parker photo shoot2 005

I  read an article sent to me by Sher Buckner from the Humane Society Website by writer Charles Bergman. Who is Charles Bergman? I had no idea so I Googled him. According to Charles Bergman, Charles Bergman is:

….a writer, photographer and speaker who lives today in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. He’s twice been a Fulbright Scholar in Latin America–Mexico and Ecuador–and traveled extensively in Latin America from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego. He has recently had cover stories in Smithsonian magazine (wildlife trafficking), Audubon magazine (roses), Defenders magazine (parrot trafficking in Mexico). His photographs accompany his articles. He has written three books, and has won the Washington State Book Award, Southwest Book Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Book Award. He was a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award.


Titled, No-Fly Zone: Denied Their Natural Habits, Millions of Pet Parrots Lead Bleak, Lonely Livesit essentially stated that cockatoos don’t belong in homes, that every domestically raised bird is traumatized and that we are overrun with parrots. Well!

Author Mira Tweti was quoted as saying: “For an animal as emotionally complex as a chimpanzee or dolphin, it amounts to an unimaginably bleak existence.” Berman goes on to write, ” In fact, parrot advocate Mira Tweti estimates that some 75 percent of birds “live a life of abuse or neglect.’”

Perhaps they do. I don’t know where these numbers and estimates come from that says all of these parrots lead bleak, lonely lives.


But not in my home. Or She Buckner’s. Or Irena Schulz’s, Kelly Moore and Anthony Parsley’s, Bonnie Grafton’s, Rebecca Stockslager’s, Elle Michelle’s, Janet Holt Hilton’s, Lynn’s, Silvia’s, Noelle’s, or hundreds and thousands of other homes around the world.  Yes, I realize we are the exception rather than the rule.

And yes, we have a problem. I believe there are more birds than we have homes for.

And it is my opinion that cockatoos are one hell of a challenge for your average person. Even your above average person. Hell, I think that they would be a challenge for St. Francis of Assisi. “Saint and Lover of All Animals.” Perhaps. But I’d make book that he’d run in the other direction the minute he got a cockatoo.


I’m a Grey person. I know enough to stay out of the cockatoo arena because they would drive me bat-shit crazy in a day or two. And as far as I’m concerned, you Cockatoo people have the patience of a saint and nerves of steel. I don’t know how you do it, and I could never pretend to even begin thinking about adopting one. I nearly lost it with a Quaker in the house. I’ve got three Greys. I’m good.


Photo of Snooky by Shari Mirojnick

But I digress.

It goes on to state that “We’re experiencing a hidden crisis of parrot ownership.” I don’t quite know what that means. What part is hidden? Foster Parrots is pretty up front about the situation. Founder Marc Johnson has always been a very vocal advocate of parrots and quite up front about his opinion regarding the continuation of breeding. Anne Brooks of Phoenix Landing is very clear about the growing need for homes as is Florida Parrot Rescue. At this point, all FPR is asking for are foster homes. They need some homes, like, NOW! Where’s the “Hidden” part?

Illustration by Robert Seymour, courtesy FPR


Then, here come the numbers in the article: “For example, while a 2012 survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association found about 8.3 million birds in 3.7 million homes, a 2010 survey by the American Pet Products Association found nearly twice that number: 16.2 million birds in 5.7 million U.S. homes.”

Okay, I don’t know which is right but it doesn’t matter. Let’s just take it on face value that they are correct Pick a statistic, the powers that be can’t even agree on them.

Reading the article in question begs a question: Okay, so you don’t think we do very well by our birds. We get that. Now, what would you like us to do with them? Two of mine are relinquishments.

It makes a lot of statements. But this article was put out by the Humane Society! 


Got any solutions there for us, HSUS? Little help here?

The HSUS is for the most part an advocacy group now, working on lobbying and getting laws passed. But as far as I know, they have stepped out of the “direct rescue” of animals.  On their website, they state, “We are the nation’s most important advocate for local humane societies, providing shelter standards and evaluations, training programs, a national advertising campaign to promote pet adoption, direct support, and national conferences.”

According to Charity Navigator, the HSUS pays out zero dollars to their affiliates. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Here are the numbers:

Charity Navigator

A bulk of this collected works here at the “Nation,” devotes itself to attempting to appeal to the humanity of people. I been trying to get people to work through the issues of having birds in their houses. I want the birds we have to remain where they are for as long as possible.

We get it. It’s not an ideal life. But then, none of life is, wild or captive.

Mark Bittner spoke a couple of years ago at the Midwest Bird Expo. When he told the audience that none of the original flock was still alive, you felt a freeze in the audience. People were upset. What? Why? Why are they all gone?

Well, because they were wild. Some died of disease, infection, predator attack, whatever. That’s what happens in the wild. Living wild has its issues. And these are just some of the reasons wild animals don’t live as long as we would like to think.


It’s not pretty out there. It’s wild! 

Animals die. They get consumed by other animals. They get hit by cars, they die of disease, or God knows what else. That’s the beast of nature. So many people think its all these pretty parrots out there flitting about from branch to branch finding plenty to eat and playing in the trees like a scene from Snow White. That is a fairy tale.



Just watching the film, Anne of a Thousand Days about Anne Bolyn which took place during the Tudor period from 1485 to 1603 makes me cringe. Infection, venereal disease, pneumonia, death in childbirth. Life expectancy at that time was thirty-five years. Gaaaaahhh! Something as simple as a scratch on your knee and you might lose a leg. Or just die from the resulting infection, tetanus or lockjaw. And these were people who were the upper crust. Just five hundred years ago people were dying young and sometimes horribly with no antibiotics or simple medical knowledge.

So what makes people think its better out there in the wild for a flock of parrots?

Look, I’m not defending the asshats who fail to take care of their birds, just like I can’t stand the idea of kids having kids at 15 or 16.

I think we are overrun with people and I take off my scarf to couples who choose not to have kids. Or they just stick to one. I think the Dugger Family is not only crazy, they are irresponsible.


There’s far too many people in the world, let alone parrots.

Unfortunately there’s far too few people to take care of the far too many parrots. So what do we do? I don’t know. I know that what I’m trying to do is make people feel better about the birds they already have. I want people to keep them. To take better care of them. I’m trying to make it easier for the families who already have birds.

I can’t do a whole lot about the thousands of parrots that are displaced. I am one person. And making me feel bad about the situation almost makes me want to give up rather than work harder. And I really don’t think that’s what the intention of the article was, but that was the effect it had on me. Which really doesn’t help anything.



But if not us, who? If not here, where? Where are they going to go and who is going to take care of them?

While I agree with much of what was said, I found the overall tone of it discouraging and upsetting. And if writer Charles Bergman wanted to stir the pot, he did so effectively. But the tone and the bleak, take no prisoners approach was probably  enough to make some people do what I do when I see the HSUS commercials on TV: I change the channel.