You Are Safe

This piece is a tribute to all the parrot species that are on the brink of extinction due to humans altering their habitat and due to parrot trafficking.

The inspiration for this piece came after a visit to a pet shop from last week.

A man who was buying a parrot asked the saleswoman if he had any warranty for the bird since it didn’t look that well, at least so it seemed to him and he was concerned for his money (not so much for the poor bird). The woman answered that he had one week warranty and if anything happened to the parrot during that period, he could bring it back (dead or alive) and he would got a refund. All the conversation sounded so insensitive to me. It was like they were talking not about a living soul, but about an electronic device or something. That hit me hard! I’ve realized once more the importance of things in our society. We came so far since the beginning of human kind but we still have a long way ahead! Unfortunately, speciesism is still a fact in today’s society for most of the people. For me, we are all (humans, animals, plants, everything) of the same importance (or no importance, as you like) in the big scheme of things.

After the little incident from the pet shop, having my soul filled with compassion for the innocent little bird, I did some researches about parrots and found out that they are thought to be some of the smartest non-human beings on our planet. They are as smart as a 3-4 year old human child, being able to solve puzzles and understanding the concept of cause and effect.

Unique fact in birds’ kingdom: Parrots are the only birds that can lift food to their beaks using their feet.

But what I like most about parrots is the fact that they are, with few exceptions, monogamous (well…I’m a romantic, what can I say?) and spend their lives with only one mate forming strong bonds and remaining together during the nonbreeding season, too.

One thing led to another and I’d started reading about parrot trafficking and found out many disturbing facts!

Blue Macaw, the parrot that inspired “Rio”, is now officially extinct in the wild due to deforestation and trafficking. And so are many other birds especially in the South America and Brazil.

For my piece I have chosen to paint a Hyacinth Macaw, another wonderful endangered species. He is called “the parrot king” and he is one of the most trafficked birds. Trade in wild hyacinth macaws is strictly prohibited and one can only sells captivity born birds. Breeders do that by selling them with 10000 $ per piece at least. At the same time, as hyacinth macaw fails constantly to reproduce in captivity, breeders encourage egg trafficking. Egg smuggling is a growing crime because eggs are easier to smuggle than live birds—they’re small, don’t make noisy birdcalls, and if a luggage inspection is anticipated, they’re easily destroyed (National Geographic). People adapt fast when it comes to thrive at another species expense. People adapt in many situations, actually. This is how we reach so far in our evolutionary path. But nowadays, it seems like it is imperative to exercise our adaptation capacity in a different way then we did before, to be more careful with every step, every decision we make or it could be the last one.

Let’s start by being more conscious about Hyacinth Macaw and all the beautiful (and ugly) parrots and by being more aware of the fact that when we buy a parrot (or any other bird), we actually, might contribute to its extinction. And a world without parrots would be a less beautiful one!

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