“I Can’t Take Care of my Bird”

by Mary Caton

There are times when a parrot owner realizes he/she can no longer take care of a beloved pet. It’s heart-breaking to look at options to find someone or somewhere for your parrot. Before you begin searching for a new home, ask yourself why you want to re-home. Is it because your parrot has behavioral problems and just won’t cooperate? Parrots are incredible smart animals with unique personalities. Perhaps you need to understand it better. Think about educating yourself. Talk to other parrot owners, especially those who have the same species. If there are limited resources in your community, go to social media and search for pages and groups where you can ask questions and share ideas. The Internet is full of information parrot owners share about their birds. We love to talk about our birds. Learning more about your parrot will help you understand his behavior. Find an animal behaviorist to recommend solutions and help train your bird. BirbObserver has columnists who address bird behavior issues.

Your pet’s happiness and well-being are most important. It is up to you to find the most suitable situation where it will be loved and properly cared for. The best place is with a relative or friend who already knows your parrot. If this placement isn’t possible use local resources, such as an avian vet or animal rescue place to discover possibilities for a good home. Post information about your bird with the bird adoption or rescue community. Their contacts may lead you to a good prospect. Get in touch with bird lovers who appreciate the species. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are good places to find people who are passionate about birds.

Use local classifieds such as the newspaper or Craig’s List. With these resources, there are important considerations to insure the safety of yourself and your parrot. So, when someone answers your ad, be extra cautious.

  • Screen homes carefully. Inquire about the person’s experience and set up. It’s likely that you may meet hoarders. Hoarders are generally kind, loving people who suffer from a possible mental disorder. This disorder causes them to “collect” animals. They love animals. However, the more animals they have, the harder it is to care for them properly. Without intervention, the situation may end in the death of the animals. This is especially true for birds. If you see the place is overrun with cages and animals, it’s likely you’re dealing with a hoarder.
  • Another type of person you may encounter is a “business” person. They promise to love and care for the bird, but they are actually interested in reselling or flipping the bird for profit.
  • Don’t assign a “zero” value to your bird or offer him for free. If a person does not have money to pay for the bird, they may not be able to provide proper care for it. “Free” may also be exploited by scammers and flippers.
  • Do not offer a payment plan. Obviously, you may never receive all the money you expected. Also, if the bird becomes ill or dies, you may never receive the remainder of your money.

Another consideration is placement in a bird sanctuary. Again, it is important to research and visit the sanctuary. Where is the location? Is it well tended and maintained? Do the birds have plenty of food and water? Are the birds properly housed? How is it funded? Is the staff knowledgeable for your species and equipped to take care of him?

Check non-profit groups in your area. A good avian group will provide a high standard of care. Be sure to research carefully before relinquishing your bird. Before the bird is adopted out, they require that specified criteria must be met.  It’s an assurance that your pet will have a good home if he is adopted.

Relinquishing your bird may require a contract. At the least, there may be a receipt form stating ownership of the bird. Be sure to read a contract carefully and understand its meaning before signing. Also, it’s a good idea to have the document notarized. There are some examples of donor forms, relinquishment forms, and adoption forms at Birds N Ways.

No one likes to think of being ill or incapacitated and unable to care for our birds. However, this is important because parrots can live a long time and often outlive their owners. What will happen to your bird if you are hospitalized? Make plans now and share those plans with loved ones. I will provide more information on this topic in a future article.

For more detailed information on re-homing your birds check out these resources:

Beauty of Birds, author Sibylle Johnson

Birds N Ways

The Assam State Zoo and Botanical Gardens

By Tandi Glaser

Assam State Zoo and Botanical Gardens has of late introduced a series of new outreach features for involving the public in its conservation efforts. One of them, which has become highly popular, is the Animal Adoption Scheme launched in August, 2005.

http://www.tourisma2z.com/

The Assam State Zoo and Botanical Gardens (“the Zoo”) is in the Hengrabari Reserve forest in Assam’s capital, Guwahati. The Zoo’s grounds house rescue and rehabilitation facilities, and the Zoo offers services in nature-tourism. A repository of bio-diversity, the Zoo seeks to become “the best,” most “complete recreational and educational destination in the whole of North-east India.”[1]

Through its adoption program, the Zoo gives bird lovers the opportunity to sponsor resident birds at various financial levels.  The program’s main objectives are to contribute to 1) a sanctuary where India’s endemic bird species thrive, and 2) educational programs on bird conservation. The Zoo aims to enhance conservation in part by training and hiring citizens as educators of the general public and perhaps encouraging them further to advance to guardianship or custodianship.

The Indian government together with the Zoo seeks to prevent extinction of endemic bird species by safeguarding important bird sites, restoring key bird habitats (such as forested areas), and empowering conservationists worldwide. The Zoo’s animal adoption scheme reflects these conservation values. Because the public’s cooperation and vigilance is important, knowing the proper meanings of key conservation terms is critical.

Many, if not most, people hear such words such as survival and extinction, or vulnerable and endangered bantered about in conversations on the environment but lack a clear understanding of their meaning. Specifically, these definitions are set forth in legal documents of states, nations, international treaty organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but they also hold generalized academic meanings. Below are generalized meanings for these terms.

Survival for endemic birds means not becoming extinct but sustaining a healthy population despite some destruction of habitat and urbanization. The Indian Department of Environment and Forests in Assam, along with numerous conservation charities, is charged with protecting birds via legislation and restoration/conservation of endemic species habitats — for instance, habitats for the critically endangered Blue-winged Indian Parakeet/ ringneck, Forest Owlet, and Malabar Grey Hornbill. These bird species struggle to survive, and the Zoo requests the public to aid conservation efforts to prevent endemic birds from dying out (becoming extinct) from loss of habitat.

 

Blue-winged Indian Parakeet, Forest Owlet and Malabar Grey Hornbil as Collagel

Vulnerable means that a species suffers harm from deforestation and urbanization and that its continued existence is in jeopardy. Tragically, India’s endemic birds become rarer each day.  According to the Red Data List for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), three such bird species are officially listed as vulnerable. If further endangerment of health and habitat occurs, bird species’ populations will decrease, ultimately leading to endangered status. According to the IUCN’s Red Data List, there are sixteen critically endangered birds in India (as well as eleven endangered bird species), including the Indian vulture, Great Indian bustard and Spoon-billed sandpiper.

 

Indian Vulture, Great Indian bustard and Spoon-billed sandpiper

The Government in Assam, India and the Zoo have accorded top priority to species conservation, and they coordinate with citizens in and around villages on bird rehabilitation and rescue. By government policy, the state and Zoo together have an “Action plan for identification, classification and listing of endangered and threated species… [which] will be drawn up with an aim for their rehabilitation, development and preservation” as well as “give importance to establishment of wildlife rehabilitation centres for temporarily disadvantaged wildlife saved by people”.

Ms. Jumi Junaki (IG/FB) has adopted a blue and gold macaw through the Zoo’s adoption scheme. [See TheRoundUp, this issue.]  As the process is relatively new, Jumi is a singular case. The complete adoption process took four years of effort and a succession of three different Zoo Superintendents to complete. Yet this achievement jibes with the overarching conservation goals of the Zoo, government policy and initiatives of such NGOs as BirdLife International. By participating in these grand goals as an individual, Jumi demonstrates that individuals do indeed make a difference—it may not be all meaningless banter about insoluble problems.

BirdLife International in partnership with National Geographic has declared 2018 as “Year of the Bird”.  As Thomas E. Lovejoy, Tropical Conservation Biologist and National Geographic Fellow, says: “If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the big environmental problems in the world.”

https://forest.assam.gov.in/information-services/assam-state-zoo-cum-botanical-garden

http://assamforest.in/state_Zoo/birds.php

http://assamforest.in/common/index.php

https://forest.assam.gov.in/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_animals_in_India

https://www.iucn.org/

http://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/flyway

http://www.conservationindia.org/

[1] http://www.assamstatezoo.com/aboutUs.html


Birding in Cuba

By Pat Bartlett.

Pat Bartlett is a writer/naturalist who lives in Florida. She has finches on her screened- in back porch that somehow turned into a flight cage. There are ten allegedly squirrel-proof feeders in her front yard that are regular stops for a variety of birds and a large number of very fat squirrels.  She has two house rabbits, Anise and Timmy Tickletoes, and is the author of How to Train Your Rabbit.

I visited Cuba as part of an organized birding tour in late 2017, hoping to see at least some of the 25 endemics and perhaps many of the 325 other bird species found there. We visited two of the national parks, both on the southern side of the island. To the east was Topes de Collates; and to the west, Peninsula de Zapata National Park. The trip to Cuba was itself eye-opening.

Remarkable in many aspects, Cuba is a great place for birding. The island has large national parks and “wild” areas, and the travel restrictions – at least as of this writing – are not onerous. The country itself is a study in contrasts–its haves and have-nots, its proud I’ve-been-here-a-lot-longer-than-you cities and large wilderness areas, and its twin world of pricing, the one for visitors, the other for locals.

 

In many ways time has slowed in Cuba. There are 1950s cars still on the road and in use. Don’t look too closely, or you’ll see a lot of Bond-o in those car bodies. When Russia cut off its aid in the 1990s, the government could no longer supply the security it had promised its residents. With no supplier on hand to replace the flow of oil, food, machinery and consumer goods, complex poverty issues became the norm. Cuba has not yet solved those problems.

Cuba has three sources of income– the mining  of iron, its manufacture into steel, and tourism. The government recognizes the value of tourism and has invested heavily in it. The government owns the resort hotels and the affiliated dining areas, the transportation lines, and many of the souvenir shops. The government hires and trains the tourism workforce. The income from these businesses accrues to the Government. While small privately owned souvenir shops are permitted, along with B&Bs (called casa particulares) and small restaurants, they must share their revenue with the government. Farmers must contribute 90% of their crop to the government. Horses and cows belong to the government.

Because most food items are imported, food supplies are limited literally to what’s available. We stopped at a pizza place in downtown Havana, and the menu on the wall was quite appealing. But you don’t order pizza #3– you ask what they have available. In this case, they had cheese and ham. We had a cheese-with-processed-ham pizza. It was about as good as you’d expect.

 

In the past year, new Russian and Chinese cars have appeared on the roads. But, for the average citizen, transportation is wherever he or she can find it. People get around by walking or by taking a bus. Rural folks get where they need to go by horseback or in a horse/mule/ox-drawn wagon. No one is surprised by the sight of a homemade wagon along a paved roadway or in downtown Havana.

 

Because the government is the primary employer, the government sets wages. Salaries are about $25/month. Doctors make $25. Plumbers make $25. Sanitation workers make $25. Because no one makes a lot of money, everyone is thereby equal — this is Communism. There are two big pluses to living in Cuba — free medical care and a free education.

People work where the government says there is a job. Some jobs are more desirable than others. Those chosen as guides are well-trained. They learn multiple languages (German, French and English are the top three). They learn about their specialty, which may be Cuban art or Cuban birds. Guides are tested on their knowledge, and their scores determine their professional future.

Topes de Collantes is a mountainous park near the town of Trinidad. It offers hiking trails; the hotel provides a well-stocked dining room, a small bar, and a swimming pool. Buses and Russian troop carriers take groups to park sites, such as a coffee plantation, a farmland turned botanical park, large waterfalls, and an art museum. “Topes” is where we saw the Cuban pygmy owl,

 

The Península de Zapata is part of a nature reserve called the Zapata Swamp, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site. It has beaches, swamps and forests. The main beach was a staging area for the Cuban military during the 1961 US-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion.  Birding areas include the salt flats, Las Salinas; a rocky hillside outcropping called Enigma de las Rochas, and Las Bermejas There’s a nearby crocodile farm.  Inland, rocky limestone outcroppings contain cenotes with swimming platforms, garfish and crocodiles.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At week’s end, we began the seven-hour bus trip back to Havana, arriving in time for a relaxing day at the botanical  garden, the Jardin Botanico Nacional.   The garden is about a 30-minute taxi ride from Havana, and that distance from Havana’s mainstream traffic makes it standard operating procedure to ask the taxi driver to wait or return at a specific time. The garden has large greenhouses; inside, tiered plantings feature hundreds of chubby succulents in shades of red, pink and green, reposing like jewels on  both sides of a wide graveled walkway. Beyond the greenhouses are open grassy expanses, with areas dedicated to different countries.  The largest area features plants from Cuba; beyond Cuba and on the left are plants from Madagascar, and ahead to the right is South America. Beyond that, Africa and Japan await.  Open buses take visitors around the botanico, and the multilingual bus drivers give a basic orientation as to what is where. The botanico is 1600 acres so it’s impossible to view the whole place in a single day.

There are few visitors to the Jardin, and the bird population reflects that stillness. We tried balancing birding with looking at plants (we were in a famous garden after all!), but within minutes I felt like one of those drinking birds that swings down to put his beak in a glass of water and then stands upright only to swing downwards again. I leaned against a tree, making sure it had no spines, took a deep breath and tried again. Decision-making was pretty easy: That day I was rewarded with kestrels, the Cuban green woodpecker, many red-legged thrushes, an emerald hummingbird, the great lizard cuckoo, and the Cuban pewee. There are supposed to be 20,000 varieties of plants at the Jardin and looking back I suspect I missed most of them.

Havana itself is studded by small parks that may boast a local band (with CDs for sale) or a craftsman plaiting animal figures from strips of  palm leaves. Alfresco dancing is the norm, and no partner is needed. Caged birds  (mostly Cuban bullfinches and mockingbirds) are brought to parks by their owners, and the cages are suspended from  the trees or from lampposts. House sparrows and mockingbirds flit in and out, and curly tailed lizards skitter about each other across a sun-warmed patch of sidewalk. Schools bring their kindergarten-aged kids to the parks during the lunch hour. The children sit in small groups,  play hand games and then eat their sack lunches.

Life in Cuba is more casual and more relaxed than the US, and the Cubans I met were emotionally warm and friendly toward visitors. The island is beautiful, from the new architecture to the old, and the tropical climate encourages lush plant growth and exotic bird and mammal species. The island’s close proximity to the US makes a three- or four- day trip quite do-able (you do need a valid passport and a visa– you order the visa through your booking airline and pick it up when you check in for your flight).


Birds of Paradise

By Tandi Glaser

Moslih Eddin Saadi, famed medieval Persian poet, once said “A traveler without observation is like a bird without wings.”Mauritius

How right Saadi was, as this was exactly how I felt before embarking on a two-week adventure on the island of Mauritius. A passionate bird lover honored with their presence in my life from birth, I thought I had already earned my wings. Well, Mauritian birds taught me I had more to observe and learn. Only after some fascinating lessons from Mauritian birds — the Mauritius Kestrel, the Pink Pigeon, the Echo Parakeet, and the Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher, could I receive beautiful plumage of my own. Boy oh boy, but I was determined to be a beautiful Mauritian bird!

Flight School 101 started with Mauritian bird evolution. Sadly, only nine endemic species currently survive, and, with exception of one, all are threatened. This makes the conservation work of organisations such as the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) and Ebony Forest Reserve all the more critical. It is through their preservation efforts that the populations may recover.

Dear BirbObserver followers, even I needed educating on the difference between endemic and nativeEndemic means that a species inhabits only that specific territory or region in which you find it, and that it arrived there unaided by humans. Native, on the other hand, means that, while the species also arrived before humans, it can also be found in other regions.

Tandi 1

It was a privilege to see the endemic Mauritius Kestrel at Casela (an animal amusement park) in the Black River Gorges National Park. In 1974 there were only four survivors. Now there are about 500-600. The Mauritius Kestrel is a carnivorous bird of prey which feasts on geckos, insects (eww!) and small birds. The story of this powerful survivor is considered to be one of the most successful conservation and restoration projects in the world and through our contributions the Mauritius Kestrel can continue to survive and thrive.

Pigeon

Can you believe that there are Pink Pigeons?? Well, there are, and they too are endemic and endangered, with approximately only 400 currently surviving due to the deforestation of their native habitat and the decimation of natural predators such as rats and monkeys. Pink Pigeons love to feast on fruits, leaves and seeds of plants so this makes them herbivores.  As of 2016, there are five places on the island where wild populations of the Pink Pigeon can be sighted. Four of these locations belong to the Black River Gorges National Park and the fifth to Isle aux Aigrettes. All are closely monitored by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. It is the hope of the MWF to meet their target of 600 wild living Pink Pigeons one day and once again, a call to action through public donations is requested. Conservationists couldn’t agree more with the urgent request.

Two endemic birds, the Echo Parakeet and the Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher, could not be viewed in the National Park due to their endangered and vulnerable statuses. Embarrassingly I might add, even I confused an Echo Parakeet with an Indian Ringneck at a shopping mall and loudly screeched my excitement to my fiancé, neglecting to pause and ask myself why an endangered species would be found at a mall. Thanks to Christabelle Duhamel of Ebony Forest Reserve, I learned the difference between the two species: the Ringneck is of Asian origins (whereas the Echo Parakeet is endemic to Mauritius).  I do hope again to see an Echo Parakeet in my lifetime.

I hope you have learned something from me. Please don’t hesitate to explore Mauritius birds further on your own and ask me questions, as I could always ask the lovely conservationists I met there to answer and get back to me. They’re eager to educate us all about the birbs and how we can help.

All in all, I believe that thanks to observation and research, I left Mauritius an honorary and beautifully plumaged and flighted birb.

For more information, please go to the following links: