Friday, October 26, 2007
After the Wildfires
As a native Californian, wildfires aren’t anything new. But, they’re still frightening. Depending on how close to the fires you are and how big those fires are blazing, the sky can be a muddy brownie brown to a dingy hazy brownish gray.
According to the radio this morning, 13 of the 23 Southern California wildfires have been contained. As some of you may know, the BIRD TALK magazine office is located in the Irvine area. We had two fires near us.
The amount of smoke and ash in the air was not pleasant. Each time I step out of my car when I get to work, I feel like I’m choking on it. And even though the fires are slowly starting to be dominated by our amazing fire crews, the smoke in the air is still a hazard to us – and to our pet birds. Smoke from the fires contains ash and other particles and gases that can become a hazard.
Remember that our pet birds don’t have a diaphragm and cannot cough up the smoke and toxins in the air the way we can. I think that Sybil Erden of The Oasis Sanctuary in Arizona said it best, “The rule of thumb with birds is one in, never out.”
But there are ways to protect your bird from the harmful smoke in the air.
- Keep all of the windows in your house shut, and keep opening doors that connect outside to a minimum.
- Keep your air conditioner running or fans going to help circulate air in your house.
- If you have a HEPA filter, keep in running in your bird room.
If you’re worried that harmful particles are already inside your house, Sybil suggested draping a damp sheet over your bird’s cage. Make sure that it is damp and not soaking.
It may take a couple of days for the smoke to clear out. But I think that it’s important to consider our health and the health of our pets.
Friday, October 12, 2007
For the most part, us bird people are misunderstood by everyone else. Even by our own family members. When I talk to my dad on the phone, I can see him rolling his eyes when I say I went to the store and saw all these cute bird toys I want. The first time my sister and her family met my bird Tori, they weren’t sure what to think about her. “Does she just sit on your shoulder?” they asked, and managing not to roll my eyes, I pointed to Tori’s cage which was chalk full of all sorts of toys, goodies, and paper (since Tori loves paper.)
We’re not an odd bunch, despite what people think. We’re just passionate enough about birds that we’re honored to have such a title. And we want to share our passion with others, and make them bird people as well. There is, after all, a
"bird person" in all of us. History is fascinated with birds. Look at the airplane!
I’ve started doing this with my own family. I was telling my dad about Alex the African grey one phone call. As most of us know by now, he died recently, and it was a sad day for so many. I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails and letters from readers who tell me how they loved Alex as much as their own birds. Our Alex the African grey memorial page on Bird Channel is filled with pictures and sweet goodbyes for Alex. For all of us that knew him and loved him, it was a tragic loss.
But for my dad, he didn’t know who Alex was. I found myself telling him all the things he could do, what he knew, how smart he was, the fact he had a concept of nothing. My dad was impressed, especially by that. He was fascinated; he asked me a few questions, he agreed to read a magazine of BIRD TALK. In that moment, I saw a glimpse of that bird person inside of him.
Here are some links to various articles written by non-bird people who met Alex. They’re fascinating, and by the end of each article, you can almost see the writer slowly becoming the bird person they’re going to be. This was Alex’s gift to them, and one I’m always sure they’ll remember.
You can find them here and here.
So, go out. Talk to friends, family members, or complete strangers! Start them on the journey to the “bird person” they’re going to be. Remember all that we have behind us, and all that’s going to move us forward.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Nature -- For us, and for our birds
Al Gore says that our industrial-fueled lives, “[...] distracts us from the pain of what we have lost: a direct experience of our connection to the vividness, vibrancy, and aliveness of the natural world.” (220) I live in Los Angeles, which by all accounts, is the industrial city of entertainment, and it does distract me from the fact that there is really no nature around me. As you leave Los Angeles, and head toward Irvine (where BIRD TALK headquarters is), you enter farmland and parks, and the general quietness of nature. As much as it can be called nature, since we are miles from national parks and forests. (They’re all in Northern California, sadly.) The difference, though, is startling. I often put down my book just so I can watch nature pass by me, entranced by a world I so rarely see. This morning, I saw a hawk sitting on a fence, feathers fluffed up and enjoying the morning as well. It was nice.
Gore’s words made me think of my birds as well, and made me wonder if they too have lost their connection to nature. To not start any debate that we took them from nature (which we did), I’ll examine their lives. My birds live in large cages with plenty of toys, food, and water. I am their flock mate, and they start and end the day with me, chattering up a storm, playing and eating. They’re living the perfect suburban life with me, and seem quite content, if all the tail-wagging and excited chirps are anything to go by. A perfect distraction, if you will.
I had to go up into the Hollywood Hills a couple weeks ago, and I took my lovebird River with me. River is quite a chatter and very inquisitive, exploring everything she can. When I parked where I was supposed to be, I had to wait around for about twenty minutes, so River and I waited outside amongst the trees and silence, save for the passing car. There was a nice wind leftover from the rain the night before, and it ruffled River’s feathers as she waited with me. There, a dramatic scene took place. River quieted down for a while, most likely unsure of what was going on around her. It’s possible this was the first time she had heard and felt wind blowing through the trees, reconnecting her with a world she wasn’t really apart of. Finally, after she got used to it, she started chirping again, and watched everything going on around her contently.
Al Gore’s book calls upon us to find that connection again with nature. I’m slowly working on it, and bringing my birds with me on the journey as well. I hope all of us can do this, not just for us, but for our avian friends.
Works Cited: Gore, Al. Earth in the Balance. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1992.