Blog the Change- So You Think You Want a Parrot

January 15th is Blog the Change day. Because this month is Adopt a Rescued Bird Month and many birds end up needing new homes because of what is normal bird behavior.  If everyone took a little time to research and learn about these behaviors, less birds would be looking for homes.

 soyouthinkyouwantaparrot2

Petfinder features 2400 pet birds listed for adoption. Sure, it’s not the 140,000 cats or the 170,000 dogs listed on their site, but this is just  a small number of birds that are looking for new homes. Birds are given up for a variety of reason, the biggest being that owners  are not prepared for the level of care they need or don’t understand their behavior . It’s not uncommon for birds to be passed from home to home often with any behavior problems escalating before landing in that forever home. Sadly, some never make it to that forever home.

January is Adopt-A-Rescued-Bird Month, a month to promote bird adoption. Bird rescues do the tough job of taking in birds, finding responsible new homes, rehabilitating those that need it, and providing sanctuary to those who require special care.  Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough rescues to help all the birds that need it.

Parrot ownership is a big responsibility; something that should be given a lot of thought before entering into. People get birds expecting them to blend into their life the way a dog or cat usually does. But that is not how life with a parrot works. Even though people have kept parrots as pets for a long time, they are wild animals and have special needs that if not met can cause the birds to start having problems.

Before adding a parrot to your family there are several things you should take into consideration. 

What are you doing for the next 20-50 years? Parrots are known for living a long time. That can be a big commitment. While we can’t predict the future and unavoidable things come up,but it’s important to take some of your future plans into consideration before adding a bird. Is one of your goals to travel extensively?  What happens to your bird when you travel? Would you like to have a houseful of kids? Will a birds care get to be too much to much to do when your time is limited? Where does your bird fit into your future?

A Moluccan is not a Senegal is not a Lory. I often see people posting that they are looking for a bird, any bird, no thought about what species might be best for them. Species will differ not only appearance, but in behavior and diet needs. Some tend to be nosier than others; some dustier than others; some require a special diet. With such a huge variation it’s important to research the different species to determine which one has traits that fit better in your life. Then remember that while each species might be known for certain characteristics, each bird is an individual so not all birds of a species will meet those characteristics. 

Hello-o-o. Everyone wants a parrot that talks. It the one thing they are known for. But not all parrots talk. Certain species are more likely to but getting one is not a guarantee. There are a lot of reason to love parrots, but if talking is the only reason you want one, your best bet is to get a parrot* that  will talk for you no matter what. At least until the batteries run out.

Can you hear me now? If you like your peace and quiet, parrots might not be for you. They’re made for making noise and they will. Neighbors will know you have a bird. There are some species that are quieter and even individuals within a noisier species that are quieter. But even the quietest bird can have moments of cacophony. It’s part of who they are and not a part you can change. ( For a little taste of what you could be in for, check this out.)

africangrey You have to travel how many miles to get to the vet? Avian veterinarians aren’t on every corner. For many people taking their bird to the vet can mean a couple hours in the car. Why can’t you just take your bird to the same vet your dog uses? Birds have different anatomy and develop different diseases and disorders. An avian vet sees many birds a year and gets yearly continuing education on birds so has much more experience. Someone not familiar with birds could make your bird sicker or even cause their death. You can locate the closest avian vet at the Association of Avian Veterinarians.

What’s in your wallet? Parrots are not cheap pets. They require a good cage that is decked out with a variety of perches, bowls, and toys. Ongoing costs include seed, pellets, nuts, vegetables and fruit along with more toys. Vet care is expensive. There are ways to save money like making your own toys, but you can still expect a good amount of monetary output.

Let me entertain you. Birds are not pieces of furniture. You can’t just stick them in a cage and expect them to stay happy and healthy. They require time out of their cage every day, one on one attention with you and a variety of toys and enrichment activities. Birds who aren’t given these opportunities tend to develop behavior problems such as screaming and self-destructive problems like plucking their feathers. 

Polly wants a salad?! For a long time, seed diets were what pet parrots ate. As more is being learned about their nutritional needs, it was found parrots on seed only diets developed health problems. A healthy diet should include fresh foods and pellets with seeds making up a small or no part of the diet. Some species like Lorikeets require a special diet that includes fruits, vegetables and nectar. These diets require that you spend some time preparing their food.

After all that do you still think a parrot would be a good pet for you? Birds are a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. Having 4 parrots, I can tell you the work, money and sacrifices are worth it to me. You have to make sure they are worth it to you so you aren’t adding to the homeless bird population.

If you decide to get a bird, I recommend contacting an avian rescue. There are a lot of birds looking for homes. Your’s just might be the perfect one for them.

To do more research, visit:

 Bird Channel

Avianweb

Avian Avenue (forum)

To learn more about the plight of homeless parrots and to find an avian rescue, visit The Avian Welfare Coalition.

See how other bloggers are blogging about animal issues close to their heart.

22 comments to Blog the Change- So You Think You Want a Parrot

  • Hi Dawn – thanks for participating in Blog the Change Day! This is such an important issue, and I’m glad you addressed it. Although I’ve never owned a bird myself, I know people who have and they’re not the easiest pet to keep. I’ve been told that many birds develop behavioral problems because their owners buy them and put them in a cage all day. They don’t get any kind of interaction or stimulation, and they become bored. Is it any wonder they develop behavioral problems? Thank goodness there are some people who are willing to rescue and rehabilitate these birds, and provide sanctuary if they are not able to be placed. Thanks for spreading the word!

    Vicki Cook
    Team BTC
    Vicki Cook recently posted..January 15: Blog the Change DayMy Profile

    • Thanks Vicki! It’s definitely no surprise they develop behavior problems. And the problems increase as they go from home to home because many people don’t know how to handle the problem. This means those that do get to a rescue are often there for awhile as they work on the problem. It takes a dedicated person to do bird rescue.

  • I could not agree with this post more! We have a Blue-Fronted Amazon parrot; he has been in the family for 27 years and he is still going strong (and talking up a storm…and screaming when he does NOT get his way)! They need a lot of stimulation and they need to be in the center of the action all the time. They are costly (vet bills, food, etc).

    I am not complaining because we love him. He is funny and entertaining. But it does take a very special person to care for a parrot so they are not for everyone.

    Thank you for this great post!
    Oz the Terrier recently posted..Blog the Change for Animals: CPCRNMy Profile

    • Hi Oz! How great that you’ve had your guy for so long. He sounds like a character! I have 2 African Greys, a Senegal and a little Hahns Macaw. I can just imagine your Amazon screaming because when my Hahns Macaw gets going I swear he is trying to contact relatives in South America!

  • Very informative post about something we didn’t know much about! We sometimes forget about the other pets, besides cats and dogs, that are looking for their forever homes. You’re right – people need to be aware of what they are getting themselves into when they get a bird. Great post 🙂

    -Grizzlebees and Dillinger-

  • Wow Dawn. That is a wonderful post! I wish people had to read that before they ran out and got a pet bird. I had no idea they lived for 20 to 50 years! Nor did I know about Avian Vet.

    Great job tackling a tough subject.
    Jodi recently posted..Wild Heart RanchMy Profile

  • Thank you for posting this! My blog is dog-centric, but I’ve shared my life with a small flock of parrots (rescue and not) for the past 10 years now. My oldest parrot is a rescue pionus who is 14. I’m lucky to live close to a couple great avian vets, but not everyone does and they definitely need to consider that before they buy. I love my parrots and can’t imagine living without them, but they definitely aren’t for everyone.
    Nikki & Penny recently posted..Blog the Change: Big Fluffy Dog RescueMy Profile

  • I have always been a little afraid of birds and even when I was a pet sitter, I did not take jobs that involved birds because I felt that I didn’t know enough abut them. Great post!!
    Julie recently posted..Be the Change 4 Animals by Being NiceMy Profile

    • Thanks Julie! Your comment brings up another thing to think about, what to do when you have to go away.It is very tough finding someone to care for them. I’m lucky I don’t go away very often and when I do it’s for a few days and my mom is able to care for them. Other people don’t have that option.
      Dawn Miklich recently posted..Pet Pop Quiz Answer #2My Profile

  • I had no idea that it was Adopt a Rescued Bird Month. I knew about National Bird Day but that was it. I love this post Dawn! You said everything perfectly! A lot of people don’t even consider most of the things you mentioned here I think. Your grey in the picture is a pretty bird too. 🙂
    Ann Paws recently posted..Shiner & Nibblet Are Looking for Some Handsome Boys!My Profile

  • You’ve provided a treasure trove of information about parrots here! Most (not some…most) people know little to nothing about pet birds in general, and even less about parrots. I’m sure you’ve made a difference today in the lives of parrots that may have been acquired only to be neglected or not fully appreciated. Raising awareness is something we can never have enough of – but you’ve definitely supplied a great deal today!

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals!
    Kim Thomas
    btc4animals.com
    cindylusmuse.blogspot.com
    KimT recently posted..Puppy Parlor Pet Shop: Puppy Mill in Lisle, IL?My Profile

  • Great post, Dawn. It should be posted on the wall everywhere birds are adopted or sold.

    My parents got us parakeets. They thought they would be easier to take care of than a dog.

    They were a lot of responsibility for a child. I won’t go into details but having birds as a kid was not a happy experience for me at all. And it wasn’t the birds’ fault.

    For now, I’ll enjoy the beauty of birds in nature.
    Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes recently posted..What is it? – Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  • Having grown up with birds, this subject is near and dear to my heart. People get them thinking it will be like owning a fish tank, something pretty to look at. To my father, his parrot is like his child. They share jokes, sing songs, wrestle, kiss, pet, play… and then I go to my local animal control and see three beautiful macaws who were abandoned because they were too loud, too expensive, taking up too much space. They hadn’t thought it through. So glad to see your post. Great job!

    PoochieProject.com
    Poochie Project recently posted..2013 Pet Blogger ChallengeMy Profile

  • I am so glad you participated in Blog the Change by highlighting a very important issue for animals we so often overlook. Everyone who is thinking about getting a bird should read this first.

    It’s good to know there are avian rescues out there able to care for these birds when people get in over their heads. But I am sure these rescues are suffering greatly under a large need and a small capacity. People rarely think beyond the scope of cats and dogs – I know I am guilty of that myself. I hope you have helped ease the burden a little by providing some education. Parrots are not easy pets and they are definitely not for everyone.

    Kristine
    Team BTC
    Kristine recently posted..January 15: Blog the Change for AnimalsMy Profile

  • Very interesting article. I don’t know much about birds and have never wanted a bird, but it’s interesting that there are other animals that need our love our care too. We can’t focus 100% on the dogs can cats. I had no idea that adopting/buying a bird was so complicated – but it makes sense, we did a lot of research about breeds before we adopted a dog.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted..Freshpet Challenged Me to Eat Fresh and Go Fridge Free #FridgeChallengeMy Profile

    • Thank you for bringing this to the “In Your Flock” facebook page, Kimberly! It’s a fact that parrots are a specialized sort of pet because they haven’t been bred long enough in captivity to be considered domesticated yet. (Budgies and Cockatiels can be considered domesticated if you’re talking to the right folks.) One of the cool things about the adoption services for parrots in most of the rehoming facilities is that the potential new family fills out an adoption form, just like a person does when adopting a doggie or cat from a shelter. The adoption form for getting a parrot tends to ask a few more questions, though, and many of the rehoming facilities offer classes or workshops to help the new owner learn good techniques for behavior modification, proper foods, training techniques, and other good husbandry ideas. And then, of course, I publish the totally awesome “In Your Flock” magazine now with all kinds of info. 😉 My sun conure, Petri has brought immeasurable joy to my life for the past 15 years. The birds that I’ve rehomed have offered different levels of challenge in gaining their trust and teaching them that new and different foods and toys are cool…I’ve found amazing fulfillment in caring for the parrots in my little flock.
      Sandy Lender recently posted..Read Aug/September In Your Flock Issue HereMy Profile

    • Kimberly there are so many more animals that need homes. While there numbers might not be as high as dogs and cats, shelters often have hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc looking for home. When I began researching ferrets I was surprised at the number of homeless ferrets there were. Now I try to steer people try to find a small pet or reptile to adopt before buying one.

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