Parrots Forever



Telos is an end or purpose. It is an ancient Greek work used by philosophers such as Aristotle. Telos is the root of the term word "teleology", which is the study of purposiveness, or the study of objects with a view to their aims, purposes, or intentions. Teleology is central to Aristotle's biology and his theory of causes. An animal's telos is the natural instincts that define that animal. All living creatures have a telos. It is what makes a fish a fish with a need to swim. It is the "pigness" of a pig with the need to forage and nest, the "catness" of a cat with the urge to hunt and run, the "birdness" of a bird with a need to make nests, to fly and to socialize in a flock setting (Bernard E. Rollin 2006).
All species of animals, including humans, are "wired" with the urges to survive and procreate. We ALL have inherent natures that we are born with. And what most parrots are born "wired" to do is to be hatched into a communal setting where they are nurtured and taught by their parents. They grow and mature, secure in their position in the flock. They forage, procreate, survive daily perils, roost, and live their lives freely with their own kind. They understand and are comfortable with their world and their place in it.
Because of a parrot's intelligence and its inherent need for social interaction, it can be devastating for the parrot if the needs of its telos are not met. Parrots are wired to be in contact with one another, in some fashion, at all times. Their instinct to stay together in a flock, with its safety of large numbers, is due to the fact that they are prey animals. Because parrots are flock animals, unlike humans, it is not part of a parrot's telos to live alone. So when we bring a captive companion parrot into our home, we are setting up an environment for the parrot that is against its telos and to which the parrot has to adjust—against all of its instincts.
Most captive companion parrots are in an environment where they are the only parrot in the home. In most cases, parrots are alone most of the time, as they wait for their caregiver to wake up, come home from school, or work, or shopping, or out with their friends, and/or social occasions. Even if there are other parrots or types of birds in the home, captive parrots are still completely reliant on the caregiver for all of their needs. It is not enough for a caregiver to meet basic needs such as food and water and a clean cage. The caregiver must also meet the parrot's emotional and psychological needs, which will evolve and change in accordance with the parrot's telos as the parrot matures.
Because captive companion parrots (in most cases) are raised by humans and have very little time with their parents, they only know from experience that humans are what they need to survive. But this does not change or augment their telos, what they are "wired" for, what their biology tells them they need on a daily basis for their entire, long lives. Captive parrots do not have the freedom to provide for their own needs and to satisfy their own telos. They are slaves to the whims of their caregivers and must be satisfied with what they are given. It is important for caregivers to understand what a parrot's telos really is. What makes a parrot a parrot. What behaviours a parrot needs to exhibit in order to be a parrot. To ensure that a parrot is as happy as possible, even in captivity, the parrot's environment and enrichments must reflect the parrot's actual "parrotness", and not human ego. 
Emotional & Psychological Pain

Parrots, and indeed all animals, feel physical, emotional, and psychological pain. Companion parrots experience anxiety, loneliness, boredom, wanting yearning, frustration, hormonal, and desire issues. These unresolved issues cause stress responses in the parrot which will be expressed a variety of ways. Not all stressors can or will be detected, or acknowledged, by the caregiver. Left unresolved, these stressors result in increasing unhappiness in the parrot until a point is reached where the parrot shows blatant physical and behavioural signs of the stress it has experienced. 
As with people, parrots are wired to engage and to be engaged with activities of purpose. These purposeful activities are dictated by the parrot's telos and include foraging for food, nest building and nesting, socializing and vocalizing with other parrots, preening and being preened, flying, playing, roosting with the flock, finding a mate, and raising their young. These purposeful activities are designed so that a parrot can live its life freely and survive.
A companion parrot does not have the freedom to make decisions about its own care. It is completely reliant on a caregiver to meet its needs for its entire life. Companion parrots are told when to wake up, when to go to sleep, when to eat, what to eat, when to keep quiet, when to speak and what to say (tricks), when they are to be let out of the cage and for how long (if at all), when and how they get to interact (more tricks), and when and for how long they will get attention from their caregiver (owner).
These activities are all based on convenience to the caregiver, with little or no regard for the parrot's desires, mood, or schedule. This is how most parrot owners treat their companion parrots, which, if we are to be straightforward about what we are discussing here, are not really companions at all. They are toys, distractions, amusing, decorative talking animals. And why do we want these decorative talking animals? Because they are exotic, beautiful, easy to acquire for not much money—and, unfortunately, probably the number one reason we humans want a captive companion parrot is because at a moment in time in our busy, hectic, stressed-out lives, we simply want one. Period. We want one, just like we want a new SmartPhone, and we can get one for about the same cost.
And then, when we grow tired of the work, the mess, the cost in caring for one, and the noise; we become resentful of having to spend time dealing with a non-responsive, unappreciative, sometimes aggressive parrot that does not give us what we want, when we want it and in the way we want it. So we treat "it" like any other toy we are bored with: We ignore it or we discard it.
Unfortunately for captive companion parrots, they are the ones who bear the brunt of our decisions, from the time we decide that bringing a parrot into our home is a good idea to the day they die some 25-80 years, and who knows how many homes, later. 
Captive companion parrots experience unstable lives of constant re-homing. Parrots may be re-homed an average of 7-9 times in their lifetime. This happens for a variety of reasons. They are too loud, they are messy, they are annoying, they take too much time to care for, the owner loses interest in the parrot, the parrot has out-lived their owner. A large part of the re-homing issue also lies with the inability or unwillingness of the caregiver to properly care for their parrot. The care that the parrot receives deteriorates over time. The parrot is then ignored in a variety of ways.
They do not receive fresh food twice daily, there is a lack of interaction (no playtime), a lack of petting and physical contact, less or no time away from the cage with their caregiver, they are sent to sleep with their cage covered for too many hours, or they are placed in an isolated area of the house and remembered sporadically. Caregivers lose interest in the parrot as they become too busy with their new job, friends, relationships, babies, or a myriad of new and more interesting things to do with their time. Then, as the companion parrot becomes less and less happy with what is happing to them, these stressors start to be expressed as behavioural and/or neurotic disorders.
They can start plucking their feathers, screaming at their caregiver, or attacking their caregiver. These behaviours, which are a parrot’s only way of expressing its distress, usually result in the parrot being further shunned and ignored. The cage may be kept covered to keep the parrot quiet, the cage may be placed in a closed room, a closet, basement, or even in the garage. If the parrot is "lucky", the owner finally gets "rid" of that annoying, ungrateful parrot that they at one time wanted so much.
Through all of this the parrot is trying, in the only way it knows how, to understand the environment that it has found itself in, the rules, the expectations, how to interact. It is trying to find its place in the crazy, foreign world surrounding it. So much of what we expect from parrots as pets is against their nature and can have devastating consequences for them. Parrots develop strong bonds with caregivers and other parrots that build over time. When these bonds are broken, the parrot experiences sadness, anger, and depression. Each time a parrot is re-homed, bonds and trust are broken. Adjusting to new environments, rules, expectations, and caregivers is confusing and stressful. It becomes harder and harder for the parrot to cope. 
Parrots are not senseless commodities. Parrots are living, emotional, sentient beings with feelings. Parrots experience emotions like "most" humans do. Parrots are flock animals, and part of their telos is to never be alone. They feel scared, anxious, and lonely when they are without someone that they can count on for companionship. Being left by themselves can lead to feelings of rejection and, to a creature dependent upon its flock, rejection is a death sentence. Like most humans, they want to be accepted by their peers and feel secure within their social group. They want to know their place in the world, understand the rules, and speak the language. It is in their telos to learn from, relate to, and rely on other parrots of their own kind, not humans.
Captive companion parrots do not have that choice. Humans make that choice for them. From the time they hatch we imprint them to us and make them dependent upon us. Although this is done to "tame" them and to assimilate them into our world so that we can better handle them, this process does not change their telos. It is impossible to allow parrots to follow their telos and force them to bond to us at the same time. By not allowing captive companion parrots that we choose to have as pets to follow their telos, to express their natural instinct to fly, to be free, to choose their companions and mates, to forage for food, to nest and brood, to be a member of a flock, to live in a community of their own, to do all the NATURAL things that make them who they are, we create an unhappy, confused, and frustrated creature who is not much of a companion at all. This is not only inappropriate and unnatural, but is unethical as well. It is the waste of a life.

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