Parrots are often bought on impulse, because someone wants a colorful, talking bird, or because they assume birds are cool pets. These people do not realize what they are getting into. After they get the bird home, they are faced with a loud, messy, expensive animal that lives many years and is a wild animal. Parrots are following cats and dogs now; they are extremely popular, but they are also facing homelessness.
Parrots are LOUD. Even the small parrots are loud. That is what parrots are made to do, and we cannot fault them for it. Whether the bird guardian is at his wit’s end, or the neighbors, noise levels are a major reason people give up their parrots. Most parrots do not fare well in apartment or condominium settings because of noise levels. The small ones are fine in most.
Parrots are MESSY. They throw their food, and some species even projectile poop! Parrot guardians find themselves cleaning every day. Many parrot guardians have multiple cleaning appliances, such as vacuums, dust-busters, steam cleaners, electric brooms, special cleaning products to remove dried on food and feces.
It is a non-stop job that continues for the life of the bird (remember how long birds live??). Be sure can handle this commitment by arranging to visit someone that has birds. Particularly, places that have the species you are interested in owning.
Parrots are EXPENSIVE. With a medium sized parrot, such as an Amazon or African Grey, you can expect to pay an average of nearly $100.00 a month for supplies (toys, food, play stands, etc.) In addition, veterinary care (with vet costs spread throughout the year). This does not consider the cost of the cage, which can run you $400-$1,500. Vet care can run $150.00 a year as long as the bird remains healthy. Depending on the cost of the bird itself, you are looking at a very costly “pet”. We find the above statement applies more to the bigger birds.
If you care for a parrot, you will be bit. It is bound to happen eventually. Whether it is a daily action, or only happens when your bird is scared (like at the vet’s office), it will happen. How you handle the biting will decide whether it becomes habitual. If you lose your confidence, you will probably stop handling your bird and the bird will eventually lose his tameness. Birds can decide they do not like particular people. Even if your bird loves you, what if he attacks your boyfriend/girlfriend/children?
Remember the larger parrots have powerful beaks. People have gone to the hospital after being bitten by their parrot. Some bird caretakers have needed stitches or even reconstructive surgery after a bad bite, which can happen especially during hormonal times. Are you comfortable living with that possibility? Are you comfortable having an animal like this around your children? This mainly applies to the bigger birds, although, small birds bite too.
Problems such as excessive screaming, fear biting, feather destructive behaviors, body mutilation, and other neurotic behavioral problems cause people to give up their parrots. Behavioral problems can be a result of many different causes, all of which can be related to life in captivity. If you work all-day, be prepared to spend most of your free time caring for your bird. You cannot come home after being gone all day and expect the parrot to “behave”.
In the wild, parrots do not have behavioral problems. It will be your responsibility to prevent behavior problems, or to resolve them as best you can if they do happen. There are many “behavioral issues” that are not problems for the bird, but may be problems for you, such as loud noises, mess, etc. These behaviors would be normal for the bird in the wild.
Most birds give off dander and dust that can irritate or create breathing problems. People with asthma should not keep birds that give off lots of dust like Cockatoos, African Greys, and Cockatiels. Some older people or people with respiratory problems have great difficulties with birds.
Having a Baby?
Many younger people get birds in their teens or twenties. When they decide to start a family, they realize the bird does not fit into their life anymore, or they feel that they just cannot give the bird as much attention as they should. Birds can be dangerous around children, and birds can suffer from the lack of attention caused by a new baby in the family.
The lack of attention can cause all sorts of behavioral problems for the parrot. Many times single people bond with their bird too much, and when the single person marries or moves in with their mate, the bird can become aggressive toward the rival. This is one of the leading causes of parrot displacement.
Of course, there are other reasons people give up their parrots. You can contact some Rescue Organizations and ask for information on parrots to learn more. Adopting a rescue bird can be one way to help with the problem of overpopulation. Be aware that, while there are plenty of well-adjusted birds living in rescue situations, some rescue birds are often difficult to live with and may have serious problems that a beginner should not try to deal with.
Only someone with plenty of resources should try to care for a rescue bird that has challenging behavioral issues. A good rescue would only place birds into compatible homes with people who have enough knowledge and are prepared to care for an exotic bird.
How to Adopt a Bird
You have a few choices if you decide to adopt a bird. Below are some avenues you can explore.
Avian Rescue, Adoption, and Placement Groups
These can vary quite a bit, in how they are run, how large they are, etc. They may be large facilities with staff veterinarians, or they might be an area in someone’s home that is set aside for rescued birds. They might be a registered non-profit organization supported by donations, or they might be financed by someone’s paycheck. You will need to judge the quality of the facility that has birds for adoption.
Good avian rescue organizations with the highest standards of care will meet the following criteria:
- The group will either need proof that surrendered birds are in good health (through veterinary reports) or they will provide veterinary testing for incoming birds immediately on arrival.
- The group will quarantine new birds for a time of 30–90 days.
- The group will feed the birds in their care a varied, healthy, and fresh diet.
- The facilities that birds are housed in will be cleaned regularly, and open enough to allow them daily exercise.
- If the group adopts birds out, they will screen potential adopters very carefully to ensure all birds go to loving homes where the bird will thrive. The group will follow up with adopters to ensure all adopted birds are thriving.
- The group will care for all birds based on the birds’ individual needs and not based on what is most convenient for them, concerning flight, social and intellectual needs, and daily biological rhythms.
- The group will never breed birds or allow birds to be placed into homes where they will be bred.
- The group will provide education on the proper care and treatment of birds. The group will provide supportive follow up care to adopters.
- If the group adopts out birds, they will always use legally binding contracts to ensure the bird can be recovered if improper treatment is discovered in the adopted home.
- Having non-profit status can help you to identify good rescue groups; however, there are a few groups that are not registered non-profit status that you should be wary of. Having the non-profit status does not necessarily mean a group is ethical. If a group is non-profit, seek a copy of its financial statement and information about the vet they use, and references from other people that either have been there, or know the people. However, very important to check the rescue out for you.
- The rescue group should have long-range plans to provide consistent quality care, housing, and staffing.
- Unless your situation is an absolute emergency, the group should try to work with you to solve any problems first before the bird is to be surrendered.
- If the rescue group cannot accept any birds at the time, they should refer you to another reputable rescue group for help. If they do, again, check them out by going there. Rescue groups should not refuse birds based on their size and species. This could signal that they may be looking to earn larger birds simply to sell or adopt out at higher fees.
- Be wary of rescue groups that charge near market-value adoption fees for birds. Not all groups charge adoption fees, but those that do often only charge for the cost of veterinary testing and treatment, food, caging, toys, and other needs for the bird you are adopting, and not the rest of the flock. These can easily be documented with receipts, which are important to get and keep.
To adopt a bird, you will need to contact a rescue organization near you. You will probably need to fill out an application, possibly pay an adoption fee, visit the facility to find a bird that “picks” you, and possibly provide references. You might need to live a certain distance from the facility so they can do a home visit to be sure your home is safe. These are common procedures when adopting through a rescue group.
Use the guidelines above to help you as you explore and evaluate avian rescue facilities. Rescues those are nothing more than frauds will not be able to pass these criteria.