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One Bird At A Time

Read the August 2007 BIRD TALK Editor's Note from former editor Melissa Kauffman.

By Melissa Kauffman

BIRD TALK magazine
BIRD TALK magazine editor, Melissa Kauffman and her two cockatiels

We were fortunate to attend the 2007 Parrots International Symposium held at the UCLA campus — about an hour up the road from our office. It was two days filled with fascinating talks by researchers immersed in conservation efforts. I also attended the Canadian Parrot Symposium, which was another lovely two-day conference with well-known speakers lecturing on a variety of topics. I will put the photos from that trip online at You’ll really want to check them out as Victoria is absolutely beautiful!

One of the speakers at the Canadian Parrot Symposium, aviculturist Rick Jordan, brought up a really good point in his talk about conservation that applies to research and welfare work. You need to know where your money is going and what it will be used for before you give. Bird people are a warm-hearted and giving group. No matter how big and splashy our pets are, they just don’t get the attention — or the money —the way dogs and cats do. The nonprofit groups and researchers have to rely mostly on us, the pet bird owners, to help them meet their objectives. And pet bird people have stepped up to the plate.

We’ve helped keep our birds’ wild cousins alive and flying free in dwindling rain forests, helped researchers unravel the mysteries of diseases that affect our feathered friends, plus we’ve spent money to support avian shelters to help homeless birds. They ask and we give; perhaps it is only a dollar here and there, but bird people really do try to give back for the blessing of our winged family members.

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 26, I felt many things — bewilderment, anger, sorrow. I then came to the realization that this was my cross to bear, and this was my cause. Perhaps I couldn’t change the world, but I could give my time and money to helping others with this disease and helping researchers find a cure.

And that’s the way I feel about helping birds. Pick a bird cause. Research it, know the subject. Give your time and money to that cause so you can really make a difference. Find out where the money is going, how is it spent, if it has the proper government permissions, if it is a professionally run facility or organization, and if will still be around in a year or two. Research its reputation, talk to both its detractors and its supporters. Are the people ethical, do they have the same beliefs as you, are they really doing what is best for the birds?

BIRD TALK covers a variety of organizations in the magazine, but we have a basic rule: Never ask readers to send money — let them know where they can go for more information so they can research the organization or cause and make an informed decision. 

Once you know that you have done your due diligence and you feel good about contributing to an organization or cause, then go out there and help. If you change the life of even one bird for the better, you’ve made the world a much better place.

— Melissa L. Kauffman

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