They were designed to fly free. The NSPCA is against caging any bird, but if you already have one, make sure to give it a lot of attention, love and care for its wellbeing, says Lesley Gaigher. Photo: Elsie Went.

Polly needs a lot more than a cracker

Date: 09 November 2018 By: Jo Robinson

Viewed: 695

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) does not promote keeping birds in cages, and so no articles by them can be found where they encourage parents to buy budgies for their children. The local Louis Trichardt SPCA agrees, but, says the SPCA’s Lesley Gaigher, since people are already keeping pet birds and parrots in cages, she will share some tips on their upkeep.

“In the movie The Shawshank Redemption,” says Lesley, “Ellis Boyd Redding says ‘Some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knew it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they are gone’.” Lesley says that while this quote might resonate with bird lovers who agree that keeping any creature in a cage for its whole life, especially one designed to fly, is cruel, letting captive-bred birds free to fly away is not an act of kindness. They are not equipped to fend for themselves in nature and will either die of starvation or be killed by a predator. The NSPCA recommends that people stop encouraging the trade in and breeding of birds for the pet market by not purchasing them.

“Polly needs way more than a cracker,” says Lesley. “Keeping a pet parrot is a lot of work. They require more attention than any animal you’ve ever kept. They can be super destructive, very messy and extremely noisy. Their diets are particular and will very likely be costly. Parrots need more space than the average pet shop cage, and toys last about a day with them.  Depending on the species, you’re looking at a 10- to 80-year commitment. Your parrot will most likely outlive you, and you will need to plan for Polly’s well-being in your will,” says Lesley.

Budgies, cockatiels and other small birds are often purchased for children by loving parents because they are cheap. Children will often quickly lose interest in these “new toys” and so they will be left in cages that are not cleaned and without having fresh food and water replaced every day as they should be. “It is not a great financial loss if these birds die, which is an attitude that is absolutely not acceptable according to the SPCA, who say that all animals have rights to safety, comfort, food, and happiness,” says Lesley. The SPCA’s advice is not to purchase a bird at all, but for those who already have, Lesley encourages them to ensure that their pet bird is given love and attention every day, not kept in a cage all the time, and properly fed after carefully researching what they require in their diets daily.

Birds do not need seed and water alone; they have other needs as well. In their natural habitat they eat insects, fruit and nuts, among other things. “Birds are social creatures and being alone is unnatural and stressful for them. They should be able to interact with their human ‘family’ rather than being confined to a cage all the time.

“If you are going to keep any bird, make sure that you keep it kindly and responsibly,” says Lesley. “You have to consider carefully why you want to keep a bird. Especially a parrot. If you just want to keep something beautiful, get a stunning orchid instead. You must bear in mind that they are individuals with personality traits, and like humans, they are a product of their environment. If they are mistreated, you will definitely have your hands full. If you have the inclination, the time, and the money to keep these creatures, they will certainly return much more than you invest, and can prove to be the best companion you have ever had. Just remember to take care of them and their future existence if anything should happen to you,” says Lesley.

The SPCA reminds Louis Trichardt residents to contact them when finding any wild animal or bird that is either injured or otherwise unable to care for itself. Report animal abuse of any kind when you see it. “Look after all of your pets,” says Lesley. “Think about their happiness and well-being before buying animals that might end up spending all of their days in a cage. Rather adopt a puppy or kitten from the SPCA.”

The SPCA would like to remind all pet owners to take extra care of their safety when celebrations involving fireworks take place and to remember that panicked animals can hurt themselves.





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Jo Robinson

Jo joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2018 pursuing a career in journalism after many years of writing fiction and non-fiction for other sectors.



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