Like any pet purchase, buying a parrot should be a serious decision. There are two significant differences between parrots and dogs or cats. Many of the larger parrots have the potential to live for fifty years or more and unlike dogs and cats, parrots are, at best, only a generation or two out of the wild. Much of their behavior is a result of natural instinct.
Because parrots do not have a history of domestication, anyone contemplating purchasing one should be aware of their natural instincts. Parrots are flock creatures. In the wild, they live in groups for protection. In our homes, we become their flock. They expect to interact with us. They like to be part of the daily routine.
Parrots are smart. In the wild, a parrot spends a large portion of its day searching for food. Since this is not necessary in our homes, a parrot needs to have toys in order to challenge it.
Vocalizations are natural for a parrot. Most common are calls to the flock in the morning and as they gather together in the evening. Generally these vocalizations are relatively short but may be loud.
If you’ve made the decision to add a parrot to your life, the next step is to decide what type of parrot. Size, talking ability, noise level, and the bird’s need for physical contact and cost should all be considered in your decision.
The bigger the bird, the bigger the cage you’ll need. You’ll also most likely want a play area away from the cage at some point.
While there is no guarantee that any bird will talk, some are naturally more capable than others. African Greys, Eclectus, and Amazons (especially Double Yellow Heads and Yellow Napes) are usually excellent talkers who have the ability to develop significant vocabularies. Macaws, both large and small can also learn to talk. On the other hand, cockatoos are not usually considered good talkers. That doesn’t mean they won’t have some speech ability.
While a macaw’s call can be quite loud, it is generally short-lived. On the other hand, some people find the frequent chattering of some of the small conures, as well as some cockatiels, quite annoying.
Cockatoos are usually quite affectionate. Many people find this very endearing. However, Umbrella and Moluccan Cockatoos can be very needy birds requiring a great deal of physical contact.
There are many resources available. Plan on doing some homework before buying. Check to see if there is a local bird club in your area. Ask to attend some meetings. Many allow members to bring their birds. This will give you an opportunity to meet older birds and to talk about behaviors with owners. Most will be glad to regale you with tales of these amazing creatures. Ask what they like and dislike about their birds. Visit a bird store and meet different types of birds. Bear in mind that most of these will be babies. It seems that one of the biggest reasons birds lose their homes are unreal expectations from owners. An owner must learn to deal with the different stages of a bird’s life much like the raising and training of a child.
If location is the keyword for real estate then socialization is the counterpart for a parrot. A well-socialized bird makes a wonderful, entertaining companion.
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