Referred to as MBS, Multiple Bird Syndrome is suffered by most bird people, particularly those in their first years of bird ownership. It’s symptoms include warm, fuzzy feelings when viewing other people’s birds – especially those species which we do not keep in our own flock.
MBS is a powerful affliction as symptoms can manifest even without the other birds being physically present – cute photographs alone can cause flare ups. The main symptom is an uncontrollable urge to add just one more bird to the flock even when we know we have no more space in the bird room or when our budget is already stretched to the limit.
You may be reading this and thinking: “Okay. Now this is a disease I can live with!” Beware. MBS is insidious and in the blink of an eye you can find yourself inundated with birds. It may sound like paradise, but it is not – not for you, and not for your flock.
No, MBS is not a real disease, but it is referred to often in the avian community. All joking aside, it is a serious issue. I remember struggling with it myself not so long ago. Over the years, I have watched many great bird owners fall victim to MBS. One such example stands out over ther others:
One nice lady, we’ll call her Susan, had a full time job working for her city’s transit department. She was married to a great guy and all of her children were grown and moved away from home. She and her husband understandably found the house too quiet and they purchased a blue and gold macaw to fill the void. The bird became a treasured member of the household.
Following this, Susan fell in love with all things parrot and joined a local bird club where she experienced some of the other popular species. Within the next two years they added another five birds to the flock. Her husband was very patient with the birds and helped care for them, but insisted that they draw the line there.
When you called them on the phone, it was hard to hear them speak. When visiting them, you could tell they were having trouble keeping up with the bird related chores. The birds were loved and cared for, but their not-so-large home wasn’t as pristine, or as peaceful, as it used to be.
Susan couldn’t help herself and came home one day with another large bird. Her thinking where her husband was concerned was that “it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission”. He hit the roof and gave her the ultimatum: “me or the birds”. It was a devastating choice for her, but one which she had brought on herself. They kept their origninal blue and gold macaw, and had to rehome the rest – an unhappy experience for all concerned, both human and avian.
I hope the point of this story is clear. We love birds. We can’t get enough of them…that is why we are all here, after all. But you can have too much of a good thing. We can spread ourselves too thin in the areas of finanaces, space and time, and it can play out badly for our birds…and our loved ones. Think carefully before you bring a new bird into your life, and try to keep your MBS under control!
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.