Type: Senegal Parrot
Weight: 120 grams
Height: 9 inches
Age: 9 years, 10 months
Type: Cape Parrot
Weight: 330 grams
Height: 13 inches
Age: 8 years, 1 month
List of Common Parrots:
Monk Parakeet (Quaker Parrot)
Green Rumped Parrotlet
Blue Winged Parrotlet
Dusky Billed Parrotlet
Yellow Faced Parrotlet
Peach Faced Lovebird
Lilian's (Nyasa) Lovebird
Black Cheeked Lovebird
Red Faced Lovebird
Lories and Lorikeets
Cherry Headed Conure
Blue Crowned Conure
Green Cheeked Conure
Black Headed Caique
White Bellied Caique
Red Bellied Parrot
Brown Headed Parrot
Congo African Grey (CAG)
Timneh African Grey (TAG)
Blue Fronted Amazon
Yellow Naped Amazon
Yellow Headed Amazon
Orange Winged Amazon
Yellow Crowned Amazon
Galah (Rose Breasted) Cockatoo
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Bare Eyed Cockatoo
Red Shouldered (Hahn's) Macaw
Blue And Gold Macaw
Blue Throated Macaw
Red Fronted Macaw
Green Winged Macaw
Wednesday September 18th, 2013
It can be misleading from my videos and blog that owning parrots is a cake walk. It certainly can be a pleasure but it is even more so a challenge. Most of my articles and videos either focus on the good things or help to prevent/resolve the bad ones. But much of the undesirable stuff still goes unnoticed.
My passion for parrots may seem to trump the struggle, but I wanted to write this time about that struggle. It's not easy and sometimes downright aggravating to have birds. The trouble is, that all the problematic things are erratic and hard to demonstrate. If I want to show a cute trick my parrot picked up, I can cue it and show it in person or on video. Other cute behaviors I can usually stage or elicit in some way. The bad stuff, even though frequent enough isn't predictable and cannot be demonstrated on demand. This is why you have to take my written word that it exists nonetheless.
I understand the problems that regular parrot owners encounter because I have to deal with them too. Luckily I have most of it under control but parrots are still wild animals so even with the most trained of parrots these issues can rear their ugly head. I hope to convince you that parrots are difficult creatures but also that issues can be greatly reduced with training. Still, there will always be the fact that you are dealing with a wild, selfish, difficult animal and it is imperative to accept this from the start.
Biting, jealousy, screaming, destroying things, flying away, moodiness, fighting, making a huge mess, and costing a fortune are just some of the difficulties I have to deal with like any other parrot owner. I do everything I can to minimize these issues and make the most of them. Much of my training and efforts with the birds help a lot. I don't even want to begin to imagine what my parrots could have turned out like without the training.
Luckily biting is infrequent with the trained parrots. However, it is not absolutely eliminated. They are still wild animals and some unexpected thing can potentially set them off. Whether it's grabbing on too hard to hang on, an act of jealousy, or just plain startled, these can result in bleeding. One time, Kili was sitting tucked under my chin when Truman decided to fly over and land exactly where she was nestled. She began to throw her beak around in defense but since my face was the closest thing she got me rather than the perpetrator. Another time I got nailed was reaching into Kili's cage to take her out in the morning. Apparently she had just woken up and hadn't had her coffee yet (just kidding) and my hand was unexpected to her when I reached in. Like a pitbull she grabbed on and wouldn't let go. If she were more awake and seen my face, she would have known it was me and would never have done it.
These are rare problems but even with the most trained of parrots possible. This is why a parrot can never be an easy pet. If you don't work with them, they are just wild and horrible. If you work with them extensively, you can only hope to achieve 99%.
Truman on the other hand still gets moody fits once every few months. He'll suddenly be scared of things he has no reason to be and becomes very difficult to manage. Sometimes he throws screaming fits and screams his butt off all day long. Other times he is quiet and sweet. His adolescent age may play a role but it makes it no easier to deal with. The two birds may go months without fighting and then suddenly something sets them off and it is hard to trust them around each other again.
Making things good takes a lot of time and effort. Letting things get bad can happen instantly. You can spend a year taming a parrot with success and then one incident and the bird goes back to distrusting you. This is very difficult to accept. This is why it's important to go into parrot ownership without expecting anything good in return. You must love your parrot and take care of it without any expectation of anything in return. Otherwise you will be led to disappointment. Parrots have no obligation to reciprocate.
The mess is endless. You can clean all you want but there will still be feathers, food bits, toy parts all over the place. Luckily parrot poop is easy to clean and not bothersome. However, there's plenty where it comes from. Be ready for endless cleaning and no cleanliness in sight. Vet bills can get very expensive and the care isn't always effective. The toys and perches are expensive and get depleted in no time (and if they don't then a bored bird can turn to plucking or screaming). These are all troubles that cannot be videoed but are probably familiar to most parrot owners.
Parrots are also extremely time consuming. Not only do you have to cook, clean, and shop for them but you also have to make time to take them out, train them, get them outdoor time, and exercise them. To do this right takes a lot of time on a consistent basis. Then this must be continued for life.
When I do run into problems, I never just accept them. I may accept that an immediate solution is impossible. However, I always apply myself toward a long term solution. Even if it takes years, if I keep working toward it, I can ensure things don't get worse and eventually get solved. Flight, taming, training, socialization, exercise, outdoor time, food management, sleep, etc are all a part of the solution toward most problems. But these come at a cost. The cost of knowledge is the cheapest by far. The more costly is the time and patience that you will have to dedicate with little/nothing in return to improve your parrot's behavior. But ultimately it will be a far more desirable pet than if left to its own wild ways.
So in summary, it may seem from my articles/videos that parrot ownership is easy or nothing but delight. However, even I have to deal with tough birds and understand that it is even harder for others. Owning a pet parrot is a tough job and not one to be taken lightly. It can only suit people seeking a real challenge. Parrots definitely aren't suitable for someone who wants an out of the box pet that will behave as they wish/expect. If you're having a hard time with your bird, realize that you're not alone. But also realize that there is much work to be done to improve behavior.
Check out my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots for my complete approach to parrot keeping. It discusses everything from choosing a bird to solving behavior problems. I won't say it's easy but I will say that it works for all sorts of parrots. Have some patience, keep informed, and try your best always and you will see your parrot transform into a more desirable companion.
Part of: Taming & Basic Training, General Parrot Care, Cape Parrots, Senegal Parrots
Kili Senegal Parrot Truman Cape Parrot Bite Mess Hardship Training
CommentsPost Your Response
Posted on September 19, 2013 12:03PM
Actually, it does not "suck" owning parrots. They are pets for people who want more than just an animal that they percieve as an object rather than a thinking, feeling entity with emotional needs. As a younger person, I worked in several pet stores and I have 23 years experience owning African Greys. I start with the caveat that every individual bird is different from the next. However, 99% of the time, what ever issues a bird has, they can be overcome by an owner who invests the time and has great patience. I have worked with abused and neglected medium to large parrots who when I first encountered them, were incredible hostile if not outright vicious. Yet, after, sometimes months of daily gentle treatment, these bird have slowly developed into gentle affectionate pets. I am sure that there are birds that cannot be "turned," but they are not common. I have always found that even with Greys, constant socialization (substantial daily attention and exposure to many people and different environments), although at first can be difficult for them, usually results, to a greater or lesser degree, in a bird that accepts more people, becomes less stressed over changes in their enviorment and generally, a calmer bird. The key is to spend as much time possible with a parrot while not over reacting negative behaviors (such as biting). Again, patience and persistence is the key. One of the best things I ever did for my Grey, who was initially shy and nippy, was the bring him to my office several times a week (I have that luxury). There, he was exposed to and recieved attention from many people a day. Eventually, he warmed up to the staff and has been a relatively outgoing bird, although he still prefers me, he accepts most people.
Owning a parrot has much in common with parenting a young child. The only way do to it correctly is to make the necessary investment of your time, effort and patience. No doubt, such a requirement is not for those who simply wants a "pet." The rewards of properly "raising" a parrot are that you have an affectionate, intelligent, loyal and often comical animal who not only "bonds" to you and interacts with you like no other animal can (other than perhaps chimpanzees, dolphins, etc.), but you find yourself "bonded" to it as well.
Posted on September 19, 2013 03:45PM
Thankfully I don't have much issues with my birds. Sure they get messy but my hand held vacuum takes care of that. And since I eat healthy, cooking is also not much of a problem. tHE only thing that I wish did change was them not yelling so much to let them out or when I leave the room. They go straight bonkers for a few minutes every time lol. I still just don't reinforce it but I accept it that they will always miss me when I leave and will let it be known.
Posted on September 19, 2013 04:13PM
I completely agree.
Sometimes, it is really really aggrevating owning a (or two) parrot (s), but in the end its worth it .
Posted on September 19, 2013 11:38PM
I believe Micheal hit the nail on the proverbial head with this article about parrot ownership. Like so many other people do, unfortunately, I went into owning a parrot without a clue as to what that entailed. When my sweet baby bird turned into an aggressive-biting obnoxious adult bird, I knew I needed to get educated, and pronto! In trying to get help, i found other people just pass off their problem birds because they didnt know what to do anymore and had no time or patience, but I didn't want to do that because I had made a lifetime commitment to this winged creature, and I was going to stand by it! After many months of wading through inaccurate and contradicting information on the web, in books, and other bird owners, I was lucky enough to stumble across Parrot Wizard and trained parrot . com. I absorbed so much helpful information and bought Michael's book to help guide me with my birds (yes, plural, as by now I had acquired birds from places where they were being mis-treated and/or neglected and I wanted to help them.) Parrot Wizard has taught me so much, and both me and the birds are much happier and healthier now! The proper care of birds takes lots of time, money, patience, and TLC -- EVERYDAY! For many, many years! It is a commitment that I believe people take way too lightly, thus adding to the growing numbers of unwanted birds. I'm leaning now towards seeing a time when birds and other animals are not kept anymore for our amusement, but instead live a free life in the wild. In the meantime, I will continue to care, love, and cherish my birds, and encourage and educate other bird owners to do the same for their birds.
Posted on October 11, 2013 07:01PM
What I love most about owning a parrot is that I don't actually own the bird - I am merely part of his support team. Also, it is very alluring to know that the unpredictable nature is exactly what attracted me to this animal in the first place - I didn't want the stable, almost boring loyalty of a dog or the smug self indulgence of a cat. I wanted a sort of monkey with wings. And I certainly got it.
Posted on October 12, 2013 03:45PM
I've only just got around to reading this but I also don't believe owning a parrot sucks. Of course I am really glad you have written this article, not everyone is suited for keeping parrots and to some people keeping a parrot would suck.
To me it is the best thing ever (even if I do believe parrots should never have been brought into captive environments from the wild but that's a whole other topic) but of course I only have smaller species but they are more than capable of making a great deal of mess, screaming more than they ever have in their entire lives on the one day you have a headache, being temperamental and moody, biting hard enough to make you bleed-sometimes multiple times in one day etc etc.
Of course there are times where I don't know how to deal with a certain situation, times that I could really do without the hassle and expense of another vet trip (ok the vet one is every single time, I can always do without that so that one really does suck) and times where I would prefer to just sit quietly and read a book without them trying to chew it up.
On the whole though I love being the carer of my birds, the noise and mess makes my home a home. Prepping their meals and growing sprouts for them makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile with my time. The new stuff they continue to throw at me is a challenge and I enjoy finding out about the new things I learn from it and the rewards from successfully overcoming a problem is immense.
In over 14 years I have only ever felt like it sucks twice (apart from those vet trips of course), although sucks is not the word I would have chosen, but that was with two specific birds with two entirely different situations- One being the apparently untameable Harlie, that was a horrible time feeling like I was the source of her fear and she was better off without me. The other was Ollies relentless biting. Both those situations are fine now and every scrap of effort to resolve it was totally worth it although emotionally draining at the time.
Post Your Response
Posted on October 13, 2013 02:41AM
I couldn't have worded it better - sometimes, owning parrots does suck.
They bite, they're messy, they are SO loud...but they can be really rewarding too.
I'll never forget that time I got bitten by Rebel, my . It was only a few months after I had gotten her, and I was trying to take her out of her cage to clean it. She just got down into that attack stance and just lashed out like a tiger. And it hurt. Really bad. But she's made up for it, she's such a lovable bird. Other than the neverending mess.