Facebook. I love it and I hate it. On the one hand, it is SO annoying watching people publicly humiliating themselves by posting drunken photos or making personal comments that they will live to regret…forever and ever.
On the other hand, for someone like me, it is a wonderful way to see into the world of other bird owners to get a sense of what is REALLY going on out there. This year we started doing an educational post of the week on our page. A good number of those posts are based on what I see in my Facebook feed.
I go through my feed nearly every day. It is very uplifting to see how much effort and love people are putting into their birds and everybody wants to share. But just as a warning, please be careful what you post.
Many reposted articles are found on the internet, which is overrun with information which is dated, or just plain wrong. An article written in the 1990s might look and read the same as one written last week, but we have come a long way since the 90s.
A lot of good is undone with these reposted articles. They are read by countless others who then shared with their friends. This is the exact point when one person’s opinion becomes everyone’s “fact”. This makes it really important to find a trusted source for your information, especially if you share a lot on Facebook.
That is easier said than done. What happens when an article written by a “bird expert” appears on a site called “About.com”? Wouldn’t it be a fair assumption that an article written for a site with the singular intention of providing information would be accurate? Shouldn’t the word of an “expert” be taken as gospel? No, and no.
When I am going through my feed on Facebook, admittedly spying on the bird community, I rarely comment on the posts. However, I made an exception the other day after coming across a thread about circular cages.
It was great to see that nearly every comment recommended against the round cage, but it was shocking to discover that nearly every one of them said it was wrong for the wrong reason – stating that the cage’s roundness is emotionally distressing to parrots. Someone took a screen shot of this article, which is filled with misinformation that would have had me wiping tears of laughter out of my eyes if it weren’t so concerning that people were actually believing what this “bird expert” was saying.
I am going to copy the short post here so that I can put my comments into the body of the article in bold. But here is a link to it as well – just in case you think I am making this stuff up…
“Question: Are Round Cages Really Bad for Birds?
Round cages are not recommended for most bird species, for a variety of reasons.
The first reason that these cages can be bad news is because they can be detrimental to a parrot’s psychological health. Birds are very intelligent creatures, but many have driven themselves crazy climbing around and around cylindrical cages, and feeling like they’re never getting anywhere. (Birds that incessantly circle their cages do so because they are distressed. The distress is causing the circling, it is not the circling causing the distress. They would not continue that activity if it was upsetting to them. Circling the cage is an outlet for their discomfort.) Giving your bird an angular cage provides them with reference points to different locations in their territories — thus helping them feel confident, safe, and secure. (So… physically turning a corner every few feet would satisfy them and make them feel like they ARE getting somewhere? And since a bird’s “territory” is only a few feet wide and they have that spectacular eyesight, does she not think they can find their food bowl without first referencing the coordinates of a corner in the cage?)
Another reason to avoid round cages is because they are often awkward living spaces for a bird to inhabit. They very way that they are shaped causes many bird’s feathers to be in constant contact with the cage bars, wearing them down and giving the bird a ragged appearance. (??? Basic geometry will tell you that a bird will come in contact with more cage bars by standing in a corner as opposed to the one point of contact made in a round cage.)
Round cages can also be difficult to maintain. (Everyone knows that round is harder to clean than square, right?) Because most bird cages are now square or rectangular in shape, it can be hard to find certain accessories that will fit round cages — like cuttlebone and millet holders, seed cups, and cage liners. (Again with the geometry fail…but she does make a good point about the cage liner since most homes are not equipped with scissors.) For this reason, it may be easier on both you and your pet to opt for a square or rectangular cage. By doing so, you can provide your pet with a comfortable home, and provide yourself with a cage that is easy to keep clean and well stocked with fun accessories.” ….
This “expert” neglects to include the most important FACTUAL aspect to round cages – they are dangerous! If this were just a debate about dizziness or birds driving themselves crazy…or not, this would be a non-issue. This is a safety matter and the danger they pose has been understood by bird people for a very long time now.
When cages are round, the bars at the top meet in a central point. As the bars approach that point, the space between them narrows creating places where legs, toes and wings can get caught. It is not uncommon for bones and wings to be broken in this area of a round cage. Also, since round cages are uncommon, the ones you might find are meant for decorative purposes or are very old meaning that will likely have toxic coating and will not have any standards of safety observed.
There were a couple of people on the Facebook page where this thread comes from that got this right, but the majority were all too willing to accept the nonsense put forth in this article. And why shouldn’t they? This article appears on About.com – a site that implies it is a go-to source for your informational needs.
However, About.com is a business. If you go to any of their pages they are smothered with advertising. About.com takes advantage of people’s use of search engines (like Google) which will bring them to their page and expose them to the advertisements posted there. About.com has no conscience or sense of duty where you are concerned. Their obligation to you is fulfilled by supplying information, it doesn’t have to be correct – and it often isn’t. As to their “bird expert”, I can call myself a prima ballerina, but that doesn’t make it so.
Unfortunately, there were no admins on this Facebook page that stepped in to straighten this matter out. I am not in any way meaning to say anything bad about this page. It is a fun place for bird lovers to go to share photos and stories and they have good policies about how people should conduct themselves. I am not mentioning the page by name intentionally because this is not about calling them out.
There are many such places that have popped up in recent years. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these places are run and visited by bird lovers who can post what they want and are not held answerable for any misinformation they put on the page. Some may not even realize they are posting wrong information.
People will accept the words from sites like About.com as truth. I don’t blame the reposters of these articles, their intention is only to share with like-minded people, but I ask everyone to be sure of the sources you get your information from.
Businesses like About.com don’t care if your bird is safe or healthy. They are there to bring you to their advertisers, not to better your world. Remember, when you repost something it goes out to countless others who might then be misinformed and go on to misinform others.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.