I know there are a million good causes out there, and people
are trying to “save” everything from whales to laying hens, but if you have a
soft spot in your heart for birds at all perhaps fork over a few bucks to help the
I know, parrots! What do parrots have to do with agriculture
or even life in Western Canada. Well believe it or not there are thousands of pet parrots in Canada and millions in North America. Many have great homes,
great care and great lives, but unfortunately there are also thousands of the
little beggars that end up neglected, abused, and living one hell of a life.
But long time friend Gloria Fantin has been nuts about parrots
for about 15 years. She may look like a normal
livestock advertising sales
person during the day, but after hours she becomes this whacko bird lady, doing
all she can to improve the life of parrots. (Caption, Fantin at right, this is what happens when a relatively normal person gets bitten, figuratively and literally, by a cuddly cockatoo).
She bought her first parrot from a pet store about 15 years
ago and then soon realized that is about the worst thing you can do for the
species. The more she loved caring for a parrot, the more she learned about the
tragic and worsening state of the pet-parrot world.
Some wild birds are still smuggled into the country, but
most are produced by breeders. And breeder intentions are perhaps good, but the
reality is that more and more of these pet store birds end up unwanted,
neglected, abused and the lucky ones end up surrendered to parrot rescue
centres — individuals, groups and private agencies that do their best to
provide proper care for parrots. It is a good cause, but also expensive. Let’s
dispel the myth — these things don’t just live on crackers.
Parrots are complex. First of all they live forever – like
30 or 40 years or more. And they are bright, intelligent and very interactive
animals. But they are also very noisy and messy, and because they are so bright
they need a lot of attention and stimulation.
People buy them because they think it is neat to own a
parrot, but a few weeks or months later they begin to realize the commitment.
Parrots aren’t like a cat that might sleep all day. And all too often they end
up locked away in a cage in a spare bedroom, or basement and really they go
nuts. They can remain noisy and messy, but they may also become aggressive –
biters – and they develop self-mutilating habits. They pluck out all their
feathers and begin to eat holes in their skin.
Noisy, misbehavers get shuttled around from home to home.
Sometimes they end up with idiots who think it is fun to hose them down, or
burn them with cigarettes, under feed them, and keep them locked away in
isolation. And the horror stories are endless.
Gloria, along with a few other like-minded birdbrains in
Calgary, earlier this year launched the Canadian Parrot Resource Centre (PRC).
Its main purpose is to educate people about parrots and the pros and cons of
owning a parrot as a pet. The PRC (www.parrotresourcecenter.ca)
works with parrot rescue centres, and foster homes looking after unwanted
In fact, if you have ever thought about owning a parrot do
not go to a pet shop and buy one for anywhere from a $200 to $1,000 depending
on the species. Contact the Parrot Resource Centre, or one of the rescue
centres. You may be suitable to provide foster care or a permanent home for a
surrendered bird. (Photo caption, at left, these girls paid a visit to the Fantin household for a close up visit with some parrots, but also learned about proper care.)
This all boils down to the PRC has launched a fund raiser.
They need parrot seed and other supplies and have a number of people around
the country serving as drop off locations, but they can also use cash to buy
food for these birds in shelters or foster care. So visit the PRC website,
learn about parrots and help out if you can spare a few bucks for the birds.
Like a lot of “good causes” we can’t give to everything, but all we can do is help
out where we can. And here are some birds that need some help.
Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in
Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]
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