RELEASING CAGED BIRDS INTO WILD MIGHT NOT BE AS MERCIFUL AS IT SOUNDS
“Saw a Budgerigar roaming in our compound this afternoon in Basavanagudi,” says Krishna M.B., renowned ornithologist and tree specialist. “Apparently it was there for a long time before I saw it, feeding on various things, including rice.” This is a common occurrence across the city, where pets get loose and fly away, only to be a quick meal for birds of prey.
Besides getting killed, these domestic birds should not be released in the wild. Ornithologist Jaishankar explains: “Have seen a pair of African lovebirds in the fringes of Bannerghatta National Park for more than two years. I also saw people who were about to release finches and budgerigars in Bannerghatta National Park.I was shocked to learn that the man and his family have already released hundreds of birds. I don’t know what kind of diseases they would have carried to wild birds!”
“Budgerigars cannot survive in the wild as they have been domesticated for generations and cannot forage,” says birder Deepa Mohan. “Many people have no idea of what can be released into the wild. Even single macaques released into a forest are aliens in the area and will be killed by the ‘local’ monkeys. Rehabilitation into the wild is still a little-understood subject. It’s very easy to take creatures out of the forests…far more complicated putting them back.”
"Budgerigars in the wild occur in small parties of 40 birds to large flocks of 1000s and are highly nomadic in nature, and that, probably prevents the few who escape from establishing feral populations besides the more important fact that they have been bred for generations and are far more removed from their wild ancestors genetically,” says Avin Deen, India representative, World Parrot Trust. “However it is quite possible, though not very probable, that in the few days or hours that they manage to stay alive in the wild, they may to spread diseases.”
Bottomline is we should not encourage traders in exotic birds who take these creatures out of their habitat. The birds should remain in the wild. Also mercy release is anything but merciful as the poor birds will soon be a quick meal or a carrier of disease.
Confiscated, wild-caught Timneh grey parrots in their own faeces being unpacked at the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon. These parrots live for 60-80 years, have advanced cognitive abilities and complex social interactions, and should be treated with the respect and care they deserve.
(World Parrot Trust / PASA)