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Polly Want a Parrot?

Things to consider before buying your bird

Do you really want me?Parrots are wonderful pets. They are beautiful, intelligent, loving companions who will keep you occupied for hours and keep you company for the rest of your life.

Parrots are loud, destructive animals, throw temper tantrums, scream, throw food, make you clean up after them for hours and will be with you the rest of your life!!

Both scenarios are true of this popular pet. It's true that a parrot can make a wonderful pet for the initiated. However, a bored, lonely, badly socialized parrot can be your worst nightmare. Before you invest your money and your time in a parrot think about a few things.

This article deals mostly with the larger parrots: Cockatoos, Macaws, Amazonians, Conures. Parakeets and cockatiels are classified as being the "parrot" family, however I would call these low maintenance birds (if any bird is low maintenance). They just don't have the same "Diva" attitude.

Do your research Like different breeds of dogs, different breeds of parrots are different, have different characteristics and needs. Even, for example, Scarlet Macaws and Blue and Gold Macaws have slightly different needs. Research to find out which bird you want before you buy. Don't but just because one is "prettier" than the other.

Do you need quiet? In the wild, parrots show "love" by screaming at each other. That is why, if you scream at Polly, Polly gets excited and screams even louder back at you. She's saying "yay! This is a fun game with my friend". In the wild, this is how they call to each other. She thinks you're calling to her.

It is true that a well-adjusted, happy bird will not scream as often as one who is not so happy. It's also true that some species scream less than others and smaller parrots have a smaller scream. However, even the happiest of the happy parrots scream. I've never been around a parrot who doesn't occasionally let out a yell. If you can't take it, don't buy the bird. Cockatiels (not Cockatoos!), parakeets and finches all make great, relatively quiet pets.

I have a Sun conure. They are among the smallest of the parrots. He screams so loudly that my neighbors have in fact asked what it is because they hear it from their yards. However, I've been around Macaws which, when you're in the same room, will literally make your eardrums ring. It's like standing by the speaker at a rock concert.

Do you like to clean? Birds of all kinds are messy. Bird eat by shelling their seeds and, generally, tossing the shell out on your floor while eating the "meat." If you think that's messy, you should see them do the same to a piece or fruit or pelleted food! They attempt to shed everything, even if it's not "shelled." Most species of parrots are messy eaters. Conures are notorious for dunking their food in water and then tossing it. Every Macaw I've ever known had a penchant for playing food war. That is not to mention the spilled water, feathers and everything else. If you can't stand a messy house, stick with another type of pet.

Are you afraid to be "outsmarted" by a bird? Most parrots have the intelligence level of a 2-3 year old child but they act like a spoiled child. Every parrot I've known delighted in finding ways to make it's owner or whoever was around pay attention to them. "Moms not around, maybe if I tump my water dish, she'll come over." They know exactly what they're doing and they demand to be in the center of attention. Most bird people I know are often being tricked by their birds to give them exactly what they want.

Are you ready for a lifetime commitment? A bird is not a goldfish. It shouldn't be a spur of the moment purchase. Do you know that a Macaw can live for up to 75 years? He's liable to out live you! Even the small Conures can live for 20-30 years. In reality, because of poor care and stress these animals normally don't live to their full potential but they should and you should be prepared to give them an environment in which they can thrive and can outlive you.

Can you afford home repair? Those beaks are very powerful. This is more true for the larger parrots than the smaller ones (although trust me, the smaller ones can do some damage too). Parrots can and will destroy everything from their cages to your walls. If they are bored and can get to it, they will tear it up.

My conure has ripped curtains to shreds and he's just a little thing. Anything within beak range is free game when nobody is around.

a green cheeked conureCan you afford toys, food, time? Parrots like to play and they should be provided with a variety of toys. Parrots also like to destroy these toys and guess what? You have to buy new ones to replace them. Parrots also need a variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts. This can get expensive.

Most importantly is time. If you can't afford to spend a little time each day with a bird, don't get one. It's not an ornament. If you don't spend time with him, he won't be happy and therefore he will make you unhappy too. These are very emotional animals that need a lot of personal attention.

The Responsibility Parrots get very attached to their owners so it's not fair to get one for a "trail" and then dump it on someone else. Parrots are very social creatures and you become a part of it's flock when you adopt one (or one adopts you!). How would you feel if the leader of your flock kicked you out? It's possible for a parrot to adapt to a new family, but it's a stressful and confusing time for the bird (and many are never fully trusting again). It's better not to take on the task at all.

I think for the right person a parrot is a wonderful companion. They are very intelligent, playful, funny and creative animals. It's very easy to get bonded to a parrot because they actually seem to understand you when you talk to them and you can see in their eyes that they are always thinking. However, it takes a special person to make a commitment to take care of a bird for life.


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Please note that due to the volume of requests I receive and the time it takes to answer some of the more complicated questions, I cannot answer every question received and I will not answer duplicate questions. However, I will try my best to get to all of them in a timely manner.

Content on this site is for information purposes only and not meant to replace veterinary care. Please consult your veterinarian for specific advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet.

All info copyright © Amanda Galiano