Don’t release the tiny exotic budgie, your compassion can kill it
Monday, May 4, 2009 at 2:54
City Parrots in Animal cruelty, Melopsittacus undulatus - Budgerigar, Nymphicus hollandicus - Cockatiel, Welfare

BudgerigarNew Delhi Wildlife SOS ‘rescues’ budgerigars released by Delhiites, says these Australian birds can’t survive here and become crow feed.

There is nothing like seeing a delicate, tropical bird flying freely in the blue skies. But sometimes, it’s not that great being a free bird.

On Sunday morning, Odissi dancer Diya Sen found an unlikely guest under her refrigerator: a tiny, dehydrated budgerigar, one of the most common imported pet birds in India. A few days earlier, a house guard in Defence Colony picked up a near-dead budgie. Before that, a lawyer handed over yet another dehydrated budgerigar, which had literally dropped at his feet from the sky, to animal rescue helpline Wildlife SOS.

Bird lovers in the city have been buying exotic birds—like the budgerigar (an Australian small bird, commonly green like the parakeet) and the cockatiel (usually white, with a crest)—to release them back to where they belong: the skies. But, the exotic birds, unfamiliar and unequipped to deal with Indian climates, either drop dead or need to be ‘rescued’ all over again.

It is precisely the exotic (non-native or indigenous) nature of the birds that allows them to be sold legally in India. Indian birds are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and cannot be sold as pets, but the Act doesn’t cover Australian birds like budgerigars which are part of a flourishing import trade. A budgerigar is so tiny that it can even fit in a child’s palm.

“I found my dogs barking at something and found that it was a tiny budgerigar, which had just flown in and was not moving,” says Diya Sen. “Its leg was injured, and it seemed to have been attacked by crows. It was exhausted and in a state of shock,” she says.

“People release caged exotic birds, little realising that they don’t have what it takes to survive in this part of the world. These are aviary-bred birds and if released they can’t fly long distances, or find food,” says Geeta Seshamani from Wildlife SOS, which runs an official bird and animal rescue helpline in Delhi. They rescued three budgerigars and one cockatiel this week. They claim to rescue close to 200 budgerigars from Delhi every year. “There are people in the city who buy exotic birds and then release them out of compassion or religious sentiment. Regretfully, the action is counterproductive. These birds can’t survive here. If released, they are nothing more than crow feed,” says Kartick Satyanarayan from Wildlife SOS.

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