Wednesday, April 29, 2009

About Me

My name is Shari Mirojnick, and I arrived into the parrot world like so many other people - I fell in head-first. I say I fell in, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and head-first because from the first moment on, I was hooked.

In 1994, Fred my first African grey parrot lost his home. As the animal-lover/sucker that I am, I took in this strange creature, and marched him down to the store where I bought my dog supplies. As fate would have it, the store actually specialized in parrots. I became a regular parrot customer, shortly graduating to paid cage-cleaner, and eventually bird groomer and store manager. Thanks to the job, I paid my way through UCLA, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in musicology. Over the last fifteen years, I've worked in other parrot-specialty stores in California and Florida, a parrot rescue in Colorado, and an avian vet tech here in Florida where I now reside.

Currently, I'm a substitute teacher, a tutor, and a parrot groomer. I've had my own mobile grooming business for the last ten years. I work with my parrot partner-in-crime, Patricia Sund taking our greys to schools and events to teach children and adults about parrots and conservation issues. Patricia also has a blog, Parrot Nation, and is a contributing writer for Bird Talk Magazine.

My friend Barbara says I must have been an African grey in another life. I don't know if that was another fateful reason for Fred coming into my life, but I now have six: Igor, Ren (Renfield), Iko, Cookie, Snookie (the only Timneh) and, of course Fred. The special-needs kids of the group are Ren and Igor who have crooked necks (probably since hatching), Iko who is probably in her forties, arthritic, and slightly crippled from old injuries, and Cookie who suffers from seizures. We share our home with foster birds, and two Chihuahuas, Frito and Gomez. Frito is paralyzed from a dewormer injection gone wrong when he was eight weeks old.

OK, enough about us... now, about this blog, my dreams, beliefs and purpose.

My personal belief is that wild animals should be that: wild. This includes parrots. I've gotten a lot of dismayed looks, finger-wagging and outright rants with regard to this stance, but mostly before explaining myself further. My dream is that humans no longer keep parrots as pets, that we never take another one from the wild, we stop all domestic breeding, and that the ones already in captivity are the last ones, ever.


I know such a dream is unrealistic. We humans love parrots too much, but to their detriment. Although we try so hard to make them happy, too many times we just can't. There are so many birds in loving, caring nurturing homes that never seem to be happy. No matter how hard their human companions try, both are left frustrated and unhappy. And then there are the millions of parrots around the world who lead desperate, dreadful lives. Who will help them? I sometimes wonder if one of those birds is Fred's brother or sister, as he is a wild-caught (legal) import. I wonder if it was my pure luck and Fred's good fortune that got me instead of a life of rusting old cages, no toys, and a diet consisting of only sunflower seeds and peanuts. I think about how different my life would be if Fred had been one of the nine out of ten wild imports that died before completing the import journey.

So, my purpose is to act as an advocate for Fred and his relatives, my parrots and yours, wild and captive worldwide, and this blog is to get the information to you. As an advocate for parrots, this means that I'm not going to write about what's best for you; however, I'm going to discuss with you how you can achieve what's best for your parrots. I only ask that you keep an open mind. Just like some of our parrots, many of us don't like change. We don't like things that challenge our status quo. By keeping yourself open to these challenges, it allows parrot-culture as a whole to evolve and grow. I will always try to back up my assertions and statements with either some type of evidence of conclusive thinking. If you feel I've made a mistake, I encourage any and all to write in... this is why I've chosen a blog over a website. An open dialog promotes learning for all.

Maybe you too will become a parrot advocate (I've got my fingers crossed).

Friday, April 24, 2009

This Blog Is For Parrots.

This blog is for parrots.

I am for parrots, captive and wild.

I'm not for breeders or rescues....


seeds or pellets....


flighted or clipped....

Only parrots... parrots are first and foremost.

If you are reading this blog, chances are you already have a good foundation of knowledge with regard to parrots. You probably do things like cook for your birds, chop fruits and vegetables, make regular visits to your avian vet, have bins full of toys, play stands in different rooms of your house, and carry pictures of your companions to show the world how wonderful parrots are. All these subjects are important to me, and I will be discussing issues like them, but a little differently than in the usual manner. I'd like to open a dialog that discusses and informs people about the ethics of keeping parrots in captivity, and what our moral obligations are to parrots as guardians of them.

Sometimes, I think we forget who our parrots really are. One of my favorite analogies is the mauling of animal trainer Roy Horn (of Siegfried & Roy) by their performing tiger, Montecore. Have you ever viewed your captive parrot in the way you view a captive tiger? Certainly, your parrot will never send you to the hospital with massive amounts of blood loss (although we've all had our mini-moments) but Montecore was born and raised in captivity, just like our parrots. Perhaps his parents were tigers captured from the wild, like many of our parrots' parents. Perhaps we have parrots that are even more wild than Montecore, having been captured in the wild themselves. My point here is that our parrots are just as wild as that tiger, or any other "exotic" animal in captivity, such as monkeys, mountain lions, elephants, and the like. Understanding their nature is fundamental to making our captive parrots as happy as possible in our homes, as we cannot change their "parrotness."

Richard Farinato, Director of Captive Wildlife Programs and the Wildlife Advocacy Division for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said something quite interesting regarding the mauling of Roy Horn. He said, "Birth in a cage, attended by loving humans, does not alter the animal's nature nor eliminate his capabilities; captive breeding does not wipe away the effect of millions of years of evolution and selection for success in the wild." (Siegfried & Roy Incident Underscores the Dangers of Exotic Pets. ). If I didn't tell you that he was talking about a tiger, you might think he was talking about one of our parrots.

So, my purpose in writing this blog is to make us all aware of what keeping parrots really means to them, to us, and to their wild populations and habitats. I want to encourage us to ask ourselves the tough questions, and remind us, lest we forget, of whom our parrots really are and what we owe them for making our lives so much better.