Parrot 101 Series
[ Part 1 of the Parrot 101 Series ]
Full disclosure: I am a bit biased towards parrots. I grew up with a variety of pets but have always gravitated towards birds.
But while I love my parrots I am not blind to their faults.
Parrots are noisy.
Parrots are messy.
Parrots are demanding.
Parrots are too smart.
Parrots are expensive.
And most importantly – parrots are NOT domesticated.
Unlike cats and dogs a parrot is a wild creature that is (at most) only a few generations removed from their native habitats. Bingo, my African Grey, was most likely taken directly from the wild 30+ years ago.
Since parrots are not domesticated you have to read their body language carefully. And you can feed them, give them treats and spend time with them only to find they still dislike you.
Having what is essentially a wild animal in your home is both amazing and awful. You have to decide for yourself if the amazing portion outweighs the awful.
Parrots are Noisy
Screaming for no reason is pretty limited in my household. But screaming because someone is trimming the trees outside? Or someone rang the doorbell? That kind of screaming happens at least once a day. They are trying to warn me that someone is approaching our flock.
And then comes the ‘happy screaming’.
While you can try to limit the angry or warning screaming with training, there is not much you can do about the happy screaming. Happy screaming happens when a parrot is having such a great time playing that they have to vocalize. Loudly.
This is Baby having a blast with a new toy:
Yes, except for when you are trying to watch that drama on tv . . .
Parrots are Messy
Personally my least favorite aspect of having parrots is the mess.
Wild parrots eat in the treetops and do not pay attention to what drops below. Parrots in my house are just as uncaring.
Every time I feed them some delicious veggie mash I know a large percent of it is going to be thrown one to two feet from the cage onto the floor. I am pretty sure I could finger paint with the food directly on the floor and make less mess than my birds.
The mess can be unrelenting and you get to clean it up for years and years.
In my experience people often burn out from having parrots based on how much cleaning is involved.
Parrots are Demanding
Parrots thrive off of attention. They demand both entertainment and interaction from their human companions.
Bingo knows when my husband is supposed to be home, due to our schedules. If he is late she will say his name repeatedly. For hours. It doesn’t happen very often but it can be exasperating. When she really wants my husband nothing I say or do will distract her from her goal.
Which leads me too…
Parrots are Too Smart
Studies have shown that parrots have similar intelligence to a 2 to 4 year old human child.
They are smart enough to get into trouble and smart enough to occasionally outwit you (which can be embarrassing for some).
And on a more sad note, parrots are so smart they may self mutilate and harm themselves due to stress or unhappiness.
Parrots are really too smart for their own good in many respects.
Parrots can be stubborn and downright ornery depending on the individual and their current hormone levels.
A question people always ask me is “Do parrots bite?”
Yes parrots bite.
The question is not whether you get bitten.
The question is how often.
Having a strong bond with a parrot and understanding their body language can limit the biting but your parrot will bite you at some point. All it takes is being busy one day and failing to notice your parrots irritation and then WHAM. Your finger gets bitten.
Often the bite is nothing more than a bad papercut. The hardest part is not reacting when your parrot bites you. If you shake your hand violently you can injure your bird. If you yell or scream you make biting very appealing to your bird (they love drama).
It all comes back to the fact that parrots are not domesticated. Even the tamest parrot is still a wild animal.
Constantly watching their body language requires patience and effort.
Parrots are Expensive
The range varies but parrots are not inexpensive to keep. They need a constant supply of toys, which even if you make them yourself still cost money. Add in fresh produce, quality pellets and vet visits? It all adds up very quickly.
The initial cost of purchasing (or adopting) a parrot is miniscule compared to the daily expenses.
Caring for your parrot can certainly be done on the budget, but it is important to recognize that they are more expensive than either cats or dogs.
So Why Get a Parrot?
When all’s said and done parrots are awesome.
Horrible pets (literally one of the worst pets you can bring home) but fascinating companions.
All of the negative’s, aside from the mess and biting, can also be a positive.
Noisy? Yes, but it keeps the house from being too quiet. I enjoy whistling back and forth throughout the day.
Messy? Always. Not really sure how you could turn that into a positive unless you adore composting.
Demanding? Yes, but it is extremely rewarding when you form a close bond with a feathered friend. And there are tricks to providing entertainment that mitigate the issue.
Too smart? Yes, but watching their thought process and constant learning is also a complete joy. I never tire of watching Bingo solve puzzles.
Bite? Yes, but with education and proper training this can be minimized.
Expensive? Yes, but I get to enjoy the happy screaming when they attack a new toy. And the entertainment when they destroy a fresh produce kabob. I personally get more pleasure out of spending money on my parrots than myself.
I adore both of my feathered companions but I acknowledge the fact that parrots are not for everyone.
The most important thing I can impart is that a parrot should NEVER be an impulse purchase. They can live between 20 and 80 years, depending on the species, and as such should only be purchased or adopted after a period of contemplation.
If you are still interested in getting a parrot check out Part 2 (coming soon!) of this series, which covers how to select the right parrot!