It’s Just a Bird

It’s just a bird.  The words I hate hearing more than anything else.  I mean, how do you explain to people that your bundle of feathered joy isn’t ‘just a bird’ to you?  The hard facts in life is that if you are not a pet person, or a bird person, you probably won’t get it.  

Obviously, from my past posts, this whole blog, and all the numerous pictures I have posted of my feathered kids (fids for short), you can tell I love my birds.  They are not ‘just birds’ to me.  They are an important member of my family.  They are like my children.  So when I have people telling me that they are ‘just birds’ it definitely gets under my skin.

I especially have this problem when I start explaining the medical care that some of my birds require.  All of their handicaps require unique care and sometimes I have to do things that to normal everyday people are a little crazy.  A good example of this is Taylor.  When I explain to people that he has to be on medication forever to keep yeast from growing in his crop, that he has racked up around $500 in vet bills in his short life, and that his feet are so turned in I have to find or make special shelves to sit on, I get a lot of grumbling about how I am crazy and he is ‘just a bird’.  And sometimes I have a hard time understanding why they can’t see what I can.   About how he has overcome his handicaps, he has learned to be happy with what he has, and he is a terrific, sweet, and funny boy.  To me, he is a success story and he inspires a lot of hope in me and makes me look at life a little differently.  To everyone else, he’s ‘just a bird’.

I even get a lot of people who try to turn my own science major-ness against me and claim that according to Darwin, survival of the fittest rages and if he was in the wild he would be dead.  And I agree.  If any of my birds were in the wild, they would be dead.  But what they don’t understand is my birds would not have these problems if they were in the wild.  My birds are mostly a product of human made mistakes.  Inappropriate diet to the breeding parents, over breeding, in breeding, and just general not understanding what the term ‘bird breeding’ meant are the reason my babies are so crippled.  Also, they are not in the wild.  They are in my house and I have the means to care for them and make them comfortable, so why wouldn’t I?  Our science is great enough to help with the problems that inexperienced humans have created.  

To me, saying ‘its just a bird’ is an insult.  My birds are my choice in life and no one else should question that.  They are my hobby and my calling.  I enjoy caring for them and I enjoy having them in my life.  To me, saying ‘its just a bird’ is like telling a parent ‘its just a child’ or an expectant mother ‘ its just a conglomeration of cells acting as a  parasite off your body’.  Children are not my calling in life, yet I do not question the motives to why other people want to have them.  That is their life choice, and its no ones business but their own.

So my other animal loving friends, how do you deal with people when they say ‘its just a bird’ or ‘its just an animal’?  Leave me a comment!  I’m interested in knowing how everyone else deals with this, because to date I haven’t found a response that just gets people to leave it alone!

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Model Rival Training Technique Video

I decided to do another video blog on the how we use modeling to trick train our birds.

Modeling works well for us because not only is the second bird watching the first bird and seeing that responding to a command in a particular way gains a treat, it also gives the bird a rival to compete against for the attention of the trainer.

Modeling can also work if you have only one bird.  You just need a willing human who doesn’t mind acting as he second bird.

Birds are very watchful and learn a lot just from watching what is going on around them.  Miles has even learned how to ask for a treat simply by watching Bella do it so many times.  Miles has never been trained to ask for some food, yet he knows how!

Discrimination Against Animals!

Everything at camp wasnt quite that great.  We had an issue that really got me fired up.  Saturday morning, we decided to go to the camp lodge for breakfast instead of cooking our own.  So we loaded up and headed to the lodge.  However, when we arrived there, we were quickly greeted by a nasty ‘you’re going to have to take your bird outside.  This is a restaurant.”

Jules, stealing some of Lance's toast

   

I spent three weeks in Germany a few years ago and one of the things that really resonated with me was how accepted animals were in society.  Dogs were allowed in stores, on trains and buses and in restaurants.  Everywhere you went, people took their animals with them.  There were no ‘no pets’ signs on doors, nor were there any mean people telling you to ‘take your bird outside’.      

It was a camp lodge.  Not a five-star restaurant.  Not a fancy steak house.  A ruddy old camp lodge that served greasy meals on paper plates with plastic silverware.  Real classy.    

 My dad tried to reason with me.  ” its health codes.  restaurants aren’t allowed to have animals in them for health reasons.”  Well, that fired me up even more.  Because honestly, my birds are cleaner than most people.  My birds wear diapers, so they make absolutely no more mess than a human infant.  In fact, my birds are quieter than most people’s kids, cleaner than most people’s kids, and more well-behaved than more people s kids.  And I don’t see one restaurant that has a ‘no kids’ sign on the door.  I take responsibility for all my animals and their behavior, which is more than most parents can say.  Still, I am the one shunned to the patio.      

 Not to mention, this is my life style being cramped by the opinions of everyone else.  And that’s not fair.  How many years of my young life did I have to sit in the same restaurant as smokers, even though I’ve never picked up a cigarette in my life?  And that was absolutely hazardous to my health and it was just recently banned!  How many times have I had to sit next to a noisy, screaming, sticky two-year old when I have an adverse nature towards children?  And I have never once complained or said ‘get your kid outside’.  And now I am being discriminated against for having a feathered kid.    

And if anyone would have mentioned the fact that people fear birds, I probably would have decked them.  I never force people to embrace the type of animal I hold dear.  I never force them to pet my birds, or touch my birds, or even take notice of my birds.  However, I am a member of society as well, as so are my birds.  So to deny me the pleasures of my life for someone else’s fear is wrong.  For example, I have a horrible, terrible, irrational fear of latex balloons.  I hate when they pop, I hate the squeaky noise they make, I hate everything about them.  However, I cannot expect to walk into a balloon-less world because I’m terrified of them.  And I certainly don’t see any signs on the restaurant door saying ‘no balloons’ because they bother me.    

 Needless to say, I did not purchase a breakfast and instead sat at the cigarette covered patio table and ate Lance’s toast, fuming about the discrimination I had just faced.      

 $%@& you, food industry owners and pet haters.

Camping with the Fids!

Lance and I just got back from a weekend camping trip!  However, when we go camping, we take some of our birds with us!          

all packed up and ready to go!

   

Bella and Jules both have travel carriers that we can put them in if we want to go somewhere or if its time for them to go to bed.  It’s also unsafe to ride with your bird out of the carrier on the car ride, so both birds are strapped into the car with a seat belt in the backseat in case of a crash.  Think of your bird as a toddler.            

Birds like a routine, so constructing one is very important to their well-being.  For example, Lance and I wake up and take the birds out.  We offer them their pellets and seeds twice a day, and water four times a day when out of the cage.  While they are in their carriers, they each have a dish of pellets and dish of water.  They usually stay out for the majority of the day, spending the hottest part either bathing, or inside the air-conditioned trailer.  When evening comes and the bugs come out, the birds go to bed early.  Mosquitos can give your bird a disease.            

Bella and Jules enjoying breakfast

   

Camp for us is mostly just relaxing.  We don’t really do anything fun to record, but sit around and talk and play with our fids. My brother and sister and dad ride dirt bikes, and we went on a day trip to Cabellos, but for the most part we just sat around.            

Traveling with your birds is also a good way to educate people about parrot ownership and about what great pets birds can be.  You’re always sure to draw a crowd when you have a bird.          

Bella spending some quality time with her daddy

Welcome to Our Blog!

 

As usual, there has to be a post made to break the ice, start things off, and say welcome to our new blog!  So I guess I’ll be the one to write it. 

Welcome to our blog!

My name is Hannah and along with my boyfriend, Lance, we are going to blog our way through college on our quest to become ‘animal experts’ each in our own field.  I am going to school to become a veterinarian and Lance is going to school for conservation biology.  Two totally separate fields with a common interest of animal welfare.  Our area of concentration is on birds, primarily parrots, hence the name, iFeathers. 

Besides blogging about our journey through college, the internships, apprenticeships, and volunteer work we do, we also will be blogging about our own birds, bird experiences, and bird rescues.  And with two of us, it should be double the fun!

So, stick around and enjoy our lives!