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.
June 22, 2013 at 10:47 am
Great read Patricia!!
June 22, 2013 at 10:55 am
Wow it’s like reading my mind, only yours has better grammer, we all have ideas on what our birds need or like that (if not harmful) differs from what that person may think. Neither of is wrong just different, I also walk away from this type of mud war. Nobody wins these things, the only thing that endures is hurt feelings and broken friendships, not to mention what the stress of all this does to the fids in our care. Folks need to agree to disagree and back away.
June 22, 2013 at 10:58 am
Right on & well-said!
June 22, 2013 at 11:00 am
Very well said!
June 22, 2013 at 11:03 am
June 22, 2013 at 11:10 am
Exactly. We will never all do thing exactly the same way…As long as the way you do things is safe then carry on.
I do not understand the need to be “most right.”
Mean girls is exactly the same term I have used. It smacks of 5th Grade girl drama. Each of my older daughters would come home crying almost every day in 5th grad because so and so was mad at whoever and decreed that if you so much as stood next to whoever in line you would no longer be so and so’s friend……….They would cry because they loved both so and so and whoever, or they hated the injustice and meanspritedness of the entire situation.
So we walk away from the drama and live our lives, count our blessing and make every day awesome to the best of our abilities.
June 22, 2013 at 11:24 am
True adult-speak. Sad you get thrust into these situations but you do take the high road. I find that admirable in addition to your knowledge and dedication! Keep up the great work, we’ve got your 6.
June 22, 2013 at 11:27 am
Wow! You speak “Pilot!” Thanks for that Deb. I appreciate your comments and take comfort in your kind words!
June 22, 2013 at 11:26 am
June 22, 2013 at 11:26 am
Patricia – – Your message is clear, on target and expressed in a meaningful, respectful way. There will always be people “out” there that must muddy the water in an attempt to make their point, and will viciously attack anyone that dares to disagree. It’s all about control, and when you disable someone’s control, you’ve basically disabled their power. Disabling an attacker’s power? Silence speaks volumes, as does ignoring the insults, comments and accusations that may be leveled in your direction. The attackers usually want a fight, but how can they have a successful fight if no one will participate? In the end, all of the fighting, verbal assaults on Facebook, etc., do nothing but raise the stress level of those involved (including the attacker) and all of this negativity trickles back to the birds. Get into a brawl on Facebook, in an e-mail or a phone call, and your birds know that you are distressed. Why would anyone want to subject their bird(s) to this stress? Facebook is the perfect medium for people to stay semi-invisible, as well as an opportunity to get an instant gratification message out, be it a pleasant one or a vicious attack.
Before Facebook & e-mail, if someone wanted a fight, they could call, send a letter or do this in person. A high majority of people are not comfortable with confrontation, and would feel safer leaving an unkind voice mail when they knew the other person wouldn’t actually answer the phone. There was a process involved, and a majority of people back then would think twice about doing a face-to-face confrontation with someone they actually liked. The benefit of face-to-face is that if you care about the person, you have an opportunity to “see” them, experience the emotions involved, and try to work through the issue. With FB or e-mail, one can type it out, hit enter and it’s gone; whether a vicious insult or a kind word. Instant gratification is often precipitated by a knee-jerk reaction – – without allowing time to process what has happened and allowing a “cooling” off period of time before reacting.
When the flaming begins and the insults are hurled, no reaction is often the best reaction. You can’t start a war if no one shows up. You can still be attacked, but the attacker will run out of steam if no one opts to “play” this power game.
Thank you for all of your wonderful posts!
June 22, 2013 at 11:36 am
Eloquently stated, Janelle. You are correct in that social networks have made it “easy” to be rude. “You can’t start a war if no one shows up.” Amen.
June 22, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Thanks Irena 🙂
June 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm
So true Janelle, so true. It’s hard sometimes to ignore it and not engage, but you’re absolutely right.
June 22, 2013 at 11:33 am
Petty people have petty minds. I admire and respect you, Patricia, for what you have done for the avian community. I admire how open you are and your willingness to help with any task (even cleaning bathrooms..LOL). This is a great read (like always) and good for you for standing your ground and for keeping an open mind. You are a wonderful person for everything that you day for all the birdies out there. Echo (congo) loves her CHOP and would thank you personally with a nip if I let her. LOL!
Thank you for everything you do.
June 22, 2013 at 11:37 am
Patricia, I couldn’t have said it better myself…which is why I didn’t. Thank you for this post.
June 22, 2013 at 11:42 am
Thank you for this article. I certainly try to follow your exact concept here and I couldn’t have said it better myself. I always appreciate reading what you have to write.
June 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm
Allow me a moment to tell you about Patricia Sund. It was pure serendipity that we met and became friends. In late May 2008 I rescued a 5-6 week old wild quaker parrot off the street in front of my Hollywood, FL home after a violent thunderstorm. Another neighbor knew of Patricia, her Birdtalk credentials and gave her a call for advice. She lives less than a mile from me and came over immediately to offer her help with this baby bird. I knew nothing about parrots but Patricia steered me in the right direction as my wife and I began carrying for this baby bird. She offered her continuing support as we hand fed this fledgling into adulthood. Raising this baby QP became a joy for us!
Here is what I KNOW about Patricia. She has dedicated herself in a a quest for knowledge about everything parrot. She has also generously given her time in efforts to support parrot and animal rescues. She has earned the respect of many of the top parrot celebrity authors. What is she doing wrong to elicit such vitriol???
When did we become such a caustic society? What has happened that we no longer can be civil with one another? As a 60 year old, I am now witnessing a complete lack of courtesy and respect in our society. Has Facebook, Twittter and Blogs allowed us to be closet internet terrorists trolls? We see it in our politicians, sports, forums and the public in general. I fully enjoy lively discussion and debate but not mudslinging! Thank goodness that parrot forums generally monitor vitriol; censure trolls and malcontents….
June 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm
Nicely said—and sorry for the drama queens that just HAVE to make life difficult for everyone!
June 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm
Very well said
June 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm
Great job Patricia, thank you. ❤
June 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm
Very much agree. Very well said.
Cathy. (aka Paloma Perch)
June 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm
I agree to a point Patricia, but if I see something that will harm birds, I am going to speak out. Your Chop and Shauna’s Mash have both been fed here with good results. I just do not see standing by and seeing the health and safety of birds being compromised for the sake of “getting along”. Sorry if a bit of criticism “hurts” someone feelings, the bird has to be first because they do not have anyone else to speak for them. Of course, it should be done professionally and with kindness if possible, but for some people even kind questions and criticisim is to much for their egos.
June 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm
Bonnie, my issue here is not what the response was to this issue. My post was about the “McCarthy-istic” attack on people that are true leaders and active in the community. This was not about what the response was. This was about the original comments. There is indeed a difference. There was no dialogue here. And therein lies the problem.
June 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm
I often feed a chop-type mix to my birds and do not see what the big problem is. It’s not the only thing they eat, but I know quite a bit about bird biology (I teach both physiology and ornithology at a university) so I don’t see how I’m harming my birds by feeding them such a mix. I think what I make is healthy for the birds I have and it contains a full complement of the amino acids they need.
June 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm
Hey, Patricia! Don’t let the you-know-whats get you down. In my 60 years, I’ve been part of many different “subcultures”, (hippie, biker, birder, parrot owner, vegetarian). By my nature, I’m extremely non-competitive, so I never cease to be amazed that in each group, there are always people who must show you (and everyone else) that they are MORE of a (hippie, biker, birder, etc.) than YOU are. After all these years, I know who I am, and I am happy with me, and I can only assume these types must constantly measure themselves against others in the group to decide where they are in the (excuse, please) “pecking order”? You would be hard-pressed to find a kinder, gentler group than birdwatchers, most of whom simply appreciate beauty, the outdoors, and sharing with others. But even in this crowd, we still encounter the occasional asshat. (Love your term!) As my niece says, “They just don’t get it.” Their loss. Keep up the good work!
June 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm
God bless ya Patch! You made my day! Seriously, you did! Such an upbeat and really light comment and I so appreciate it. You made me smile!
June 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm
Having “missed the flight” on this one, other than what I read and heard from Patricia,,, I will say this,,,,, Patrcicia takes the high road because that’s the type of person she is. I will not comment on the “origin’ of this because I didnt see it myself, and why I believe every single word I was told,, I will not become involved without seeing the original.. that’s me,,, but let me tell you this, if I do see someone attacking Patricia, I will get involved, and I don’t think anyone wants to see that side of me…. mind you,,, you can disagree with her,, but do it respectably (and prepare to be wrong gracefully)…. love ya Pat
June 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm
Love you too Linnea and thank you…
June 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm
What I love about you and your blog is that you “walk the walk” and “talk the talk”. Keep up your wonderful blogging and volunteer efforts, and “Illegitimi non carborundum…”
June 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm
OMG Bonnie! I just called and left a message for an appointment A.S.A.P with my avian vet. You have me very concerned! I have been feeding Patricia’s chop concept for the past 3 years. My female Eclectus “Scarlet” seems to be doing very well but better safe than sorry…
June 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm
I don’t know what brought this on, but very well said, Patricia.
June 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm
Kent – huh?!
The technical society we live in has given balls to people who would not otherwise have any if they had to confront someone face to face. Pat, I was in your chop class in Phoenix and am still making it and my flock of 10 is still loving it. People think that the only opinion that is right or matters is theirs – NOT! I do not know what brought all this on, but…..GREYT job
June 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Tongue deeply imbedded in cheek! Get it?
June 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm
That’s what I thought, Kent…hahaha Good for you!
June 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Lol…ditto what lindahsnest said ( re balls).
Pat, your focus here was to simply “play nice”. That is THE best and even THE most effective way to deal with people…..even the difficult or problematic ones. You come across to me as having absolutely that resolve in your interactions with people.
And, in a case where someone is being judged or there is concern about their bird care ….it’s always better to approach with kindness in my opinion. When approached in an attacking manner, people become defensive.
I have no idea what drama may have occurred lately…..and don’t need to know. But there is often drama that pops up in the bird community. I have learned to avoid it.
I think you are a very friendly, helpful, upbeat person. Thank you for that. 🙂
June 22, 2013 at 8:31 pm
I have followed you for a few years since I met you at The Oasis Sanctuary and I hope that you don’t let the people that only bad mouth you get you down. There are a lot of people out her that believe in what you and others say. I may not always agree in what you say but it is always said with an honest try to help the avian world.
June 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm
NIcely said. We don’t always have to agree, but let’s let those who are trying to help parrots come together on that premise.
June 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm
I love your blogs and read them, appreciate them, and more often than not get a lot out of them. This one is disheartening as I would miss your blogs if you decided to stop as a result of others having superiority complexes, jealousy, or a brain damaged with one way thinking. I have a Macaw and a small parakeet that get along better than most people do. One would think that with the common interest for Avian welfare that we would have reason to be more like these two unlikely friends. And yes before anyone jumps on me…they do have their own cages. And when they are out and about they are supervised.
June 23, 2013 at 6:02 am
Don’t know the who’s, where’s or why’s that brought you to write this but if someone is giving you grief for your gallant efforts to improve life for captive parrots than shame on them! Thank goodness there are people out there willing to be creative, thoughtful and compassionate to the plight of the parrots in captivity. Everyone is free to pick and choose what kind of mash or Chop they wish to use and there are many good ideas out there. Take what you like from each of them and the birds will all be better off! Keep up the good work Patricia.
June 23, 2013 at 11:59 am
I’d like to just requote myself, because I think my point was missed. First, I make very little money as an avian vet tech. My charges for grooming have stayed the same for the past 15 years. Many times, my grooming visits include advice on feeding, medical, and behavior, with no extra charge. When I speak at events, I never ask for money. I take in greys that need a second chance, and I pay for their vet care, food, and never ask any money from the new home. I don’t get to go to conferences because I can’t afford the price of admission, the airfare, nor the hotel stay. I barely can afford to go to the movies. I do all this because it’s necessary. Period.
When many people get into breeding parrots, they learn quickly how hard it is to earn a profit. The first things that go are proper feeding and medical care. I know a lot of breeders will chime in that they don’t do that, and if so, then I’m not talking abou them; however, I am talking about most. I know this because I have dealt with breeders for the past 18 years.
When people like Barbara Heidenreich come and speak to bird clubs, her bottom line is what comes first. Yes, she has every right to charge for her speaking, but let’s call it like it is. It’s a money-making enterprise. That enterprise is so important to her, she will say it’s not good to keep birds hungry, yet that’s exactly what she does. She let other people’s parrots go without food for over 6 hours so that she could get the desired results in order to sell a product.
I know that highlighting these two things, the business of selling birds, and the business of selling behavior, but I wanted to give examples of what my statement was about. There are more, but these are the first two the came from my fingers.
I’m all for helping parrots, and if someone can make some money that’s fine. There are good stores, breeders, food companies, etc. out there, and they should get our business. However, everyone who shares their lives with any nonhuman animal needs to question the motives of those earning a profit off our companions. When we know the bottom line can be more important than people, why is it so hard to think it happens even more with animals.
Here’s a third, the food industry:
June 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm
Time can be used better effectuating change in laws, education, volunteering at rescues/sanctuaries, assisting in fundraising –
There is so much to do that no one should be on any social network wasting time —
June 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm
you mean like this??
June 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm
Patricia,what ever ur doing and teaching.. I have a Great Bill,whom thought he did not have to eat..I bought from cheapest to most expence.
I can,t get him out of food bowl..I started the chop along with mash..His mouth is always open my all my birds love it..
So all can say if it isn’t broke then don’t try and fix it..
Keep up the good work,
Pat, in Ky.
June 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm
you mean like this??
June 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm
I think I know what you’re talking about specifically. I guess someone else is slamming you because there’s no “scientific” recipe behind chop. There’s probably a DSM-related diagnosis for this kind of bickering. There are real problems in the parrot world, and taking on a healthful, but non-scientific diet should not be a cause. You’ve never said that chop is the end-all diet; however, there are many out there who will tout their own ideas of the perfect diet, whether they be an individual or a corporation. Those are the entities we need to be wary of, and expose. Why? Because no one can say what the perfect diet is, regardless of who they are. Obviously, some people are more knowledgable than others, but the fact is, the facts are lacking. There just hasn’t been enough time to know what constitutes an ideal parrot diet, nor do we even know if we can ever feed them adequately in captivity.
Claims of the perfect diet, training the perfect parrot, the cure for feather destruction, and the like, should raise red flags for anyone. The old adage should apply: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I mean like that!!
June 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm
Sorry, Shari, my question was not directed at you.
June 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm
Sorry, too. 😦
June 24, 2013 at 7:09 am
Well said Shari, I think you have hit the nail squarely on the head! We don’t know what the ideal diet for parrots and we probably can never offer them what they need to survive. That is the domain of wild parrots. Your post also highlights EXACTLY why parrots do not belong in captivity.
June 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm
Very well written Patricia!
June 25, 2013 at 1:32 am
Great article about a problem that is not just restricted to the bird world, sadly. Human beings have the means to make the world a better place, and simply choose not to. Is it our survival instinct, our competitive nature, or something else? I have no idea.
The best thing one can do is to improve what you can in the world, and ignore (where possible) those who choose to always be negative. Sometimes, just sometimes, you can actually turn them around too. For the sake of our beautiful birds it’s well worth the struggle.
Keep doing what you’re doing Patricia, hang onto the knowledge that you will have improved the lives of many, many birds with what you are doing.
June 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm
Dear Patricia, I am a part-time follower of yours. Which is probably why I don’t know what in particular you are talking about here. However, that being said, I read this post of yours and completely agree with everything you have said. I don’t know the problem or the problem person(s) but you can know that at least one person is “on your side.”