"Free as a Bird." "Birds of a Feather Flock Together." These popular slogans suggest that we understand that birds are meant to fly and to be with other birds. However, the restriction or denial of these natural behaviors is often an inherent component of their captivity when kept as "pets." Confined to cages and fed all seed diets, the vast majority of captive birds live lives of loneliness and boredom. For an active, intelligent, social, flight-adapted animal, a life spent in a cage is incredibly cruel.
Whether captive bred or wild caught, birds are not domesticated animals– they are the native species, (i.e. wildlife) of other countries. Due to their popularity in the pet trade, birds represent the largest population of captive wildlife in the United States and possibly the world.
While it's easy to agree that birds are born to be wild, the pet industry, via captive breeding or wild capture, has created a situation in which thousands of birds exist in captivity who cannot be returned to their native habitats or released into the wild. In addition, there are simply not enough qualified sanctuaries to care for them all. As a result, it's up to bird caretakers to provide the best possible care that can be achieved in a captive environment.