June 22, 2013 by Patricia Sund
Oh dear. Here we go. I don’t know if it’s a full moon or the fact the yesterday was the summer solstice, but it sure as hell felt like the longest day of the year to me.
I may not know why yesterday was so weird but what I do know is this: There are a lot of people who disagree over ideas, concepts, approaches and philosophies regarding aviculture. We’re not all ever going to be on the same page.
I believe in certain things. For my birds, I believe in a clean habitat, good healthy food with lots of vegetables, enrichment, foraging, fresh water, toys, and lots of interaction with my Greys. I believe in positive reinforcement training, fresh air, sunshine and stimulation as well as a shower once a week or so. It’s pretty simple.
I walk the walk when I go to places like Bell Fourche, South Dakota to Black Hills Parrots and talk about Chop. I walk that walk when I go out to Kanab and clean bathrooms and baseboards or raise money for Florida Parrot Rescue. I try and keep it pretty basic and I’ve managed to get through the last ten years without really harming anyone else or getting embroiled in major controversy. I don’t throw stones because I’m a lousy shot and my glass house wouldn’t survive.
I’m in no position to cast aspersions and I try very hard not to become bitter over anything. I wish others felt the same. But there are times when things try my patience and when the “Mean Girls” crap rears its head, I quietly sigh. It makes me feel rotten.
We aren’t all going to agree. Never. We just aren’t. And if people can’t get over that fact, then they need to live a quiet life and not get embroiled into the politics of Aviculture.
As Shari says, “Here’s the thing:” People try to make money in aviculture and many do. It’s a business. Period. Companies make money manufacturing cages, toys, food, DVDs, and books. They have bird supply stores or they write. That is a fact. There are people who’s families and livelihood depend on the business of birds to feed their families and keep a roof over their head. That’s just how it is. They may love birds and may have gotten into it due to that, but if they hit the right niche, they can make a good living through some facet of maintaining birds in one way or another.
My situation is a bit different. I have another job. My “business” in birds is a money-losing one for me. When BIRD TALK hit the skids last year, I lost a nice little side gig that I obviously couldn’t live on, but it helped pay the light bill. That’s gone. Maintaining this blog costs me a few hundred dollars a year. And attending events like the AFA are not paying gigs; rather it costs me money. So this is not a money-making proposition for me. Not by a long shot. But I keep doing it because I believe in it. So obviously, my agenda is not about making a living at this.
What I don’t believe in is mud-slinging and all of the petty crap that tends to go with any field where philosophies differ. And a lot of that seems to be happening lately. It wouldn’t be so bad I suppose if this was about a difference of opinion in how to make widgets or how to bake a cheesecake. But throughout all of this is the birds: Living, breathing creatures. And that gets people upset. I get that. I have a pretty simple philosophy that keeps things straight-forward when it comes to stuff like this: Stick to your knitting.
I’ve taken classes and seminars in positive reinforcement training from the best in the business. I know the stuff. But I don’t post about it here because I’m not an expert. I leave that to Susan Friedman and Barbara Heidenreich. Lara Joseph is making inroads in the field of behavior training as well. But I don’t talk much about it other than recommending learning Applied Behavior Analysis because I’m simply not good enough at teaching it to be comfortable with it. So I simply leave that to others. What I am comfortable with is writing. I’m also comfortable with teaching people the Chop Concept. So that’s my knitting and I indeed stick to it. I don’t play games and I try not to take sides.
Shauna Roberts promotes a Mash diet on her group Feeding Feathers. It’s a different approach to avian nutrition than the Chop Concept, but I have no issue at all with what she promotes. Why would I? It’s a good diet. And as far as I’m concerned, Shauna is doing great work in the field and is providing good solid information. And just as Shauna and I are providing good information albeit with different philosophies, we aren’t throwing rocks and dragging each other through the mud. There’s no need for that. I’ve posted about this before but I think in view of recent events, it bears repeating. (A Bunch of Jabberwocky) (Sniper)
I believe in being professional. I believe in being polite and even-handed. I try my damnedest to walk away when the dust kicks up because when I’m flying I can’t walk away from an issue. It’s my job to settle it right then and there before anything escalates. But when the fur flies and the flaming occurs in the Cyber World, I choose to step away, as do many others. Being human, I fail at times, but I try.
This too shall pass. I just wish the latest drama that smacks of McCarthyism didn’t happen in the first place. Because what we need now more than anything is for everyone in the “Parrot Nation” to calm down, assess the current state of things and move forward. Because just like a shark, if we don’t keep moving forward, we will perish.