Parrots have been kept and treasured as pets for thousands of years. Since long before the times of the stereotype picture depicting a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder, the servants of wealthy ancient Roman families cleaned the ornate cages the birds were kept in, and taught them to talk. Some ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics clearly depict pet parrots as well! In modern times, it seems that more people are discovering what amazing creatures these birds are, and are making the move to become parrot owners themselves. Though they are truly magnificent creatures, owning a pet parrot may not be for everyone. Before biting off something one may not be able to chew, there are several things to investigate before taking the plunge.
Parrot species each have general characteristics in common, but each bird is uniquely individual. It has been said that people don’t pick their birds, but rather that birds pick their people, and I have found that this is, for the most part, an accurate statement. It is common that a bird, even when enjoying attention from and the company of everyone in the house, will have a favorite person he or she will bond with. In extreme cases, they may even become nasty tempered toward, or even try to bite people other than their favorite, though this habit can be changed with patience and training. This behavior is more prevalent in some species than in others.
Also take into account that many species of parrots are quite noisy! I’ve heard of people who have had to literally give away their pets because they made such a racket, the owner literally was in danger of being evicted! In one instance, the pets were Blue and Gold Macaws, birds costing thousands of dollars each! If you’re seriously thinking of adopting one of these birds, it would be wise to make sure you’re on EXTREMELY good terms with your immediate neighbors!
Unlike other common house pets, parrots live upwards of 80-100 years, depending on the species! This is truly a lifetime commitment- with proper care and attention, parrots will more than likely outlive their owners, especially if they are adopted as babies! Because of this, a parrot should be treated as a part of the family, rather than a pet. Though they are intelligent and resilient, (again, some species more than others) I’ve heard many stories of a bird being passed along from home to home when losing their owner, which only adds to the stress of the bird, which in turn takes a toll on their health as much as it would for any human. Being among family or familiar friends certainly helps the bird to cope.
A parrots beak is designed to break open hard nut shells- they do this with amazing accuracy and ease. Imagine what that big, sharp beak could do to a human finger if given the motivation! This is a thought that intimidates many people. The good news is this: a tame bird, especially one that has been hand-raised, probably will not feel the motivation to bite- at least not that hard. With this in mind, some breeds will bite playfully, because they think it’s funny! And sometimes, those birds won’t really know their own strength, and may get out of hand. Habits like this take a great deal of patience to deal with and train the bird out of.
Though these are some key points to look at before putting investments of time and money into adopting a lifelong feathered friend, they are not meant to discourage! When you’ve done your research- spent some time with different birds, (go to a pet store, for example, and find the bird you like best), you’ll find that parrots are extremely intelligent, loyal, affectionate, and are ALWAYS fun to be around! And yes, many of them are outstanding talkers, who will also learn to imitate sounds they hear around them! All birds have the capability to talk, technically speaking, but some breeds are better at it than others. Congo African Greys, for instance, are considered some of the best talkers, followed by certain species of Amazons. They also love to go new places and experience new things, to climb, explore, and to take in everything around them! Your new buddy will most likely love to ride in the car, and will excitedly chatter about everything he sees through the window!
This is only the tip of the iceberg- for more information about parrots in the wild, a good place to start looking is on the Parrots International website at http://www.parrotsinternational.com . Enjoy!