- “They make too much noise.” Probably the most common reason I have heard, screaming or screeching is a big reason that people give up their bird. While it can be anywhere from annoying to downright painful, the behavior can usually be reduced by finding out what your bird is trying to communicate to you, but it takes time and patience. If you consider wanting a parrot in your home, please ask yourself if you can handle the noise and if not, are you willing to work hard to foster more pleasant communication with your bird. Also keep in mind that birds naturally make songs and calls – it is part of being a bird. Is it really fair to expect them to completely stop doing something that is natural and a part of their life?
- “They bite!” Yes, they do. Hard! Parrot bites, especially larger species, can range from a bruise to wounds requiring surgical repair. Keep in mind, no matter how sweet or cuddly a bird may be at times, there will be other times when the bird will bite. Sometimes this comes without warning. Birds go through a hormonal phase during breeding season and the frequency and intensity of the bites can increase exponentially. If you are not prepared to accept this, then living with a parrot may not be a good choice.
- “They are messy.” I used to have a cartoon on our refrigerator that showed an African Grey turning on the switch on a blender. The caption said “Having a parrot is like having a blender with no lid that is always on.” While bird owners may be amused by this, it is sadly fairly accurate. In nature, birds perform a valuable service to other animals by harvesting things that grow in trees and dropping a very good portion of that to the ground. This spreads seeds to plant new growth as well as provides foods for ground foragers who otherwise could not reach the food. In your homes, this behavior is neither useful nor desirable but it is reality. If you want to own a parrot, know that you will be doing a lot of cleaning. Wet foods are often flung gleefully where they cling to walls, cage bars and other hard-to-clean places. During hormonal times, birds will often regurgitate to objects in their cage if they have no mate. They molt, which means shedding their feathers including the fuzzy down that they seem to shed almost constantly.
- “They are destructive.” Parrots have been jokingly compared to toddlers with a can opener for a mouth. They are naturally inquisitive, intelligent, and they love to destroy things. In the wild, they would be carving holes in trees to hollow out nesting cavities. They shred leaves and bark as part of their diet. It must be confusing to them to see that our homes are comprised of the very same things – wood from trees! This wood is very appealing to their urge to chew and destroy. If you are considering life with a parrot, you may want to ask yourself how important it is to have nice things. Often the two do not coexist well. If you think you might be upset by finding something destroyed, again a parrot might not be a good choice for a companion animal. And unlike dogs, parrots do not “outgrow” the chewing phase.
Parrots are birds that have bird-specific characteristics. They are flock animals. They need to be with others of their own kind – this is how they survive in the wild. They need constant stimulation because they are intelligent and can become bored easily. They are very high maintenance. An avian vet bill can easily run three to five times the bill for a dog or cat. They are fragile. It takes a lot of care and a complete change in lifestyle to keep them safe and healthy. Because of their destructive nature and loud noise, they are not recommended for people who do not own their own home. Landlords get very upset to find woodwork chewed to splinters and neighbors calling to complain of constant screeching while the owner is at work. And they have very long life spans with the larger species living as long as human – even as long as 80 years.
Yes, they are beautiful and amazing creatures but they belong in jungles where they can fly, flock, scream and destroy and no one gets upset. Very often pet owners find all of these facts out way too late: AFTER they have already bought a parrot. When that happens, the birds are often passed around on sites like Craigslist, going from owner to owner until they end up somewhere like Marden’s Ark – often with plucked out feathers, signs of abuse, full of fear and emotionally damaged.
We’ve taken in over 100 birds to date. The problem of unwanted parrots is HUGE and growing every day, thanks to unscrupulous bird mills cranking out “hand-fed” babies with by the thousands and selling them to naïve bird owners who think the cute, cuddly baby behavior will last forever. When it does not, the bird becomes a burden and something to be sold or dumped at a rescue. PLEASE do not buy baby birds. If you feel you truly want a parrot, do your research, think very hard about the changes you will need to make in your life such as: no smoking, no Teflon cookware, no aerosol sprays near the birds, no ceiling fans and much more. Many of the things we use and take for granted can easily kill a bird. If you do your research and find you are still willing to share your life with a parrot – please ADOPT a bird that needs a good home. We have to break the cycle of cranking out new birds and selling them only to see them end up in a rescue early in their long lives. A new handfed baby bird does not mean a ‘tame’ bird that ‘never bites’ – such a bird does not exist. A sweet bird is one that the owner spends a huge amount of time with in order to build a GOOD RELATIONSHIP. This – not ‘hand-feeding’ or wing-clipping – is what makes a bird sweet and loving. Please be a part of the SOLUTION and join me in supporting RESCUE and ADOPTION of abandoned birds, and PRESERVATION of birds in the wild – where they belong!