The vilification of pigeons

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-49256251

Anyone who has one or more pet pigeons can tell you that assuming that pigeons poop all over the place, non-stop, is just as ridiculous as assuming that humans poop all over the place, non-stop.

We are a mammal species. 

We took pigeons from their (sub)tropical sea cliffs and spread them all over the world. Pigeons are immensely intelligent creatures. In many ways, they are smarter and more capable than humans.

In addition, birds have been on the planet immensely much longer than humans, and look what WE have done to the planet. Here are two must-watch documentaries:

A bit of inspiration

Some things can’t ever be fixed or changed, but some can be made better or at least less bad, and even in cases when most people think it is not possible, like in this video below.

You can see the utterly amazed look in the animal’s eyes, before the vets put the cone on, with the gently wagging tail on the background. The “holy shit, I can’t believe it, they solved this for me?” realization. Also with the cone on. Suddenly, in the dog’s mind, she has a life again, a future. And she forgets all about the past…

What narcissistic personality disorders may be like

Like the wrong audio cables are plugged in, and you can’t change them. Creates a lot of noise!

The past ten years have taught me a lot about personality disorders. I still know very little.

Differences in the hard-wiring of the human brain can result in personality disorders, but paradoxically, people with personality disorders are often blamed for them.

While watching a lot of videos on YouTube and thinking about diversity, I am starting to wonder if the line between humans and other species may be even thinner than I already thought.

What do I mean by that? Consider the following, for example.

Francine “Penny” Patterson developed a deep friendship with a gorilla named Koko in the course of decades. It was never the plan. The plan had been a four-year research project for her PhD.

The year was 1972. Gorillas were considered dangerous and wild and Patterson initially was considered crazy by many.

When younger gorilla Michael was added to the household, he ran over to Ronald Cohn, hugged him and then “sank his teeth into” Cohn’s shoulder.

Humans are not supposed to do that, but some sort of do anyway, in their own way.

I have been the subject of a little-understood phenomenon for over ten years. In the eyes of who’s behind it (apparently involving at least one person with a narcissistic personality disorder), I am probably like an animal they keep in a cage in order to find out how it ticks, the way some university researchers keep pigs in their lab to study stress responses in pigs. They try to push my buttons as much as possible.

It’s complicated.

Penny Patterson and Ronald Cohn kept Koko in captivity, and that was accepted. If two gorillas had kept Penny or Ronald in captivity, the response would have been very different.

If you watch this video, you should also take a look at this:

What we can learn

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Quaker parrots do this too. They build humongous condos with separate areas for different activities and offer shelter to other species. Humans have a hard time doing this for their own species – yet consider themselves “superior”…

The one that got away

I just ran into an injured wood pigeon (Columba palumbus, also known as “culver” in southeast England, apparently). I suspect that it had been in some kind of altercation as a nearby magpie and crow were upset, though I didn’t see a cat in the area. Maybe it had been in a collision with a car. Or hey, the crow? Crows do occasionally attack pigeons, and also magpies. The magpie was chattering quite loudly so had presumably witnessed something that worried it (which is why I first looked for a cat).

The pigeon had an injured foot (no visible bleeding), so I decided to grab it and take it home so it could get some rest and heal.

But as I am currently in terrible shape, I wasn’t quick and agile enough, though I almost got it. (I did actually touch it, when I tried to towel it.) It flew off then, clearly knowing where it wanted to go to, which was a reassuring change from its behaviour when I spotted it, so I am hoping that it had been in shock, that I helped it snap out of it and that the injury is not too bad and able to heal.

(Also, I  had forgotten that I was wearing a long RED silk scarf at the time. This can alarm birds as they recognize it as the colour of blood, I have learned. With pet birds, you can teach them that not all blood red is actually blood for example by taking a red marker and scribbling on your hands. It may depend on the bird species, obviously.)

I will keep an eye out for the poor thing. Around here, wood pigeons are quite shy. I was amazed to see them scurry around seated people’s feet in Amsterdam a few months ago.

Yes, birds can be in shock.

In Tierra Verde in Florida, I once found a bird sitting in the middle of the road, stunned. I scooped it up and put it in my bike basket, and it stayed there for the duration of my remaining bike ride. Ten minutes or so. But when it was time to examine the bird, it flew off before we got the chance, leaving a few healthy-looking droppings behind.

And Lee Fox, who founded and ran the wild-bird hospital at which I was volunteering at the time, once stopped a guy from killing a pelican, just in time. He’d hit the bird with his car and wanted to put it out of its misery, not realizing that the bird was probably mainly stunned. Lee Fox happened to be passing in her car, stopped and rescued the bird.

Fingers crossed.

 

Need your faith in humans restored?

This will help a lot.

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(Police later showed up to scoop them up and take them to safety, in case you notice that they’re still stuck after having traversed all these lanes.)

Very severe animal cruelty at Mahard Egg Farms in the US

Last evening, I saw a video and photos that I found shocking. It concerns severe animal cruelty that occurs near Sulphur in Oklahoma. The farm is part of Mahard Egg Farms who appear to be headquartered in Texas. I searched LinkedIn and found nine accounts associated with the company, including that of its CFO, Kaitlin Mahard.

I believe that severe animal cruelty can be considered “violent crimes” which would mean that LinkedIn should remove the accounts associated with Mahard Egg Farms. The LinkedIn Professional Community Policies state that “those who engage in violent crimes are not welcome and not permitted on the Services”.

In 2011, Mahard Egg Farm, Inc., indeed a Texas corporation, was told to pay a $1.9 million penalty to settle claims that the company violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its egg production facilities in Texas and Oklahoma, according to the EPA:
https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/mahard-egg-farm-inc-clean-water-act-settlement

The latter apparently resulted in this:
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-09/documents/mahardegg-cd.pdf

That document includes the following:

C. MORTALITY MANAGEMENT
18. Defendant shall comply with the Mortality Management Requirements in Appendix D at the Vernon-Chillicothe Facility, the Springhill Facility, the Prosper Facility, the Boogie Hill Facility, the Nebo Ranch, and the Ravia Facility, unless such facility is not growing poultry.

Appendix D stated:

APPENDIX D:
MORTALITY MANAGEMENT

I. Texas
65.
No later than the Effective Date of this Decree, Mahard shall cease any transfer of
carcasses between Facilities unless a composting plan is in place that is consistent with 30 T.A.C. 332, Subchapter B, and has been approved by EPA and TCEQ.

66.
Mahard shall ensure that all carcass disposal at the Vernon-Chillicothe, Prosper, and
Springhill Facilities is conducted in accordance with TCEQ Regulatory Guidance, RG-326, Handling and Disposal of Carcasses from Poultry Operations (August 2009) and in accordance with 30 T.A.C. § 335.25. Mahard shall collect all carcasses within 24 hours of death and properly disposed of them within three (3) Days of death. Animals must not be disposed of in any liquid manure or process wastewater system. Disposal of diseased animals shall be conducted in accordance with Tex. Agric. Code § 161.004.

II. Oklahoma
67.
Mahard shall comply with the terms and conditions in Mahard’s 4/29/09 Carcass Disposal Plan, as amended and supplemented by the letter from ODAFF, dated May 7, 2009, to Mahard (both attached here as the Appendix D Supplement).

The Kroger chain has meanwhile dropped Mahard’s eggs and I’ve reached out on LinkedIn to it spokeswoman Kristal Howard to thank Kroger and ask her to ensure that Kroger will never be associated with such severe animal cruelty again.

Kroger’s 2018 Sustainability Report includes an animal welfare policy, which states:

“Kroger has a long-standing commitment to responsible business practices, including the humane treatment of animals,” Kroger says in its policy. “We require our suppliers to adopt industry-accepted animal welfare standards that we endorse, and we monitor our suppliers for compliance with these standards. We align with the Food Marketing Institute’s industry-adopted and industry-aligned animal welfare standards for the following animal proteins: beef, pork, chicken, turkey and eggs. For nearly a decade, Kroger has convened our own independent panel of animal science experts to make recommendations on how we can work with the industry to improve animal welfare.”

I’ve also contacted the EPA.

Can you stop watching this?

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Humans and other animals

I used to be quite fond of people in general, but I no longer like humans as much as I used to.

Humans have been on the planet only a short while, but no other species has managed to wreak even a fraction of the destruction that humans already have.

Humans also hunt and incarcerate each other, and sometimes kill each other, for no good reason. (Guantánamo, anyone? Migrant detention centres, anyone? 9/11 anyone? )

Humans approve of it when other humans want to build unhealthy concrete, plastic, steel and brick homes yet tend to object when other humans want to build homes made from branches and wood, or earth, or straw bales and adobe, or live in a hole excavated in the ground where they keep their books and the other kind of stuff that we all tend to have.

More and more humans, it looks like, gather and gather and gather, and steal, and build up reserves that would last them many lifetimes. It has a name, I believe. Consumerism.

So-called progress that happens for no more than the sake of the drive for bigger bigger bigger more more more has become the norm. (Third Heathrow runway, anyone?)

Sales for the sake of sales instead of the sake of contributing something worthwhile to the lives of others is still a major driver for many, as is the accumulation of monetary value, often to make up for feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

“It’s amazing! I have X euros/dollars/pounds’ worth of merchandise in my shop right now!”

Even a so-called stupid bird brain of a quaker parrot knows that in times of plenty, all that matters is that you have food in your hands – not how much someone else has – and that you should start building up a little stack of reserves for yourself when you notice that food is scarce.

This spunky creature, a quaker parrot called Sioux, was part of my household for 21 years  Her life and death have changed my life forever. She was still a youngster when she was brought to a wild-bird hospital in Florida where I was volunteering at the time. It was against the law to release her, and she was unable to fly, so she needed a home. I adopted her along with quaker parrot Mohawk. As I had noticed that these birds are never on their own in the wild, I wanted to adopt at least two of them, for increased well-being, and housed them together. Myiopsitta monachus.

Quaker parrots don’t round up other birds and their youngsters and put them in cages. They protect them, stand up for them (they stand up even for cats). In the wild, they share their amazing self-built homes that have separate spaces for various activities with other species, sometimes even predators. (Yet they are also highly territorial, protective of their homes.)

But many humans see them as “threats” and spread vile myths about them, mainly because their natural habitat was once limited to South-America.

Probably also because at some level, we humans feel threatened (challenged, made uncomfortable) by the intelligence and strong lively personalities of these birds. They can be highly opinionated.

Something similar goes for our city pigeons.

Birds have been on the planet so incredibly much longer than humans. They are highly aware of their own vulnerability (with to some degree the exception of birds of prey), so much that they will always try to hide it as well as they can. They don’t go around destroying their own habitat, and they tend to live quite peacefully with other species.

Humans are only one species. Homo sapiens.

We humans haven’t really learned a thing yet, have we?

These two embedded tweets below are supposed to show one image and one video.

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You thought animals we eat have no feelings?

Boiling water hurts them too.

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Time for a rethink?

There is no such thing as a dumb animal. Okay, with the possible exception of that one bee who currently keeps flying into my kitchen, again and again and again. But he always finds his way out again. Hm. Then maybe even this bee isn’t really that dumb… I haven’t figured out yet what smell on my windowsill could be attracting him. Or her.

We need to reconsider our view of other species, urgently.

Read this story: https://www.thedodo.com/on-the-farm/starving-pig-shared-food-with-his-friends

Two pigs were rescued, one had piglets and was well and the other one was very thin. Rescuers were puzzled. Turned out that the latter had been giving most of the food he had to the other pig. To help the other pig survive.

We need to reconsider our views regarding other species, urgently.

Personally, I have seen small parrots stand up for cats.

How on earth did we “developed” humans manage to think for so long that other species have no cognitive abilities? No capacity for emotions? Mind-boggling. The more developed we become, the less wisdom we humans seem to have?

Traditional scientists have to stop being so damn pig-headed about this. To see the obvious does not make you stupid, silly or dimwitted.

Brachycephalic dogs

These are essentially fashion accessories. That the dogs are live animals who are bred to look cute and that this means that they have trouble breathing does not matter to anyone who sees a dog as a fashion accessory – or a faithful adoring admirer – but it should.

There are other side effects, such as frequent skin infections.

https://www.bva.co.uk/news-campaigns-and-policy/policy/companion-animals/brachycephalic-dogs/