Time has passed since I first wrote this post, and while I continue to beat myself up for what happened, I am beginning to realize that I am the perfect person to begin an active campaign for the betterment of captive birds everywhere. Who better than someone who fell victim to the economic downfall, and the ultimate Great Recession of 2008 than someone who was forced to do the unthinkable, give up her beloved parrots to a rescue and add to the problem of the “unwanted parrot population”?
My parrots were NOT unwanted. I was forced to make a decision that NO ONE should ever have to make. I now understand “keeping parrots” from both sides of the viewpoint, from the side of having them in your care and thinking you will NEVER be the one to have to find another home for them, and how could anyone ever be so cruel in giving them up, to the other side and being forced to face the ultimate decision that you have NO OTHER CHOICE but to find another home for them because of your circumstances.
Yes, I feel like a failure, but the only way to begin to make that right is to become an advocate for the parrots and take one small baby step at a time and try to change the world in which they live in.
The ugly truth of the matter is they have been brutally taken from their wild home, they are being captured by the hands of humans, ripped from their tree tops, mountain tops and cliff sides, torn from what they know as family. Others are being bred in “parrot mills” living in dirty, filthy circumstances with no toys or human love, in darkness away from any social contact. Parrots are not “domesticated” animals. Unlike dogs and cats they are not far enough removed from the wild to even begin to behave like domesticated animals, it will take hundreds of years before this begins to take place. It’s no wonder we have so many parrots with feather and skin mutilation problems!
We are only now, after decades, beginning to understand a small portion about their diets. And this too adds to their behavioral and nutritional problems. Much, much more research must be done in order to properly feed their delicate systems and keep them in proper balance.
Then we take them and force them into tiny cages when they are meant to fly free. And in order to make sure they don’t fly away from us we clip their wings. This is nothing short of a disgrace to the very intrinsic nature of a free-flighted creature!
Yes, I’m taking a stand, a loud, bold stand. If I am going to be a sounding gong I may as well be a loud one who speaks what is in my heart. I have had 3 long years of sobbing every night when I lay down to bed wondering about my beloved parrots. Repenting each night because of what I did to them when I was forced to relinquish them to a rescue because I had to close my business due to my health and my husband lost his job due to the Great Recession. Now it’s time to stop repenting and it’s time to redeem myself by taking action!
I have finally begun to understand what others have gone through. It’s time for me to stop judging others, it’s time for me to stop judging me. It’s time to begin the work necessary in order for these dear beloved creatures to heal from the wounds humans have inflicted upon them. The time is NOW. (Updated 10.17.11)
I have attempted to say nicely, what I feel I must say more boldly now, “I will not be responding to any further questions surrounding the relinquishment of my flock“. I have thoroughly explained my catastrophic situations for doing so in the first place, as well as the horrific guilt I was left to deal with for doing so. I have nothing left to say or to explain. Please understand this situation is in my past where it will remain as I move forward in my life to offer assistance to these beloved creatures through continuing research, nutritional support and education to their caregivers so that these creatures may have a more fulfilling life. Respectfully, “thank you”. (8.10.12)
Parrots, as pets, in our daily lives. They are said to be one of the fastest growing sectors of pets in the U.S.A. –If that is true, then, as parrot-lovers, bird-lovers, or just plain pet-lovers, each of us must make it our own, individual task and responsibility to make their lives as full, content, healthy and vibrant as possible, even if they are no longer living in a way that Nature originally intended for them to live, in the Wild of the great outdoors.
In order to accomplish such a task, and because their standards of living do not come natural to us as humans, we have to do our research. Much of this research has been done for years and years, by conscientious researchers and scientists ahead of us. They have devoted their lives, and their money, to learning as much as they possibly can in order to enrich our knowledge about these quizzical birds of the air. And no matter how much information these scientists provide to us, we still, after all of these years of research, don’t really seem to completely understand just what makes these animals really thrive in a captive situation. But we try. And we don’t, nor can we, give up. Because, after all, we have, unmistakably, brought them into our environment, into our homes, and we must, without fail, learn how to care for them in their new environments.
Which one of us, who have had the honor of a parrot gracing our home and our presence, can honestly say that we were not in awe of their majesty while they were perched upon our hand, or standing on their perch staring at us as if to say, “I know more about you, than you do about me”? They are such valiant creatures. They practically deserve a kind of reverence, it is as if God Himself is embodied in each of them.
I know, for myself, that I have been forever changed from these beloved selfless creatures being a poignant part of my life. I cannot go back to the “before parrots” in my life. It is as if there was never a before parrots time in my life. It is as if my life never existed before I knew parrots. It is as if I never lived until parrots came along in my life. They taught me how to live. They taught me how to love. They taught me how to live for someone other than myself. They taught me how to be selfless. They taught me how to think of others than myself. They were the first thing I thought of when I woke up in the morning, and the last thing I thought of before I went to bed at night. I wanted nothing but the BEST for my darling little beloveds. Nothing but the BEST.
And then the storm came.
I managed and operated my husband’s and mine own successful parrot food business. It truly was the BEST organic food on the commercial market. It was. I personally formulated the foods from the base ingredient to the very last spice in each species specific detailed food. Yes, every species had its very own food in our company’s long list of foods. And we hand-made each and every food ourselves in our own little factory. Our equipment was all custom-made just for our production line. We absolutely loved what we did.
Even thought our business was booming, and doing quite well financially speaking, because of the high overhead, from the certified organic ingredients, to the colorful packaging, the labels, the one employee I managed to be able to pay and more, there wasn’t any profits left over to pay me. And that was okay, because I loved what I was doing! Money was not my driving force, the health of all of the companion parrots in the world was my driving force.
But also, the endless paper work, the Internet costs, including the website and all of the work that engulfed me surrounding its upkeep, keeping up with making sure our parrots were happy, cleaning their cages every day, not to mention actually making the pounds and pounds of food for the great customers we had, packaging all of that food, shipping all of it too, keeping financial records straight, and then trying to keep things going on the home front and all that that entailed, I was just worn out on the end side. I had also been taking care of my dying father-in-law for the last five years while trying to build our business. He passed away two years before we finally closed our business. I became totally depleted and had lost over 20 pounds and was down to 92 pounds in just two years. Between trying to care for my father-in-law who had dementia, managing and operating our business, caring for the parrots, and trying to keep the fires burning at home, I had finally come to my end. My medical advisers, who knew I was legally disabled in the first place, told me I had no choice but to take time off to rebuild my health. Something had to go. They told me I was literally knocking on death’s door. And I knew they were right, even though I had a very difficult time admitting it.
Unfortunately, I knew this meant that I had to close our business. At least for a while. What I didn’t know is that the worst was yet to come.
My husband came home one day from work and had an announcement. Yes, you guessed. Due to the beginning of the Great Recession economic decline, his job was no longer. This came as a complete surprise to both of us and it left us in a complete and total destitute situation. We lived 2000 miles away from any family whatsoever and we had no prospects of any kind of job for my husband as he works in a very specialized field of work. There wasn’t any other choice but to look outside of the state we lived for another job. We had no cash on hand because of the fact that all of our money had been invested to the hilt in our business. So there we sat, with our heads in our hands, except when we were wringing our hands together with worry. We didn’t know where we were going to go, let alone what we were going to do with all of our parrots. It was in the dead of Winter and it had snowed more that year than any of the years previously. Because of our lack of money, and the limited time that we had placed on us to get to a new job, there was no way we could transport our parrots with any kind of guaranteed safety for them. We knew we had no choice but to relinquish them to a parrot rescue.
What does a person do when all of the forces of life are against them? That is where my husband and I were at. Health-wise, and financially, we were at our end.
So my husband started the task of looking for a job in a new state, and I started the dreaded job of find a parrot rescue for all of our beloved parrots. I cried with each click on the Internet. My tears poured down my face as I tried to hide my sobbing from my husband who was sitting right beside me browsing the web for jobs. Secretly I was hoping he couldn’t find a job just so I would have an excuse to keep our parrots. Of course I had no idea how we would be able to feed them, after all, we would have no job. But I had this fantasy going on in my head that everything would be okay if only we could keep our beloved parrots. But no.
In just a couple of days my husband landed a job in the same state where our family lived. What a relief. We had a job. And, thankfully, I found a very reliable rescue for our parrots. I had such mixed feelings though. I was thankful, yes, but I was so torn inside. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t imagine life without out dear beloved parrots. I continued to cry, no sob, every day until the rescue people came a few days later to pick them up and take them away.
Then the day arrived.
When the rescue people came I couldn’t participate in the transfer. Oh, I had to sign release papers and all of that legal stuff, but I couldn’t physically watch it happen. I had to stay out of the parrot room, and as far away as possible. I couldn’t even say “good-bye” to my babies. And then…they were gone. Just like that, gone, as if they were never in my life. Just a few feathers lying around, and some empty cages that the rescue either didn’t want or didn’t need. Remnants of years and years of memories. Glimpses of the joy they brought into my life. The heartache began to build, remembering the selflessness they greeted me with each morning as they waited, and watched, so patiently for me to feed them the wonderful food I formulated just for them so they could remain healthy and vibrant. “Just for them“. They were the beginning, the reason, for our business. They were the reason I got up in the morning. They were the reason I kept going when my legal disability wanted to keep me down. They were what helped me discover my purpose and passion in life. Before them, I had no direction in life, none. Now they were gone. How could I do this to them? Something died in me that fatal day I sent them away. And something is still dead in me to this day. Will I ever truly live again?
And what do I live with to this very day? GUILT. I will never get over this guilt. Never. And this is WHY I have started this blog. This blog is dedicated to the BirD-elicious! Flock. They will forever live in my memory. It is my promise to them that I will continue with research and education so that all of their beloved feathered friends will have the opportunity to the same kind of healthy nutrition and toys they had while they lived with me. This is my apology for not being the lasting parent that they so desperately deserved.
So, I encourage all who read this blog to learn from these pages, take the information contained within these pages to heart. If you cannot make the promise to your parrots to care for them well, then don’t take them into your life and your home. Don’t take them into your life if you don’t plan to keep them in your life and care for them really, really well. But also, if you find yourself in a position, much like mine, allow forgiveness for yourself. There are times in your life when circumstances prevail beyond your control. But realize what value and unconditional love you have in the beloved birds of the air. They are God’s beloved, special creatures. They are not like cats and dogs, even though those animals are special in their own rights. Birds are very, very different and have a much longer life span that will require you making plans for them beyond your own life span. Don’t get captured and enamored by their seducing glance, make an informed decision before you get sucked into their world…yes their world, because once you invite them into your world, your world disappears and it becomes theirs to rule. Your world becomes their Kingdom. As it should.
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