We are all very dedicated bird owners here. We not only care deeply for our own birds, but we care about everyone else’s too. I know that I find it very difficult to watch birds being mistreated and I have walked out of some pet stores in tears. I have lied awake at night thinking about a bird that lives half way around the world that I know might not make it through the night.
I think one of the hardest things we deal with as bird owner is coping with the knowledge that someone else is not doing right by their bird. Sometimes that someone is standing right in front of you and you have to make the decision of whether or not to get involved. I think most of us would find it impossible to walk away silently.
I have been in this situation more times than I can recount, and I have learned through experience that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach this person. It is not the time to be emotional or indelicate. You have to remember that if you blow it and cause the person to walk away from you, you will lose your one and only opportunity to help their bird.
You can’t walk up to a complete stranger and say (or imply): ”Excuse me, but I was eaves-dropping on your private conversation and I feel the need to let you know that you are a moron.” You will, for certain, lose that person’s ear. I do understand the desire to say that sometimes when you over hear that someone encourages their cat to bathe their bird (true story). However, it is counter-productive.
It will help to put yourself in their position before you approach them. You should consider that the people you are observing might actually truly love their birds and believe they are doing the right things with them.
Try to diffuse any anger or frustration you might feel by remembering that you were once without the knowledge that you have now. Someone took the time to teach you and instill in you the desire to continue learning. Be THAT person.
Always try to educate people in a subtle way so as not to appear critical of their actions. I have used this approach successfully:
“I’m so sorry to intrude on your conversation, but I just needed to share something with you: I read recently that cat saliva is very dangerous for birds. I know!! I was just as surprised as you. But apparently it can kill them.” When it’s appropriate I add: “You should go check out Birdtricks.com. They have great information on that site!” (You can substitute your favorite bird site, but I am hoping it is this one.)
I have also used this approach:
“I apologize for listening in on your conversation, but I can’t leave here with a clear conscience unless I take the time to let you know how dangerous it can be to (fill in the blank). I hope you don’t think I’m rude, it’s just that I really love birds and I can tell you do too.”
You have to feel your way through the conversation and choose an approach which will best serve the bird in the end. If you anger the person, or insult them with your tone, the bird loses. Educate without being condescending. Make sure that person goes home a wiser bird owner, and inspire them to explore the world of parrots on their own.
Since they will probably not fully appreciate your efforts until years later in retrospect, allow me to positively reinforce you now: Good job! Thank you for caring!
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.
Right now I’m visiting my Aunt, Uncle, and their kids for Thanksgiving and they have recently gotten a budgie. They already have 2 dogs, 1 beta fish (which they also aren’t taking proper care of), and apparently 2 snails that I didn’t know they had and I haven’t seen yet. But back to the bird, his cage is the right size but they are too loud and it scares him, he’s always in his cage, he doesn’t really get any attention besides me, and he doesn’t have any fruits or veggies in his diet it’s all just the basic bird food. Also he only just started moving to eat and drink, before I started taking to him and trying to pet him he just stayed in one spot. I don’t know how to tell them they aren’t taking proper care of him without seeming disrespectful because I’m staying at their house for a couple days.
I have a neighbor who I am not close to who has small birds. Her house is so fulk of plug ins and smelly thing I can’t even go inside. We found out over that she has been keeping one bird cage on top of a heater..one that doesnt get hot on top…I keep starting up conversations with her about all that I have learned and and she listens and says oh that’s interesting or that’s good to know…but isnt changing her habits. It has been so hard to think of what these poor birds are going through
Very good suggestions… It is painful seeing a bird or other animal neglected, and your suggestions are very helpful. Thank you.
Advise to Carol….. You should try to persuade her kindly though she doesnt deserve it how letting the birds free is basically killing them & that she should give them to a bird rescue or possibly a good bird store that might take them to rescue….. but be careful with the pet store idea…. or try to get her to finda good home for them, someone with a lot more experience. If she wont listen and you know where she lives id call animal control on her maybe even try to get her email if u dont know and make up something like you will email her advice, that’s of course if she isn’t willing to do what’s best for the birds. It sucks n kills me that people don’t do the research to know what they are getting into and if they make a mistake and cant properly take care of thier animals then atleast do the next best thing and give them to a rescue or someone so the animal gets the best possible life…. thats how I ended up with my CAG n I just adore him I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t be willing to do the best thing for them u made the decision so take responsibility… what’s even worse there are even a lot worse people out there….. arghhh people…. id rather be around my animal family any day…
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