Parrots have the potential to live for a very long time. While smaller parrots have a lifespan of 20-30 years, some of the larger parrots can live 50-100. Is it ok for someone over the age of 60 to get a parrot? How old is too old to get a parrot?
It's not uncommon to hear that anyone over 50 years old should not get a parrot because the parrot will outlive them. While it is likely true that the parrot will outlive the owner, is this a necessarily a bad thing or a problem?
First of all, a parrot is sooner likely to outlive its owner's interest in keeping it than the owner's life. It is difficult to foresee or commit to how our lives will be 10, 20, or 50 years from now. Circumstances change, people get busy, people move, life happens. Sometimes those circumstances make it impossible to continue to keep the parrot and sometimes the person just no longer wants the bird. This is reality.
So, instead of focusing on trying to get people to keep the parrot for the bird's entirely life (which in some or many cases may exceed the human's), I would much rather focus on education and training. Ensure that the parrot's life is good with you in your home and beyond.
It starts with my own parrots. Although, I have every intention of keeping them, I made sure to train and socialize all of my birds to be good with other people. Whether I have guests over, I'm having someone take care of my birds while I'm on a trip, or if something were to happen to me, it is my responsibility to ensure their well-being.
What is bad about a bird outliving it's owner or being rehomed? Why does it get such a bad rap? The reason is because the parrot was selfishly or thoughtlessly kept in isolation with that single owner its whole life and then when the owner passes away or rehomes the bird, it becomes extremely distraught. A large part is because the parrot is unfamiliar with different people and fearful of the changes. Another reason can be from developing an inappropriate sexual "mate" bond with the human which makes the parrot anguish similar to having a mate pass away (whether the owner really died or gave the bird away).
This is preventable. No doubt the parrot may be disappointed about the changes, but there is no reason it has to be debilitating to the parrot's future. The bird should be able to live on without its owner. This is where training is so useful. Training helps create a bond that is more based on friendship rather than mating. This is a relationship that is more replaceable. Other people can fill this type of role either temporarily or permanently. Furthermore, the parrot has room for more than one person for friendship rather than mating relationships.
Training teaches the parrot methods and tools that can be replicated by other people. This makes it easier for the parrot to accept other members of the family in your home. But, it also prepares the parrot for life in a future home if it ends up outliving its time with you.
My advice is to at minimum clicker train, target train, and step up train any parrot. Even if the parrot has a good relationship with you, performing this training will help the bird do these important behaviors for other people. You can learn about basic training from my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots. My recommendation is to make sure that anyone who gets or inherits your bird receives the clicker, target stick, and book along with the bird. If the bird transfer is done with your guidance, you should teach the new owner and help the bird accept them. However, if it happens suddenly for unforeseen reasons, set it up so the new owner receives the same tools and information that you used. This ensures that they can learn how to re-establish communication with your parrot, even without your help, that will be familiar to the parrot. Although the new faces and environment may be unfamiliar, at least the parrot will understand the communication and interaction. This will help the parrot adjust to the new home quickly. But, it will also help the new owner get to like the parrot and wish to take better care.
You see, when someone inherits or accepts an untrained parrot, it is often quite bitey and difficult. This does not inspire trust or interest for the new owner and the parrot often gets mistreated or passed around. You can ensure that your bird is adored in your and future homes by teaching good behavior now. It's on you. And age has nothing to do with it.
That said, don't get a parrot if you don't expect yourself to be able to work with the bird for the foreseeable future. This could just as well be due to health, responsibilities, life changes, as well as age. A high school student about to leave for college, may have less years of commitment than a 70 year old in good health with plenty of time! Be smart about whether or not you have time to commit to your bird's education and preparation for life with or without you.
And if you feel that your day are numbered or that you won't be able to care for a parrot for years to come, there are other ways to be involved without getting a parrot of your own. You can volunteer at a parrot rescue in person or virtually. You can foster a parrot in your home temporarily. You can visit parrots at a bird store or you can live vicariously through parrot youtube videos.
So, as you see age and lifespan matter much less in the case of parrot ownership compared to quality of experience, socialization, training, and preparation. To provide the best quality of life to a parrot now and in its future, training and socialization are a must. Take responsibility and see to it that your parrot can be happy in your home and in the next.
Learn how to train and socialize any parrot with the help of my Parrot Academy.
What is better for taking a parrot outside, a harness or a travel cage? This article will go over some of the pros and cons of using a travel cage or harness for taking a pet parrot outdoors.
As you well know, it is very important to have some physical method of restraint whenever you take a pet parrot outside. Although having a great relationship with your parrot should be the primary reason your bird does not fly away, a back up physical means is best to keep things safe when things outside your control happen. Even well trained parrots and parrots with clipped wings manage to fly away and be lost outside.
You have 3 choices of protection when taking your parrot outside, a travel carrier, travel cage, and a harness. Which is best or which should you get? In my opinion, each of these has its own purpose and you would benefit most from getting all 3. I have each of these 3 for each of my 3 parrots.
A travel carrier is the best thing to use to transport your parrot to go somewhere. Most often this will be to go to a vet, but it can just as well be helpful to drive a couple hours to a summerhouse where you have a full size cage waiting. Unlike a travel cage, carriers usually have solid walls and limited visibility. Some are hardshell plastic carriers (normally used for a cat or a dog, but converted for use for a bird) while others are special purpose bags for transport. A carrier offers better protection for the parrot and less climbing opportunity than a cage. Strictly for getting from point A to point B, this is better than a travel cage.
A travel cage is a smaller cage that the bird can be taken outside in. Ideally, it should be lightweight, have a carry handle, and a perch inside for the bird. Try to avoid using a wire cage meant for parakeets for any larger bird. Those cages come apart easily and a larger bird is more likely to speed up that process. Most things are just held together by friction, squeeze, or bent wire and any parrot from a Green Cheek Conure and up can undo that. The Aluminum Travel Cage from Parrot Wizard is light weight, safe, and convenient for all small to medium parrots. If you insist on using a wire cage outdoors, be sure to zip tie everything secure that isn't immediately necessary including all food doors, where the cage connects to the base, and where cage sections connect to each other.
Unlike a carrier, a travel cage is meant to provide your parrot a more active outdoor experience. The parrot can readily see out of the cage in all directions, climb around the bars, and soak in the sunlight. You can more easily see and talk with your parrot and have a mutual time outdoors. A travel cage is good for sitting with your parrot in the backyard, walking around the block, driving and spending time at a park, or when taking a trip where the parrot will be living out of that cage for a few days at a time. If your parrot is spending less than a few hours in the travel cage, forget about putting food and water inside as the parrot will only make a mess and not even consume any of it. For longer trips, put food and water in when you are not in motion.
Although a travel cage can be used in place of a carrier (especially by covering the cage with a towel in cases where the bird is nervous from being too exposed), it may be bulky to go in and out of the vet's office with. A more compact travel carrier that limits your parrot's activity is still better for those types of outings. However, when it comes to enjoying the outdoors and being visible to you, a travel cage is more suitable. Some parrots may be scared of the travel cage or carrier, but luckily it is fairly easy to train them to accept it.
A bird harness provides the ultimate outdoor experience to both you and your parrot. You can enjoy your parrot's direct company and the bird can freely move about on you. Add a leash extension in a safe environment (nowhere to get tangled or harmed) and your parrot can even fly. The harness provides the maximum freedom, however, it also requires the highest level of training and the highest level of supervision. If you go outside with your parrot on a harness, you need to keep your attention on the bird the entire time. So, if your purpose is to go for a walk with your bird, a harness is great. On the other hand, if you are having a backyard BBQ with guests and want your parrot to be outside, it may be better to use a travel cage since you are too busy (and near a hot grill) to be able to give the bird enough attention. Although a harness can keep your parrot from flying off, you cannot simple tie the bird to something and divert your attention. A bored bird can chew through the harness or get into mischief if left unsupervised even for a short time. So, as you can see, a carrier, travel cage, and harness all have their place.
Travel Carrier Pros/Cons: · Pro: Secure · Pro: Low visibility (good for new or nervous bird or busy environment) · Pro: Lightweight for mobility · Pro: Inexpensive or mid-priced · Con: Not good for getting sunlight · Con: Not good for interaction
Travel Cage Pros/Cons: · Pro: Good visibility · Pro: Good for getting sunlight · Pro: Some interaction with bird through bars · Pro: Bird can live in travel cage for a few days at a time · Con: Midweight, less convenient to walk with · Con: Expensive (or poor quality/security on wire cages) · Con: Heavy or impossible for large parrots
Harness Pros/Cons: · Pro: Maximum freedom · Pro: Flight possible · Pro: Personal hands on interaction · Pro: Inexpensive · Pro: Lightest travel method for large parrots · Con: Requires extensive training · Con: Requires constant attention/supervision · Con: Difficult or unavailable for very small parakeets
Using a travel carrier, travel cage, and harness all have their pros and cons. Each has its place depending on what you are trying to do with that bird at that time. Use a carrier for efficient transport of your bird. Use a travel cage to spend time outdoors with your parrot in a more interactive way and as an alternative to the harness if your parrot is not yet ready to use one. Train your parrot to wear a harness and use a harness for hands on, yet safe, outdoor time with your bird.
Too often I hear that biting is a regular part of parrot ownership or that biting is part and parcel of having a parrot. This claim that parrot biting is normal and must be accepted isn't valid. It is like slamming your hand in the car door every time you shut it. Instead, learn how to close the door properly so that you would not keep getting hurt.
Although many owners experience getting bit by a parrot and parrots biting is a common problem, it is not normal. Biting should not be considered normal or natural for these generally peaceful creatures. Parrots aren't meat seeking carnivores! Parrots are typically camouflaged, shy, confrontation avoiding prey animals. Biting is generally a last resort for them and it is important to avoid driving them to this last resort both for the parrot's comfort and because getting bit sucks!
There are many different reasons that parrots bite people, but the most common is simply self defense. The parrot does not want to do what the person wants and it resists by biting. This is often driven by fear but occasionally by boldness. But, in either case it comes down to the fact that the parrot is not on board with whatever the person wants to do, be it pick the bird up or put it in the cage.
Most parrot biting stems from a lack of training and the fact that parrots are undomesticated wild animals. They may be sold at a pet store, but they rarely are "ready to go" pets. Parrots are highly intelligent and very capable at training. With the right approach and training, they can learn how to behave in the household environment and come to enjoy it.
Now the claim that biting is an inevitable part of parrot ownership is downright harmful. It's an excuse for giving up trying to learn and communicate with the animal. It is a cover-up for not being more understanding or from being misinformed. Since most parrot biting comes from mishandling or the parrot misunderstanding what you are trying to do, these problems won't be resolved by accepting the biting. Recurrences will continue to frustrate the parrot, causing it to bite, and this will make the human get fed up. Instead, solving the biting problems is the way to genuinely make everybody happy.
Being "unafraid" of bites and being ready for frequent parrot biting is not sound advice for parrot owners. While I agree that you have to be ready for the possibility of a bite, it is not something that should be happening regularly. Any advice or handling that includes biting on a daily or weekly basis isn't helpful.
It is so rare that my parrots bite that it is hard to remember how many years it has been since a bite accidentally occurred. Every time I do articles or videos about biting, I have to invent fake bites to have a picture to show at all. For instance, the photo above of Kili "biting" Marianna's hand is really just a screenshot from a momentary grab Kili made while trying to catch her balance. The thumbnail for the video below of Rachel biting my hand is really just me sticking my hand inside her gentle beak and making an agonizing expression to make it look as though she bit me. My life with parrots is so bite-free that I really don't have bite pictures or stories to share because they just don't happen (except that one time at the rescue when Santina was unexpectedly pushed onto me and bit really hard).
Train the parrot to come out of the cage, step up onto your hand, step off your hand, step onto your hand from your shoulder, go back into the cage, flight recall, and a few tricks and you will have a cooperative bird that will have no reason to bite you. Extend this methodology to get the parrot to be friendly with other members of the family and visitors through socialization.
So although parrots biting is a common problem, it is not a normal problem if they are handled in the way that parrots should be handled. I hope you can browse my articles, videos, book, and supplies and resolve all of your biting problems so that you too can have a wonderful, loving, long-lasting, magical relationship with your parrot as well!
Of all the things I have ever done with my parrots, introducing them to my son was one of the most exciting. In many ways, this introduction was the culmination of years of socialization and training. It brought together skills that they were taught, many times not knowing the end purpose, to accomplish a wonderful outcome.
My boy Steven was born in October of 2020, but it wasn't until January of 2021 that he first encountered my parrots.
As always, I need to remind that parrots are wild animals. They are smart, free willed, flighty, and at times bitey. It is important to be careful between people and parrots, but much more so when it involved a baby. The damage a beak can do to an infant is just too great. Knowing this, Marianna and I deliberately delayed the first introduction.
At first, the baby was just too small and delicate to even consider it. Not only is it about preventing a bite, but it is also best not to take any chances with any kind of infection. Normally we test for and consider zoonotic diseases such as Psittacosis. That is an illness that can even affect an adult. However, there is always the possibility of the birds carrying some kind of bacteria, parasites, mites, or fungus that we are not even aware of. For a immune restricted baby, that can be overwhelming. For this reason, we wanted to keep the baby and birds apart for a few months to give him a chance to be exposed to more usual germs first.
Even at 2 months old, there did not appear to be any value for that baby's sake to meet the parrots. We could tell he could hear and see, but at the same time he would stare blankly. It was hard to tell how much he was really taking in. However, at 2.5 months old, suddenly things changed. In the span of just a few days he started following objects with his eyes, reacting, smiling, and showing interest in toys. With this new found awareness, a baby-bird introduction would be not only beneficial for the parrots but for the baby as well.
Steven has been exposed to birds his entire existence. While in mommy's tummy, he got to hear parrot sounds while she was cleaning cages. From the day he came home, Steven would wake up every day to the painting of our parrots expecting a baby. Steven slept under a wall mural of a tree with songbirds chirping in the canopy. He had numerous owl toys in his room that he would see and we would read stories about birds and Owls to him. All these bird related experiences prepared Steven for the day that he would finally get to see a real live bird up close and personal! And that day has come.
Some precautions were taken when introducing the birds. We took care to make sure a bird could not fly at and attack the baby, but mostly the concern was to make sure the birds have a favorable impression. The best way to prevent making a bad impression accidentally is to make a good one deliberately. Since the birds will be living with this new family member for many years to come, a good first impression would be the start to a lifelong friendship.
We had Marianna bottle feed Steven while I brought out Rachel the Blue and Gold Macaw. We had the birds out just one at a time in order to have the best control over the bird and the situation. By having one parent attending to the baby and one to the bird, ensured that each person could watch and make things good. Also, as a worst case scenario, the bird would have to get past two people if it somehow became possessed and tried to fly at the baby to attack. Ensuring the baby's safety is still paramount.
I carried Rachel straight to her prepared Training Perch using my body to block her view of Steven. I wanted to start her far away with little view and gradually work our way closer and to slowly increase her visibility. It worked out well. Rachel was focused on me, earning treats for targeting. Meanwhile Steven was focused on mommy and feeding. Little by little, I revealed the baby more to Rachel by standing less in the way. While allowing her to see the baby, I diverted her focus to targeting so that she could earn treats for inadvertently leaving the baby alone.
Now I had virtually no concern about Rachel attacking the baby. Although she is my biggest parrot and could do the most harm, this Macaw is a big chicken! Rachel was far more likely to get scared of the baby and try to fly away than to deliberately attack. Theoretically if I were to stick the baby right up to Rachel suddenly, all bets are off. However, she is not the kind of bird that would seek out a fight. But, since Rachel is known to be timid, it was important for Rachel's sake to make sure that she had a very peaceful and rewarding introduction to the baby. We worked our way closer and closer. Eventually Steven finished his milk and was gazing at the big blue bird with amazement. With everything calm, I was able to bring Rachel really close. Just never close enough to touch. The introduction went splendidly and both Steven and Rachel enjoyed.
Rachel earned the best and tastiest treats she had in a long time simply by demonstrating "good behavior" rather than getting worked up over the baby. Using the Training Perch technique, I was able to ensure that the macaw was never overwhelmed and that it was easy for her to be successful. After the uneventful meeting, Rachel went away and Marianna and I switched roles. I held Steven while she brought out Truman the Cape Parrot.
We expected Truman to be the easiest. Not just because he is unable to fly, but also because he's the most easy going of the birds. However, he has been known to hold grudges so it was still important to avoid getting off on the wrong foot with him. Instead of targeting, Marianna focused on doing cued talking with Truman. Truman is more of a talker and personality bird so this appealed most to him. The goal was the same as with Rachel, get the bird distracted doing something it loves so that the bird can be rewarded for not misbehaving around the baby.
It wasn't just attacking the baby we were trying to prevent. We really just wanted to avoid the birds having any sort of unpleasant feelings toward the child. Whether getting defensive or just giving a stink eye, it was best avoided. By eliciting positive responses through training and treats, it was easy to get the birds feeling happy in the presence of someone they had not met before.
Not only did Truman do great, Steven did too. Steven showed a lot of interest in the birds. He followed them with his eyes and got really smiley. At one moment, Steven let out a laugh and Truman responded by laughing as well! The first mutual communication between baby and parrot! Success!
I saved Kili for last because she had potential to be the most trouble. We figured it is best to see how it goes with Truman and Rachel who would not deliberately attack before introducing Kili. Kili is a super smart, super trained, super well-behaved bird. However, being a Senegal she also has a sinister side deep within. Through years of bonding and training we have it largely hidden away. However, if left unchecked it could still rear it's ugly head. Senegal Parrots are notoriously one-person-birds. That is where they bond strongly to one person and then terrorize everybody else. Through years of socialization, I have kept this under control. In fact, I got Kili to accept Marianna right from the beginning. But, knowing that this potential still exists, it was most important to make sure it does not apply to the baby!
I brought Kili out and just like with Rachel started her out on the Training Perch. After a little targeting we switched to tricks because Kili gets really focused during trick training. Being a smaller/lighter bird, Kili is also the most flighty. It was important to keep her focused so that she would not fly and scare the baby or worse yet fly at the baby. I kept her attention on me the entire time and slowly worked our way closer. I made Kili understand how she should behave around the baby and she quickly caught on. It did not take long for her to get happy performing tricks around baby Steven.
The introduction could not have gone better. All 3 parrots were in a good mood, cooperative, and calm. Steven was curious and involved. Nobody good hurt, scared, spooked, or upset. Just great all around. Could things have gone as well without any deliberate training and effort during the introduction? Maybe. But, it was not worth finding out that perhaps things would not have went well if we did not set up the introduction for success. Saving half an hour to make a spontaneous/uncontrolled introduction would simply not be worth potentially setting a bad first impression for the baby or birds for a relationship that will last for years to come! Playing it safe is the way to go.
Keep in mind that the 30 minutes spent on the introduction were just the icing on the cake. These parrots have been trained for years to develop basic training skills, socialize with people, and have the basis for being successfully introduced to a new family member. You can't just overnight decide that you want to introduce a wild biting parrot with no training background to a baby. Take the time to learn and apply parrot training to your parrotnow so that when you experience life changes, your bird will have the skills to adapt to what is yet to come!
Happy Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays. With Thanksgiving dinner eaten and the holidays under way, it's time for shopping. Here is a list of some of the best Black Friday deals for parrot supplies I have spotted. Most of these sales are going on all weekend long through Cyber Monday. Stock up on bird food, toys, perches, stands, cages, and more. Stuff available from the smallest parakeets to the biggest macaws. Take advantage of the big savings and outfit your parrot's cage for the holidays!
Here is my Thanksgiving Parrot Cooking Tips video with relevant tips throughout the holidays:
List of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales on Parrot Supplies:
If you are on the other side of the pond, Northern Parrots from the UK is also hosting a Black Friday sale in Europe for up to 50% off select items: Northern Parrots
Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday is a great chance to save money and make your bird happy. So enjoy the sales, stay warm, and stay safe. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have come across any other Black Friday deals on any kinds of parrot supplies.