May 1998 Magazine
With the release of the movie "Paulie", aviculturists, breeders and bird lovers from around the world have begun to voice their concerns that the over-glorifying of the movie's star, a talking blue-crowned conure, will spur children and unknowing adults alike to make an impulse purchase of one of these comical, loving birds under the impression that they will getting their very own version of "Paulie". Unfortunately this may not always be the case, and the outcome in the not-too-distant future may be an over-whelming number of blue-crowned conures (as well as an increase in the number of other avian species) who are abused, neglected and in desperate need of rescue from owners who lack the knowledge of how to provide even the most basic of bird care, and/or are now bored with and tired of caring for their impulse purchase. This article is dedicated to all the "Paulie's" of the world, past, present and future, and their owners. If it saves only one bird from potential neglect, abuse or grief, I will be thankful. - - - - - Theresa Jordan
Of all the pets available in the world today, the most colorful, intelligent and exotic are parrots. Many people consider them to be the ultimate companion pet. Shimmering in iridescent, kaleidoscopic rainbows of color, parrots are by far the most beautiful of any commonly kept pet. They are also considered to be the most amusing of all common pets, as proven by the numerous amusement park shows and the increasing number of television commercials featuring parrots as the star attractions. They are natural entertainers, and this talent is widespread among several species. They have a wondrous mystique that is not found with any other animal.
They are also the only animal, aside from humans, that is capable of human speech. This dramatic achievement, in itself, is indicative of exactly how intelligent parrots are. Fortunately, many parrot owners have long been aware of what animal-intelligence researchers are only now beginning to discover and accept: that parrots may not be simply "parroting" or repeating what they have been trained or conditioned to say, but may actually understand what they are saying. In effect, this would suggest that parrots may indeed be the most intelligent of all pets. It is this incredible intelligence that makes owning a parrot such a uniquely marvelous experience.
Unfortunately, what many people fail to understand is that parrots are also among the most long-lived of pets. Life spans of twenty to thirty years or longer are not uncommon. Some birds have lived to over one hundred years in captivity. Your pet parrot will be with you for many years, and it is possible that your parrot will even outlive you. Are you up to the many challenges that owning a parrot brings? Are you willing to put in the time and effort it requires to make its life happy and healthy? Are you willing to arm yourself with the knowledge, determination and discipline it takes to keep a parrot as a companion?
Parrots are intelligent, complex creatures that need plenty of patience, understanding and attention from their owners. They crave stimulation and love. It is a lifelong committment to provide them with companionship and care. There's nothing more heart breaking than to see one of these lovable birds swapped around from home to home because its owners couldn't or wouldn't take full responsibility for it.
While companion parrots can be a joy, there are also negative aspects to sharing your life with a pet bird. Parrots can be messier than a small child in a toy store. They can be noisier than a freight train at midnight. They can bite with a force that can literally break your finger. They will repeat four letter words with great delight at the most inopportune times. Unless potty trained they will poop whenever and wherever the mood strikes them---even on you. They are capable of redecorating your entire home without a single "How To" book. They are clever, sneaky, resourceful and sometimes even intimidating.
So then what's so great about keeping a parrot as a companion? You will find many answers to this question soon after you begin your research into parrot ownership. Parrot owners delight in their parrots for a variety of reasons including education and entertainment, but companionship is cited as the most common. Just ask anyone who has one, and you'll get an earful of praise, love and pride about his or her feathered friend, along with pictures galore! You may end up wishing you hadn't asked!
Parrots offer their owners affection and loyalty with no strings attached. They are very friendly and playful when given adequate attention and quality time. They depend on us for their good health and happiness, and we rely on them for comfort and enjoyment. Dedicated parrot owners cannot envision life without their beloved parrot. Their mischievous nature, loving personality, comical antics and complete devotion to their human companions far surpass qualities found in other companion animals. Having a parrot for a companion is unlike any experience you have ever imagined. A relationship with a parrot as an avian companion is truly an exceptional one, and one you will treasure forever.
Everyone who has ever cared for and loved a parrot should be given a medal. These fun yet regal and loving creatures will at times try your patience to the limits, and the next minute will make you wonder how you ever lived without one! And although most pet parrots are generally happy-go-lucky, there are some requirements for your relationship to get off on the right foot. In order for the parrot and the parrot owner's relationship to be mutually rewarding, almost all pet parrots (regardless of their species), have decided that one of the partners must exhibit certain qualities or characteristics. And almost all of them have decided that it is the human partner who should be the one to display them! To give you some examples, some of these traits include, (not surprisingly):
So, Do You Have What it Takes?
If you are thinking of purchasing a parrot for a companion, consider how it will fit into your lifestyle, and then consider what adjustments you will need to make to accommodate his/her needs. Be realistic in the amount of time and experience you have to offer. You don't have to be a professional parrot keeper, but having time available to learn about what will be most beneficial to you and your parrot is a must. Factors such as noise, available space, specific diet, price range, amount of attention needed and how many people will be handling the parrot are all key points.
You should also realize that parrots are extremely social creatures and require plenty of attention. They are not "show pieces" that can be purchased and left in a corner for your intermittent viewing pleasure. If you are single and have a job that requires you to be away from home often, a pet parrot would probably not be the ideal pet for you. On the other hand, a busy household whose occupants are involved in many extra-curricular activities may not have the time available that is needed to nurture a relationship with a parrot. Every household is different, and the reasons for wanting a parrot for a companion are also different. Parrots are not pieces of furniture that were such a good deal that you decided you would take one home. They are living, breathing beings with their own needs, personal quirks and personalities.
There is a vast difference in the ability to sustain a life and the ability to nurture it. If you decide that your lifestyle is appropriate for keeping a pet parrot and you have already decided to add one to your family, the best that you can do for your bird is to thoroughly research how to best provide for the species you have chosen and stay updated on new information through subscriptions to high-quality newsletters and magazines that concentrate on quality information, problem prevention and problem solving in a nurturing atmosphere.
There are numerous newsletters, magazines, books and article available on a multitude of subjects related to bird care, and scores of avian sites are springing up daily on the internet, authored by both private individuals as well as avian-related businesses and breeders. Bird clubs and societies are being created in increasing numbers, and many are creating web sites which feature numerous well-written, informative articles authored by well-known breeders and behavior specialists from around the United States. For the responsible person interested in obtaining as much information as possible about the care and keeping of their pet bird, the opportunities to obtain this information are virtually endless, and the knowledge that it brings is priceless.
Winged Wisdom Note: Theresa and Alan Jordan are the authors of "The Quaker Parakeet HandBook" and have been raising birds for 8 years, specializing in quaker parakeets. They are also the creators of the Quaker Parrot Information Center.
A pet bird ezine, pet bird e-zine, for pet parrots & exotic birds. Cockatoo parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises
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Cockatoo parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises