Before Getting a Parrot…
Parrot Ownership: So much more than just a talking pet
Being well informed before you welcome any pet into your home is critical, and birds are no exception to that. Cats and dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years. Most pet parrots are only several, if any, generations removed from the wild, so one is in essence dealing with a wild creature in your home who is behaving based on instincts. Just because they are housed in a cage, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily “easier” pets to care for. If anything, there is even more to know with birds, especially concerning our roles as caregivers and needing to read their body language and behavior. It can be more difficult to find accurate information than it is with domesticated dogs and cats. That being said, having the right parrot in the right home as a pet can be a very rewarding experience. Education and support is truly key to helping to bring about this good experience. Saskatoon Parrot Rescue strives to provide this education and support to all bird owners who want it, old and new. This helps to ensure the birds are being well cared for, and that everyone, bird and person alike, is happy and having FUN and enjoying themselves!
Parrots can make very rewarding, entertaining, and loveable pets, however there are many realities of parrot ownership that many people need to realize, like….
Parrots are messy.
Fling pellets, shells, seeds, wet fruit and vegetables, bits of paper and cardboard, and pieces of chewed up bird toys all over every bit of floor and wall with 5 feet of your bird’s cage. Let the wet food dry nice and hard. Now scrape the hardened food off the floor and walls, sweep or vacuum everything up, then re-mess it up again within the hour and be prepared to clean it all up again. This is bird ownership. Be prepared to tidy up around the cage several times a day. Bird also generate a lot of dust from the shafts of their feathers as they grow in.
Parrots can be destructive. They need an endless supply of toys to chew.
Parrots like to chew on things. In the wild they would chew branches, leaves, twigs, etc. In a house, they will find many other things to chew on such as remotes, baskets, baseboards, cupboards, books, photos, computer keyboards, iphones, etc. Parrots need to be supervised, and given toys to chew and provide them with entertainment. They may very well chew apart these toys quickly; it will be up to you to replace them as quickly as your bird destroys them.
Parrots can and will bite.
Parrots have not been domesticated for thousands of years like cats and dogs. They are essentially wild creatures with wild instincts. A parrot owner must be knowledgeable in reading a bird’s body language and must respect a bird’s space, otherwise you will likely get bitten. Every bird has a different personality and a different level of comfort and trust with humans. When a bird’s boundaries or needs are not respected, a bite can result. Parrot beaks, especially the large ones, can inflict a great deal of damage.
Parrots can live a LONG time.
Some of the smaller species, such as budgies and conures, can live 5 to 15 years. Other larger parrot species can live beyond 80 years in captivity. If you are thinking of getting a medium to large parrot for a pet, this is a LIFETIME commitment. Parrots owners need to consider their parrots’ future care in their wills, as they are often outlived by their birds.
Parrots are highly intelligent social creatures and require a LOT of time and stimulation.
Parrots are incredibly smart, and can get bored easily. Sitting in an empty house in a bare cage with no toys, staring at a wall all day makes for a very unhappy bird. Birds are flock creatures, and when we decide to cage them, we become their flock and must provide for all their social and entertainment needs. You must spend time with your parrot every day, and provide it with interesting toys and activities. Caged birds that have unmet needs may begin to pluck out their own feathers, and may damage their skin as well.
Parrots can be NOISY
Parrots may talk, yes, but they can also SCREAM. LOUDLY. In the wild, parrots communicate with their flock though calling loudly to each other. They also make noise just because it’s what they do, as birds. Unfortunately, this behavior isn’t often welcomed in your front room. Many people are unprepared for the noise that a parrot can make, especially when it wants attention. Educating oneself on the best way to respond to a screaming parrot (which is ignoring and not rewarding this behavior with attention) can help to lessen the noise your parrot makes.
Parrot rescues are full of homeless and often abused birds.
Many people do not fully understand what they are getting into when they see a colorful chatty parrot at the pet store and decide to bring one home. They may run into problems with noise and mess, and the bird’s behavior may change when it reaches sexual maturity; it may become aggressive. If an owner doesn’t understand why the bird is behaving a certain way, the bird may be provoked and bite, and be labeled a problem bird, and get shunned to a dark basement or closet to get it to “be quiet” and “behave”.
If you have done your research and are thinking of getting a bird for a pet, consider giving a home to a bird from a rescue, NOT from a pet store. Saskatchewan has many birds that are looking for homes, and buying birds from a pet store will only encourage further breeding of more parrots, many of which will end up changing homes many times, or at a rescue at some point in their lives.