© Howard Voren
The following lecture was presented at the American Federation of Aviculture 30th Anniversary Convention, August, 2004, in San Francisco. —Howard Voren
Anthropomorphism Anthropomorphism Anthropomorphism
I like the sound so much that I could stand here and say it over and over for the entire 45 minutes.
For those that are unsure of its meaning, it refers to the Fantasy of Morphing a bird or animal into a human, within yoour mind, and assuming it feels, thinks and reacts like a human would in a similar situation.
Although I like the sound of it, it’s probably the most destructive problem in aviculture today and will, through a three step process destroy us all.
There are in fact many things that you can be anthropomorphic about in relation to parrots but in doing so — most have no idea when to stop and interestingly enough in some cases, they don’t go far enough.
The END GAME of the Animal Rights Activists — ARF’s — is to take away your right to own birds.
But the first step must be reducing the supply.
You are in an era where the ARF’S have everything going their way.
Because those that like to call themselves behaviorists have created the first step that will lead to disaster by inventing a rigid model that they falsely claim both birds and breeders must fit themselves into so as to not be mal-adjusted or unethical.
A model that at worst will lead to the collapse of the bird industry and at best will create a severely limited supply.
A severely limited supply means fewer and fewer bird owners and therefore an easier time for the ARF’S to pass anti-avicultural legislation.
With no basis in fact and only minimal experience in raising baby parrots, many behaviorists invent theories that assume aviculture has no history in the production of baby birds, other than what is being practiced at the moment.
They have chosen to ignore or are oblivious to the fact that what we do in the nursery has evolved to the point where we are producing a product that is in constant demand because of its quality.
To them, being productive is a bad thing.
The production ethic is something that they want you to be ashamed of.
The real shame is that these behaviorists would choose to have such ignorance as to how the American Economy works.
The conception that those that produce an inferior product, eventually loose their buyers to those that are producing a good product, does not fit into their game plan so they choose to ignore it.
Everyone agrees that a large percentage of the current market, are those that already have a bird or two and wish to purchase another.
The reality — that it is the production breeders that supply the many pets shops with the young babies that grow up to be the well adjusted long-term pets — is something they do not wish to look at.
The fact that — if this was not true, the repeat orders would not continue to come in, year after year — is something they choose to ignore.
The fact is, that many behaviorists not only treat the production breeders as the enemy, they would seem to believe that the American consumer is a fool; that Constantly keeps buying and re-buying the same defective product.
Their teachings and writings that are accessed on the internet by thousands, along with the supplemental and fanatical cry of many Rescue Facilities, have given the Animal Rights agenda everything they need to fashion a convincing argument of lies that grossly misinform the public as well as the politicians.
But before we talk more about where we are now, let’s look at where we came from.
Early on it became glaringly apparent that if we were to have the ability to pursue our love as a profession, we needed to be able to produce not only healthy, but tame and well adjusted parrots for the pet trade.
This might sound as if it should have been understood from the get go, but as Parrot Popularity grew, it also evolved.
We came from an era 30 years ago when most parrot owners never expected their birds to do anything more than look pretty, say a few words and step up on their finger or hand once in a while.
Nor did the parrot owner always expect them to be tame.
Tameness was something that was to be worked on if you wished and some looked for a dark eyed young bird because they were easier to tame.
Long before importation ended, American Aviculturists where already producing fair numbers of babies that were going into the pet trade.
But most of our clients were accustomed to buying fully grown and feathered birds that were eating on their own and captured flying with the wild flocks.
Since people with hand feeding skills were few and far between, most of the birds that we shipped to shops all over the US were weaned.
Then the hoards of hand feeding babies began coming in from Honduras.
Yellow-napes, Red-loreds and Blue-crowned Amazons were just a few.
They were shipped into the quarantine bases as young as three weeks of age and when they finished quarantine — they went to pet shops all over the United States while still hand feeding.
This accomplished two things.
The first was that it forced most pet shops to learn the basics about hand feeding.
The second was giving people and pet shop owners the experience of how nice a hand fed baby bird can be.
The result was the beginning of a new era in the pet trade.
The transition from the sale of wild caught parrots that could be tamed — to hand fed parrots that needed to be kept tame.
As time went on many shops that relied heavily on bird sales began to experiment with buying birds at a much younger age.
Of course this could only be done by obtaining them from breeders.
As time went on and things evolved further we began to see stores that had parrots as a specialty or even bird shops.
What most of these shops realized was that the advantage of getting the babies long before they were weaned was more than worth the extra work of bringing them through the weaning stage.
In fact they began to notice a greater advantage in getting them as young as possible.
Between the ages of four and six weeks of age a baby bird naturally develops awareness of its surroundings, but its desires still revolve mainly around satisfaction of hunger and sleeping.
This is the particular time period that it’s best to ship the bird.
At this stage of development, it’s a natural occurrence for it to spend time in a darkened enclosed area and — being placed into and traveling in — a shipping crate — creates very little or no stress.
At this stage of development it has yet to acquire prejudices.
Prejudice about just how warm the hand feeding formula is
About what type of feeding instruments are used
About how it’s physically manipulated prior to and during the hand feeding process
About the color of clothing, the body shape and size of the caregiver
And about its environment.
It is at this stage of development that they are the most adaptable without stress.
It is at this stage of development that they can be hand fed easily, even by a novice with minimal experience.
But this is also the time when they will begin to develop awareness of everything around them.
They begin to develop opinions as to what is normal and how things should be.
They begin to judge their security in an environment by how predictable that environment is.
When they are permitted to go through this very important mental development stage in a retail pet shop, they become a better socialized bird than one that is kept till weaned or until the full-feathered weaning stage by the breeder.
They become accustomed to all different sizes, shapes and colors of people and therefore the bird is less selective as to who it will allow to become its friend.
They become accustomed to all different noise and activity levels and therefore are less stressed at the variable activity levels that they will incur when purchased and moved into their new home and environment.
The fact is that you can never make up for the well-rounded experience that a baby parrot gets in a good pet shop — during the most important psychological development stages between the ages of six weeks through weaning.
Older birds have already become more set in their ways.
They can resent being placed into a shipping crate and it’s a gamble how they will react to their new surroundings.
Most importantly, as years went by the owners of these pet shops began to see which birds turned into well adjusted adults and which developed behavioral problems.
Which birds remained manageable and which became a management burden.
I have hand raised and sold well over 20,000 parrots in the last 20 years, and I have sold them at all stages of development.
I also have many long-term clients that I have been with for ten to 15 years. Clients who buy from me as well as many other breeders.
The statistics are in and they speak very clearly. — The vast majority of birds that wind up being considered maladjusted are those that are not shipped from the breeder to the pet shop until they are either ready to wean or are already weaned.
But the behaviorists and the Animal Rights Fanatics that use their teachings have been applying — and will continue to apply pressure that has caused a reversal in the practice that we breeders developed over years of trying to transfer birds to the pet shop at the time most optimal for their best sociological development.
They sneak cameras into pet shops and take pictures of healthy sleeping pin-feathered cockatoos and present them on the internet, to those that do not know better, as sickly babies that are so weak they can’t even hold their head up.
They then back up their deceitful accusations with the teachings of the so called behaviorists that tell the lie that it’s an ABSOLUTE FACT that a baby bird should never be in a shop at such a young age.
They — along with these behaviorists — cleverly weave more lies that would lead the uneducated to believe that this is a “pushing off” of pin-feathered babies to the pet shops that is motivated out of PURE GREED on the part of the breeder to increase the profit margin — rather than for the benefit of proper social development and to minimize stress on the bird.
But just for one moment consider that I, a “production breeder” that hand feeds up to 750 babies at a time, am the GREEDY SOB that they would like you to believe.
Let’s assume that All WE care about is money!!! That’s Fine — But if you want to believe that — Don’t be so foolish as to IGNORE THE FACT that the only way us MONEY HUNGRY GREEDY PRODUCTION BREEDERS have — to make the BIG bucks, is to have our clients keep coming back for more birds!!
Shoving those birds out the door a few weeks early does not increase profits in any meaningful way!!
What gets that money rolling in are the repeat orders!!
The only way you get continued repeat orders is if your client was happy with the last group of birds you sent them.
And they are never happy when the birds you send, turn out to be mal-adjusted or poorly socialized!!
So even if they are correct about us being Greedy Money Hungry Capitalists, they are wrong about how we would need to go about achieving that goal!!
Despite all of this, the pressures that have been exerted by these groups have already begun to bully some pet shops into being afraid to display a bird THAT IS NOT FULL-FEATHERED.
With the help of the behaviorists, the ARF’s have conned the general public into believing that to have such a young bird in a shop is irresponsible — and equivalent to taking away an un-weaned puppy or kitten from its mother’s teat.
That is why I will sadly say that we have entered an era of the Creation of the Mal-Adjusted Parrot All for the Political Purpose of Pacifying Psittacine Concerned Citizens.
Different points of view are a normal and natural situation and occur due the different perspectives that individuals have of a similar situation.
Unfortunately sometimes these different perspectives arise due to ignorance or the belief of someone’s purposeful lies.
This is the information age: a time when anyone can set up a website and publish misinformation.
If lies are spoken or read enough times, they begin to resemble the truth.
The unknowledgeable will often be heard stating, “It’s got to be true, so many people are saying it and it’s all over the internet!!!!”
The decision as to whether specific misinformation is due to sheer ignorance or the desire to inflict a personal agenda is a determination that each of you must make for yourselves.
But with a twisted personal Anthropomorphic agenda many behaviorists have created and continue to create the exact climate that the AR activists need to eliminate the keeping of birds.
One of the common ways the behaviorists proceed — especially if they have no meaningful data — is to authoritatively state things as if they are scientific fact.
If they are very clever, they will access a body of science that pertains in some way to the subject at hand and twist or make minimal changes to it, in order to aid them in their deception.
The high value of this relies on common human traits.
One is laziness and assumes that their audience will not run to scientific journals to check the validity of their statements.
The other is the average persons desire to trust people that appear to be extremely knowledgeable.
For what advantage in this case, you might ask?
In MY opinion the advantage is the justification in laying blame on the desired scapegoat in order to gain a following that will feed their EGO and cause you to spend money where they wish you to spend it.
I realize that these accusations seem very harsh.
But from many things that have been written by those that would perpetuate this hoax, it’s obvious that they are extremely intelligent and have ample knowledge.
Enough knowledge to realize that they are engaged in nothing more than manipulation of those that do not have all the facts at hand
Now I want to make it very clear that these statements are in no way pointed at anyone that happens to be here at this convention.
They are generalized statements about the behaviorist movement as a whole.
I would however like us all to look at the internet writings of a prominent bird trainer that happens to be here today.
Writings that pretend to be either supported by or stating SCIENTIFIC FACT!
However, before we look at these TWISTED RAMBLINGS, it’s important for you all to realize that the main target of what has been written is not the aviculturist but the uneducated public.
The same audience that has begun to buy into the AR rhetoric.
Although claims are made that there is a heart felt desire to make these things known in order to better the industry, they are not aimed at educating the breeder.
They are specifically aimed at brainwashing the parrot loving public into despising those that professionally produce the babies for the pet industry.
Although there are many things that point to this, there is one glaring example of the true intent.
I shall now quote this telltale passage!
“One production breeder has suggested in lectures and print that ultimately the key to breeding success is to produce parrots with the same expediency of the poultry industry. This man clearly does not understand the biological difference between precocial and altricial bird species. The chicken is a precocial species. Precocial chicks hatch at a developed stage and need little, or in some species, no parental care or instruction. Parrots are hatched blind, naked and helpless and need long-term parental care and instruction from the moment they come into the world until they have the skills to live on their own. This is a critical difference that seems to escape far too many people breeding parrots.”
My question to you is: Do you really believe that she thinks that We American Breeders are such ignorant fools that even though we have raised 100’s of thousands of parrots, the fact that they are blind, naked and helpless when they hatch has COMPLETELY ESCAPED US!!!
Such ridiculous and venomous claims are certainly not aimed at educating the breeder!!
Their only effect is to create in the mind of the parrot loving public, the concept that each and every one of us that produce any quantity of birds is an idiotic, blind, insensitive FOOL!!
This IS the true embodiment of the enemy.
This is the first step in giving the ANIMAL RIGHTS FANATIC — the ARF movement the ability to take away your right to own a parrot!
This is the first step in drastically limiting the supply by creating the misconception that those that raise birds in commercial quantities can only be doing so in a cruel manner.
Another is to play on humankind’s tendency to be anthropomorphic.
Here is a great example and in fact, it is one of two foundations that her house of misinformation is built on:
It is stated that it is MYTH that “chicks should be incubator hatched and hand fed from day one for disease prevention and to avoid contact with other parrots.”
She then states very authoritatively, “We now know that chicks thrive and develop a stronger immune system when initially raised by their parents.”
It must be wonderful with such little experience to be so all knowing!!
It is a shame that someone would ignore the fact that aviaries have been able to avoid the vast majority of disease incidence in their baby birds by not allowing them to be infected by what might be traveling around in the aviary.
The production breeders babies have plenty of contact with other parrots. The other parrots that they are raised with — within the same time frame.
Statements made like “WE NOW KNOW”, as if what is stated is known fact when in actuality it is a total invention on the part of the writer.
Chicks do not have a stronger immune system because they are initially raised by their parents.
In fact, the ability for disease resistance is something that evolves and is genetically passed on, not something given to offspring by parents. In fact studies at UCD attributed higher antibody levels in co-parented chicks to human handling not the fact that they were initially fed by their parents.
Unfortunately the fact that many of the UCD babies became infected with a herpes virus from contact with the parents was not mentioned in their papers.
Yes, a chick that is not started out and kept on a proper diet may be debilitated and therefore might have a compromised immune system but production breeders do not and cannot survive by starting out their birds on an improper diet.
Do chicks like this exist? Yes, but they are not the production of professional breeders.
They are the product of backyard hobbyists that have no idea how a baby should be raised even though a definitive book has been written on the subject.
But that’s not important — she would rather play on your desires to be anthropomorphic, knowing that its easy to make your heart feel that somehow there must be something negative for those babies, never to know their parents.
Never to know WHO their real Mommy & Daddy are!!
AS if the parrot would care in the same way a human would.
But you see, it all falls into the plan!! The BIG PICTURE.
It is well known that a parrots immune system is not very functional during the first month.
Therefore the push will be that you must allow a bird to stay in the nest for at least three to five weeks or, better than that, they should be co-parented!!
This fantasy about them thriving better and having stronger immune systems has been disproved time and time again by skilled breeders but that does not matter to an anthropomorphic public.
However, parrots left in the nest for extended periods or those that are co-parented, not only stand the possibility of being exposed to diseases, parental mutilation or neglect, they definitely do require very extensive human socialization on an individual basis if they are to be considered well-adjusted pets within today’s framework!!
That is something that might be easily done at UCD for a handful of Amazons, since they have all kinds of free graduate student labor. But it certainly is not possible for any commercial breeder, and is especially worthless when you can achieve the same tameness by hand feeding from a younger age and transferring the babies to a pet shop before their social skills are formed.
But that is not the goal. — Elimination of the supply is the goal: The destruction of the commercial breeder and therefore the destruction of the supply.
At that point the ARF’S will have an easy time taking control.
Now let’s look closely at her TWISTED SCIENCE!!!
There is a statement of supposed SCIENTIFIC FACT that is presented as the base foundation for her assertion that what is derived from that fact is ABSOLUTE TRUTH.
And is presented in her article THE POULTRIFICATION of PARROTS.
Unfortunately, what has been done is to take categories from the biological science of population dynamics and from that base, distort the interpretation and meanings of those categories to give the desired result.
Now let’s examine it closely so even a grade school student can see the flaws and learn how science can be cleverly twisted to prove lies.
I will also present the real scientific facts from the universities and institutions that did the real work.
Facts that she has obviously ignored or would rather not be known since they destroy the credibility of everything she has written.
And here is what she states as Absolute Proof that parrots need long-term instructional interaction and quality socialization for survival, which I will display for the purpose of review.
The basis is that PARROTS ARE K-SELECT SPECIES:
“This is made clear by the fact that most parrot family birds are what biologists call K-select species.”
The first thing is that the term is not K-select Species. And what’s really interesting is if you look up the term K-select on the internet, the only places you will be brought to will be those that she authored.
That’s because the correct term is K-selected Species and it refers to the segregation of living things into those which are either R-selected or K-selected.
But since she personally redefines the purpose of the segregation, I guess she also felt it was ok to change the name from “Selected” to “Select.”
>Now — Unfortunately we can only read seven more words into the article, before the next misleading statement. “This term is used to describe birds” — This term is not used to describe BIRDS. It is used to describe one of two categories in which most all living things on earth have been cubby-holed.
These two categories were adopted by biologists for the sole purpose of explaining population dynamics.
Prime examples of R-selected species are cockroaches, ants and flies.
Prime examples of K-selected species are humans, chimpanzees and elephants.
But she continues to create a false impression by stating, “Each chick needs constant parental (and sometimes family or flock) care and instruction for weeks, months, and in some cases, over a year.”
First of all parental care “for weeks” is not considered meaningful within these classifications and parrots never get FAMILY care since last years babies have long since departed before the next seasons clutch hatches, if they have not been driven away.
But most importantly these classifications were never intended to be used in order to make arguments for the quantity or type of socialization necessary during the developmental stages nor were they ever intended to be used to explain behavior.
In fact if you want to twist them and try to apply the necessity for long term behavioral instruction you will find that parrots barely qualify because they are rapid growing not slow growing organisms.
The real truth without her personal fabrication is these classifications were set up, only to be used to try and explain how living things have evolved to replace their population within their range, and they are not applicable to anything she pretends.
These scientific categories do mention different traits that often go along with being either in the R or K selected groups.
Two of the traits mentioned are parental care and growth. Generally most that are R-selected get little or none and grow rapidly, while K-selected get extensive long-term care and grow very slowly.
But even though most of the larger Psittacines are cubby-holed into the K-selected group with humans, chimpanzees and elephants, that does not allow one to jump to the false conclusion that they need, require and get extensive long term parental, family or flock care!
In fact parrots, like R-selected birds, are full grown in only a few months and most all parrots drive off their young by 10 months of age if they have not already gone their own way.
Her reference to family or flock care is just incredible!! They are never cared for by their older brothers and sisters and the flock couldn’t care less!!
From the University of Wisconsin:
In the real world, most species will show some traits for each. This can be easily seen in mammals. Some (like mice) are clearly R-selected, while others (like elephants) are clearly K-selected.
Yes, parrots are born, helpless like humans but so are the infamous R-selected mouse and rat as well as the R-selected rabbit!!
Yes, the R-selected chicken is able to see and walk around within a short time after coming into the world, but so is the definitively K-selected elephant!!
From the Science Dept. South Dakota State University:
Points on R and K Selection:
- These strategies are actually two ends of a continuum some species may be intermediate.
- These are relative terms.
- Some populations of a single species may be more r-selected than other populations of the same species.
Using population dynamics as a science to PROVE the necessity for a specific type or quantity of socialization in order to avoid behavioral problems is total fabrication.
Next we have, “..to survive within its flock structure and environment. Without this involved early socialization, these chicks do not survive.”
The socialization that baby parrots might receive in the wild mainly concerns learning how to keep from being beaten up by the more dominant birds in the flock and “instruction” which is by demonstration, concerns what to eat and where it is safe to forage.
We are not raising birds to survive in the wild and being in captivity, the parent birds or flock have no ability to demonstrate anything along these lines to their offspring.
None of this has anything to do with survival in captivity.
Her next incredible invention is “It is illogical to presume that because humans raise parrot chicks that they would not need the same long-term early socialization.”
“In fact, it is logical that a captive-raised parrot chick would need a higher level of socialization to help him adapt to the totally alien environment of our living rooms.”
The above statements are another far leap from the truth. Jungle Survival Skills are not necessary in the American Living Rooms. She uses twisted logic to make the illogical sound believable.
Now I will jump back to an authoritative statement made earlier in the article to go over something that I saved until last.
“This is why K-select species (including parrots) are among the most endangered in the world.”
Becoming extinct or endangered, not only has nothing to do with how captive bred parrots are socialized in captivity; it has absolutely nothing to do with why they become endangered in the wild.
From San Francisco State University we have a course in BIOGEOGRAPHY by B. Holzman, PhD. It concerns R and K-selected species and gives reasons for endangerment or extinction.
Extinctions Today — Types of strategies for organisms R-selected organisms Examples: rodents, bacteria, insects, rabbits, weeds… K-selected organisms Examples: big mammals i.e. big cats, wolves, elephants, whales, humans, penguins, eagles… Species can become extinct or endangered because of: Excessive exploitation: hunting Introduced species: invasion Environmental contaminants: pollution Habitat Destruction and Change: this is the biggest contributor to current extinctions without replacement
As you can see, none of the reasons given for endangerment or extinction have anything to do with socialization requirements.
Two more interesting points are from the University of Illinois:
Many organisms have both R and K Selected Characteristics conceptual framework, but most animals do not strictly conform to it.
Organisms tend to fall between or have a mixture of R and K-selected traits. EXAMPLE: The K-selected Sequoia live thousands of years and take decades ti ll first reproduction, yet they produce thousands of seeds.
And last but not least we have from the Western Australian Marine Research Laboratories:
The example of the dusky shark that is definitively considered a k-selected species. Individuals mature at approximately 20 years and may live to over 45 years, with litters produced every third, or possibly second year.
Yet she would still try and convince you that!!! “As I stated in my editorial in the last issue, there is absolute scientific, biological evidence for the necessity of early socialization in wild parrot chicks.”
Will she now tell us that Sharks and Sequoia Trees also receive and require extensive socialization?
And also try to make you assume that something that is necessary for survival in the wild is relevant to survival in our living rooms?
If that is the case I certainly hope that none of you have thrown away your ancestral Spears and Bows and Arrows.
Because, if her reasoning is correct, we better start teaching our children how to survive in the jungles we originally came from or they will never be well-adjusted within today’s world.
Have no doubt that there are those that have not only swallowed this garbage “hook, line and sinker,” they invent further gross distortions of reality that help destroy everything that has been discovered and accomplished by those that are working toward the domestication of the parrot.
There are now new milestones in anthropomorphic fantasy, published by organizations such as the Amazona Society, where the goal of giving Amazon babies a storybook human type childhood is presented as if it’s the new proper standard of the industry.
It sounds as wonderful and warm as Motherhood and Apple Pie!! Yet it’s a life that is so unnatural and so foreign to anything that they evolved into that even a human child would grow up to be unbalanced under the same conditions.
More importantly it’s the second step of the three step progression to our destruction.
Let’s review some of it within the framework of the real world. “…there is just no way we can improve on nature’s plan for caring for these youngsters.”
Whether you want to believe it or not, nature is cruel!!
There are those parents that get bored and stop caring for their offspring.
There are those that due to overaggressive tendencies will mutilate or kill them.
There are those like the Chaco Blue-front that nests in cabbage palms and, in years when the rains come early, hundreds of babies are drowned in the nests!!
Dr. Charles Munn who worked extensively in the South American Jungles, recorded that even though many of the large macaws will hatch two or three babies in the nest, after a certain time period, they make the decision to raise only one and allow the others to starve to death.
NOW Let’s move on to the next Amazona Society fantasy: “The devotion and care the little ones receive is constant night and day. They not only have the warmth and nutrition they need, but also it comes coupled with constant care.”
This is a total fantasy from someone that does not have the first idea what goes on naturally in the wilds.
Parrots did not evolve to have constant care. But are in actuality left alone most of the time.
The amount of care they get is in inverse proportion to their developmental size.
Babies that have just hatched have tiny crops and therefore the necessity for the parents to forage to meet their need is limited.
As the babies grow and require a greater quantity of food they are left alone more and more since the amount of food required goes up exponentially.
At the same time, since their crops can hold a much greater quantity of food, they can handle these long intervals between feedings without ill effects.
Studies done by Dr. Kim Joyner in Guatemala revealed that most pairs with older babies left the nest in the morning and did not return until late in the day.
My observations in ten years of chasing after birds in the nest were that in years of bounty they may return to the nest several times during the day because they do not need to forage that far to fill their crops.
In lean years they will be gone almost all day.
Moving on we have “…I believe that for all intelligent social animals it begins with a feeling of importance. For humans it begins with our parents — Two Large Amazing Powerful Competent Beings — behave as though WE are the center of the universe. Our every action is rewarded with attention in some form of comfort, grooming or feeding. We are valuable to them, and whether we are aware of cognizing it as such, we feel important, confidence is born.”
If this is really the way someone was raised it does explain why they live in a fantasy world.
Perhaps both parents quit their jobs and stayed at home so they could “comfort, groom or feed” her as a reward for her every action.
I cannot imagine any human child growing up to be a well-adjusted adult with such treatment.
The main point is that this is the scenario that is going to be forcefully pushed upon all of aviculture by the ARF’S if we don’t stop fantasizing, stop publishing and speak out against such dribble!!!!
Moving on: “In the case of parrots, another intelligent social animal, I believe it is much the same.” Here we have the admission of the warped idea that — parrots are the same as human children
The next fantasy: “The babies are fed before they become empty.”
In the wild the babies are not fed until the parents can find enough food to make the flight back to the nest — a worthwhile expenditure of energy.
The fact that captive pairs do not need to work for a living means that they have the leisure time to treat their offspring in unnatural ways.
The late John Stoodley attributed the vast majority of mutilations of offspring in the nest boxes to the fact that it was not natural for parent birds to be bored to the point that they had nothing to do all day except play with their babies.
When he began to substitute crop empty incubator hatched babies for the ones that the parents had just filled, some of the birds that mutilated their offspring would stop since they now had enough work to keep them from becoming bored.
Unfortunately it did not work in all cases.
Moving on: “To allow them to complain could draw predators.”
Again we have a total fantasy that does not contain one single grain of truth!
In Honduras, it’s common for nesting hollows to be identified by trappers because the babies can be heard “ganging” from a distance around mid-day when they become really hungry. This is something that I have personally witnessed on many occasions.
The next quote: “They are constantly groomed and cuddled, and rarely, if ever, left alone. When the hen leaves the nest even for just a bit, her mate enters and interacts with the chicks.”
What can I possibly say in response to such a fantasy world.
I don’t doubt that this author actually has some pairs that do this.
The fact is that this has nothing to do at all with natures plan or the real world.
In the real world where they evolved —parent birds WORK FOR A LIVING.
In their natural habitat, their babies would starve if they stayed home all day, over-preening and coddling them.
The fact is, when babies do become old enough to appreciate being cuddled and groomed, their food requirements are at a point where their parents have very little time for this — IF that was their inclination.
Now here is where you can be anthropomorphic, but this is one of those instances where most people do not go far enough.
The truth is that when the babies are almost full grown and ready to start experimenting with leaving their nests in the wilds, their parents stay away from them as much as possible!!
The bond created in all those weeks of care is not broken but their patience in dealing with almost full grown obnoxious babies that are constantly demanding has worn very thin.
In human terms we call it THE TERRIBLE TWO’S.
The extremely limited space in the nesting hollows coupled with the extreme demands of their babies creates a situation where their interaction with them decreases rapidly.
Now before I say what is next I want to make it very clear that neither I nor any of my colleagues that I know about practice starvation weaning.
Regardless of any of the lies you have been told, starvation weaning does not lend itself to commercial production.
But the fact is that, in the wild, under natural conditions Psittacines are “starvation weaned” by their parents.
Extreme hunger is the main motivation for the fledglings to permanently leave the nesting chamber.
An area that the babies have usually out grown and there is no room for the parents to spend any time in there with them.
It is the parent’s refusal to feed the hungry chicks that forces them to fly along with the adults while they’re foraging.
Even after the breeding season is over and the different species again come together to form large flocks, there are still many very hungry babies that incessantly follow around their parents screaming to be fed.
I spent a full week making a daily climb into the upper canopy of the Belizean Rainforest to study the interactions of a flock of red-lored Amazons that arrived daily to feed in the area.
It was a common sight for hungry babies to be begging incessantly at their parents sides with the hope they might be fed.
The parent birds, by majority, would continue to feed upon the fruits and completely ignore them.
Only after extreme panicked insistence would they occasional regurgitate a few morsels into the mouths of their young.
On several occasions, when the young got too pushy and bumped up against one of their parents, the parent bird would react by giving the baby a swift hard smack across the upper mandible with their beak, as if to say “Stop being such a spoiled brat and learn how to eat on your own. You can see what I’m eating so learn to do it for yourself!!!”
In fact the entire concept of starvation weaning was one that the indigenous Indians of these countries learned from the parrots themselves and passed on to the local people that originally traveled the jungles to bring you your birds.
So don’t ever claim that the NATURAL WAY is the best!!! If you do, then you should want to starvation wean all of your babies!!!
Next quote: “In short, they get more and better attention from their parents than we as humans could possibly provide, even on our best days, with the best equipment and hours of spare time.”
This statement is only believable if you allow yourself to be taken in by all the previous fantasies.
It is however a rationalization that is commonly used by breeders that do not have the time or the desire to pull eggs or hand feed babies from an early age regardless of how poorly a particular pair of parent birds perform.
AND FINALLY: “There was a time when the phrase “hand-reared from day one” was the sign of a dedicated breeder who went to extraordinary lengths to provide a tamer baby parrot. As with so much of our understanding concerning these complex creatures, our knowledge continues to evolve. Today many of the best breeders are advertising that their babies are parent-reared for at least three weeks…”
So here we have the bottom line to it all.
The AR PUSH to change what is considered humane and proper.
The AR PUSH to create the misconception that production breeders are cruel insensitive baby bird abusers!!!
The AR PUSH to force breeders to leave babies in the nest FOR AT LEAST THREE WEEKS.
The AR PUSH to create a situation where they would need the extensive human socialization that the so called behaviorists have talked about.
The AR PUSH to eliminate production breeding so the supply can be limited and your numbers dwindled.
Then you can easily be controlled and your rights eliminated!!
Because with our numbers dwindled we will never be able to counter the claims of Step #3 that PETA is already warming up for.
I quote from a PETA website that makes the incredible claim that we allow our female birds to be Forcibly RAPED by numerous males!!
“Breeding for Profit”
“Just as there are puppy mills, there are bird factories, where breeders warehouse hundreds of thousands of birds so that they can produce offspring.”
“As a ‘breeder,’ a bird is a commodity, placed with a ‘mate’ to reproduce and seldom, if ever, removed from the nest box. Birds do not have to be kept in healthy, hygienic conditions or fed high-quality food to produce eggs; typically the eggs are removed and incubator-hatched and the babies hand-fed special formulas. Egg removal is a signal for the female to produce another egg, and another, and another …eventually ruining her health.”
“Even in low-profit enterprises, most birds live out their lives in small cages, surrounded by the frightening sounds of many other birds unfamiliar to them. A bird who cannot choose his or her mate may become depressed, especially if separated from a previous partner. Birds in captivity are often forced to take numerous mates, and since most nest boxes offer no means of escape, females who refuse sexual advances can be injured or killed by frustrated males.”
Or these outright lies about hand-raised birds from the PETA fact sheet:
“Stress is an everyday experience for captive birds. Hand-raised birds crave affection and companionship and sometimes do not like to let their human companion out of their sight. They don’t understand the separations when you go to work, or worse, on vacation — birds pine and grieve and can even die of a broken heart.”