Evidence of an Issue: Parrots as Pets.

With spring so tantalisingly close, I couldn’t resist taking the birds out in their carriers for some sunshine today. It was divine, but the warm weather and lengthening days both come with a catch. Hormones are in full blast at this household – and at many others besides. With work on my flock’s diet, things are manageable, but it’s not an easy time.

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Preparing for our outing with fresh fruits and veggies.

My Senegal has decided that I am no longer his friend, and will only sometimes let me near him. He is enamoured of my younger sister, who is away most of the day, and not fully comfortable handling him while he’s at his most unpredictable. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if he were getting the attention he needs – but he is literally driving me away because he is convinced that my sister is his new mate. I am the only one capable of caring for him at this time.

Has she done anything to encourage my parrot’s pursuits? Not one single thing except simply exist in the springtime. But that’s enough. He’s a lady’s man. (And hopefully things revert to normal soon enough.)

Ptak the parrotlet is currently in love with his bell. He will actually forgo time spent out of cage to sit beside it. He rings it and lets it gently scratch his head. Anyone who so much as glances at his bell will get what’s coming to them. Look out!

Spring brings out the worst in any captive bird.

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Celebrating spring by dehydrating some oranges as a bird toy

While the rest of the world celebrated April Fool’s Day, parrot owners were faced with a far more serious issue. The start of spring has heralded literally hundreds of search phrases on this blog based around biting, hormones, and screaming. My stats have sky-rocketed, and it’s not a good thing. A small sampling of the search terms bringing people to Students with Birds Blog (which, by the by, if you are looking for the article to help you solve these issues, check out Surviving Springtime with Parrots):

“My parrot won’t stop attacking.”

“Cockatoo bites face.”

“Screaming cockatoo.”

“Cockatoo sending me to hospital.”

“Cockatoo bites.”

“Plucking cockatoo lashing out.”

“Attacking parrot.”

“Budgie biting.” (Supplement different species’ names as you will.)

“My bird won’t stop regurgitating.”

“Bird attacking husband/family.”

“Aggressive parrotlet.”

“Lovebird nesting laying eggs.”

“Parrot won’t stop screaming.”

“Mutilating bird.”

“Jacket for plucking parrot.”

“Re-homing parrots.”

“My bird won’t leave me alone.”

“Parrot spring hormones.”

“Surviving parrots spring.”

“Unhandleable Moluccan.”

“Why does my Senegal Parrot bite me?”

“How to stop biting parrot.”

“Are parrot hormones as bad as they say?”

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My leg, after my cockatoo beat me up.

This is evidence of a problem.

My site will not be alone. Out there, the other bird blogs are inundated with this as well.  Are hormones with parrots as bad as ‘they’ say? Yes. It is a sad truth. Take the search terms as evidence. There are endless, desperate pleas resounding across the various places where I write on the Internet. The issue is the hand-rearing of captive birds. Puppies and kittens can’t be removed from their mothers until a certain age, due to the adverse affect it has on their mental health. Why are birds any different?

And yet leaving hand-reared birds to parent raise their young isn’t necessarily the answer. Those parents were hand-raised too, probably, and have no idea how to parent. It’s a circular issue.

By virtue of this most basic biological drive to mate, parrots aren’t good pets. Hormones are purely down to the animal, not one’s ability as an owner. For that reason, I would like to commend everyone who is currently surviving with one under their roof. It’s tough. If you are considering re-homing your bird, please, wait. Give it two or three months and you may find that things revert to normal again. Extra foraging, touch-training, reduced light, and low-protein/carb diets will help you survive.

This craziness does pass for most birds.

Flying parrot

Please, do NOT clip a bird’s wings this season. Using flight to burn off energy is one of the best ways to prevent hormonal-based biting, plus a clipped bird is more easily threatened, and therefore more likely to chomp

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13 thoughts on “Evidence of an Issue: Parrots as Pets.

  1. Your extensive knowledge of birds is amazing! I love all kinds of birds. They are beautiful creatures. I would love to have a couple parrots or cockatoos some day! I definitely have a lot of learning first though! It seems challenging but very worth it to have these kinds of birds as pets. They are adorable and seem so fun. I would love sitting out with birds in a carrier in the warm sun. It’s great that you educate others who are interested in birds and caring for them. Your photos of birds are always so beautiful!

    • Thank you! That means a lot. 🙂 I agree – they’re gorgeous, and they win your heart over. I love my birds and wouldn’t change them, but they’re difficult to live with sometimes. Spring is awful for a lot of owners. Cockatoos are one of the most dangerous parrots, but also the most rewarding. Bobo did a lot of damage to my arms and knees, haha. Budgies just plain rock, though – they’re amazing.

      Thanks again!

  2. Wow, that’s something about the stats. I wish we had a law that people could not own or adopt parrots without taking a class of some sort that will go over all of this stuff. Many avian welfare organizations who adopt out birds do have such a rule, but I wish it was a condition of having a bird across the board. Of course, the desire for parrots as pets would most likely plummet, and breeders would be in an uproar about it, but it would be best for the birds, and probably prevent more than a few stitches.

    • That would be a wonderful solution, but I think you’re right – a lot of breeders and pet shops would go nuts. It will take sacrifice on someone’s part in order to make the changes we need, though.

  3. Great blog Sarah and so true. With 7 parrots in my house things are hectic just now. Yes lots of foraging does help!

        • Uh oh… I wonder if he will be as crazy as Bobo? With Mavi being so crazy, I’m glad Bobo is at the Sanctuary! I can only imagine what this spring’d be like for him.

  4. Things are at peace in my house right now. Charlie decided to lay eggs in January. Hopefully the hormones will stay down through spring. I’m getting much better at reading the signs and trying to divert her from thinking about nesting. Absolutely no shredding, remove her snuggle hut every morning, rearrange toys if she gets too friendly with one, flight time to burn off that energy, 12-ish hours of darkness and still working on the diet. Yeah, they are a lot of work, but definitely worth it.

    I agree, new owners could benefit a lot from a class on parrot behavior but I don’t see a requirement like that happening anytime soon. On the plus side, it’s good that people are searching for answers and finding sites like your blog.

  5. I wish I had read this before spending 769.$ at a vet who had no idea of what was wrong with my bird!

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