A conversation with Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate for Born Free USA, about National Bird Day. Monica has worked professionally in the animal protection movement since 1999, specializing in several issues including wildlife conflicts, trapping, exotic birds, pet shops and animals used in agriculture and fur production. A frequent speaker on these issues, she has also authored multiple articles and publications and has experience in undercover investigation design, coordination and implementation. She is also a member of the board of the Midwest Avian Adoption and Rescue Services (MAARS) and the Avian Welfare Coalition, and serves as an adviser to the Indonesian Parrot Project.
This podcast was produced to support National Bird Day 2012.
Born Free USA in coordination with the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) is calling on activists around the U.S. to take action on behalf of captive birds by drawing attention to the exploitation of other countries’ native birds by the U.S. pet industry on January 5 — National Bird Day.
“National Bird Day” is not only a good day to take time to appreciate the native wild birds flying free outside our windows, it is also a perfect time to reflect on how we treat the native birds of other countries. While we have enacted laws to protect our native birds — such as blue jays, cardinals, and crows — from commercial exploitation, we fail to recognize the inconsistency in allowing the pet industry to exploit the birds of other countries.
Even when bred in captivity, exotic birds are not considered domesticated animals, and all their inherent behavioral and physical needs remain intact. Sadly, when it comes to birds, deprivation of their natural behaviors (to fly and flock, for example) is an inescapable component of their captivity.
Each year thousands of birds are sold into the pet trade to individuals who are under the mistaken impression that a bird will make a perfect pet. Eventually, whether due to frustration, disinterest, or concern, many people attempt to rid themselves of the responsibility of caring for their birds. Unfortunately, few of these birds will find a loving home, and most will spend their days isolated and confined to their cages. Others will bounce from home to home as their caretakers tire of them, and some may be abandoned at local shelters and birds rescues, set free to fend for themselves or euthanized.