How more than just birds-of-a-feather stick together

By Published On: 15 March 2011Last Updated: 17 January 2017

How more than just birds-of-a-feather stick together.


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How more than just birds-of-a-feather stick together

By Shannon Alberta, Guest Contributor

Before we begin, please have a look at this heartwarming little story:

(CBS has a detailed account of the relationship between Maria and Dominic, but due to copyright protection it can’t be shown here. I encourage you to check it out here – it’s well worth the watch)

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on when it comes to animal rights, this story probably touched you (whether you would admit it or not). I know this because the only reason warm and fuzzy animal stories even make the news is because they’re guaranteed to be well received.  And why shouldn’t they be? An affinity and connection with different species is hardwired into us, serving as the foundation for keeping pets, surrounding our children (from infancy) with animal-themed bedrooms, clothing, books, etc., and enjoying a literary canon that includes the likes of ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘The Wind in the Willows’.


From a young age, we connect with animals

While most of us may not have a story quite as unusual as Dominic and Maria’s, even those of us who grew up without pets are likely to have had at least one or two animal encounters that resonated with us in a deeply meaningful way.

Which leads me to the question…

What the is the difference?!?

Having seen this video, and knowing that Maria clearly has an emotional life as sure as she has a physical life, why will the vast majority of people who watched this video find themselves at the grocery store the next day, mindlessly plunking chicken breasts into their collective shopping carts? What if that meat came from Maria (assuming they got past Dominic)? Would they still be so comfortable chowing down?

If Maria’s attachment to, and affection for Dominic (and vice versa) can cause something in our hearts to flutter, isn’t it possible– nay, likely–  that every bird’s story (or potential for one if given the opportunity) would make us do the same?

A new study released by the University of Bristol shows that chickens are capable of feeling empathy. That’s right, empathy. The coveted e-word normally reserved only for humans. Now I’m not a biologist, but I would think it’s safe to assume  that if chickens have empathy, then so do turkeys, geese, and by extension, Maria. People like Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns and one of my personal heroes, has known for a long time that this was the case. I wish that in addition to stories like the one about Maria and Dominic, CBS would cover stories like Karen and Viva’s, because if they did, I think most would people opt out of their omelettes and chicken parmigiana.

The reality is, Maria is every bird. Every bird laying in a cage right now, every bird already disassembled and shrink-wrapped in all the grocery stores across Canada (and the world), every bird born into a life of slavery, every female bird having her reproduction and resultant offspring controlled by a corporate, dominionistic system. In Canada, she is every one of the 600 million chickens or 19.7 million turkeys slaughtered for their flesh. She is every one of the 26 million layer hens enslaved for their eggs until she is no longer ‘productive’ (more on that  here). She is also every one of the tens of millions of unwanted male chicks killed (by gassing, crushing or suffocation) the very same day they hatch (more on that here).

If you wouldn’t eat Maria, I implore you to consider: why would you eat her nameless sisters, cousins, or offspring?

For more resources on the lives of chickens, please visit United Poultry Concerns and read Marc Bekoff’s recent piece.


  1. loyolagirl94 March 17, 2011 at 11:33 am - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: [New] Guest Post by @theveganomaly How more than just birds-of-feather stick together –… #vegan

  2. JesseHGLV March 16, 2011 at 4:53 am - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Awesome [New] Guest Post by @theveganomaly How more than just birds-of-feather stick together –… …

  3. Gina March 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Awh. What a great post!! :)

  4. weeklyadventure March 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    RT @YourDailyVegan: Awesome [New] Guest Post by @theveganomaly How more than just birds-of-feather stick together –… …

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HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…