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Birds As Teachers
by Mary Wilson

When I began my venture into the hobby of keeping pet birds, I never imagined that birds could teach me anything. In my arrogance, I assumed that once I learned all about bird care, then that would be the last thing I needed to learn, until new information about bird care came along. Since then, I have kept several species of birds and learned much to my delight, that birds are teachers, too.

I never thought much about the concept of unconditional love. Instinctively, I had always accepted my birds for who they were, not caring if I had a talker, or if my bird could perform amazing tricks. Sure, I envied those owners' who had Amazons or Greys, but I never hated my parakeets and parrotlet because they couldn't speak. The idea seemed abhorrent to me.

I began working on an article about this very topic for another publication, when it dawned on me that I needed to apply unconditional love in all areas of my life. My husband and I had been having our difficulties, nothing major, but the little riffs that happen during a marriage. I had been trying to make him into my image of the husband, just like the bird owner hating her bird because he didn't speak the way she wanted him to. Once I realized this, I immediately began to rectify the situation.

Birds teach tolerance. In the wild, the flock cares for all members as long as they are able. Birds do not care if one's shade of blue is brighter than the other, nor do they care that your hair is mussed from a night's sleep, or you are cleaning the bird room in your old robe. Birds love regardless of differences.

Listening to grackles greet the morning sun on a spring morning fills a bird lover's heart with joy. Even the sparrows hopping from one bird feeder to another brings a smile on a bird lover's face. So, too, does walking into your bird room to hear a cheerful "Hello," from a pet parrot, or even the joyous chirps that mean the bird recognizes you. Birds have many things that they can teach us humans, if only we take the time to listen.

    My birds have taught me to not see breeding, colors, physical or personality oddities. They expect to be accepted for who they are and 'bonding' can only be accomplished through love and encouragement.
    They have no sense of mortality and they live for the moment. They respond to kindness and they recognize a loving spirit. They react to how they are treated and always respond appropriately. They don't judge and they forgive.
    Their communication is natural and direct, without subterfuge or cunning, and every movement has meaning. They notice everything and live by their senses.
    They respect their elders and would die for their young. They maintain a hierarchy for survival, not for prestige or arrogance. They are good to themselves. They own nothing, accumulate nothing, and are rich in their simplicity. Their needs are pure sustenance, and their love and loyalty are without restraint.
    They do nothing to damage the Earth or threaten our environment.
As an imperfect human who respects their perfection, and that of all birds, I can only wonder if 'dominion over the Earth' was granted to the wrong species. It is human arrogance to suggest that birds do not have souls. How can we flawed humans claim to be the only species created 'in His image,' when by their very nature they are surely closer to the Creator than we are?"

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