This is mainly going to be a post of me grumbling. There are some things I have to get off my chest. I apologize in advance.
Birdtricks.com is a very large site. You would find it difficult to google just about any bird related topic without tripping over Birdtricks.com. Because of the huge presence on the internet, we are the first place that many come to with questions or for help.
We get a lot of beginner bird owners here. Some people go into pet stores and come home with a bird having been told that its care entails little more than filling a dish with seed every few days. Some people have graciously taken in someone’s unwanted bird and don’t quite know what to do with it. Some people had been doing fine with their bird until their bird reached sexual maturity. Never mind that they should have done this or that before they took home a bird. Most people do not do that, and then they wind up online looking for help.
There is one particular Facebook group that is all about parrot diet. I was very excited when this place started up – let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of places where you can go to talk excitedly about produce.
Someone recently posted a photo of her bird’s breakfast bowl that was filled with foods that should only be givens as occasional treats. One of the admins stated wisely that it was too high in fat, but then offered poor recommendations – one of which would actually make the problem worse. There was no explanation offered and no discussion of how to change the diet.It is becoming clear that the people there either don’t understand diet or are too afraid to speak up for fear of losing their following.
There are several places to go to on the internet for advice. Many of these are very knowledgeable and I admire the people involved and respect their opinions greatly. But there are those who are obviously there to promote themselves, gain Facebook likes and feel important. This is not a popularity contest. When something needs to be said, people need to find the courage to say it. There are real people out there whose birds will suffer if they don’t get good advice.
Why am I telling you this?
If you were to take all of these places to go on the internet, put them together and multiply them by ten, twenty…fifty, it might then equal the traffic here at Birdtricks.com. We get a LOT of questions here and we regard them carefully.
I take everything that happens here to heart. I take things personally. I lay awake at night worrying about a bird that belongs to someone in another part of the world that I know is suffering. I take my responsibility to the bird owners that put their trust in Birdtricks.com very seriously.
In the recent weeks I have posted links to two different photos, both very graphic, to the Facebook page. One depicted a cockatiel with a missing beak, the result of being allowed to play with a much larger species of bird. The other was a photo of a senegal at the vet’s office with a wing that had been almost entirely pulled off by the family pet. Each photo exemplified a story that I had heard earlier in the week from someone making an error in judgment that nearly cost their bird its life.
A few people were upset with me for posting a link to the graphic photos. The images upset them, understandably. But that is what they were meant to do (and it is why they were posted as a link with a content warning).
When there is a learning opportunity, I am compelled to use it. There are many people who hear words of warning about potential dangers to their birds. But there are also many people who require the same message be delivered with an exclamation point. Those photos were for them.
Someone commented beneath the pictures that this concern was unfounded and suggested I was fear mongering and that this is unlikely to happen. I am here to tell you that when we post warnings, they are real.
Because Birdtricks.com is such a big site, we get a huge dose of what’s going on out there in the bird world. Additionally, people message me privately on Facebook, email and through friends of friends. I hear stuff that literally causes me to lose sleep.
We like this site and the Facebook page to remain an upbeat and positive place to visit. And it is typically a place where we mostly celebrate parrots and our love for them. However, it is irresponsible to have so many ears listening that aren’t at least some of the time hearing things they might otherwise not know. Some of those things are occasionally ugly.
If you listen to the warnings we give you, I applaud you. If you choose to disregard them, that is your business. But don’t ever expect me to keep quiet about the dangers I KNOW are out there and only give you the happy side of bird ownership. That will never happen – my conscience would never allow it.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.