If you are thinking about getting your first parrot, just got your first parrot, or even thinking of getting another parrot, here is a page with videos that will help get you started. These videos will give you guidance and answer questions such as where can I buy a parrot? Should I get a parrot at a bird store, rescue, or breeder? How do I know what kind of parrot to get? How much does a parrot cost? What are the pros and cons of getting a parrot or parakeet? How to adopt a parrot from a rescue? And much more.
You will find several hours of free video tutorials that will help you make informed decisions when getting your first bird! Videos that will get you on the path to parrot ownership, answer basic questions, and give you guidance to doing it all right. Once you actually get a parrot, then you will find all the rest of my parrot care and training videos to be more relevant.
Did you know that there are wild parrots living in the United States? Since the extinction of the Carolina Parakeet there are no native parrot species to the US. However, there are several populations of feral parrots once brought over as pets.
In Brooklyn, New York, there are several populations of feral Monk Parakeets - Myiopsitta monachus - also known as Quaker Parrots. Legend has it that around 1967, a shipment of Monk Parakeets got accidentally released at JFK airport and was the foundation of the urban psittacine population. Lost or released pet quakers may have also joined up with those flocks. Since then, the parrots have bred and multiplied.
But life is no walk in the park for these lean green parrots! For a non-migratory tropical bird to survive the cold New York winter's is nearly miraculous. The Monk Parakeets are the only parrot species known to be able to survive these freezing winters because of their instinct to build communal nests. Not only that, they have learned to build these nests on power transformers and make use of a little free heating without paying a bill! The power company despises the destruction caused by these birds but some New York natives stand up for them and ensure they are allowed to survive.
I have heard that some city residents try to capture the parakeets to keep as pets. Since they are non-native, I don't think there is any law stopping them. However, bird watchers and fans of the parakeets do their best to stop this perhaps not illegal, but certainly undesirable poaching.
I wanted to see how the parakeets were doing after one of the coldest New York winters I can remember. On a brisk spring day, I headed to one of the locations the parakeets frequent. I was happy to hear their calls and discover that they had made it through the cold. But besides cold and humans, the parrots have yet another enemy to their survival!
While shooting footage of the Monk Parakeets going about their normal parrot business, we managed to catch a slow motion video of a Cooper's Hawk capturing a Quaker Parrot straight out of a tree! It happened in the blink of an eye, but the green color of the Hawk's victim was unmistakable! As the attack occurred, the rest of the flock scattered in all directions. It took at least ten minutes until any of the other birds had courage to come back to the same tree.
The mature Cooper's Hawk flew onto a roof with its catch but later came back to the same tree while still holding its prey. An observation I have made of the hawks that only occasionally visit this city is that they tend to stay in the natural environments (like parks and trees) and avoid excessively urban places. The hawk's red eyes were a firey blaze while the lifeless green bird dangled in its talons.
I don't know! This is one of the most common questions I come across but it's difficult to answer. It is kind of the same as asking "what kind of car should I get?" Except the outcome of making a poor choice for the parrot will be far more grave than picking the wrong car. I cannot tell you what parrot to get. What I can tell you is what questions to ask and what kind of information to look for to help you come to the right decision yourself.
This is a difficult decision for a beginner to make. Someone who has little experience with birds does not know what to look for and does not know what to avoid. It is very hard to realize these things until you live with a bird but it's not fair to get a parrot for a bit and then get it rid of it if it does not work out. I hope the advice here opens the doorway for a much greater research about what kind of parrot to get before ever getting one.
The first and perhaps the most important question when choosing a parrot is whether or not you even want a bird, a creature of the class Aves. A bird is nothing like a cat, dog, or other pet you might commonly come to think of. The distinguishing features of birds are that they have feathers, fly (yes, a few don't but we're not considering a penguin as a pet here), and make vocal noises. To many people, the idea of a flying creature in their house is unacceptable and this is perfectly reasonable. However, it is not reasonable to acquire a bird as a pet if this aspect cannot be accommodated as it is part of what being a bird naturally is.
Next comes the question, why a parrot? There are other kinds of birds that can be kept as pets as well. What about the hookbilled birds called parrots attracts you? If the answer is only that “they can talk,” you are setting yourself up for disappointment when you realize that not all parrots talk and that they may choose to make noise instead of talking. The unique distinguishing features of parrots over other birds is that they are highly intelligent, social, complex birds. In other words you have to want a smart and challenging pet and not a talking hamster.
If you've determined that you like the features of parrots in general and want to continue narrowing down your search you have to stop a moment and consider the downsides of having any parrot. To different extents, all parrots are noisy, messy, costly, and can bite. Are these (and many other unmentioned issues) acceptable to you? Would you still want to keep a parrot if it never talked and only did these undesirable things? This is a very important question because that's what the majority of pet parrots do. If you aren't ready for a lot of trouble with little reward, a parrot is not going to be the pet for you.
How much time do you have available to spend both now and many many years from now? Parrots require a lot of time commitment both in terms of interaction time but also care time such as cleaning. Even if you have the time available now, are you sure you'll be able to spend just as much twenty years from now when your life situation is entirely different?
As you see, choosing the exact species of parrot is only a small factor in the bigger question of whether or not any parrot is the right pet for you from the start. Let's talk about additional resources for learning about parrots before narrowing down a species. You'll want to check out general parrot ownership books, books about parrot species, talk with other parrot owners on forums, and visit some rescues or stores to see how parrots are. There's nothing like getting a big bloody bite from a parrot to give a dose of reality over the dreamy talking shoulder bird people imagine parrots to be.
Now what about the question of “should I get a beginner parrot” or “what kinds of parrots are good for beginners?” Truth is there is no such thing as a beginner parrot. All kinds from parakeets to macaws are complex and difficult to care for. However, that said, there are some kinds that definitely are not suitable with people without any experience. Cockatoos, Amazons, Macaws, African Greys, and Eclectus are virtually never advisable for beginners. Not only are these types of parrots extremely difficult to care for but also beginner mistakes in the early stages can lead to substantial problems for the birds down the line (such as incurable biting, plucking, and screaming). Does this mean that all other kinds of parrots are beginner birds? No way. Conures, Poicephalus, Caiques, Parakeets, Cockatiels, Lovebirds, Parrotlets, etc are all great birds that could satisfy any expert owner. Just these parrots are smaller and less prone to extreme problems as some of the previously mentioned kinds.
I am by no means saying that if you want a Cockatoo that you should first get a Cockatiel to learn on and then get the Cockatoo. What I am saying is that if you've never owned a parrot before, you will not have the experience to even be able to evaluate whether or not such a challenging bird is even remotely within your grasp. Just seeing a baby Cockatoo at a store and being able to pet it is absolutely no indication that you will be able to handle that kind of bird when it goes through maturity. All the research on the internet will never come close to handling real bites, noise, mess, etc. If you are really set on getting any of the larger species outright, the best thing you can do to evaluate if one is right for you is visiting a rescue. Don't kid yourself that the birds you see there are the worst ones. Most of them are really like that. If you can't see yourself wanting one from a rescue, almost certainly you won't like what the baby of that species turns out like as an adult.
People getting their first parrot often fixate on the price of the bird. But in reality this is the cheapest part of getting one and should play much less of a role than it does. The cost of keeping the parrot will be far more than the initial purchase price. You can often expect to spend what the parrot cost (or would cost in a store) yearly on supplies/food/vet alone.
But when it comes to choosing between a lovebird and a parrotlet or a budige and a cockatiel, how do you know what to get? This is still a question that only you can answer. But it is far more important to look at the typical undesirable traits of that species rather than desirable ones. Sure it's easy to say that the nice thing about Conures is that they are colorful and playful. But can you handle the noise and biting? Or Senegal Parrots are desired for their relative quietness but can you handle the aggression and one-person bonding? Many species may seem nice on the pros side but the cons may be entirely unbearable and bar you from ever owning it. A Cockatoo may seem playful and friendly but in an apartment the noise level will just be impossible.
More considerations when determining what kinds of species you can even consider include:
Size: do you have adequate room for a huge cage for a bird of this size? Do you have adequate space for a bird of this size to fly for exercise?
Noise: will everyone in your household be able to tolerate endless noise of the volume this bird is capable of? But not just immediate household, what about neighbors?
Bite: take a look at that beak. Will you be able to take a bite without flinching? What if this bird always wants to bite you, will you still take good care of it?
Cost: will you be able to afford to keep the parrot, not just buy it up front? Do you realize that you will probably have to spend about what the bird costs every year on upkeep?
Mess: how much of a mess can you tolerate? How much time do you have for cleaning? Can you deal with favorite possessions getting destroyed?
I realize that I raise more questions than I provide answers. Beginners want a straightforward answer to the age old question what parrot should I get? But it's really not something anyone can answer but yourself. But in order not to disappoint those reading this that insist on me choosing a parrot for them, I will leave you with one solid answer. If in doubt and unable to choose, get a Cockatiel. They embody many of the best features of parrots and fewer of the bad ones. Cockatiels are pretty looking, not too noisy, less messy, less costly to keep, less aggressive, can make do with any size household, and yet they can still be cuddly, loving, and exciting to have. Cockatiels are easy to read because of their expressive crest and tend to get along well in a flock environment. With some taming and training even the wildest of Cockatiels can become hand tame. These birds are also less likely to hold grudges and will with time forgive beginner mistakes.
So in your search for the right parrot for you, remember to do lots of research, talk to parrot owners, see parrots in person, identify the pros and cons of various species, estimate your long term budget, and figure out the best parrot for you and your household. For even more information about choosing a parrot, bringing it home, and a complete approach to parrot keeping, get a copy of my book: The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots.
I recently returned from a voyage into the heart of east Africa. For over two weeks I traveled around the countries of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland, and Somalia. In these travels I experienced many different places, people, animals, and birds. I would like to share a bit about each of these countries with you as well as a glimpse of what I saw through my videos. I did not see any Meyers Parrots or Red Bellied Parrots but I traveled through the ecosystems where they might be seen. I did see parakeets in Djibouti and share a lot of footage and stories about them. Thank you for reading and enjoy.
In Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia you can see the fossil remains of Lucy the famous Australopithecus afarensis. However, the bones on display are just a copy like in any other museum. The real ones are not publicly displayed for fear of theft. Unlike its surrounding neighbors, Ethiopia is predominantly Christian.
South Sudan is the world's newest nation, accepted into the UN in just 2011. The skies of the capital city of Juba are filled with Black Kites lazily circling about in thermal updrafts. Despite recent hardships, the markets are bustling with commerce and activity. The savannah woodlands of South Sudan are in the middle of the range of Meyer's Parrots, Poicephalus Meyeri. However, because I was visiting during the dry seasons, there was no opportunity to see them. I was told by local farmers that during the wet season they approach in large numbers and pillage the millet harvest.
Khartoum, Sudan's capital city, is located on the merge of the Blue Nile and White Nile. Despite skyscrapers and endless concrete, there's no hiding the fact that the city is located in a desert climate. Sand blows down the streets making you feel like you are located in a sandblasting cabinet. You'll be lucky to find the contours of your face in tact after spending any length of time outdoors. Sudan was the center of the Nubia, a powerful ancient empire that once even conquered Egypt.
Now Eritrea is something else. This little country, once a part of Ethiopia, is one of the world's last remaining totalitarian police states. This little nation took the remains of Ethiopia's coastline entirely away leaving Ethiopia with no access to the Red Sea. Asmara, Eritrea's capital, is a remnant of Italian colonial rule. With it's Art Deco laden boulevards, Fiats, and Cafe's it's not a wonder the city is known as Little Roma. Yet, since the country severed ties with most of its neighbors, it relies almost entirely on domestic commerce. There is very little import so the country is living almost as it did back when Italians lived in those central quarters. Donkeys and manual labor take place of machinery, scrap metal is meticulous reused, and cars are few and far in between. There's never a problem finding a parking spot but buses are packed full. A tank graveyard on the cities outskirts is a reminder of the long war with Ethiopia for independence. Massawa, the port city, to this days lays in ruins since the war some twenty years past.
Although Djibouti borders Eritrea, it was impossible to travel from one country to the next. It required a flight first to Yemen and then to Djibouti because of their severed relations. Unlike Eritrea, Djibouti has good relations with Ethiopia and is prospering on international commerce. Djibouti serves as one of the primary ports of import for Ethiopia. For this reason, it is occasionally possible to see diplomats and businessmen in this unlikely corner of Africa. Lake Assal is a salt water lake below sea level.
Now I have to tell you about who else was staying at the Sheraton hotel. My dad told me he saw a green parrot similar to Kili out the window. I told him he was dreaming, that there can't be Senegal Parrots in East Africa! I didn't believe him till I saw for myself. Except this was no Senegal Parrot. With a long tail and a red chin, it was immediately obvious that this was a Rose-Ringed Parakeet. And sure enough there it was sitting on the outside sill of our hotel window on the top floor. The reason he was there became obvious when I saw the gaping hole in the sill. I sat quietly watching and saw his mate emerge from their little nest. She stretched one wing at a time, dropped, a load, and shot off with the male to follow. They flew over to a nearby tree and got busy. I told them, "Cmon guys! Get a room!" so they did. They flew back over to the Sheraton hotel and went back in to lay eggs in the penthouse suite.
During the daytime, the parakeets were nowhere to be seen or heard. However, in the mornings and evenings they were out and about. I counted at least 3 pairs living in various parts of the hotel wall. Occasionally the parakeets would fly off in small groups to feed on neighboring mango trees but would shortly return to chill in the hotel top. I was thrilled to watch the birds interact with each other and their surroundings for a good length of time. They're shrill calls, green color, and flight patterns make them easily distinguishable from any other local parrot.
We crossed the border by land to neighboring Somaliland. Somaliland is still technically part of the nation of Somalia and is not recognized. However, Somaliland has its own government, currency, border control, and is run more like a nation than the rest of Somalia. Yet, Somaliland is not recognized by the rest of the world as the separate country that it is. The city of Zeila still displays war scars from the fight for independence from Somalia.
There are vast expanses of desert where short of a few camels and herders, there is nothing to be seen for hundreds of miles. Camels are occasionally brought to villages to drink well water and eventually are brought to Hargeisa to be sold in the famous camel market. There are more camels living in Somalia than people. They are used for transport and meat but are mainly exported to Saudi Arabia in exchange for cars and other necessities. Because of out of control inflation, Somaliland's currency is practically worthless. Instead of armored cars, money changers transport their bricks of paper currency by wheelbarrow. Cave paintings in Laas Gaal were only discovered recently and are considered to be nearly 10,000 years old.
The only African animals to be seen in all of Somalia were gathered in one place. The garbage dump! Marabous, Vultures, Spoonbills, Jackals, Hyenas, Baboons, and Warthogs, animals normally found in Africa's Savannahs, are confined to this toxic waste dump. It is the one place they are safe from human predation and food is plentiful. Remains of slaughtered goats, camels, and cows are dumped here and make for a feast to be remembered. Toxic wastepools of motor oils and chemicals form lagoons for water birds. This is a Somalia Safari:
Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, is the world's most dangerous city. A friend of mine exclaimed, "Mogadishu!? Why would you want to go there? If God wanted to give the world an enema, he'd start by sticking the hose in Mogadishu!"
Mogadishu has been war ravished for the last 20 years. The situation has just begun to stabilize and peace hangs by a thin thread. There is no value of human life, dignity, or compassion here. Young children are too busy shooting each other to bother learning to read or write so the literacy rate is under 20%. There is no economy to speak of except exporting a few bananas, most money comes from drugs, looting, ransoming, and piracy. Car bombs, IEDs, terrorists, street war run rampant. There are few places we could even get a glimpse of. The streets are perilous. If you want an idea of what hell looks like, this is it. This is Somalia.
"It's just a parakeet" is an expression I hear to often and yet is so untrue. Budgerigars, often referred to simply as parakeets, are the most underrated of parrot species. I would like to share some of the experiences I had with one and provide some tips to owners of these wonderful birds. If you don't remember, I had a Dark Eyed Clear mutation Budgerigar named Duke who was a wonderful trick performer. Unfortunately he died young so I never learned his true potential. Still I would like to share some of what I learned about parakeets with you.
While the Melopsittacus undulatus is the most commonly kept companion parrot, it is also the most underrated and misunderstood. From name, to diet, to capabilities, owners are clueless. This of course is not surprising considering the ways in which these miniscule parrots come to be owned. Some are bought window shopping, others as gifts, many as toys for children, others found, a few taken off someone's hands who no longer wants them, etc. Whatever the means that budgies are acquired, it is usually so easy that they are often seen as cheap, incapable, and unimportant pets. When people spend thousands of dollars on a parrot, they have some kind of commitment to the bird in that they were at least serious enough to put that kind of money on the line. However, with a $10 budgie, the cage it inhabits often costs 5-10 times as much as the bird itself! Unfortunately many people see these birds as expendable.
Budgerigars are easy to breed and can be cranked out in all sorts of color mutations. When choosing a parakeet, most people are more concerned with the color than its suitability as a pet. All too often people buy these parrots for children as a pet for them to have while growing up without any concern for the complexity of the creature or its longevity.
Despite their low price tag or reputation, Budgies are more alike their big parrot cousins than different. They share the same characteristics but in a smaller size. They have the same characteristic zygodactyl feet, hook bill, vocalization capabilities, and atypical bird intelligence as do larger parrots. While parakeets are not the smartest of parrots, they are leaps and bounds ahead of your typical song bird, rodents, and other animals of their size. Heck, don't be surprised if the worthless little parakeet is more intelligent than your cat/dog! Scientific studies continue to find greater cognitive capabilities in Psittacines than ever imagined.
Don't forget that budgies are birds and birds fly! Even a budgie with clipped wings will try to fly away so it is important to use positive reinforcement to make the parakeet want to be around you instead of relying on clipping. Budgies are speedy fliers and require flight to feel secure and healthy. Using a target stick, millet, and some patience, you can teach a budgie to fly to you.
There is way too much confusion about what these birds are called. It is really quite simple though so I will state the correct name. It is called a Budgerigar, Budgie for short. It is one of many kinds of parakeets but not specifically called Parakeet. Parakeets include all small long tailed parrots such as conures, cockatiels, and ring necks. Finally, Budgerigars are true parrots and in fact more closely related to a Macaw than a Cockatiel. So there you have it, Budgerigar is the exact species, Parakeet the category, and Parrot the family of these remarkable little birds.
So if you have a budgie, don't value it based on the price you've paid but on its abilities. Don't assume it can't do something cause it's a cheap bird but instead challenge it and you'll be surprised by what it can do. You will realize that you got the best price to capability ratio parrot in existence!
If you don't have a budgerigar but are considering one, please give it the respect it deserves as a parrot and not for its price. Evaluate this species as you would any larger parrot and realize that this is a serious lifelong commitment. They may be small, but they can be similarly difficult like other parrot species. If you do buy one, make sure you spend adequate money on toys, perches, food, vet, and supplies and not treat it any lesser because the bird was cheap. Just consider yourself lucky to get such a deal on such a wonderful pet.
Share this picture and page with everyone you know who owns budgies or parrots so together we could spread awareness and respect for these wonderful little parrots! http://TrainedParrot.com/Parakeet