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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.

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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.

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