Birds in Cages – should they be?

birdsAfter seeing so many wonderful birds in the wilds around the world I wonder about those kept in cages, Birds have been raised in captivity for many years for pleasure or profit. (For today’s discussion, I’m excluding birds like chickens raised for food.)

I have met folks from Bird Clubs and have spoken at their meetings. They keep caged birds – parakeets, parrots, finches, canaries, and so on. The majority of these bird species have been bred in captivity for many years. The same with pet shops; most birds for sale are cage bred. I am not a big fan of keeping animals of any kind in cages simply for our pleasure, but if they are cage bred and held in spacious, sanitary, and healthful conditions, then I have little opposition. There are some excellent zoos that do a terrific job of keeping and caring for their avian charges, such as the San Diego Zoo. I’ve been to many aviaries, zoos, and other places that display birds, but more often than not I have been disappointed by the conditions the birds are kept in.

The biggest threat to a number of non-native bird species is the pet trade. Legally and not, many wild birds are caught and imported to the U.S. Over 60% of the 500,000 legally imported wild birds die before they get to their destination. Illegally caught birds are smuggled in suitcases, coats, jars, plastic tubes, etc., not fed or given water for a day or two, resulting in a death rate that may exceed 90%! Over 30% of parrot species are endangered, largely due to the pet trade.

I have seen a dozen or more large parrots in captivity in homes – few were kept in satisfactory conditions. They were restricted to small cages, fed human food, surrounded by dogs, cats, screaming kids, blaring televisions, or some such environment. At best, they were allowed to fly around the living room. The owners pay little attention to them but seem proud of the fact that they paid some outrageous price for these living jewels that might say a few words to entertain guests. Importation of a particular caged parrot likely cost the lives of many others in the process. I believe it is time to give up our wild-caught pets and try to appreciate their roles in the natural environment; parrots and cockatoos belong in the habitats of Costa Rica, Australia, or wherever, not in a residence. Dogs, cats, hamsters, parakeets, and cockatiels should be more than enough to satisfy the urge to have a pet. Birds should be enjoyed in the wild.

According to PETA, “There is no such animal as a “cage bird.” All caged birds were either captured or bred in captivity. In the wild, these beautiful beings are never alone. If they become separated from their flockmates for even a moment, they call wildly to them. They preen each other, fly together, play, and share egg-incubation duties. Many bird species mate for life and share parenting tasks. The evidence of their close companionship and concern for one another is plain to see.

Unfortunately for birds, the very qualities that we find admirable and fascinating about them—their brilliant colors, speech capabilities, intelligence, playfulness, and loyalty—have made them the third most popular type of animal companion in the U.S. It’s estimated that 40 million birds in the U.S. are kept caged and often improperly cared for—bored, lonely, and a long way from their natural homes.”

By the way, it is illegal to keep a native bird as a pet, injured or not. Federal law prohibits the possession of any birds or bird parts (feathers, eggs, nests, dead birds, etc). without the proper permits. See the Migratory Bird Treaty Act .  Find an injured bird? Call your local wildlife rehab center or wildlife official.


6 thoughts on “Birds in Cages – should they be?

  1. Born with God-gifted Wings, Birds should never be captivated and kept inside cages. Beauty of birds lie in their in-born freedom to fly. In this context, I created a video for myself which I thought I could share here for you to watch and approve. Here it is….
    Please watch. Thank you.

  2. Birds belongs to the Sky. Feel disgusted whenever see a bird in Cage.Who are we to make them Captive.Nature has given them powerful wings to fly Let them be free.Keep a men in a Cage for a a day or two see what happens. And now I don’t like animals been kept in Zoo also for human Pleasure.Would request all the organisation in the world to start a movement to Free animals from Captivity and let them be there where they belong.

  3. I know it’s selfish to keep birds in cages but doesn’t it also keep them safe. I mean there are no predators in the cage right?

    1. It may keep them safe from predators but it also keeps them away from others of their species, potential mates, their natura food, the freedom to fly, to migrate, and do whatever they normally do. In a cage they are taken out of the gene pool, effectively killing them as they will never have offspring,

  4. Hi, my neighbors have two green birds in a cage. It is in their patio, bit they covered the view with a tapestry so the birds don’t see sunlight or anything. I live in Austin texas. Is it illegal? Of so, who do I

    1. If they are native birds (to the U.S.), then it is illegal. If they are exotic birds, then it depends on how they were acquired,legally or not. If they are not legal birds, call Fish and Game or Fish and WIldlife. If they are legal but you think they are mistreated, then call the local humane society.

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