Are you sure that you are equipped to handle life with a parrot? Before you take on the daily challenge of life with a parrot research the type of parrot that you are considering. Talk to owners of parrots; read everything you can find concerning them. Research, research, research, and then research some more. Life with a parrot is not easy. Take a look at the parrot rescue facilities and sanctuaries. These places are filled to capacity with the mistakes other people have made. Then ask yourself the following questions!
Do you expect your home to be spotless at all times? All parrot species are messy, even the little parakeet. Food is flung everywhere. Seed, pellets and nutshells end up on the floor. Fresh foods can be found plastered to the walls, cage bars, carpets and the ceiling. Pieces of wood from those favourite toys are strewn about. This is a daily occurrence!! Birds poop every 2 to 15 minutes, depending on their size. That tends to be a lot of poop. Big birds make big poop. Poop is not confined to the paper at the bottom of the cage. They poop on the bars, in their dishes, on their perches and toys, on you, through the bars onto the floor and on your furniture. Cage papers must be changed daily. If they eat messy foods you will have to change them more often. Cages need to be scrubbed with soap and water at least once a week, sometimes more. Cockatiels, cockatoos and greys have powder on their feathers that will stick to everything. Dusting will be an everyday chore.
Do you have priceless antique furniture? Parrots do not know the difference between the wood toys in their cage and the priceless antique chair that your grandmother left you. If they can reach it, they will chew it. This goes for furniture, woodwork, walls, computers, electric cords, picture frames, books, nothing is sacred! TV remotes become button less in an instant. I spent 2 days putting wallpaper on the walls of our living room only to have strips of it removed by our African grey. The hole in the wall to your right was made by an Amazon and a Goffin's cockatoo in about 5 minutes time.
Do you hate loud noises, or continuous monotonous noise? Any of the larger birds are loud when they scream, ear-splitting, earplug wearing, run for cover LOUD!! Your neighbours a mile away will be able to hear these screams. A normal parrot screams at least twice a day, for 5 to 15 minutes at a time. Parakeets, cockatiels etc may be small but they do have voices. Can you listen to a small bird whistle or call for hours on end? These are just what normal birds do. Some birds scream constantly!! Turn your speakers way up and listen to this website over and over for at least 15 minutes at a time, twice a day, and every day. Can you handle it??
Are you afraid of being bitten, or the sight of your own blood? If you spend much time with a parrot at some time or other you are going to be bitten. I mean blood drawing, skin ripping bitten. The macaws here can crack a brazil nut with their beaks. Imagine what they could do to your finger, arm or face if they applied that pressure to you. I have had the small bones in the back of my hand broken by a cockatoo. Was he mean? No, he was scared! I know many people who have had to have stitches from damage caused by a bird's beak. Small birds can also bite extremely hard. I saw a parakeet bite into a persons finger and hold on for dear life. That tiny little parakeet had to be pried loose. Check out the hand in the photo to your right. Can you deal with that??
Do you like to have visitors over often? Your non-bird loving friends will no longer come to visit if you have a loud, messy parrot. If they don't mind the noise and the mess the thought of being bitten will keep them away. You would be surprised at how some people freak out over a little bird poop on their new shirt.
Do you mind having holes in all of your clothes, or not being able to wear jewellery? Parrots love to chew on clothing. Those beaks can and will puncture your clothing. Every parrot owned human that I know has at least one good article of clothing with holes in it. Shirts with buttons will no longer be an option. A parrot can remove or break a button in less than a second. Jewellery is just another thing that will have to go. Parrots love shiny things. Rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings will be chewed and more than likely broken if you wear them near your parrot. Parrots have removed precious stones from favourite jewellery in an instant. I have seen 14 karat gold necklaces snapped in half by a tiny little parrot.
Are you ready to give up that non-stick cookware, those aerosol cans (hairspray, perfume, deodorant) air fresheners, rug deodorizers? Non-stick cookware can be deadly to a parrot. The fumes from PTFE have killed thousands of parrots. PTFE can be found in stoves, heaters, hair dryers, curling irons, dishwashers and many other everyday household appliances. The propellants used in aerosols can also kill. You will have to change to pump bottles. That perfume or cologne that you love so much will also have to go along with those air fresheners and rug deodorizers. The smells from those items can kill or cause severe neurological disorders. Bleach is also on the not to be used list. You can't use the self-clean option on your oven either.
Do you have an extra $150 - $300 to spend on a well bird exam each and every year? $1000 plus if the bird gets sick and needs vet care? In the wild birds mask their illness in order to survive. This is a natural instinct. Birds need to be vetted at least once a year to make sure they are not masking any illness. Looking at the bird and listening to his heart and lungs is not enough. He will also need to have blood work and cultures done. You can't take him to your dog and cat vet either. He will need a vet that specializes in avian medicine. Heaven forbid that the bird becomes sick. In one single weekend we have spent over $1,500 on emergency vet care.
Do you have money for toys, lots of toys? Birds need to be kept busy. This means toys, lots of toys, destructible toys. If a bird cant destroy a toy it is no good. They need to chew and destroy. It not only keeps them mentally stimulated but also helps to keep those beaks trimmed and sharp. Without toys they will look for other things to chew, see question #3. Toys vary in price depending on which type of parrot you choose. Toys for the larger birds can run upwards of $50 and last less than a week. We haven't even mentioned the cost of a suitable cage, which can be anywhere from less than $100 to over $3000 for the top of the line.
Are you aware of what constitutes a good diet for a parrot? You can't just throw some pellets or seed in their cage and expect them to be happy or healthy. They need variety and moderation. They will need veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, breads, lean meats, etc. This is an every day thing, not just when you have time. We spend hours shopping, peeling, cutting and preparing bird foods every week. After all that there is no guarantee that they will eat it! So you think they can just have what you cook for dinner. Well, that depends. Do you cook only nutritional foods? Do you use a lot of salt or butter? Parrots need a nutritionally balanced diet to stay healthy. Avocados, chocolate, raw onions, and caffeine are just some of the things that should never be fed.
Are you ready to spend the next 30, 40, 50, 60 years looking after a perpetual 2 year old child, or a hormonal teenager? Depending on the type of parrot you decide on, they can have a lifespan of more than 60 years. Even that tiny little parakeet can live to be almost 20. The bigger the parrot is the longer its lifespan. Do you have someone to take care of the birds if something should happen to you? Just because you love your bird doesn't mean that other family members will take them on.
Many of the parrots in adoption facilities are there because they were left to family members who did not want them.
Parrots are like 2-year-old children. They cannot be left alone unsupervised. They can and do find things to entertain themselves, see question #3. They will get into anything and everything.
As birds reach sexual maturity they often turn into hormone raging teenagers. Ever see a sweet human child that turned into the devils advocate once they hit puberty? Imagine that same thing happening to your little feathered bundle of joy! The sweet cuddly bird that you knew yesterday is gone. Today you have a feathered demon whose only purpose in life seems to be making you miserable. He screams non-stop, he rips out his feathers, and he bites you to the bone every time you get near him. Suddenly you need to buy stock in bandaids and the staff at your local store knows you on sight. He chases your children and spouse around the house biting at their feet. If he decides that you are his mate he will do anything he can to drive away anyone he sees as a rival for your affection. This includes your children!!
Do you like to go on vacations away from home? You cannot leave a bird alone with just a dish of seed and a bowl of water. He needs companionship and supervision. Birds can die of thirst or starvation in a very short period of time. And an unsupervised bird can be big trouble. I read a story of a parrot that let himself out of his cage while his owners were just gone for the day. Check out the damage he did in just a few short hours. You can't leave them with just anyone either, your non-parrot owning friends won't want to baby-sit.
BIRDS ARE A LIFETIME COMMITMENT! IF YOU CAN'T MAKE THAT COMMITMENT, WANT A PARROT BECAUSE IT TALKS, DON'T WANT TO BE BITTEN, WANT ONE THAT NEVER SCREAMS, GET A STUFFED PARROT INSTEAD!! If after reading all of this you think you can dedicate your life to a parrot then please check out these websites and ask yourself if the same can be said of those who share your home. Parrots affect everyone in a household, not just you.
Still want a parrot, and then consider adopting one from a reputable parrot rescue facility if you decide that you must have a baby then please buy one that is weaned. It is a complete myth that handfeeding strengthens the bond between parrot and human. The bond I have with my previously owned birds is every bit as strong as that I have with the ones I raised from babies. Handfeeding by an inexperienced feeder can be DEADLY!!!!
Remember that parrots are not domestic animals. They retain their wild instincts no matter how tame they are. You may share your life with a parrot but you won't own him. He will own you!!