There's no such thing as a free parrot. I get offered other people's parrots for free all the time and yet I do not accept them. People who offer will look at me in shock and think I'm crazy to turn down a $500 (retail) bird for free. The thing is, I don't see pets the way they do. To me, they are a part of the family and will cost a lot in terms of time and money to take care of. I don't want to have more than I can afford.
Now when it comes to the "price" of a parrot, the price up front is really a tiny part of the overall cost of owning a parrot. The costs of ownership far outweigh the acquisition costs of any parrot, including one from a store. Costs of keeping a parrot include vet bills, cage, food, perches, toys, cleaning supplies, house modifications (like bird proofing), and replacement of personal possessions destroyed by the bird. This does not even include the cost of educating yourself about parrot ownership because this will vary for people.
Walking around any bird store or rescue, I've been finding that the tameness of available birds is not much different. You'd be lucky to find a bird store where even 1/4 of the available birds are tame to the point of just stepping up on your hand.The ratio isn't much worse at a rescue.
Now when it comes to rehoming a parrot, I want to point out why you should never give it away for free (unless you personally know who the bird is going to). There are plenty of cases where con artists take free birds that they get and then sell them to make a profit. If you give away or sell a bird for less than the baseline market price for it, there is the possibility of it being resold for a profit. Who's hands it ends up then is entirely uncontrolled. Sometimes, an even worse fate awaits "free" birds being given away (especially budgies). Owners of snakes or other exotic pets will take free parrots and use them to live feed their exotics. Some might argue that it's the circle of life and natural. But there is nothing natural about being cornered in a glass aquarium with no chance of escape.
Because people get overly fixated on the price of exotic parrots, they become shortsighted about the far greater costs of keeping them. Giving away a parrot for free or for too cheap, gives the false impression that this is not only a worthless creature but also that it is easy to afford. Given the high expense of specialized products like food, perches, and toys to keep a parrot healthy, it is unreasonable to keep one on an extremely tight budget. While other types of pets may handle depravity better, parrots are known to self mutilate and develop major problems when void of adequate care and supplies.
Although there are many good reasons to acquire a parrot from a rescue, being cheap is not one of them. If a certain species of parrot will cost $1,500 at a store or $500 at a rescue, in the grand scheme of things, this is a negligible difference in cost and should not play a role in which to get. The initial vet visit can easily run $500-$1000 when done properly. A cage will be $500-$1000 either way. And on a parrot of that size, toy can easily expect to spend $1,500 every year thereafter for basic supplies to do an adequate job of caring for that bird. Even if kept for just 10 years at a cost of $1,500 per year, the total of $15,000 dwarfs the $1,000 saved by going to a rescue.
The adoption fee, price, or what have you of a parrot helps to establish a baseline cost of keeping such a creature. It also ensures the pay-worthiness of the adopter/buyer to being able to pay the costs of keeping the animal in the future. A parrot given away for free can easily get passed around by people because they have no financial or emotional investment so it is important to always include a reasonable rehome/adoption fee whether you need the money or not. Better still, find information, do training, and find ways to keep your parrot in the first place without the need to give it away. Just remember, there's no such thing as a free parrot. It will always involve a lost of cost and time to keep these creatures successfully.
Well said Michael. I think a lot of people really misjudge how much it actually costs to own a parrot. Cages, food, toys and vet visits all add up, and the montly cost is quite high, quickly dwarfing the price you pay to obtain a parrot.
I agree with you Michael, The parrot could cost 1500.00 or 2.00 and still it's the up keep day in day out, week after week and month after month and so on. And also people get wrapped up in getting a new parrot and then another until they get over their heads in parrots and the parrots are the ones that suffer. I have people once they hear I have parrots they want me to take theirs of their hands. I know what I can do, I have my two right now. And I have room for one more I am waiting for that very special rescue. I still want to work with the ones I have and get them up to speed with me. Bonding, training, and letting them get a little bit older. Andy is still under a year and Amos is just over a year.
Well, this is quite a general comment because there are lots of good homes that get parrots for free (I hardly ever pay for a bird and, when I do, it's always to get them out of a bad situation). The trick is going through the right motions: asking the right questions, checking vet references, meeting the person and his/her birds, and doing a home inspection because no owner of snakes who wants the free parrot for food or reseller could possible pass all the steps. The danger is not checking and that holds for whether you charge a rehoming fee or not. And, when you get a parrot from a good rescue, the vetting was already done and you get the records so, in reality, the adoption fee covers most of it plus you already had the bird quarantined, evaluated and, in some cases, even rehabilitated and switched to a healthier diet whereas, when you get a parrot from a breeder or a store, you have to vet it no matter, you have to start from scratch on diet, behavior, etc and you have no real idea of the bird's temperament so adopting is not only always cheaper in the long run, it's also more practical than buying retail. But I do agree wholeheartedly that parrots are expensive animals to keep as pets and the 'expense' covers more than just money!
Hi Michael, First I would like to tell you how much we enjoy your newsletters . You are one very special person opening your heart and home to these creatures. This was a most eggcellent article on free birds. All of ours are rescues and the majority were free birds. We keep them because we do not want them to be "pass around birds" and they are my kids. Everyone rescued has had their story, owned by heroin addicts, owner threatened with eviction, owner just to old and infirm to care for them any longer. Living in this psittacine family has taught me greatly about their unique personalities and no 2 parrots are alike. Keep up the greyt work you do and scriches all around to your kids. Love and winghugs, Tanya and the Stark Flock
Roaming craigslist, I have found that the ones who need the most are the highest priced because the owner wants to get rid of everything they bought for the bird. Rehoming means adopting a baby rather than causing the production of another.