Caged Birds

On this warm, April afternoon, as I watched a flock of gulls soar above our Littleton farm, I, like most humans since the dawn of our species, wished that I could join them.  While a small minority of humans have a pilot's license and an even smaller percentage are capable of using some form of a glider, we will never match the experience that birds enjoy on a daily basis.

It is thus especially sad to encounter a caged bird, capable of soaring above the countryside but trapped behind bars for the amusement or "education" of humans.  As a child, I enjoyed the banter of my grandmother's parakeet and took part in its care; too young to understand the deprivation that I was witnessing, that caged bird may have actually played a role in my early development as a naturalist, interested as I was in its vocalizations and behavior.

Is there a more cruel sentence that humans impose on wildlife?  Certainly the physical abuse of animals and trophy hunting come to mind but to cage a creature that is capable of flight ranks very high on my list.  Other than for the temporary care of an injury (and even that is questionable if not human-induced), birds do not belong in cages.