Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Animals Need Care

This morning I was thinking of all the things I have to do in order for my parrot to be healthy and happy. I'm always looking for ways to entertain her or for new foods to provide nutrition she may not be getting in captivity.

Mika Bird Johnson is named in part after Mika Hakkinen (a retired Formula One driver) and in part after Lady Bird Johnson. Goofy? Uh, ya. I only call her that when I'm annoyed with her, otherwise I just call her MiMi, her nic name.

Mika is a Hahn's Macaw, she weighs a mere 165 grams and eats and poops continuously. I have no idea who invented the term "eat like a bird" meaning very little. Birds eat and forage about half their waking hours. They preen for a good portion of daily life and they need 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. So, you can see just these small demands are far more than anyone would provide.

Then there's the food. Mika needs an array of fresh and cooked vegetables and fruits, as well as grains like oats, groats, spelt, wheatberries, sprouts, pellets and small amounts of seeds. Birds in captivity shouldn't get too many seeds or they risk becoming overweight, potentially causing liver problems. So this took me just ten minutes to think of. Imagine actually caring for a pet bird.

I'm writing this about her today because many people buy pet birds and don't realize how much care they require. In addition to the above needs, they are very intelligent and require challenge, puzzles, toys, being played with, making sure they know how to play on their own for mental health and parrots have the intelligence of a human child the age of three. For an animal, that is pretty smart.

Do all parrots talk? Well, no, not all. If this is why you want a parrot, forget it. Some parrots, like African Grey's mimic every sound possible. They are so good at it, many people think the phone is ringing to find out it's the bird. These are very noisy parrots, but they do talk. Another parrot is a Cockatoo. There are many varieties of this bird and before buying one people should know these birds require a minimum of four hours per day of physical interaction with their "person." With this breed, you risk having a pet bird who only bonds to one person in the house and will do self mutilation if their person doesn't pay enough attention to them. Not a bird for everyone so please don't buy one because they are cute. It is torture to a bird.

So, now that I gave my standard lecture, my pet parrot gets all of this and more. She travels with us when we go places and loves to be with me in her outside cage. Some people clip birds wings to prevent them from flying away, but my bird does fly in the house and I let her so she gets some exercise.

If you truly love animals, please do a LOT of reading about the animal you want to have. They are not as easy as water and feed.

Have a good day!