leaving them even more susceptible. Fragile organs can be damaged and some
birds have built up resistance to certain types of antibiotics.
The less obvious result of production breeding in bird mills is
young parrots that have not been handled or socialized. These chicks often
develop serious behavioral problems as they mature and make horrible pets.
Across the country bird rescue groups are overflowing with abandoned
birds--no doubt most the result of production breeding in bird
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Animal Welfare Act doesn't cover birds. So, unlike puppy mills, the USDA
has no authority over bird mills. But there are still a few actions you
can take against bird mills:
* Never buy a mass-marketed bird from
a chain pet store! These companies will not stop mass-producing and
selling birds until it is no longer profitable to do so.
Encourage pet stores to provide the same adoption services for parrots
that they do for dogs and cats instead of selling birds in their stores.
* If you see a bird being neglected or abused, report it to your
local humane organization or animal control agency; or contact the local
law enforcement office or nearest humane agency.
Many people, ourselves included, know very little about birds and
therefore cannot always tell when a pet store is abusing these animals. We
understand that one place where bird people exchange information about how
to properly care for birds is the forum at http://www.birdsnways.com/. Please
note that we do not support the breeding and selling of birds that is also
mentioned on this site; we encourage people to adopt homeless birds and
leave healthy wild birds in the wild.