Subject: Why do we keep parrots as pets?

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We recently shared a link on Facebook from an article in Flock Talk produced by The Garda Aviary, a rescue. The message given to the Girl Scouts on this visit was "parrots do not make good pets because they are flocking animals and are extremely loud and noisy, and they will most likely outlive their own persons parrots can live up to 80 to 90 years old.

The posting of the article brought the following response from Melanie Allen of Hagen

The pet industry should be very concerned with this strategy…I don’t know that it’s wrong…the first line is good PR piece because it shows Girls Scouts getting involved in community-the parrot community. This group of young girls learned many interesting facts about Parrots.  That’s cool-many scholastic lessons can be taught to our younger generations with the help of parrots. What alarmed me was the last item listed as part of their learning experience with Garuda Aviary… “That parrots do not make good pets”. They didn’t learn-“Parrots may not be good pets for many people”. It was pretty finite. 

My concern that the Flock Talk group is imprinting a very negative and final attitude on impressionable young people stems from not just a manufacture perspective, but from a parrot enthusiast that is a very involved member of the avian community-to include properly run rescues and rehabilitators.

I’ll be the first to agree that parrots do not make good pets for a great number of people that either have them or have had them-hence the need for parrot adoption facilities-and perhaps sanctuary set ups for birds that are unable to be return to companion lifestyle.  BUT, not all of companion parrots are in bad situations. And, not all pet bird owners are ill equipped to share their life with a parrot as a companion. Our young people need to be educated on the pros and cons of sharing a life with a companion parrot and that as a pet, a parrot is a very complex creature that must be cared for physically and intellectually.

Finite attitudes of this nature create risks for the parrots and the future for all parrots in companion lifestyles. Advancements in avian medicine, avian nutrition, and care begins with the pets- and is very much applied in wild parrot conservation endeavors.  Companies such as Hagen, Zupreem, Lafebers to name just a few that work to on better products for the companion bird.

If there are no companion parrots in our lives, companies such as these do not have reason to exist. And, if they’re not in existence to continuously go forward with better product development, there would be no charitable donations to groups that are taking care of parrots in sanctuary organizations that stem from profit and parrot enthusiasm of these companies.  

Where would parrot sanctuaries get their support?  The general public?  For the average citizen in the US, one that does not have a tie to parrots-there are many charitable causes-both domestic and global that will have precedence over the parrots in a sanctuary. The avian community has been the driving force behind better products, better toys, better nutrition, and most certainly growth of knowledge in avian health & care, and also fundraising for parrot sanctuaries & rescues and  wild parrot conservation projects. 

This type of propaganda on youth has happened in Europe-where many pet shops do not sell parrots-or products that cater to them.  In the United Kingdom, the pet parrot has lost in place in the pet industry in the past decade. At one time many pet stores had parakeets and an occasional Amazon for sale.

Now, it’s a rarity. The reason-the media went crazy infiltrating schools, youth groups, everything that comes in contact with young generation-with messages that supported the claims that birds do not make good pets. “They shouldn’t be in cages”.” They are too noisy”. I couldn’t believe it-so I reached out to my aunts and uncles, and cousins in England. And, yes –my cousins’ grandchildren think it’s horrendous that I have a pet parrot-in a cage!

 - Melanie

Video -  How a Parrot Learns it's Name in Wild
Baby Parrots in nest waiting to be fed

Catherine found this interesting blog post from the Parrot Nation blog with a tongue-in-cheek description of how you can prepare yourself for bird ownership. The first paragraph sets the tone. 

"Take a big bite of carrot. Chew it up well, but don’t swallow it. Now go out to your dining room and spew it all over the wall. Leave it there until it dries. Get a sponge and a scraper and scrape it off the wall. Repeat at least three times a week".

The flipside to all of this is there are many humans who don't make necessarily good bird companions. We had an individual come into the Birdie Boutique last week to order some breeding cages. The cages he wanted us to order were 21 inches wide and divided. He wanted three of them. These cages are typically used to breed canaries. We always ask about the species we're dealing with so that we can properly match the equipment to the birds.  

His response was jaw-dropping. He wanted to put four pairs of breeding lovebirds and one pair of breeding Pionus parrots in the five 11 inch wide compartments with the sixth 11 inch wide compartment designated for all the baby birds. We asked him how much he knew about breeding? He said he didn't but he was learning. He needed the cages right away because he already bought the birds and they were all living in cardboard boxes in his home. He then basically asked us to teach him everything we knew about breeding birds. We don't do this often we just asked him to leave.
Video - Hungry lovebird can't wait for his food!
Lovebird in container of Nutriberries bird food bucket
So where does this leave us? Do birds really make bad pets? Do humans really make bad companions? Neither statement is a hard truth. We feel the best approach is education. Education before you get the bird is especially important. Understanding your abilities, your lifestyle and the expectation of family members and friends who may be asked to participate in the care of your bird(s).

Education is ongoing. We've been doing this for almost 20 years and we feel we've only just scratched the surface in terms of learning about their behavior. If you've spent any time recently on you'll notice that we are placing buttons in almost every category leading to articles on proper bird and parrot care. As we learn we want you to learn and be confident in caring for your birds. . 
  Banner - Lixit bird water bottles and water bottle parts

We'd love to hear what you think about bird ownership. Share your thoughts on our Facebook Fan page - here

Mitch Rezman

Windy City Parrot, Inc 


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