Question: Animals should not be held captive unwillingly, but a small coloured bird flew into our apartment. An expert said he might be attacked by crows if he was someone’s pet. Perhaps the owner will put up a ‘lost’ notice, but in the mean time, can I keep him as a pet, with a bigger cage?
Answer: It is best to ensure the expert is really an expert. How about consulting wildlife welfare organisations? You might want to research personally online on the species too? The truth is, all smaller animals, such as birds, like sparrows and such, might get attacked by bigger animals in nature. In this sense, this bird might not be particularly special, unless not native. Holding captive to ‘protect’ thus might not make sense, as captivity is already a kind of stressful harm that causes suffering, and it would mean we should hold many other kinds of small animals captive to ‘protect’ them. However, all animals cherish freedom, just as we do.
Also, the owner might have let him go on purpose – if he was ever captive at all. It is not exactly a good idea to return an animal to the owner for captivity, as he did feel compelled to escape, if he did, or to hold him captive personally. A bigger cage is still captivity. He should be domesticated only if confirmed not local and is confirmed used to captivity. However, this might be hard to tell. Only injured animals should be kept captive for nursing purposes, before setting them free. Chirping and eating well might not mean all is well, as unfairly jailed and distressed human prisoners do eat and speak too.
Why not let the bird choose to do as he pleases, to stay or leave, without a cage or closed windows? Leave vegan food around for him, such as bird seeds, but not too much to spoil him. Remember – it would not make equanimous compassionate sense to feed sentient beings (such as worms) to other sentient beings. You can also practise Nianfo aloud (sincere chanting of Amitabha Buddha’s name – ‘Amituofo’) in his presence, and guide with simple words, to connect him to Amituofo, to have a better rebirth, hopefully in his Pure Land eventually. You can share merits with him for his well-being too. Here is an inspiring clip related to this to share: http://purelanders.com/2013/04/27/a-munia-bird-chanting-amituofo
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