MOSCOW, February 27 – RIA Novosti, Maria Semenova. Red-breasted bullfinches are a symbol of winter. And while some dream of seeing this bright bird at least once a season, others pay to not only look, but also hold it in their hands, capturing this moment in memory. Photographers assure: the birds are well looked after, they are healthy and like to communicate with a person, they willingly go into their arms. But experts are sure: feathers have been removed from birds, they cannot fly – this explains their “love” for people.
the hit of the season
“Bullfinches are the hit of the season this year,” the photographers write on social media. The use of fauna for commercial filming is not new. You can find portraits with a leopard, an alpaca, and a bear, not to mention horses or dogs. Among birds, crows and owls are consistently popular, but bullfinches are a “novelty” of winter 2021. People are ready to pay generously for a postcard image: snowdrifts, snow-covered spruce, liquid viburnum berries, and in the middle of this Christmas splendor – girls in fur coats wrapped in downy shawls, with a red-breasted bird on their shoulders. “The real excitement, there are no more places”, – so they answered those wishing to sign up for the shooting.
Almost all Moscow photographers rent red-breasted birds from the zoo keeper Yulia: she has bullfinches named Slavik, Stasik and Tolik. One of them, Slavik, appears in the pictures more often than others. “Everything was perfect! All seven children I filmed today were delighted! Four hours outside non-stop … But it was worth it!” – wrote in January on her Instagram photographer Diana, specializing in “working” with animals. Alpacas and llamas, deer and ponies, rabbits and roosters are constantly caught in her lens – in an embrace with children, of course. This year the “assortment” has been replenished with bullfinches.
Parents and photographers unanimously repeat: children are delighted with red-breasted birds, for them shooting is a real winter fairy tale. One can only guess how the bullfinches feel when they pass from hand to hand for hours.
Bullfinch of a healthy person
Birdwatchers (non-professional bird watchers) drew attention to glossy photo sessions with bullfinches. They noted that birds do not have flight feathers, which means that they are not able to fly, and in general the feather cover is damaged. “If you look closely, you will immediately understand that the bullfinches look tortured. And the fact that they sit quietly is not” magic “, unfortunately, but simply the inability to fly away,” wrote a birdwatcher from Nizhny Novgorod Gennady.
His opinion is shared by professionals. For example, employees of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Russian Bird Conservation Union Sergey Bakka and Nadezhda Kiseleva assure that the photographs of bullfinches are beyond doubt – it is clear that they are mutilated. This is confirmed by Vera Pakhomova, head of the Crow's Nest rehabilitation center for wild birds.
“Photo sessions with bullfinches are a phenomenon this year, I haven’t heard of this before. In principle, birds are often used, but mostly owls are taken. Personally, I didn’t hold these bullfinches in my hands, but there are clearly no flight feathers. In principle, they can grow back, but the question is whether the owners of bullfinches need it. Constant hand-walking is stress for small birds, they are not intended for this, “says Pakhomova.
Sergey Bakka, head of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the Russian Bird Conservation Union, notes that the likelihood that a healthy tame bullfinch will sit on the hands of a stranger is low. However, he does not completely rule out such an option: “Theoretically, it is possible if you raise them as chicks.” The specialist also emphasizes that the keeping of wild birds in captivity is allowed only on the basis of a license, otherwise it violates federal law. “The problem is acute, serious. This is cruelty to animals in its purest form. If we talk about owls, there is at least a fairly large percentage of birds that are picked up by the wounded and nursed – at least some ethical justification,” adds Nadezhda Kiseleva. Special report
Sergei emphasizes: it is unacceptable to catch healthy, beautiful birds, maim and exploit them for the sake of money. “People increasingly want to communicate with animals. And that's good. But making a profit through the suffering of birds cannot be justified,” he argues.
Animal rights activists launched a flash mob on social networks under the tags #bullfinch of a healthy person and #yatysnegir. They post photos of forest birds to show what the plumage looks like in healthy individuals, and also distribute information cards urging not to participate in filming that is harmful to wildlife.
Now the main profile of the zookeeper Yulia on Instagram has been deleted. She claims that she was blocked after complaints from animal rights activists, but there is already a new page – this time closed. She does not refuse to take photographs with bullfinches, but so far she is not up to this: she was hospitalized.
Julia insists: her birds are friendly simply due to the fact that they have spent their whole life next to people. “In the spring it will be ten years since they are with me, I bought them as chicks.” “There have been one-off photo sessions before. This year we did not do a workshop for beginner photographers, and the Network was flooded with not very professional pictures. It was not a good idea, to put it mildly,” notes the zookeeper.
According to her, this season the birds have had about two shooting days a month, since November. Assures that the birds are healthy and can fly. “I will drop a video for you in Whatsapp, I shot it myself, look at the plumage from a normal angle. It's easier to see than to speak. In some frames it seems that there are no flight feathers, on others they are noticeable. You shouldn't let a small bird fly at a workshop – God forbid But once during the photo shoot the bullfinch flew to a tree, I had to take it out of there. I always have seeds in my pocket, if the bird starts to fuss, feed it right away, while it fiddles with the husk, sits calmly. model in the hands of a branch of live viburnum – they do not eat the pulp, they take out the grain inside. It distracts them “, – Julia shares the details.
Zookeeper did send in some recordings of the bullfinch singing. “Birds don't sing when they feel bad.” However, Slavik is shot in full face – the flight feathers cannot be seen from this angle.
A participant in the photo shoot Ulyana told RIA Novosti that the bird flew with her. “Great bullfinches, I don't think there is anything wrong with them. One was tired, they removed him and did not touch him any more. They flew. I don't know what they do with them after the shooting, but everything was fine with me. Healthy birds.” …
There is indeed a video on Ulyana's social network page where Slavik flies off the shoulder of her son. However, apparently, not all birds can boast of health like Slavik's.