Is it wrong for birds to be kept as pets?
- Statista reported that in 2017, pet birds were owned by 20.6 million US households.
- The Sumerians, the oldest known civilization to have kept written records, utilized the word subura, which meant birdcage, suggesting that birds were kept as pets thousands of years ago.
- PetMD reports that the most popular pet birds in the US are: cockatiels, budgerigars, African grey parrots, Quaker parrots, caiques, conures, finches, and canaries.
- The 1992 Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) prohibits the import of exotic birds to “ensure that their wild populations are not harmed by trade.'
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, 8% of households have pet birds.
What makes birds a great addition to the family is the numerous benefits they have to offer. Birds are quite intelligent, and some species can be taught to talk. They're also social, interactive, very loyal, and a sight for sore eyes. Birds are also great first pets since they easily integrate into the household and can live up to 50 years.
However, certain measures must be taken when keeping birds as pets. According to PETA Kids, birds should be kept out of their cages for a considerable time every day. They should also be given lots of fruits, vegetables, and toys to keep them healthy and active.
Another possible recommendation is wing clipping. Despite the constant backlash this practice receives, even vets recommend it for the safety of certain species. However, it's essential to understand that it doesn't prevent flight altogether. It just prevents birds' escape and exposure to danger.
Unfortunately, domesticated birds can't survive that long in the wild. They lack the skills necessary to find food and fend off predators. Pet birds raised with other pets are especially in danger as they assume all cats and dogs are safe to be around.
And birds—domesticated or not—are constantly in danger once outside. Millions of wild and escaped pets die from collision, poisoning, predation, and disease. Therefore, keeping them indoors may spare these fragile creatures from a grizzly death.
So, with the proper measures and lots of love, a pet bird may just be the missing puzzle piece in some people's lives.
Though birds have been shown to be loyal companions to humans, they are arguably unsafe pets. Birds carry harmful bacteria that can transmit to humans and cause medical issues, ranging from skin infections to severe illnesses. The risk of getting a disease is usually greater for those who are vulnerable, including the young and elderly.
Experts also argue that making a bird live in a cage is cruel. Birds who are kept as pets cannot partake in activities that are natural to them, such as flying, building nests, and becoming part of a flock. For this reason, pet birds tend to exhibit destructive behaviors, such as feather plucking and excessive vocalization.
Research shows that keeping a wild bird as a pet is even crueler. Birds who have not been domesticated are usually fearful of being in close proximity to humans, which they can perceive as predators. This sense of fear in birds is also part of why the mortality rate of wild birds sold as pets is so high.
Keeping birds as pets has also been shown to harm biodiversity. Many species of birds have become extinct due to being captured for the pet trade, while many others have seen a massive reduction in their populations. Other species are also impacted because of disturbances associated with capture attempts.
Therefore, it is clear that keeping birds as pets is dangerous to humans and animals. Birds should be allowed to exist in nature and not be kept languishing in a cage.