Polly Wants More Than A Cracker

I had initially started this post with completely different intention. Yet as I did research on the topic of birds and their ability for speech and song, I came across a daunting reality. It became so amazingly clear to me that we, as a world and as a society, have a serious dilemma in front of us that is going seemingly ignored. Of all the birds that are vocal, Parrots are the ones which exhibit the greatest ability. It is for this reason that many of the wild Parrot species are being threatened, as they are taken captive to be sold as house pets.

I grew up in the 90’s and during that time, there was a public campaign to “Save the Rainforest.” Activists and wildlife experts then were trying to raise awareness for the need to stop the destruction of harvesting the rainforest for private companies. Thousands of trees and habitat were being cut down and ravaged through, without a single tree or bush being replanted in its place. All of the jungle wildlife were being threatened and guess what- It’s STILL happening! I’m in my 30’s now and lo and behold, very little is being done; and what is being done, simply isn’t enough. The population of jungle birds are dwindling as a result of this, and yet, this isn’t the only factor contributing to this decline. What birds that ARE left in the wild, are being taken into captivity for the pet trade.

red blue animals colourful
 “Hey we’re Macaws! Check out our Facebook status; Endangered! You can also follow us on Twitter!”                             Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

Common household exotic birds include: the African Grey, Amazon Parrots (various breed types,) Caiques, Cockatiels, Cockatoos, Conures, and Macaws. All of the birds I just named above are listed as an endangered species- aside from the Cockatiels and a few Macaw breeds. Don’t believe me? Click here!

Is it possible that these birds are being sought after in the private sector as a means of ensuring conservation? Maybe. And if so; that’s great! But why is that the first measure of conservation and not the last? Preservation of their natural habitat should be the focus; not harboring as many as you can until their apocalypses. The average cost of an African Grey is between $1,000 to $1,500. What I am suggesting is that, if you truly do care about these exotic birds, take that $1500 and donate it to the IUCN, or the Rainforest Foundation.  There is still time to save what is left.

 

Music and Your Pet

printed musical note page
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Do you leave the radio or t.v. on for your pet while you’re away from home? If you do, don’t worry- you are not alone. I would often leave Classical music streaming at home while I was at work. My once anxious Great Dane, Vito, would slowly relax on his bed while Mozart and Beethoven played. After a month or so this response seemed to lessen and have a weaker effect. So I began to stream Elvis while I was away, and I would watch as he once again slipped off into a state of peace and serenity. His energy changing once again from tense, anxious, “Where are you going Mom!? Take me!” to ” Okay, I’m going to lay right here on my bed, wake me when you get back.” Although this process may seem to a human being to be an awkward behavior or a strange concept, there’s actually real science behind it.

According to research done by the Scottish ASPCA, dogs in particular were more relaxed while being played classical music in their kennels. The sounds were able to lower heart rates, reduce the amount of barking, and lessen the tell-tale “stress” sign of standing around aimlessly. Male canines especially were more responsive than females. Although these findings brought drastic behavioral changes, the effects did not last long (24 hours to be exact.)  However, classical music may not be the only genre your pet will respond to.

There are many audio tracks available on You Tube, for example, that help your bird to learn songs. Although interaction with your bird is ultimately the best way to encourage verbal retention, these audio clips which loop repetitively provide a good level of mental stimulus for most birds. Birds are able to recognize beat, tempo and frequency ranges and in turn try to mimic or translate those sounds into their own birdsong. The ability to perceive beat is not easy to find in any species other than the avian. If doubt exists of this uniqueness, you will find proof in the “dancing” and head bobbing that ensues with a boogeying Budgie, a two-stepping Cockatoo, or any bird for that matter!

To appeal to your pets musical tastes, you must first acknowledge how each species communicates. As birds are more keen on picking up tempos and frequencies of other birds in their vocal range; the same can be said for cats. Psychologists at the University of Wisconsin developed feline friendly songs to help decode the mystery behind cats and music. Working along the same theory of communication, they were able to create music that cats were noticeably interested in and in particular, the oldest and youngest of the tested group. Examples of the “cat music” can be found here.

Music appreciation goes beyond the realm of household pets however; as the Wild Dolphin Foundation explains. It is the percussive sounds of the 90’s rock band Radiohead that sweeps their dolphins off their feet! (Or should I say fins.)

Regardless of your species of pet; consider giving them the treat of music. You will be surprised at the results.