by Denise Kelly, Avian Welfare Coalition
Time flies! This January 5 marks the tenth anniversary of National Bird Day, a day of action aimed at raising awareness to the plight of captive birds.
Coordinated by Born Free USA and the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC), National Bird Day is a good time to appreciate our native birds flying free outside and to reflect on how we treat the birds of other countries. While the U.S. has enacted laws to protect our native birds — such as blue jays, cardinals, and crows — from commercial exploitation, we fail to offer the same protections to birds of other countries. This inconsistency leads to the sad reality that many captive birds languish in conditions that are inadequate in meeting their special needs, and many end up in shelters.
National Bird Day is also the perfect time to think about how we can improve the treatment of birds in our nation’s shelters.Parrots and other exotic birds are the fourth largest population of animals kept as companions, and they represent the largest population of captive wildlife in the U.S. It’s no surprise that they have become one of the fastest growing groups of unwanted “pets” in the U.S.
There are currently over 100 self-described bird rescue or sanctuary organizations in the U.S., many of which have come into existence in just the last few years to address the dramatic rise in displaced captive birds, and many are already filled to capacity. Often, the local animal shelter is the only option available to receive unwanted, abused, or abandoned birds.
Even when bred in captivity, birds are not considered domesticated animals and their wild nature presents special challenges for traditional shelters that are already filled with homeless cats and dogs.
To the Rescue!
Rather than leaving shelters to wing it, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals will team up on Wednesday, January 4, with the Avian Welfare Coalition and The Center for Avian & Exotic Medicine in NYC to present The Basics of Caring for Exotic Birds in the Shelter, a hands-on workshop especially designed to help shelters gain the knowledge and skills to provide for the specialized care and placement of exotic birds in a shelter setting.The Basics of Caring for Exotic Birds in the Shelter
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
ASPCA Administrative Offices, 7th Floor, 520 Eighth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Streets), Manhattan
RSVP and photo ID required for entrance
This workshop — developed as part of the Avian Welfare Coalition’s Shelter Outreach Program — will cover the special housing, dietary, veterinary, behavioral, and placement needs of birds within a shelter setting, and offers guidelines for dealing with abuse, neglect, hoarding, or cruelty situations involving exotic birds. The session is open to any shelter or rescue employees or volunteers who work with bird care and placement. RSVP is required.
In celebration of National Bird Day, copies of Captive Exotic Bird Care: A Guide for Shelters will be available for purchase at the special price of $20.00 at the workshop. A joint project of the Avian Welfare Coalition, Born Free USA, and the ASPCA, Captive Exotic Bird Care: A Guide for Shelters is the only publication of its kind and a valuable resource for shelters.
The AWC’s goal is to help shelters help birds! We’re thrilled that the Mayor’s Alliance is taking flight with us to expand resources for NYC’s animal shelters so they can better serve the needs of birds. We are especially pleased that Dr. Anthony Pilny and Lorelei Tibbets of The Center for Avian & Exotic Medicine are bringing their unique perspective to this workshop.
A Final Word
Captive birds cannot be returned to the wild, since they do not possess the learned skills necessary to survive; nor can they be set free to fend for themselves.
Our ethical responsibility is to provide the best care possible for those living in captivity. Birds certainly deserve the same efforts to promote public education, protective legislation, sheltering, and placement afforded to domestic pets and other wild animals.
We look forward to having our shelter partners join us on January 5 to celebrate National Bird Day and to work towards improving the lives of captive birds every day of the year!
To learn more about how you can participate in National Bird Day, visit www.NationalBirdDay.org.Humane Education Takes Flight!
LUCKY: Based on a True Story
The Avian Welfare Coalition’s educational children’s book that gently awakens children to the plight of captive birds and birds captured in the wild. This book — based on a true story — tells the story of Lucky, a parrot who is captured in the wild and eventually regains his freedom with the help of a young Indonesian boy. A variety of activities for children, parents, and educators along with a narrated video clip of the real Lucky are available at www.LuckytheLorikeet.com.