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So? You want a pet bird?

When a person walks into a pet shop, they are naturally awed by the majestic looking bird in the cage. The pet shop owner, or breeder, might get him out and let him interact with you - especially if he is a hand fed baby. He may move close to you to be scratched on the head, or even cuddle. He may look at you with big, sparkling eyes and say, 'Hello," and then you just melt into those glimmering, warm, dark pools.

Who can resist? This is also the perfect image that we take home with us as we contemplate the pet we just fell in love with, and consider how we might come up with the money to buy him. What we don't realize is that perfect picture is not always so perfect and is very complex. There is much more going on within the birdie psyche than that of a cat or dog. At the very least, it is different. Their thought process and senses are different. It is why they are called exotic pet.

It is not just because they originate from abroad. It is also because they are unusual , interesting, mysterious, an enigma, striking, strange, and even bizarre. These are all terms that can be found in a thesaurus as it pertains to the word exotic.

First of all, of all the creatures in the world to be caged, if you think about it, the last of them should be a bird. A creature made to fly and climb through the treetops is not naturally built or inclined to cage dwelling. They don't live in holes like rodents, or caves like other animals. They live in trees and clefts in the rocks and mountains. They dance in the wind. And, for this reason, you should not take a parrot or bird home unless you are committed to making their life as comfortable as possible for as long as necessary, which is for their lifetime. With some larger parrots that can be 50 to 75 years.

Small and large, birds can be housed in flight cages to give them room to fly around as nature would have it. If you can not do this for them, then you must continually allow them time out of the cage. There will be times when this is not feasible. It happens. But on a an average day this must be done.

When we move into the larger and more intelligent birds, we can never completely fathom just how much stimuli they must have. How much and what type will vary from species to species. They are an extremely intelligent creature and have the ability to reason as the Alex studies have shown. Activity will differ from bird to bird.

For instance , an Amazon parrot is often times not real active and will be content with tv, toys , and some of that daily involvement with the family. Our Amazons' favorite past time is watching for the pizza delivery guy. They will also balk when we run them around the house for exercise. Amazons are prone to fatty liver disease because of this inactivity and willingness to eat that junk food that comes from the delightfully tantalizing, crunching, crinkling bag you have in your hand.

Other species such as Conures move around a lot, and change of toys for any bird is always in order. If they become discontented, or train you properly, they can become screamers. Train you, you might ask? Training you is exactly what I said. Any parrot can learn quickly that if he or she screams, you will jump through hoops to get him to stop. It's negative attention, but it is attention and they catch on very quick.

A Cockatoo must have that daily physical attention or they become very discontented and may self-mutilate. They are a touchy- feely bird and will simply waste away without that contact. Seriously, they are like having a two year old child that never grows up.

I get many calls from people who have fallen for those gentle balls of fluff and want me to put them in contact with someone who raises Cockatoos. The first thing I ask them is what bird experience they have, and how much research have they done? Most often the answer to both is little. I then explain to them all the reasons why they should not get a Cockatoo. Those reasons have more to do with the welfare of the bird than the people. People who walk into a shop having never owned a larger bird, or have not owned a bird at all, simple do not have a clue.

Does this mean they should never have a large parrot?

No, it does not. It simply means that they musr spend a lot of time researching, learning everything they can, and preparing. I say must because it is essential. They must go into it fully aware of what is coming. The only way they are going to know this is by doing research, talking to other Cockatoo owners, [or whatever bird it is] by talking to breeders, and by all means by talking to people who have had many years of experience. They can start by joining parrot lists online and joining a parrot group in the real world..


Noise is the big factor and when you walk into a shop or a person' s home, and hear the twitter of birdie noise, just multiply that by ten and fit it into every single day of your life. I have had people come to my home to look at Sun Conure babies and say about the Sun Conure noise coming from the bird room , "Oh, that' s not too bad." Well, our Sun Conure pair is in the bird room, they have each other, toys, tv, and other birds. They are also used to being in the bird room and getting attention from us as we work around the bird's room, which is quite often. They have been conditioned to be content where they are, so it is true; their noise is not that bad.

If you bring a new baby home, and for the first few weeks he is held and cooed over whenever you are home, that is what he is being conditioned to be content with. Then once that stops and you settle into a more practical routine , this perfect bird becomes a problem bird, and the "Oh that's not so bad noise" becomes a noise that can wake the dead! This is the number one mistake new bird owners make.

Re -homed birds can be particularly challenging. When you buy a bird that has been in multiple homes, you are bringing a lot of baggage into your life. Let me interject that some of my best friends have been parrots that were re-homed with us.

Parrots especially [ in contrast to smaller birds] do not re-home well, and it may be months before you win his trust and can begin interacting with him on a more intimate level. Most people just aren't willing to wait that long to have the perfect bird and they get frustrated. You can not just expect to reach in and pull a new bird out of his cage and not get bit. People do not realize at this point that it is their own fault. Then they may even return the bird, or sell him to another party and this just adds more baggage.

There is no such thing as a perfect bird.

There is no bird that is going to be quiet most of the time, not bite, not destroy furniture and play "let's drop this and see what happens" with your favorite ceramics, or not squirt projectile green and white globs on to you oriental rug; Or, not reseed the forest [your home] by swishing his beak back and forth in his dish while piles of seeds fall to the floor. It just doesn't happen.

So if your perfect picture is that beautiful creature dazzling in the sunlight that is streaming into that special, sunny nook, and he looks perfect, and will be your special friend who will always love you unconditionally; and only talk when spoken to, and never makes a mess, and always welcomes your hand anywhere near him or in his cage, and entertains your guest on command, [music please] you better take another look.

The best situation happens when a person allows a parrot/bird to be what they are. They should never hold the status that a prized collectible piece of art would hold. Just like children, they all have their own personalities and stress points, and some may be more social than others.

We have an Amazon that enjoys company. She would also like to bite them. But guests can talk to her and she will charm the peanuts right out of their pocket. Right next to her is a Moustache Parakeet that would be happy if he never had to see anyone other than our family. We have to respect that and not force strangers on him. He is very beautiful and is not a parrot that people see often. But he is not a display item in our home.

So before buying a bird, do lots of research and think about it for awhile before making that commitment. Do not settle for any bird just to have a bird. Research the different species and visit them if you can. Most reputable breeders will give you their time and discuss the different issues with you. I can not stress this strongly enough that you should take some time [weeks, months, and even years] with your decision!

by: Peggy Hoffman visit us @