Parrots are colorful, beautiful, and entertaining. Those qualities create a desire in many people to have their own bird. Like those people, I admired parrots, but I never thought much about owning one until one day, my grandson Carson brought home a beautiful cockatiel. He named him Hamilton.
Immediately, I fell in love with Hamilton. I nicknamed him Hambird. Every day I went to see him. We whistled and sang. As I sang “The Hambird Song,” he bobbed his head up and down and chirped happily. I was hooked; I had to have my own bird. Carson’s dad found a bird for me and brought him home to me. I named Elvis.
Elvis and I bonded, and I found out very quickly that my sweet cockatiel required a lot of care and attention. While I was quite willing to give the time and resources that Elvis needed, many new bird owners find themselves unprepared. Even a small bird like a cockatiel can be destructive and have behavioral issues. Large birds like macaws are even more destructive and, furthermore, very loud. Parrots need lots of stimulation and play. Being unprepared, many people neglect the bird or, in the end, conclude it’s best to rehome it.
Consider the following before getting a bird, especially a large bird, as size magnifies the issues:
- Are you home a lot, or do you travel? Parrots need a lot of stimulation. In the wild they live in large flocks. If left alone with little to no stimulation, the parrot will become unhappy and, often, destructive.
- Do you have someone who will care for your parrot when you are away? This should be someone your bird knows and is comfortable with.
- Parrots live a long time. What will happen to the parrot if he/she outlives you?
- Do you love your peace and quiet? If so, a small bird is the best option. However, they, too, chirp, tweet and sing. Rather constantly. It’s their nature to do so. The larger parrots will scream and screech. Again, some of them, rather constantly.
- Do you have the means to take care of the bird? They need pellets, fruit and vegetables in addition to seed. The parrot should have the right size cage for size and lots of toys to play with. They need a place to fly. They may also require visits with the vet tech for nail clipping (and wing clipping), and, later in life, expensive visits to the vet for health reasons.
- Do you have enough space for a proper cage?
Elvis and Hamilton came from a local and reputable pet shop. However, there are so many neglected and surrendered birds in rescue centers and sanctuaries that I would now adopt from one of these. However, not all birds in rescue centers and sanctuaries are available for adoption. The birds that are available for adoption are carefully chosen.
According to Laura Doering at Lafeber, there are many reasons to adopt a bird.
- You can provide a stable forever home. Many times, a bird has been in several homes and relinquished. A domesticated parrot’s relationships with its humans are critical to its emotional well-being. Each home which is impermanent can leave an unfortunate psychic mark on a bird.
- From visiting with a rescued bird, you will have an idea of what the bird is like when he/she reaches sexual maturity. Sexual maturity is different for different species. Some larger birds reach sexual maturity around ten years. The once sweet, cuddly bird becomes sporadically aggressive, lIke the ill-adapted adolescent it is. This can be disconcerting to a parront who doesn’t understand what is happening. If a bird is reaching sexual maturity at the rescue facility, however, experienced staff can facilitate the transition.
- If you want a bird that talks, the only way to ensure that is to adopt one that already does talk. On the other hand, a bird may have learned offensive words that a self-respecting individual would not want to hear. In fact, many birds that can talk just don’t want to.
- A rescue center will match you with the right bird.
- Rescue centers have typically worked very hard to restore the health of a neglected bird. Their staff will tell you the best diet for the bird so that he/she remains healthy.
Each rescue center has its own requirements for adoption. Here are some common requirements:
- The prospective parront must live within a specified distance from the rescue center. That way the center can make home visits and the prospective parront can also visit several times to see if he or she has a good connection with a specific bird.
- There is usually an adoption fee. The fee may vary due to the expense of caring for the bird. There are rescue costs, vet bills and rehabilitation costs to be at least partially reimbursed.
- The Rescue the Birds refuge requires that all birds have veterinary work and testing to ensure the bird is healthy. Other rescues may have similar requirements, such as–
- Polyoma testing
- Psittacine beak and feather
- Complete blood count
- Avian chemistry panel including bile acids
- Avian Boruah Virus
- If the prospective parront has other birds, those birds must have a clean bill of health certified by a vet prior to adoption of an additional bird.
Plan to visit your favorite bird often to build a strong trusting relationship wit a prospective parrot famity member. Talk to staff about the bird so you will know its likes and dislikes. It can often take several months of visitation to build an adequate relationship.
Sometimes people who are tired of their bird want to rehome it. I found my sweet cockatiel, JoJo, from a Facebook group where I am a member. The people liked JoJo but knew they didn’t have time for him, as their family was growing.
Jojo was about 1-1/2 years old when I got him. His wings were poorly clipped, and I discovered that he had rarely been out of his cage. It took many weeks for him to gain confidence out of the cage. However, as his wings grew stronger, his confidence grew. He loves to fly and perch atop the ceiling fan or clock.
Flying presents new challenges in our home. We lost cockatiel Elvis when he flew out the door. Sadly, we have not found him. But JoJo has filled that emptiness, and we provide him a good home and safe environment.
Here is a fun and interesting fact from Free Flight Birds. “Parrots in the wild exist in complex ecological and social environments. Because companion parrots are only 1 0r 2 generations out of the wild, we must recreate these experiences in captivity.”