Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Blog Action Day and Irony

That's not until Monday, but it's a true coincidence that I was really going to blog about the following.
I have always been concerned about the environment, but I'm not yet as "crunchy" as I hope I'd eventually be someday. Habits die hard and included in this hardy list of personal traits is the inclination to prefer comfort and convenience over saving the environment. Thankfully, being of a frugal turn of mind, recycling has always been a knee-jerk reaction of mine, but I'm truly very far from being "hardcore". Something that I've always been passionate about though is keeping wild animals in the wild. Some years ago, I volunteered to be a monitor of illegal wildlife trade here in my country. I would check out pet shops with my little cousin (we pretended that we were shopping for a pet that was to be my gift to her) and sure enough, we would find many species that had no business being in cages or tanks being sold to people who didn't know the first thing about these creatures. My part was just to report the merchant, so it was up to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to do something about it.
Anyway, most of the illegally traded animals were exotic birds and the group I was affiliated with did a good job of educating us about what was involved in the entire trade, from poaching to smuggling to the actual selling. I really learned so much about the different species attending seminars preparing us for the monitoring task.
Now, I love birding. It is one of the naturalist activities I'm really into. We've had pet birds in the past as my Mom really enjoys having them close by and listening to them sing (or create a racket, as what is Sister's take on it) and there was a time when my youngest uncle bred and kept racing pigeons. Nevertheless, upon being involved in the movement to keep the wild in the wild, I've had the conviction that all birds (the flying sort, of course) must be left to fly freely in their natural environment. My Mom kept on threatening to purchase pet birds ("They're not wild birds and it's perfectly legal to keep them as pets"), but I would always dissuade her, appealing to her sentiment with my bit about how wretched it is to live life in captivity.
Last month, Mom received a pair of parakeets from a churchmate of ours. I had my reservations, of course, but they hadn't been given to me, so I just let Mom enjoy her new birds. However, when the same friend gifted my daughter with a pair of African lovebirds on her birthday (I think their pets have a penchant for constant reproduction), I found myself directly involved. Now, I have a policy about gifts. I always receive them in the spirit that they were given and even if they're not to my taste, I use them. If you see me wearing or toting something that doesn't seem to go with my character, it was probably a gift. I really just have very strong feelings about appreciation. Within reason. Had we been given a cockatoo, which is endangered, I would have passed it on to the authorities (in our case, PAWB).
If we set aside my feelings about caged birds, the lovebirds were really a very sweet gift. Marguerite loves them already and would get mad at the stray (but have now become residents) cats (who are also her friends, btw) when they go near the birds. I think she picked up from my Mom the idea that the cats mean the birds harm. She would go, "Shoo!" or call them, "Cat!" whenever they approached the birds. (Digression: Marguerite can say "Kitty Cat" now, although she likes to tease us and say "cottocot" instead sometimes.)
I googled "lovebirds" and learned that they're small parrots and could live more than a hundred years. Our birds' particular breed is the common peachfaced. They would have made a great companion for humans too (I would have had to get Marguerite a hoop earring - clipons as her lobes aren't pierced yet - an eye-patch and perhaps a wooden leg too, hee! Sorry to be provincial, but I couldn't resist), if they hadn't come in a pair. Well, it's too late now. We don't know what sex our birds are and it seems that this is determined only through DNA testing (forget it!). One enthusiast said that you could also tell by feeling the bird's pelvic bone, but even if the birds would let me do that, I still wouldn't be able to tell what they are as I don't know what to feel for. Anyway, if they do reproduce, I would look into the option of training the babies to live freely (their parents, as they, having been bred in captivity, wouldn't be able to do it). I would also have to look for a place where it's okay to set them free. I'm not about to set a bird free where somebody could just easily capture it again. Also, I know better than to introduce an alien species (lovebirds aren't native to us) here and upset the local ecosystem in the long run.
We had to go out and purchase a cage for them, one that was big enough for the three-door bird condo to fit inside. Because of them, Marguerite can now say "birds" or "Bur!" as what it sounds like. They are very cute and they seem to love the condo. In the meantime, I continue my crash course in lovebird care via Google. I would also start putting together a treasure chest to be later buried in a location that only our birds would know about so a hundred years from now, they would have a more adventurous life being dogged by treasure hunters... Of course, there's the business of training them to talk first.
It's dawn right now. I promise to go out later and take the birds' pic. If you have advice as to the birds' care and keep, leave it in the comments section.