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UPDATE: 27 May 2008

I intentionally did not mention anyone by name in the above post, but Dave Womach of Birdtricks.com contacted me to say that he does have education and training in animal behavior, from unnamed “zoos around the world.” He just didn’t want to brag about his credentials.

The videos referred to are a series on his training of an African Grey named Cressi. Every experienced trainer that I know and respect has been aghast at the training technique in these videos. And last week a gentleman named Andrew lost his African Grey after seeing the videos, which emphasize the “bond” with your bird, and trying it himself.

This is the latest version of the Birdtricks.com “animal rights” press release, from PRWeb.com. This was released today,after Tui’s loss has been widely publicized.

Thousands Inflict Animal Cruelty On Their Parrot

Birdtricks.com shows how the common practice of clipping a pet parrot’s wings causes severe emotional damage to pet birds, and how a new method of raising pet birds allows pet bird owners a way to let their birds fly freely outside, but still come back when you call them. This gives them all the exercise nature intended them to have, and provides dramatic amounts of emotional stimulus.

Birdtricks.com has shown clipping causes severe emotional damage?? (Their new research division?) Guilt-tripping people into trying to freefly their bird, especially using the unweaned baby bird method, in my opinion borders on a disgusting disregard of ethics.

Also, this part of their press release explicitly states that the Cressi videos Tui’s owner watched are intended to teach people how to freefly their bird, contrary to claims that they are just posted to demonstrate what they have done:

In an effort to teach parrot owners how to use positive reinforcement to train their birds for lasting results and an end to bad behaviors like screeching, biting, and feather plucking, Birdtricks.com has documented a case study of how they used positive reinforcement to train their Congo African Grey to safely fly outside, including videos and pictures of the entire process.

This all just makes me sick. I am all for keeping birds flighted, but it is unethical in the extreme to advocate it for everyone on the grounds that not doing so is animal cruelty. Pushing people to do this whose birds are not ready for it, or who may not be up for it themselves, will result in losses — THAT is animal cruelty.

This kind of advertising is just morally depraved.