In doing research online about bird training the visibility of several web sites seems to have rocketed over the last few weeks. Because I like to stay aware of who is doing, saying, and selling what into the companion bird community I often follow these links. What I found increasingly interesting was that many, in fact the majority, of search results led in one or two clicks to the same products, those sold by Bird Tricks. A company that promotes some of the poor training strategies that were the subject of my guest blog on the Best of Flock Parrot Blog last week. To be honest that wasn’t surprising to me, as I have said before I consider them company to be Internet marketing specialists and not bird trainers, so of course they should excel in their field of expertise. What did surprise me however was a more recent development in their marketing strategy.
As a part of my research on Bird Tricks marketing strategies I discovered that Womach Productions the owners of the Bird Tricks web site has in fact some 70+ Internet domain names (Internet locations) registered. This one fact alone explains in part how they have raised their Internet visibility. Now there is nothing wrong with this strategy; for anyone whose primary goal is a money making scheme using the Internet it is a great idea. The actual number of domain names registered to Womach Productions may well be even higher because as I researched various web sites I found a new trend, hiding access to the data records of who actually owns the site.
In the past this data has been openly available to anyone to access, one simply uses a free tool called “WhoIs”. Indeed if you go to Google and type “WhoIs AvianAmbassadors.com” you will find the full data record available. It is my philosophy that “transparency”, the openness that reveals who owns what, is the ethical way to do business. As I have written in the past, do not trust information from “ducklover488”, if they hide their true identity how can you trust what they say. Not only is our own domain name data openly and freely available but also those of you who receive email about this blog or our Safari newsletter will notice at the bottom of each email there is full contact information. This is a requirement of the mailing company we use (Vertical Response) and one of the reasons we chose to use them. Once again it is the ethical way of doing business as far as I am concerned. Now, I do not know for sure that the hidden domain name records are owned by Womach Productions, however I do know that clicking on almost any link on those anonymous sites leads to … Bird Tricks.
Now let me reveal the most disturbing and ethically questionable part of this whole development. Some of these web sites appear to be lists of links to valuable training resources and writings by some of the leading bird trainers and companion parrot advocates in the USA. Amongst them are Barbara Heidenreich, Steve Martin, Dr Susan Friedman, and many others including me. What is ironic is that my article critical of training stategies on the Best of Flock Parrot Blog was referenced! The articles themselves are not available on the web sites, nor are links back to the sources. However if you are searching for these valuable articles you will probably arrive at one of these valueless web sites, just a click away from … Bird Tricks! Now that really is a trick isn’t it?
From my perspective the use of my name, intellectual property, and reputation to drive traffic to these sites is completely unethical. I do not and will not support, recommend, or promote Bird Tricks or their products. In the past my approach has been to not mention them because that raises their Internet profile. However, from now on I will be actively mentioning them as I encourage each and every one of you to tell your friends to avoid Bird Tricks and their products. We can use the power of the Internet to protect the intellectual property of those professionals in the bird training world who are motivated to help you and your birds rather than line their own bank accounts using ethically questionable tactics.
This latest development once again highlights a subject that I have written about before, and that is separating the noise from the information on the Internet. Once again the golden rule of information validation is the one that should be applied … if the source of the claims made or the identity of the source is hidden then one should always question the information provided. Openness and transparency will always help in deciding what is worth pursuing and what is not.
Knowledge is power; so with your new knowledge of the strategies employed by Womach Productions and Bird Tricks you can decide for yourself if you wish to trust the valuable relationship between you and your birds to them and their products.
Finally, I encourage everyone to spread the word by sending a link to this blog to all of your friends and colleagues. Peer to peer, friend to friend, one link at a time we can keep the spotlight on these questionable tactics and hopefully reduce the reward that I am sure they get for their efforts. As people who understand the science of behavior we know that behaviors that are not reinforced will eventually go away … now wouldn’t that be an ironic turn of events, the science they obfuscate and ignore being their downfall!