Sharing your life with a companion parrot can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have. It can also be one of the most challenging, and at times, frustrating experiences.
If you decide to keep a parrot there are several question you should ask yourself first. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you should seriously reconsider purchasing a parrot.
Will you love and care for your parrot regardless of whether or not it ever learns to talk? Parrots decide if they are interested in learning human speech or the sound of the phone or dog or whatever else interests them. If it has to talk please look for a parrot that is older and already talking.
Are you afraid of being bitten? All birds bite. This is why we strongly recommend reading books on parrot behavior and training. Nurturing Guidance is the best way to help you train your parrot not to bite. If you can’t accept the fact that you will be bitten occasionally, don’t get a parrot. All baby birds use their beaks to explore, feel, play, etc.
Do you have the time to train your new parrot? They are intelligent beings and need to be properly trained using positive reinforcement to become a loving lifetime companion. We highly recommend the book, “Don’t Shoot the Dog” by Karen Pryor as well as work done by both Dr. Susan Friedman and Barbara Heidenreich.
Can you make a lifetime commitment? Larger parrots can live from 60 – 80 years and the smaller parrots can live up to 40 years. They grow very attached to their human flock and do suffer emotional trauma when a loved human dies or decides to give up their feathered flock member. It is best to will the parrot to another flock member (who the parrot likes) in the event of a loss of the main caretaker.
Are you willing to play with your parrot regularly? Parrots suffer if you leave them in their cages all day. They are social animals and need social interaction. They need stimulation and affection, at the very minimum you need to commit one hour a day in direct physical contact with your parrot.
Can you live in a house that is messy? All parrots are messy. They throw their food, they poop in the house. I’m sure our dog has wondered why the parrots are allowed to and he’s not!
Can you live with noise. All parrots are noisy. They have instinctual morning calls and evening calls as well as contact calls.
If you are a smoker, will you seriously consider quitting? Birds breathe much more efficiently than we do; second hand smoke is deadlier to parrots than it is to us. They also absorb tar and nicotine from your fingers through their feet when handled.
Will you be willing to change your lifestyle radically? Parrots can die from exposure to fumes from non-stick cookware, (Teflon, etc.) aerosol sprays, ceramic heaters, incense, scented candles, household cleaners, etc. Use them and you could lose your parrot.
Are you willing to spend upwards of $2000 per year for food, proper medical care, bird sitting and toys to keep your bird happy? They need stimulation and they require proper nutrition and a annual medical check up. Do you have a good avian vet? Do you have a bird sitter?
Are you willing to cook for your parrot or share the healthy food you are eating? They need fresh food items daily. They also consider gathering food and eating a flock function.
Are you willing to actively participate in ongoing education about parrot health and behavior issues? We gain new knowledge about parrots every year. To ensure a happy healthy life for you and your parrot you need to make a real commitment to constantly re-educate yourself about your parrot.
If there is any hesitation about answering “yes” to all these questions, a parrot may not be the best pet for you. Any responsible pet owner knows how much work cats, dogs, and even fish can be. It is a myth that birds require any less care than other pets. If anything, they are more high-maintenance than many cats and dogs.