A country that prides itself in being kind to living creatures is allowing birds to be cramped in cages. Placed outside shops in the peak of summer to attract customers, the birds appear imprisoned like criminals.
There are no laws to protect exotic birds in India. They are imported from Australia and South America.Then starts their mindless breeding.
Recently, at a pet shop in Gurgaon, I was shocked when the shopkeeper wrongly identified a Rs 65,000-exotic-bird as a Cockatoo when it was a Corella. And the only food that was being offered to these exotic birds such as Budgerigars, Cockatiels and Peach-faced love birds was the local seed called kingri.
In the wild, these birds feed on grass seeds, grains, and certain eucalyptus leaves, berries and even larvae.
This lack of information is transferred to the customer and the system enters a vicious circle of ignorance. Just like dogs, birds make wonderful pets and can live up to 50-60 years. Understanding bird behaviour is the key to having a healthy bird.
Put food out for them and don’t shoo them away. Don't buy a bird out of an impulse or if you don't have the time to look after it.
These intelligent creatures have needs that pet owners must provide for. Make a difference by not buying from pet shops. That will reduce the demand for birds that are bred for money.
These efforts will prevent the exploitation of captive birds. We need to focus on issues of rescue, illegal breeding and trade and advocate for legal protection for birds living in captivity.
Remember, just like we don't go near snakes, birds are scared of human interaction. Give them love and you’ll get love.
Some tips on bird-care:
Attract birds to your garden by planting native fruit-bearing trees such as guava, mango etc and keeping water bowls in summers.
Make/buy and hang nests outside where you can see but far enough for the birds to feel safe to use it.
Encourage your kids to spend some time in the day watching what a bird does.
Stop others from throwing stones and sticks at birds or destroying their nests.
Don’t use incense sticks or smoke in the same room as your pet bird.
Provide fresh and clean fruits daily. The seeds should not be ‘out of date’.
Divya Kapur, 38, has worked for animal charities abroad.