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Tag: African Grey Parrot

Birds Give Hardened Prisoners New Life

Any birder can attest to the fact that there’s nothing more calming and peaceful than heading outside in the cool, dewy morning to spy the fascinating ritual of birds.

Birding is a notoriously therapeutic hobby that takes you out of the hustle and bustle of your world and places you squarely in the bird’s world. A world of foraging, playful songs and acrobatic flights.

That’s why it’s no surprise that owning a bird offers a similar therapeutic escape from the stress of everyday life. An inspiring Radiolab story I wrote about a few weeks ago (which you can hear below in case you missed it) emphasized the symbiotic relationship between people and birds.

The same type of bird that was the star of the Radiolab story is also prominently featured in a new article published yesterday documenting the same effect birds have on people. In a South African prison replete with tattooed murderers and gangsters, baby African Grey Parrots are bringing out the paternal instinct in incarcerated men.

The program, which has prisoners raise the chicks until they’re old enough to be sold as pets, was started in 1997 to help reform the roughest criminals.

The images described in the piece are inspiring and downright endearing. You have men who are doing hard time in prison blowing on porridge to feed to the chicks, acting heartbroken when they have to give one of their “babies” away and nuzzling the birds with kisses.

An inspiring story of a man and his bird

Any birder can tell you that birds are extremely intelligent animals. We’ve seen zebra finches show thoughtful social behavior and New Caledonian Crows use tools to solve problems.

However, we’ve also seen some birds exhibit the ability to truly hold a complex and meaningful relationship with human beings.

A few weeks ago, a fantastic radio show that offers an array of unique stories about science called Radiolab produced a great piece about a man’s relationship with his pet bird.

Jim Eggers suffered from a crippling case of bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies and homicidal thoughts. He had a very difficult time calming himself down when his tempers flared.

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