Seven Reasons Why Parrots Are Not Good Pets.

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Cockatoos at the Island Parrot Sanctuary.

Are parrots good pets? What is owning one like? In my opinion, no, they are not good pets at all – caring for them properly will consume your life, not that this is necessarily a bad thing. This article was inspired by my previous post, where I realised that I never defined why I feel parrots aren’t meant as captive animals. There are several major reasons why I feel parrots aren’t meant as pets**:

1. They are only one or two generations removed from the wild:

Being tamed, not domesticated, birds are very much creatures of their instincts. Think your hand-reared parrot is perfectly adapted to your human home? Think again. Every behaviour has its roots in how they would react in the wild.

As an example, adult parrots seek to reproduce. It isn’t about pining for ‘love’ – they quite frankly just want to mate and make babies. If he thinks you are his mate, and you casually hug a friend, a parrot can only see it as a cold betrayal. Only mates touch one another – so why wouldn’t he be upset? You were unfaithful! And so he may begin to scream, pluck, or attack you and others near you. It’s only natural to him.

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Many parrots – such as these macaws – are relinquished to rescues and sanctuaries, or else abandoned to lives of sadness.

2. Hormones:

I consider hormones one of the top reasons why parrots aren’t good pets. This is a bird’s greatest instinct: to further its species. Every single parrot alive and in captivity will be plagued by this upon maturity, making a human’s life miserable – yet the parrots suffer just as much.

Cockatoos are the worst when it comes to hormones, hands-down. Just consult mytoos.com for some horror stories of people whose sweet baby birds grow up into rampaging hormonal terrors. Other birds are also  affected badly. Every year, brace yourself for bites, mate-guarding, screaming – even plucking. This is not something we can change. It can be helped through diet, but not entirely cured. THIS is the reason so many parrots lose their homes.

3. We can domesticate them over many generations, yes, but this is at the cost of animals today. 

Until we reach a point where birds have been bred to be less needy and hormonal, the animals are the ones who pay the price. A lot of people find they can’t cope with the reality of a bird in their home, which happens to include a lot of biting, noisiness, mess, and more. It is a lifestyle choice, after all. Basically, if we tell ourselves that they’ll be domesticated eventually, we condemn millions of parrots in the future to unhappiness. There are owners like you, like me, who strive to help them, but 75% live in less than suitable conditions. That statistic tells us is that not everyone is able to take care of their birds.

Maybe there will be perfectly domesticated parrots in the future, like feathery dogs, but I kind of think that’s a loss. I would never sacrifice my parrots’ autonomy and intelligence – it’s what makes them so amazing, and also absolutely unsuited to captive living.

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Lutino Indian Ringneck Parakeet ‘Lemon.’

4. Parrots are evolved to be very intelligent and fill a specific niche in the environment.

This is their downfall. In the wild, they fly many miles each day seeking food for which to forage. What this translates to in a captive parrot is boredom and way too much energy. We owners have to work really hard to keep them happy and healthy, because the sad truth is that a bored parrot will usually turn its frustration inwards. Maybe this is plucking. Or screaming. This is not a good thing for owners, to be sure, but for a captive parrot, it is heartbreaking.

Also, that cage? Bird cages are not evil (indeed, they play an important role in safety), but because parrots are evolved to fly so far, they have a lot of energy. One house does not provide avians a fraction of the space they would explore in the wild.

5. Parrots feel.

Yes, they have pain receptors and feel pain, but parrots also have emotions. Studies have found that they have the intelligence of four-year-olds, and the emotional ability of a toddler. So, in captivity, they can feel sadness. Betrayal. Anger. Frustration. Happiness. Contentment. Small birds experience this, too; it isn’t just macaws, greys, or cockatoos.

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Plucked African Grey Parrot

 

6. They do suffer.

Even a well-adapted, much-loved flock will have its issues, usually hormonal. Owners do their best to cope as things arise, but it can be a real test of patience. Knowing that parrots won’t truly adjust to human homes for many generations to come, can we really justify bringing more into the world to be shuffled from home to home?

7. Providing for a parrot – or parrots – is no simple process.

Taking care of a pet bird will demand your every waking moment, and sometimes your sleeping ones, too – how many people are actually able, not just willing, to dedicate their entire being to one bird? I have seen others lament the sacrifices: no more nights away, outings with friends, solo dates, quiet afternoons, and more. Young owners seem also more inclined to resent this life change, although it affects everyone.

Put simply, a parrot will take over your life. They simply do not ‘enhance’ it the way a dog or cat does. (I do, however, feel they bring something beautiful to my life nevertheless.) Yes, birds are wonderful, loving creatures, but they are needy and demanding beyond words. No one can really guess what it’ll be like until it happens. Keeping birds is sometimes compared to raising kids. Except that in this case, the feathery kid never leaves or grows up.

If you think you’re suited to life as a bird slave, please, consider adoption, or do your research and purchase from a trustworthy source. I’m definitely not here to try and stop people from keeping birds – merely pointing out the reasons why they aren’t suited as pets, in regards to my previous article.

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I find this picture of Friday the Moluccan cockatoo very powerful.

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**Please note: I believe that parrots are not meant as pets, but I will keep saying again and again that they are here to stay. Captive birds cannot be released into the wild; they need us. In this case, it is about educating potential owners so they know precisely what they are getting into, and can avoid places that do not advocate parrot welfare.

Anything you would add?

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56 thoughts on “Seven Reasons Why Parrots Are Not Good Pets.

    • Captive bird would mean any bird that does not live free. Not caged. Not in a house, Not in an aviary, Free in the wild. Able to fly miles a day to forage socialize with others of its species, Meet and CHOOSE a mate,

  1. I agree wholeheartedly! I am owned by a Conure, who no longer has a habitat to “go back to.” This is happening globally. Should we let the species die out for lack of jungle? I think not. If I were younger it would be impossible to serve my boohkey, but as I have human guilt for the ravishing of jungles, forests and islands, I will serve until one of us is gone. I have made arrangements for just in case she outlives me. These are exotic and wild beings, they should not be locked in cages or four walls, but as they have survived many eons, they are using us to survive.

    • budgies are bred and sold like trinkets, they do not have a threatened habitat, they are not scarce, nor endangered in any way. they are bred hand over fist and sold just because they can and are called a starter bird by many. and i’ve seen too many “starter” birds left in little cages to languish alone as the young owner matures and moves on. can this behaviour possibly be in the interest of the bird? i think not. it needs to stop.

  2. I own a lesser crested sulfer cockatoo and it’s not fair to her..she has,no real life ..I can’t get rid of her because the next person won’t care for her like I do..but still heartbreaking that she can’t be free and have a mate and raise her family free and happy! Stop breeding and selling parrots!

    • I’m going through this same guilt right now. I had to move, again, for the 8th time in my Congo African Grey’s 19.5 years of life, and we are all miserable. In fact, he gave me the worst bite of my entire life with him; it seemed diabolical, he literally dug into my thumb with his beak and grinded his beak down, as if he was trying to hit a nerve, or bone… there was a hole 2cm wide when I was finally able to break him free. I’m so heartbroken, for both of us, and I’m desperately trying to find him a sanctuary with other CAGs that will take him so that he can finally fly and live with his own kind, at the very least, I believe that’s what he deserves for his remaining years. Until then, I cry every day, and I try my damndest to make him happy in our new home, and I also get little else done, except for the few hours I can get him to be outside in the sun in his travel cage. I, too, wish we could outlaw breeding of birds in captivity. It’s not fair to them; they evolved to be free and flying, not in cages. 😦

  3. I have an Amazon parrot who is about 22 years old that we got from a friend who’s mother passed away (she was the owner). This explains a lot of why he acts the way he does. we had the bird for about a year and he has bonded with my mom and hates even seeing me and will try to attack me if i get close. When ever i get close to my mom and he’s on her shoulder he will attack her or try to attack me. However, he doesn’t scream or pluck his feathers my mom seems to give him plenty attention since she works at night and plays with him during the day, she even takes him for walks with the dog. He doesn’t ever stay in his cage he roams all day or stays on top of the cage next to my mom. I don’t really mind him for the way he acts, he’s just a bird and leaves me alone if i don’t bother him. the only interaction i have with him is that we talk to each other and i am able to feed him. But my mom needs the company more than anything so i can’t see ever getting rid of him. They should re-named this post to “what to expect when getting a parrot”

  4. I do not want a dog nor do I like cats, but I am thoroughly entranced by my 2parrots! I did not purchase or rescue them as they belonged to someone who loved them but had a financial setback so I took them without knowing anything at all about birds. All that changed as I wanted the best for them. Now I am much older have time to spend with them and wouldn’t know what to do without them. I feel bad that they aren’t free but they never would have been. They are not human but I enjoy being with them more than with most people who are selfish and unkind and hormonal more than a few week each year! LOL

    • Hi Christine I agree with you completely. When we look at the same thing from different angles we get different pictures. Just like everything that we do or own they come with pros and cons and having parrots or other pets is no expectation. I think parrots make the best pets than any other animals if they were raised properly. I have a free flying Green Winged Macaw. He flies outside all day long and returns home a few times during the day for some food and water and if I were in he would play with me for a while. He certainly comes home and spends the evening with me then I put him to bed. He has the best of both world, freedom and pet. I raised him from a 2 months old chick and I have given him the opportunities to learn the outside world and to fly since that age… Parrots are probably the most intelligent, faithful, observant, interactive and dignified animals among all the pets I’ve known. The problem is that most pet parrots i’ve known were not raised properly i.e. 1, them were not hand reared; 2, they either had their wings clipped or they were never given the opportunity to learn to fly properly; 3, their owner got them into the habit of creaming for attention; 4, lack of training of discipline and more… Not all parrots make good pets, especially some of the cockatoos because the sound they make are far too high pitched and irritating. If you have bad hearing then it will be fine I assume.

  5. I agree in general. I would add that it is particularly risky to adopt/buy a parrot with or “for” kids. I don’t mean from a safety perspective (its own topic). I mean from a life choices perspective. I am 48 and my parrot is 35. He is mine and I’ll always look out for him. But, when my mother and I got him, I was a 13-year-old kid. She and I were fascinated by parrots and worked up our determination to get one over a period of months. Things went fine with him (though he was not hand-raised and is hand-tame only to a point), but eventually I went away to college. After a year of grad school, I brought him to live with me. I could deal with him better than my mom could. He’s been with me pretty much ever since. My mom is gone now and, while my parrot is amazing and fascinating and I’d never let harm come to him (beyond that inherent in captivity), he’s also an ongoing and lifestyle-shaping responsibility. Working at an office for eight hours while your parrot sits in a cage with a radio on and a window to look out means daily guilt. How about a social outing after work? Ummm. Opportunity to work in Europe for 12 weeks…what do I do? Dating…? Kids…? I could not have appreciated the full implications of this as a teenager. There are positive aspects of getting to know one impressive, crazy, quirky, resilient, smart, funny (I’m convinced he has as a sense of humor) bird over several decades. I know what most of his many sounds mean (his “complaint” drives me crazy while my guests think he’s just pleasantly chirping). I’m sure I have an understanding of bird personality I wouldn’t have otherwise had. But, not only should a kid not commit to this nor be committed to it (de facto) by a parent, anyone should be very careful about stepping into this type of commitment. My parrot didn’t choose to be with me, but here he is. I’m going to look out for him. But he’s missing out on a lot and I’ve missed out on some things too. If I could send a note to myself and my mom in 1980, I’d tell about the downside. I love parrots and I don’t think they’re very good pets except in probably rare circumstances. We shouldn’t let their intelligence and adaptiveness fool us.

  6. Although I do have a pet parrot, I originally took him on because his former owner had a metaphorical gun to his head (his landlord was threatening to evict). I am, 6-7 years later, still glad I took him in, because I fear that he wouldn’t have managed to find a home as patient and tolerant as mine. Aged about 5, he had already had 3 different owners. The first owner had a baby and couldn’t cope with both, the second owner moved abroad, the third owner had had the eviction threat. Three owners in five years is a bit sad.

    I reiterate, though, that I am glad I took him in.

    After two TRULY *awful* years, he finally started to soften towards me, and these days, he’s actually really quite settled and (I am sure) happy. He mostly plays nicely, flies around strongly, seems amused and interested most of the time. He can be quite destructive. But we constantly ensure he has a stream of “sacrificial” objects to ruin, and this means he doesn’t (generally) ruin anything important.

    But, the main heading of this article really does say it all.

    Parrots are really not good pets, in any normal sense.

    I try to dissuade everyone I encounter from getting a pet parrot without reading things like this first. If you think owning a parrot is easy, you shouldn’t be thinking about getting a parrot. In any “traditional” sense, parrots make terrible pets. If you want cute, cuddly and obedient, get a dog. If you can settle for cute and cuddly, go with a cat.

  7. I am owned by a Hahns Macaw, Senegal, and a Lovebird. I couldn’t agree more. When someone says they’d like to own a bird I first try to talk them out of it. I tell them about the noise, the mess, the food, attention, and care they need. The toys they need, the time they need.I tell them to get rid of their non-stick cookware, carpet-fresh cleaners, etc. Also, if you have parrots you have to adapt your behavior to them, how you respond to them to encourage certain behaviors and discourage others is often counter to human instinct. I’ve had birds for 17 years and I’m still learning every day. My macaw was a huge strain on my relationship for several years! Some of the saddest things I’ve seen involve people who didn’t know what they are getting in to such as a young 20something, fresh out of college, living in a small apartment, starting their first job deciding they want a Blue & Gold. Birds are terrible, terrible pets –>for most people! But there are a few folks out there who can provide a wonderful life for birds. Sadly there are more birds in need of proper homes than there are homes for them.

  8. First, I agree that they shouldn’t be bred and sold as pets . The vast majority of people don’t have the time, dedication, or empathy to deal with them. My wife and I fell into the madness like many. We were young and stupid –looking for a dog in fact when we met a spunky lone Cockatiel. He charmed us immediately and came home. This bird “PB” changed our lives. I immediately loved how they communicate, clearly and unlike other animals. Learned about bird proofing the house after a terrifying lead poisoning (from a sun catcher in a window) which thankfully he survived after thousands in treatment. We then moved to the middle of nowhere to work at a major parrot rescue facility where we met the shell shocked victims of bird abuse and abandonment. After the stint doing this hardest job in the world, we moved again and my wife became a vet tech, and soon was accepted to grad school. Now is a top notch ER vet. Along the way we’ve had three more birds (all special needs) join our flock. One tragically died young due to a birth defect–tearing my heart to pieces. But these little ones are our family. I can’t imaging my life any other way and look forward to spending time with them every day, and I spoil them rotten. No they shouldn’t be pets, but at the same time I am so greatful for my bird friends. Not a pet, a lifestyle but a rewarding one for crazy people like us.

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  10. what can you say to someone who has started breeding parrots and is now selling them at local markets? I just don’t get it.. I understand owning a bird/s to give them a safe home if needed. but the rest beggars belief. I hand out leaflets in protest. does anyone else do anything I wonder? it breaks my heart to see all these young birds in cages and all these young people thronging around wanting them.

    • Well, I think the best way to combat breeders is not to go after them (the supply), but to try and reduce the demand. Handing out leaflets to buyers, sending them to educational websites, talking to kids in schools – these are some great ways to help people steer away from captive baby birds and hopefully consider adoption instead. So you’re on the right path!

      Remove the demand, and the suppliers won’t have a job. Plus, horrifying as it is, if you get rid of breeders, people will take from the wild instead.

  11. I have a cockatiel and two cockatoos and I agree with this article 100%. It is a lifelong commitment. I will be cleaning bird cages until the day I die. They are demanding of my attention and I feel guilty that they are in their cages for most of the day, although I take them out in the morning for an hour or two. This is not the life they deserve and although I am good to them and feed them a well balanced diet, I wish I hadn’t acquired them. Parrots should not be bred as pets, period.

  12. Great article! Everyone thinking about getting a bird should read this. We started out with one Conure, then got another one a year later, then adopted a Senegal(we are his 3 or 4th home/parents) and a 2 year old Grey(from the same owner as the Senegal). Fortunately my wife is a Vet and I have time to spend with our birds, but otherwise it would be pretty impossible and unfair to have birds in our house. It’s not just a lifetime commitment, it’s a daily commitment that lasts a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I do try my best to discourage anyone I know from purchasing a bird.

  13. Absolutely 100% true. After ten years of living with two parrotlets I can attest that the “cute” and “fun” factor comes with a very, very heavy price. The daily grind of screaming, occasional bites, territorialism and hormones remain way after the cute factor has worn thin. If you live with other people make sure EVERYONE is on board, especially with the noise, or you will add a second level of conflict amongst the humans once you bring a parrot into the home. It almost ruined my relationship.

  14. I have just found this blog after doing a lot of reading about parrots as pets. I can safely say that I have been (for now) dissuaded from Cockatoos and Macaws due to the fact that I aim to return to work in the near future (I’m currently off sick with mental health issues). I also live in a small flat so these would not be suitable. I am now leaning towards a Cockatiel (or two, I’m not sure whether I want such a strong bond with my pet bird as what some people have). I’ve read most of the posts on this blog, I’ve read the entirety of mytoos.com and I still want a parrot.

    The only limiting factors I can currently think of are a) I will be away from home if I return to work and b) I live in a small flat and a house is a far-off pipeline dream. Aside from these two things I know I would be totally devoted to spending time caring for and playing with a bird. Money is a factor, it’s tight, but I would get pet insurance and sacrifice other things to make sure an animal is happy. I have no other animals but am considering getting a puppy sometime soon as I find being around animals very therapeutic with my anxiety and paranoia issues (general rule of thumb: people make me uncomfortable, animals the opposite).

    Argh. So torn!! Anyhoo thank you for the myriad of tips and for the stories of other posters. The more I read, the more I know. Yet I still want a companion bird.

    • Sounds like you’re ready for a bird! The more prepared you are, the better. It’s the people who go in with knowledge who are going to succeed at cohabiting with a bird!

  15. People listen, if you think that you could let your bird go, out into the city, THEY WOULD DIE!!!! This article is 0% true. My bird loved me and never complained. In fact when I first purchased her she wouldn’t come out of her cage she loved it so much!! So please do not support this website as it is false information, thank you.

    • Hi there! Just wanted to say that we agree 100% – if you read through, I state that we need to promote adoption, because our captive raised birds would not survive the wild. I just find it disturbing that there are so many homeless birds because they are generally very difficult to live with. If I can help reduce that number, I can sleep better.

  16. After living with a cockatiel for 15 years, I fully agree. I love him to death, but it’s clear that he was never meant to be in a home. I spend many hours with him every day, but it’s never enough, and when I’m not with him he screams. I feel like I can’t get up to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water because I’ll unleash the fury and he’ll scream louder. It’s like there’s a constant shackle around my leg. I find myself always sitting in weird positions because he likes to sit on my knees under the desk. I have to hurry to get upstairs sometimes because if I don’t, he’ll fly after me (we keep his cage open when we’re home and there are no dangers present, which I strongly feel is the right thing to do if you’re going to imprison one of these animals in your home). He demands I pet him when I’m busy trying to work, and refuses to let me when I actually have a moment of downtime.

    This article is completely accurate; these animals are not domesticated. The difference between a dog and a bird is massive. Interacting with my friends’ dogs is fun, enjoyable, and stress relieving. Interacting with my bird is often the opposite, no matter how much I love him.

    Note that he’s not neglected; we take incredibly good care of him, hence why he’s 15 and still going strong. This is just his nature, and it induces huge amounts of stress in me and greatly influences my productivity. It wasn’t an issue when I was a kid, but at 25, it’s really not something that’s easy to deal with anymore, especially when you have other bad stuff going on in your life. Unless you’re a hardcore bird lover, seriously think twice before getting a bird. Seriously. You may end up in my position, wishing you didn’t have to deal with them but unable to get rid of them because there’s a strong bond in place on both ends. Despite all of this, it’s still going to be the worst day of my life when he dies.

    Do yourself a favor and just get a dog.

  17. I heard about African Grey parrots from a biofeedback therapist that I had when I was about 13. My dad found an auction in Lampasas, Texas called Kifaru Exotics that we bought our Timneh from. He was wild-caught. We bought another one from the same place, who has since died, and another from a couple in a retirement community. I deeply regret having birds for multiple reasons: the medical care is very scant (our birds have bornavirus, an incurable disease. Did they get it from that big bird cage that was left behind by a neighbor?), they chew EVERYTHING because their beaks never stop growing (furniture, walls, etc.), and it’s harder to interact with parrots in some ways. I tried to let my Timneh play with my hair, but he ended up giving me a big cut above my eyebrow. The other one hates the very sight of me. To this day, I barely interact with our two parrots. Now that they have bornavirus, my mom syringe feeds them for almost every meal. I feel that for all involved, bird ownership is a bad idea.

  18. I would never, ever, EVER choose to have a parrot as a pet. They live too freaking long. If you get a parrot that has a 50 to 95 year life span, who in THE HELL is going to want that bird when you croak? They are interesting, intelligent animals that need to be IN THE WILD, not shitting in a pan in someone’s living room.

  19. Agree’d. They will consume your life. Certainly mine do. I can’t just run home from work, get ready and go out on a date .. No. I’ve got to meticulously plan. This bird needs out time then that one then the other one. God forbid they all come out at once unless I want a bird blood bathe, a ruined night, and more money to go to vet bills! Then comes the introducing your obnoxious aggressive birds to your date after you’ve gotten to know one another. Yeah ….

  20. Excellent blog post! I wish breeders would stop with the myth that they are contributing to survival of parrot species in the wild, though. All they do is generate more human-dependent birds who end up being abandoned and rehomed multiple times (or sometimes worse). Captive bred companion birds cannot be released to the wild and are of no conservation value. It is illegal in this country (the United States) as well as many other countries to import wild-caught birds. (Obviously, nest poaching still happens, but domestic breeders aren’t preventing that here.) Conservation programs that breed or rehabilitate birds for release into the wild are COMPLETELY different than breeders who breed for the pet trade.

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  22. If you are familair with dogs and cats, then don’t think a macaw will be a good pet – THEY WON’T!!!!
    They bite for ANY reason and she absolutely NO loyalty to anyone including their owner.

  23. Thank you. My family is owned BY 4…2 jenday conures, 1 sun conure, 1 moluccan cockatoo. I wouldn’t trade them for anything I the world but my greatest wish is we never would of had the opportunity. As much as i love having them in my life, they don’t belong in our world. No matter how much we do, we cannot give them everything they need. We’ve taken on the responsibly, however, and we will do everything in our power so they have the best life they can.

  24. I think you are right. So sad that many parrots and parrot-like birds are condemned to a life of misery by those who love them. I have always held that birds should have company of their own kind.

  25. Great article! I had a Yellow Naped Macaw. He died 2 years ago at 37 years, from a kidney tumor. My life revolved around him. I had him before I had my husband. Skipper hated hubby, hubby tolerate the bird. They ended up best buds. He was always out and about when we were home. He was a super cuddly bird. He could entertain himself when we were out, but the MOMENT we came home we HAD to hello the bird!!! People always said I spoiled him too much. Off course these weren’t bird people.We nursed him through 6 weeks of intensive care when he started showing symptom of a tumor, then decided to end his pain. We had learned each other’s body language over the years, and I knew when he was telling me he’d had enough. One of the most heartbreaking times in our lives. . I still have all my nibbles furniture and door mouldings. Can’t bring myself to replace them. I want to eventually get another bird buddy but am not quite ready yet. I have been doing a lot of soul searching, and as far as getting a baby, I realize that would be so unfair to the bird. I figure we have about 30 years left if we stay healthy. Many parrots live double that. How cruel to try and rehome a bird after that long. There are a lot of “rescues” that need a good home. Older birds are not as adoptable as babies, so when the time is right, I plan to adopt a rescue and spoil him/her rotten to the end of our days. Parrots are fascinating creatures, but difficult pets to have if you don’t know how to handle them. If you don’t want to have a perpetual toddler around for a very long time DO NOT GET A PARROT. They can be very rewarding companions, but can go the other direction just as easily.

  26. I couldn’t agree more….I have 3 birds and their care consumes my life. My rescued Cockatoo is an amazing bird but a total handful. I tell people it is like having an ADHD toddler that I will have the rest of my life. I go out of my way to encourage people not to get a bird because they think they are “neat” or “cool”….hands down they are more work then ANY other pet I have owned. I have literally walked away and cried with frustration over my “cool” bird. I love her and the others and I will never give up on her….she has been through enough with her previous owner and deserves a good life. These beautiful creatures should never have been allowed to become pets….it just isn’t fair to them.

  27. You are right. I wanted a large bird so badly but know they are destructive and demanding and grow lonely. And the bird would likely out live me. I instead choose 3 cockatiels. I was told they are very social and like to be together and take up less room. Got a giant cage for them. They can’t get along. Now I have 3 giant cages. They make a lot of noise and mess and need lots of attention. Very hormonal. I love them. I try to give them a good life. But the average person would never do what I’m doing for them. In fact they came from bad situations. It is a giant commitment. My dog is mych easier. Think before you buy or rescue.

  28. Although I do agree with most of this article, … I will say this, … I have never known so much love until I started working with our birds. It is indeed sad that to often people purchase birds for all the wrong reasons. In fact people purchase most pets on impulse with little knowledge about the animal. Rabbits are just another good example of people being so self centered. Shortly after every Easter hundreds of thousands of bunnies are put to death or die of neglect. Birds are very high maintenance and are indeed very smart. They give you more love, (if you learn about them), than you can ever repay. I know, because we are rescuers and work with the Humane Society as well. We specialize in birds and have had to learn as much as possible about them, … the nearest avian vet is almost three hours away. We love our bird, there are 16 of them that will stay with us until they die or we do. There are arrangements made in the case of our demise so that they will continue to be loved and cared for. It is a lot of work, … my husband and I are both now 68. Both my husband and I have worked with birds since we were in high school. I worked on an exotic bird farm of over 600 birds. The rewards out weigh the work load and the love they have given us us is more that any human could give. Birds are our life. They all get to be out of their cages several hours a day and they all love playing with us. No one is plucking their feathers. Yes, they get a little hormonal at times but don’t we all. Our avian vets have said that we have some of the most exemplary rescue centers around, … they have never seen such well adjusted birds anywhere. We live for our birds and they know that they are truly loved. Our birds, (family) all seem to know that we rescued them and they seem to be most grateful but not as grateful as we are to have them.

  29. I don’t believe for a minute that parrots are as smart as a four year old child. A child that age can be taught to be still and not make a lot of noise, and I have yet to meet the parrot that could be trained not to scream. I have one that I have tried everything with, and I still can’t leave the room, stand up, sit down, ANYTHING, without him screaming. In or out of his cage, plenty of food and toys, health is fine….he can’t shut up for a second. If I have a phone call, he screams. Watching TV, screams. I am at my wit’s end, and ready to find him a new home before I go crazy.

  30. I agree with all that has been said in your article, as well as in most of the reader’s comments. Having grown up on a farm where all animals had a purpose (and none were kept as pets), as an adult I never wanted to keep a pet. I did however, due to my spouse’s overseas military assignment, find myself in the unwelcome rescue situation of a wild caught 1 1/2 yr old amazon. Being a wild bird aficionado, I would NEVER dream of owning a wild caught bird, but due to the situation (the bird had lived with 3 families in it’s short life and had a bad reputation in the local community, noone else would take it, and obviously it would never survive being let go in the wild, as it was hand-reared, however poorly) I felt there was no other option but to take it on, including the very large expense of getting proper papers and airfare, as well as quarrentine before allowing it into the US.. I knew nothing about bird-keeping (other than raising chickens for the freezer), but did my best to educate myself. Unfortunately, that mostly consisted of books I purchased on short trips back to the states, and annual trips to vets (there and back in the states), and questions asked to various pet stores since then. I want to point out how woefully inadequate any of these sources were. In addition to never trying to discourage birds as pets, not one single book, vet, or store owner ever (not even once!) mentioned (even in passing) the very import aspect of hormones in keeping a pet bird! No one ever talked about it until I finally met my current vet, although it took me quite alot of courage to finally ask if birds masterbated. He was embarrassed, but did try to help by offering hormone injections and explaining that discouraging the behavior was in her best interest as it would encourage egg-laying and she could become egg-bound and possibly die from it. One note I will add is that internet was not available to me at the time decisions had to be made, but you really have to search specifically, even now, to find much info on the subject. In the end, the hormones didn’t stop her behaviors and it was not in her best health interests to continue giving them to her. I still wonder even today if the risk of injecting hormones was even a good idea vs the dangers that “might” occur from what is apparently a natural (?) behavior (or would that be a forced natural behavior, having been taken from the life she was meant to be living in the wild). I still think I made the right decision to rescue her, although it has been, and continues to be, a long (often difficult) journey… and that’s just from my perspective. I can’t begin to imagine the terrors and frustrations she has faced in her almost 20 years of being somebody’s “pet”. And for those who may be wondering, yes, I do love her, but pet birds are tons of work and not a good idea for oeople and NEVER a good idea for the bird.

  31. Are they good pets? For all the reasons stated above not really. But I quite enjoy my rescued birds. They have their moments from time to time but so do I. I try to get them out of the house once a week. (I know all the rules and I break them so no need to lecture. ) I clip wings and put them on my shoulder and go sit in the outdoor seating at a restaurant. Take them through Home Depot, Lowes or Michaels sitting on the cart. (All bird friendly places) Drop into a nursing home and visit the residents with a bird. My birds have always risen to the occasion. I figure being non-flighted and out in the community is better than being fully flighted and sitting in a cage somewhere. Having a macaw in a strip mall while your wife shops is like hanging out with a celebrity. Pose for some pictures, answer some questions and have a ball. You can be honest about the mess, the noise, etc. Having a Macaw on my arm that considers me a buddy is still awesome.

    Are they as simple as a hamster? Not really. Are they as complicated as we make them out to be sometimes? No. Build a relationship. Let them be them. Learn to communicate. Find a way to occupy the screaming bird. Use a hand perch with a biting bird. See if real sunlight helps. Take them on a car ride or sit on a front porch. Share a banana. Let them destroy some toys. If a bird isn’t working out then find someone else that will give it a shot. I have seen LOTS of bird totally fail in one household and be golden darling pets in another household.

    We can shut the breeders down. Plenty of birds to go around. Keep them in the pet population and away from Rescues and Sanctuaries that either don’t rehome or make it wicked hard to adopt. Non-adopting Rescues are hoarders with larger budgets. They still fail (like in Canada) and leave a bunch of birds homeless. By pulling birds out of the pet population they encourage people to head back to breeders. (woops) Of course I still read articles encouraging owners to only purchase hand raised babies because they are the only birds capable of bonding. (UTTER BS) I rescued a Senegal 2 weeks ago in a cramped cage. Had the bird stepping up in a week. It’s 8 years old. I’m not going to ever be responsible for bringing a bird into captivity. They are better off in the wild. But I’m going to try my hardest to give the birds in my care the best life possible.

  32. Well written. Parrots really aren’t good pets. I agree with mostly everything here and it’s sad things are the way they are. People should never have tried to keep these beautiful creatures captive. super catch22. we are where we are now and can’t go back. Don’t get a parrot unless you are rich, but also have no job and lots of time.

    It’s really not feasible for most to have a parrot because the cost to properly care for them, and really build the environment they need isn’t generally affordable for most, not to mention the time needed to care for them.

    I have an Double yellow headed Amazon who pretty much controls my life. While I love her to bits, it’s also very frustrating at times to deal with and accommodate behaviors I didn’t know the seriousness of, and sadly probably wouldn’t have gotten her if I had known. She was my sister’s bird initially, and they couldn’t deal with the noise, so we ended up with her (about 13 years ago). we knew about the noise and mess in general, just not the degree it would be to, and the real level of involvement it really takes. Once she hit sexual maturity things changes also. She’s much more agressive in the springtime, and pretty much tries to get ‘freaky’ with anyone, and anything she can.

    I give as much time and attention as I can but I have to work and have some kind of life also.

    I think She’s overrall happy and vocalizes a lot!! Which for humans, can be a drawback. Most of my friends and family hate coming to my house because of her. It’s next to impossible to carry on a conversation with anyone, either in my house, or over the phone because whenever she hears voices, she talks and sings (seems great until you can’t think or speak at all) or sometimes squawks nonstop like an airhorn to be included in whatever she hears or sees. “How can you deal with that?” is a question I’m often asked.

    Truthfully, It’s less than awesome that I basically have to revolve my life around her, but I don’t want to just get rid of her either. We really love her alot, and she’s great bird as far as Amazons go, with no plucking or other behavioral issues that are abnormal. I know there are so many parrots in rescues and it breaks my heart. I would consider letting someone adopt her who has a better setup than we do, other parrots, and more time to give her, but even considering that hurts me.

    I’d love to have an outdoor aviary or filght cage so she can spend more time outside, and have more space to fly, other than around the house. I wish there was a bird park, like a dog park, but with flight cages or space to let her spread her wings a bit.

  33. I have a blue and gold and love him very much. He doesn’t take up alot of my time doesent pluck and doesn’t scream very often either. I dont understand why people like you say that they are so much work and demanding. I have had him almost 2 years and have enjoyed every minute of it.

    • I would say that you cant understand Maybe because your experience seems to be nothing like mine whatsoever. therefore, you have a different outlook. If you’ve had a bird for only 2 yrs, that doesnt require alot of time or attention and doesnt squawk then you probably can’t relate to my situation. I would say it’s probably pretty unusual for a parrot to be quiet and not need a lot of attention. Also I’m not sure of your parrots age but if it hasn’t reached adulthood or sexual maturity yet then it’s behavior will probably change once that happens. Trust me, I love my bird & want her to have the best possible life, but there are also major downsides to having her & Im glad for this forum to honestly share my feelings. Overall I dont think humans should have ever tried to take wild parrots and tried to tame them as pets. The most convincing evidence for this can be seen by the overwhelming number of parrots in sanctuaries. Breeding of parrots should really be made illegal and they should only remain in the wild. The ones that are already captive should be given the best life possible that can be afforded them by people, which is a far cry from the life that they would have in the wild as they were intended to.

      • Yes, yes, yes! This! I am on a collision course with making the banning of captive bird breeding as pets my mission in life. It’s so wrong. Everyone needs to watch Parrot Confidential (documentary; it’s on YouTube in its entirety). If I every become a millionaire, I’m opening a parrot sanctuary and the first resident would be my own African Grey. I got him when I was 19, and now he’s 19 years old himself, and I feel so sad for him, despite that I try my damndest to make him happy and give him choices/as much freedom as time allows. But it’s not enough. He should’ve been born in the wild, or even not at all would’ve been better, sad but true. I just keep thinking about if the position was switched; if I as a human were bred in captivity and bred for someone else’s enjoyment as a pet. That’s literal slavery and it’s completely unfair. I also want to join activist groups who dissuade people from buying baby birds from breeders/birds in pet stores, etc. Decreasing the demand will be the best way we can prevent future bird generations from living in captivity.

  34. Your spot on, parrots are extremely difficult pets, I’ve had a Sun Conure for going on eight years now ( I’m told they live for thirty five to forty years!) so it really is a lifelong commitment not everyone will be able to make. Every year around now July he goes off the rails!!! Squwarks endlessless from dawn till dusk, even if I’m right there with him (it’s defending) he becomes extremely clingy because he’s cold ( they’re equatorial birds 21c is the minimum they can bare before they become unmanageable) he wants to spend his days down my shirt scratching me to ribbons with his sharp claws & beak ruining my clothes with holes. ( omg! Conures have nut cracking beaks that are extremely sharp & can easily split the bones & fingernails of your hands) when they bite they can easily remove a perfect triangle piece of flesh from the ears nose eyelids lips & cheeks of their owners so be warned!) being bitten by a conure is the eqivilant of slamming your finger in the car door or dropping scissors on your feet from a bench top every time. They are fragile & break easily because they have hollow bones so you must never force them or they’ll break. If you must have a parrot I would start with a baby natural green budgerigar & then when your feeling confident enough a baby hand raised Quarrion. These two starter parrots I’ve mentioned are not as exotic as a sun conure or African grey, however, they won’t rip your ear or lip off when they get upset with you either 😀 parrots are incredibly intelligent ( they understand advanced avionics & aerodynamics) so of course their little geniuses!

  35. These birds were meant to be wild and also
    Tamed but beside God created these animals so we can Take care of them.

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