I watched Rio today,

and now I’m having second thoughts about owning parrots in general… They really seem to be the happiest wild- I feel like it’s almost sinful to keep them captive for our selfish human needs.That aside, movie was fantastic! Hilarious at times, and very musical. Go see it!

I would never buy a wild caught bird and have real philosophical issues will people who do, but I don’t think birds that have been bred to be companions have the necessary skills to survive in the wild. I’d like to think our birds that were raised for companionship are pretty happy with us. That said, I was watching the Discovery Channel yesterday and they were showing birds being actively poached. Even Eagles in Khazakstan were stolen literally from their nests to be sold to native populations. THAT type of bird ownership makes my skin crawl.

Yep, its true. But buying captive-bred birds doesn’t absolve us of guilt though. Our parrots are still wild-animals, and even a parrot hatched today to parents who were captive-bred themselves has all the skills and instincts it needs to survive in the wild. We just take those away. Parrots are a long way from being what we can call domesticated companion animals. A parrots who’s parents and grand-parents were born in captivity is just as much a wild-animal as one who still flies free in the jungle. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s very important we keep that in mind when dealing with our parrots, and wondering why they behave the way they do sometimes.

The rescue staff went to see Rio on Saturday night and I have to say we all sat there and cried. It was very well done and we seemed to laugh at things when the rest of the theater was quiet… as only parrot owners would understand.That being said, I agree there is some amount of guilt, at least for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting at my desk and i look over at my dining room and see all my guys playing in their cages and I think “God, they’re prisoners. They’re all locked up like convicts” and I want to let them loose… then I think, they’d die in the wild and given the choice, they’d probably stay with me where they have a happy, safe spoiled life. Thats the part of Rio that I did enjoy, not that Blu was stolen from his native home, but that years later when given the option, he knew he was happy with his owner because she gave him a good life regardless. I hope all my babies feel that way.And Chris, I agree with you. We do have to keep in mind that they are still animals and will do things that even we don’t understand (like bite their owners in the face, LOL) I try to reiterate that all the time when people say things like “but why do they scream” or “why aren’t they happy in their cage?” They are animals and always will be, no matter how domesticated you think they are.

Chris&Akilah wrote:even a parrot hatched today to parents who were captive-bred themselves has all the skills and instincts it needs to survive in the wild.Instincts, yes. Skills, no. Skills are learned and if their parents are unfamiliar with those skills or they were pulled from the nest too soon, they would not have the skills to feed and survive in the wild. Their instincts might make them want to chew, forage, etc but without the skills they may not know how. And even if they have the potential to learn those skills, they would just not have the competitive edge on the ones already in the wild and be most likely to be eaten.I did admire the fact that they did not lay blame on parrot owners. Many movies make owners appear to be cruella de vil for keeping their parrots locked up without showing the genuine love and interaction. Non-parrot owners (hollywood for example) might not ever understand that. So the fact that the movie was sympathetic toward owners makes me guess there were some parrot owners/lovers involved in the making of the movie. However, this makes me ponder even more how they could dare have the chocolate, sunblock, and eating from mouth scenes!

Funny you should mention that, when the hot chocolate scene came on, our entire row gasped and everyone was saying “no no no”. The owner of our rescue is actually going to write a letter to the production company and ask that they change or remove that scene for the DVD because the movie will definitely increase the amount of birds being purchased as pets and we don’t need them thinking thats ok. On a side note, the director is a bird owner himself who is from Brazil, which was why he was aware of this plight and he made his entire production team spend a week in the aviary at the Bronx Zoo. I hear he made them spend days there without leaving, LOL

Well all the more that I am shocked that they would show chocolate, sunblock, mouth feeding. Cause otherwise everything else was pretty accurate or at least “cartoonized” that you don’t really compare it to reality. But I can totally picture a child trying to serve hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies to the family macaw after seeing the movie!

Are you sure it wasn’t carob? In a book I just finished reading “The Parrot That Owns Me”, about an ornithologist who owns a Red-lored Amazon, mentions that m&m’s are his favourite treat. I was kinda surprised by that. Just how toxic is chocolate for parrots? Especially milk chocolate. I know dark and baker’s chocolate are the worst for dogs, it takes an awful lot of milk chocolate to kill a dog but not as much dark/bakers’ chcolate.

Chris&Akilah wrote:Are you sure it wasn’t carob? In a book I just finished reading “The Parrot That Owns Me”, about an ornithologist who owns a Red-lored Amazon, mentions that m&m’s are his favourite treat. I was kinda surprised by that. Just how toxic is chocolate for parrots? Especially milk chocolate. I know dark and baker’s chocolate are the worst for dogs, it takes an awful lot of milk chocolate to kill a dog but not as much dark/bakers’ chcolate.The real problem with chocolate is the caffeine in it, not the chocolate itself. Because milk chocolate has less cocoa solids than dark or bittersweet chocolate, it has less caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the more of an issue it presents. White chocolate has no cocoa solids, only cocoa butter, and is said to be relatively harmless. Milk chocolate also won’t kill a bird in small amounts, but I’m not tempted to give chocolate of any kind to any animal that shouldn’t have it. That said, if my bird got a small piece of M&M, I probably wouldn’t go running out to my vet. I’ve talked to different vets and was told that would be the appropriate course of action. However, if I were eating a piece of extra extra dark chocolate and my bird got it, I’d be at that vet as fast as I could. My boyfriend’s cat also has a habit of getting into things he shouldn’t, including chocolate, and we were told the same thing by his vet as well. Cats generally have a larger time frame of getting to a vet in case of emergency though. All in all, I definitely don’t think it’s a good idea to give any animal chocolate. I keep my candy and hot chocolate hidden from my birds and eat it only when they’re in their cages and safely away from me.

I thought it was the theobromine in chocolate that was problematic, caffiene being an issue but present in much smaller quantity and not unique to chocolate. That’s what causes problems for dogs, and it also can cause horses to fail a drug screen at competitions. Apparently, it can actually poison humans, but you have to eat a heck of a lot of chocolate to poison yourself (I calculate 6-12 lbs of dark chocolate based on the numbers below). As is often the case, it comes down to dosage. A tiny piece of chocolate is one thing, a significant quantity something else again. Dark chocolate has about 3 times the caffeine of milk chocolate but hot chocolate has 14 times less caffeine than coffee. I wasn’t able to find hard numbers, but I’d guess theobromine scales similarly. According to Wikipedia, it takes about a half pound of dark chocolate to poison a medium sized dog and that the toxic dose is lower in cats. It’s about twice as high in humans and It actually doesn’t seem to be well established for birds. But a medium sized dog weighs about 50 times what a medium parrot does, so if the toxicity is similar, that’s about 1/5oz of dark chocolate which is comparable to the weight of an M&M, but an M&M is usually milk chocolate and some of the weight is the candy shell.Bottom line is that I’m guessing while hot chocolate is not an ideal thing to offer birds regularly, it is entirely plausible they might survive a sip now and then and live to a ripe old age. Likewise an M&M now and then. NOT a good idea, but potentially survivable for a larger bird. Even a nibble of dark chocolate seems like a really bad idea for a small bird, though. It’s the size that’s the problem really. That said, I was worried after the “Horse Whisperer” that every backyard yahoo would try laying their horses down and it didn’t happen. People do apparently realize that movies aren’t reality.