Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Flightless(Injured) Wild Birds Caged for 10+ Years

Caring people who have worked at Animal Shelters in any capacity know animals caged for years go stir-crazy. Each animal’s craziness manifests in distinctly individual behavior. Some withdraw into a corner and stare into space, others become extremely aggressive and many execute repetitive actions called “stereotypes.” What about caged birds? Birds………whose very name is synonymous with freedom, are no different than any other animal.

Dr. Fox writes in “The New Animal Doctors Answer Book” that intelligent and curious birds go cage-crazy; “They can’t adapt to the privation of cage living.” But one doesn’t even need to hear it from a vet. It’s an obvious reality witnessed by anyone who has looked into the eyes of an isolated,long time caged wild bird particularly larger wild birds.

I recently had the experience of looking into the glazed, trance-like eyes of a bald-eagle, horned-owl, vulture and many others who had been caged since the ‘90s. They were caged in areas approximately 10 by 8 by 8 feet. They were alone and facing into the raging sun. In fact while I was present volunteers were busily spraying the birds with water to cool them down.

It has been months since I visited the Wildlife Center that featured the bird zoo, as I call it, because that is indeed what it is. I haven’t been able to get the sight out of my heart and mind. I asked the so-called bird folks who referred me to the Center what they thought about the place and not a one had ever visited. They send injured birds to the facility via a pick-up service. Furthermore I haven’t been able to talk anyone into dropping by and checking the place out.

The Center Director stated that the birds can no longer fly and are being used as teaching tools for visiting children's groups. But aren’t the children being taught cruelty to animals? It seems so to me! When a wild bird can no longer fly or experience any type of companionship with other birds why not do the kindest thing and put them down. That is certainly preferred to caging them for 10+ years as many of the birds I saw at the Center.

Currently the cages face west.They could be put on swivels and be turned away from the sun in summer and toward the sun in winter. Also the birds might enjoy having the cages open on more than one side so the wind could blow through the cage.

None of us can know for certain what these glorious creatures are experiencing. I have a feeling the eyes are the clue. The birds I saw were in a fixed stare into eternity. You could have snapped your fingers in front of their eyes and they might have remained frozen in a tranced out state.

Hopefully some of the teachers of the visiting groups will ask the students what they think of keeping a Bald Eagle or Horned Owl in a cage for 11 or so years. If they had asked me as a child I would have told them in no uncertain terms: it's cruel and inhumane.