Thursday, September 19, 2013

Avian Apartments

The other day, when my mother picked me up from work, she had two cages with her and a cat carrier. In the smaller cage, which was about the size of an icebox, were two parakeets. In the cat carrier was a much larger parrot.
My mother was so excited to have them; we were bird-sitting for some family who were going away for a week on vacation. She would whisper to the birds as the car's engine started, she would cooingly reassure them after every small bump in the road that "Everyone hang on. Hang on." My mother'd always had a special place for birds, despite the fact that they often annoyed her to extreme frustration.
So today after I got home, I noticed that the largest bird, named Petunia, was clinking against the door of her cage. Now, I don't particularly like birds (parrots especially) but I figured, why not? So I opened the door, to which she immediately climbed out and stretched her wings.
She then began to fly to and from different places in the apartment, much to the chagrin of my step-father Brian. As Petunia flew from room to room, finding different things of interest and different perches to explore, he got quite frustrated. At one point, Petunia landed on an extra keyboard he'd had lying around and, curiously, she began to bite at the plastic keys. He then tried to 'shoo" her off, wanting nothing to do with her.
It was then that I realized how completely inappropriate it was for this house to be housing these birds. Not because we were unable, but more-so unwilling. Birds aren't meant to be caged, nor do they particularly like to be (in my experience). When they have a world to explore, they prefer to explore it. But Brian and my mother don't like that. They don't trust that a parrot, one of the smarter species in our animal kingdom, knows how to handle itself while inside of a house.
They just want an interesting ornament to look at and play with; but only when they want to play with it. Otherwise, they justify keeping the birds locked in their cages by saying "they like their home". I'm sure they do, but so do people; however, we let people choose when to come and go on their own volition. And people are stuck to just one plane - the ground. A bird can soar high above the world, taller than any giraffe and further than any ship can sail. It strikes me as cruel to expect a bird to do as you tell it to but cage it when it fails to obey: come when called, perch only where I deem acceptable, don't put that in your mouth.
I may not like birds, but they're alive dammit. If you expect to care for something like that, you have to let it do as it wants. Only then will it start to consider making you happy and stop biting your fingers.