Top pros and cons of buying and owning a parrot. (Click here for the canary and finch version.)
- Mess: Birds fling their food, produce feather dust, moult once a year, and poop without discretion.
- Noise: Parrots scream. They do this to alert you to their mood, be that happy, sad, angry, bored, frustrated, etc. Excessive screaming can be discouraged, but never entirely suppressed. Note that this is loud.
- Demands: Owning parrots will change your life – don’t expect a pretty ornament who sits in its cage all day. There is a lot that goes into the daily care of a pet bird, from showering with you each morning, to hours spent supervising it out of cage, to the time spent training. Think of them as feathery toddlers… for life.
- Specialised diets: Be prepared for the cooking and preparation that accompanies a parrot, as they do not do well on an all-seed or all-pellet diet. A good diet with fresh food prevents health and behavioural issues, such as biting and screaming.
- Biting: It will happen at some point. Be prepared that this can present serious danger, with large birds – but even with small birds, it’s far from fun.
- Damage to your home: Renters and homeowners, beware! Parrots chew, chew, chew! This is an unstoppable instinct, and even with proper vigilance, an accident will eventually happen. Your antique furniture, your baseboards, your favourite lamp, your clothes, your papers and books, your doors, even your walls are no longer safe with a parrot around.
- Cuddling is a trigger: Please, don’t buy a bird for cuddling. Owners need to keep to petting the head, neck, and feet. Touching outside of these areas is considered sexual to a parrot, and it will turn on you if you continue it without providing what mates provide (which is, of course, inevitable).
- Might not talk: Not all parrots talk or mimic. In fact, many don’t and never will, even African Greys or Amazon Parrots, known for being good talkers.
- Hormones: Post-maturity, twice a year, parrots are affected by their own driving instinct to mate. For some, this time is worse than others. Similarly, many birds are affected year-round. Most parrots scream and bite more readily, and some turn this inwards, plucking themselves bald. If you accidentally encourage your parrot to think you are its mate, it will bite both you, and anyone who comes too close to you. Handle with care.
- Parrots and children don’t mix: They feed off the energy level of anyone they’re around. Putting a prey-animal like that with energetic children is not a good idea. As an example, Leo (the conure pictured at the bottom of the article) bit a baby’s face and had to be re-homed to a sanctuary. Your pet may seem mellow, but never trust parrots and youngsters unsupervised. These beautiful creatures are not good pets for kids.
- Expense. Parrots are expensive to buy, to house, to feed, and to keep in general. They need regular vet appointments with a specialised avain vet, new toys every couple of weeks, and good, fresh food daily, amongst other things.
- These creatures are rewarding pets: Parrot owners put a lot of time and effort into raising their pets, yet most end up being met by the various challenges common to ownership. When your bird overcomes this, there are no words to describe the pride you will feel – except, perhaps, that it’s like when your child reaches a major milestone.
- Personality: Each and every parrot is unique. Who knows what personality you will discover in your pet?
- They’re very beautiful! Enough said.
- Their complexity is a wonderful thing: Their amazing minds never cease to amaze us, and they themselves would not be half such wonderful pets if they were mere cage ornaments.
- Overcoming the prey instinct and forging a bond is one of the greatest compliments an animal can give; it means it finds you trustworthy.
- Birds are ice-breakers: Take yours on a walk (either on a harness, or in a carrier), and watch to see how many people stop to ask questions. This is a great way to make new friends and meet new people.
- It’s an educational experience: You will find yourself constantly learning about these creatures.
If this hasn’t dissuaded you, and you feel ready to take the next step, there are more posts to help you on this site. You can use the search icon at the top right, or try clicking on the tab ‘new owner’s guide.’ Good luck!