I live with five parrots. They are:
• Conner, a female green cheek conure with the pineapple mutation (GCC)
• Woz, a 30 year old male orange winged amazon parrot
• Bob, a 30 year old male orange winged amazon parrot and Woz’s nest mate brother
• Hatch, a 25 year old blue and gold macaw
• Memphis (My bird), an approximate 10 year old goffin’s cockatoo (G2)
While they are all my babies, Memphis is really meant to be my bird, though he’s really taken to my son a lot. They are crazy about each other and my son can handle him in a way that nobody else can.
Living with parrots isn’t easy. It’s noisy and messy both, and you have to be willing to live with some of that because if you don’t, you will drive yourself crazy cleaning constantly just to clean more and more. We bought rubber matts to put under their cages now and we clean them weekly and sweep them daily. It’s a good schedule.
There’s nothing you can do about the noise. Birds are going to be noisy. There are times Bob and Woz in particular will start barking–often early in the morning to be let out of their cages–and there’s nothing you can do but just bide your time until they quiet down and are calm again. They aren’t being bad–they are just being parrots. If you can’t live with that noise, don’t get a parrot. They will cheap and chatter and squawk and bark and whistle and talk early in the morning until late at night, with breaks in between of calm quiet.
I tell people, If you can think of any reason NOT to get a parrot, don’t get one.
But if you can’t and you really want one, I suggest going to rescues and adopting. Parrots are so long-lived, getting an older parrot still means you’ll likely plan for them in your will. The blue & gold, Hatch, in good health can live 60 to 70 years or more, and there are some who have lived into their 90s. Getting one in his 20s or 30s still means having one for your whole lifetime if you keep them healthy.
And keeping them healthy requires work. We serve our birds fruit and veggie salad every day, and then offer a high-quality not inexpensive pellet. Bird seed is fine for wild birds who fly and forage a lot and don’t sit in their cages all day, but for a pet companion bird, seed can lead to fatty liver disease and other health problems from overeating fats from the dried seeds. The pellet and fresh fruits and vegetables are the way to go.
Basically, with a few exceptions (like avocado is bad for birds), birds can eat most everything you eat that is healthy for you. Carbs like bread and pasta offer no nutritional value but lean chicken, pork, vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of juices as a treat are all good for birds.
Birds require a large enough cage that they can open their wings up inside the cage. Even with this, they need time outside of the cage, every day. Birds are flock animal, and they need to spend time with the flock, eating, drinking, talking and doing all the things the flock does. if the bird can fly, he should be allowed out to have flying time. I don’t advocate for clipping wings. I think it ruins a bird’s self esteem and ruins their beautiful wings. It’s your job to make sure the bird is always safe and doesn’t fly out the door. We put up mosquito netting on the door so to add another barrier to prevent flyaways.
Even so, we have lost our conure–twice–and both times we were able to get her back. She flew right out the front door and hooked a left and was Ms. Independent Birdie for the night until we found her the next morning. I was heartbroken and certain she was gone forever. We are so blessed to have found her.
Don’t go looking at smaller birds as ‘starter’ birds either. Our conure is small, but she’s a full grown parrot in spirit and she will live upwards of 45 years. Budgies can live for 12-15 years in good health. These are not ‘throw away’ birds intended for small children or for starter birds only to prepare you for bigger birds. If you want a bigger bird, do the research, prepare and adopt a bigger bird. Don’t start with a small one and then give up on him or her when you finally get a bigger bird.
Lastly, I cannot tell you how much I love these crazy, zany little beings. Everything is right in my world when they are happy. As I type this Memphis keeps flying over my head, landing and laughing. And it makes me laugh. I would be lost without their love and affection–oh, and the bites. You will be bit. It’s not a matter of if but when. And it’s worth it.
But again, if you can think of any reason NOT to get a bird, then don’t get one.
Otherwise, do your research first and be prepared. Then be prepared for all the love your heart can hold for a feathered companion.
But again, if in the process of deciding…if you can find one reason not to do it, don’t. The parrot deserves someone who is completely prepared for loving these amazing exotic and expensive animals, who are like perpetual children. But the love they give is real. So are the bloody bites. It all works together and you have to be prepared for both.