A man surrendered 836 parakeets in two lots to the Detroit Animal Welfare Group shelter. In the first lot he dropped off 497 parakeets in seven cages. The rescue group say that the birds were all over each other. They had to act quickly to save them. They decided that they could not turn them away as they were all crammed in seven cages and “smothering each other and needed immediate help”.
And then a day after Christmas the same man dropped off another 339 birds in a couple of boxes at the same rescue centre. In all there were 836 parakeets.
The shelter was overwhelmed and required rescuing themselves. Three shelters helped out by taking some of the birds. They were: Jojos Flying Friends, Birds and Beaks and East Michigan Bird Rescue.
Great teamwork. The birds are getting the help they need. The man who surrendered the birds is the son of the man who gradually acquired the birds which cost him US$1,200 a month to feed. His son said that his father just wanted to breed a few of them but it got out of control. Birds breed easily. It looks as though his father allowed the birds to breed uncontrollably.
Detroit Animal Welfare Group said on Facebook:
These birds came from a very unhealthy situation and the irresponsibility of the owner is infuriating however It truly takes a village to help these animals and we are so thankful for everyone that works together to get them the care and proper homes they deserve.
See Facebook post at base of article.
Cat hoarding – similar
This reminds me of cat hoarding. The reason why people find themselves in a state where they become cat hoarders is because they fail to spay and neuter their cats and so they breed. They end up not being able to cope. Rarely, they make the rational decision to surrender their cats to a shelter. Most often the outcome is that neighbours smell the ammonia odour from urine emanating from the house and report the matter to the police. They raid the house and remove the cats. Sometimes cat hoarders are prosecuted for animal cruelty under state animal welfare laws.
Apparently, one of the most often asked questions when keeping a budgie is about the size of the cage. For a breeding cage budgies should be in a cage that is 18x18x32-36 inches or 45x45x75-90 cm. A cage for one bird should be at least 45x45x45 cm or 18x18x18 inch. You can see right away, therefore, that the birds kept by this man were distressed and stressed. Their caretaking was very poor.
Cages and stress
On a personal level and a layperson’s level, why do humans think that it is okay to keep parakeets in cages all their lives? Surely even a brilliant cage occupied by one bird is going to be unsatisfactory as birds have all the space they need in the wild. There are parakeets in Richmond Park near to where I live. They fly over large areas probably 50-100 acres or more. I don’t know but a factor of a thousand or more times the size of a cage.
Parakeets vulnerable to stress
I’m told that parakeets are vulnerable to stress and it can kill them quickly; overnight. When parakeets are stressed, they release a large amount of adrenaline into their bloodstream. This raises the blood pressure. It empties the sugar supply into the bloodstream. It dilates the muscles’ blood vessels. High levels of stress causes the exhaustion of the adrenal glands which causes the bird to die suddenly in some cases.
Parakeets are intelligent birds and can experience a range of emotions including psychological and physical stress. Stress exacerbates disease resulting in a higher death rate.
Various factors can cause stress in parakeets. Other pets in the home like cats and dogs causing noise or looking at the birds curiously or even jumping on the cage can cause severe stress in a parakeet.
Like domestic cats, parakeets are creatures of habit. Changing the layout of the room or moving the bird to a new location can trigger stress. You have to introduce a parakeet to a new area gradually to allow them to explore their new space. The same goes for a new cage.
Giving a parakeet a new toy can be hazardous. He may think of it as a predator. You don’t put a new toy directly in a cage where there is a parakeet. You place it outside the cage or hang it nearby to let him get used to it.
Poor health can also trigger stress. And, as mentioned, stress can make poor health worse. It is a vicious cycle. A food allergy or a nutritional deficiency can cause stress in parakeets.
Parakeets are social animals. They normally live in a flock. If you have one parakeet it is likely that he will be lonely. And if you are not around much it is more likely that he will be lonely. Loneliness can manifest itself as stress.
Feather plucking is a sign of stress. If you look at a feather there might be ‘stress bars’ which refers to horizontal lines that run across the feather’s shaft. Loss of appetite is another side of stress. A further sign is repetitive behaviours. These might include toe-tapping, pacing and head swinging. In my mind, this is a distraction to boredom. It is a displacement behaviour to try and remove the emotional pain of boredom.
Aggression can be a sign of stress. It may occur suddenly. If a parakeet starts hissing or lunging at other pet birds or when a person passes by it is likely that there is an underlying stress problem.
If a bird is defensive or fearful around its owner or a member of the family this is also indicative of stress.
How to reduce stress in parakeets
There should be good hygiene in the cage. They need time alone in a suitable position and location of the cage. The diet should include nutritional supplements. There should be parasite control and no overcrowding. Handling should be gentle and the parakeet should be given toys for mental stimulation. They should have clean water.
Note: This is an embedded FB post. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.