So happy to welcome Dawn Miklich, guest blogger for this post on parrots. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a parrot but I can so relate to all these questions. Especially the mess, oh the mess. But I will never forget my Moluccan cockatoo chasing the cats off the couch because he wanted me all to himself. What I wouldn’t give for a video of that now to post on YouTube! Dawn’s article gives lots of insights into important facts about parrots.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Get A Parrot
So you’ve been thinking about getting a parrot.
I totally understand why you want to add one to your family. I share my life with four of them. They are intelligent. Some can carry on a conversation with you. And the things they do that make you laugh are crazy! Often, I’d rather hang around with my birds than people.
But life with parrots isn’t all feathers and glitter.
Like all of us, parrots have their good qualities and their bad qualities. People who understand their needs and are willing to take the good with the bad will have a companion for life. Unfortunately, many people jump into parrothood without being aware of what is involved in living with parrots. The result is that many of these birds develop behavior problems, get rehomed, often multiple times, and, if they are lucky, end up in one of the already filled bird rescues. It’s not a very fair life for a bird.
If you are thinking about getting a parrot, the best thing you can do is learn about what you would be getting into. So before taking a step into parrothood, ask yourself these questions to see if you can handle life with a bird.
Facts About Parrots
1. How much noise can you handle?
They may be little, but they can be loud. Very loud. Parrots make noise. It’s part of who they are. How loud can they get? I can hear my little mini macaw when I am outside and that’s with all the doors and windows closed. Some birds, like my African Greys, make a high pitched beeping noise that some people just can’t tolerate.
Some species are known for being louder than others, but every species can get going and not everyone appreciates it. Family, neighbors and even you may get frustrated at the amount and intensity of the noise. In that frustration, the parrot often gets inadvertently reinforced for its screeching which makes it worse. With some patience, the noise can be kept to a minimum, but there are always going to be moments of noise.
And then we have the noise that most people want when they get a parrot– talking. When you get a parrot, there is no guarantee that they will talk. Sure, some species are known for having a big vocabulary, but this doesn’t mean every one of that species will chat up a storm. African greys are known for their vocabulary, but the most my Roca would say was “hello” and an occasional “up.” There is so much more than their talking ability to love.
2. Can you deal with the mess?
You don’t know how much of a mess can be made until you get a parrot. Food, toy pieces, poop, and feathers have a way of making it from one corner of your house to another. Cleaning becomes a new hobby.
The mess doesn’t always stay at home either. It’s not unusual for a parrot owner to show up at work not aware of the feathers or poop that became part of their wardrobe. Probably not the fashion statement most of us are trying to make.
3. Do you have the budget?
There is more to getting a pet than just the initial costs. With birds you have ongoing costs for food, vet care, toys and various other supplies.
Toys aren’t just for fun. They provide activity that is needed for a parrot’s well-being by providing chewing and foraging opportunities that a parrot misses not being in the wild. They are a must. But there is nothing like spending $25 on a toy only to have it end up a pile of wood chips in an hour to make you clutch your wallet and weep a little. Toys need to be rotated and replaced so they are an ongoing cost. Many of us make our own toys to save some money.
Parrots don’t live by seed alone. In fact, a seed diet can be very detrimental to their health. Variety is what is needed with pellets and fresh food. Not big on making your own meals? That will change with getting a parrot and you have to prepare vegetables, beans, grains, fruits, and nuts for a mix of fresh food.
Parrots require a vet who specializes in avian medicine. Unfortunately, they are few and far between so traveling a few hours to one is not uncommon. My avian vet is almost two hours away. It’s not a bad drive when it’s just a normal routine visit, but that same two hour drive for an emergency is horrendous. Being a more exotic species, their care, testing and medicines can run more than for a dog or cat.
4. Can you handle bad behavior?
When you add a parrot to your life, it’s not going to just blend in with your household. A parrot is going to act like, well, a parrot. It’s going to chew on things you don’t want it to. Your parrot is going to want to go where you don’t want it to go. It’s going to get moody and hormonal. And it’s going to bite. All of these are things that can be managed, but that management means you are going to have to change YOUR behavior. The way we react and handle the problems affects whether the behavior increases or decreases.
5. Do you have the time?
All pets need time and attention and parrots are no exception. If they were in the wild, parrots would have other members of their species to socialize with. In our homes, they have us. Ignoring them will cause behavior and self-destructive problems. You should plan on spending time each day with your bird both one-on-one and just hanging out.
Parrots are known for their long life spans which can vary with smaller species living about 15 years and larger species living 70+ years. That sounds great when you compare it to other pets. But that period of time could have a lot of life changes for you. What will you do if you marry? have kids? travel a lot? you move? Will you be committed enough to include your bird in your life with those changes? Will you be committed to making sure your bird is able to adjust to those changes?
A long life span also means there is a good chance your bird may outlive you. What will happen if that is the case? Is there someone who can continue to care for them after you are gone? Will you be able to set up plans so your bird’s care is taken care of?
Now that you’ve taken a look at these facts about parrots and what goes into having one, what do you think? Is it something you can commit to?
If so, don’t run out and get a parrot. Spend some time around people who have parrots and learn about what they experience. Join some Facebook groups relating to parrots and a forum or two (I recommend Avian Avenue). If there is a species you are interested in, join a group related to that species. Nothing can compare to other people’s experience living with a bird.
If, after all that, you still feel a parrot is the pet for you, consider adopting a rescue. Every year people, who don’t understand what is involved in being a parrot parent, surrender their birds to rescues. A parrot rescue gets to know the personalities of the different birds in their care and can match you up with one who will fit your life.
They take time, they take patience and they take our hearts, but for those willing to give those to a parrot, watching them thrive in our homes is worth it.
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Dawn Miklich shares her life with four feathered family members, Suerto, Eco, Kijivu, and Ruby along with a crew of dogs, cats and rodents. When she isn’t cleaning up after critters or loving on them, you can find her at PetFaves where she digs up cool products for pets and their people. You can also follow on Facebook and Pinterest.