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Old 03-05-2017, 12:54 PM
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To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

Hello all. I wrote this post in response to a 22 year old that was thinking about getting a parrot, but he wanted the opinions of experienced bird owners. Since we get these types of questions everyday from people thinking about getting a bird, who are sure they want a bird but just want a second opinion, another member asked me to repost my response to him here so that it doesn't get lost in the black hole, and so others looking for advice can read it. I was simply trying to be as honest and "real" as I could be, sometimes it's very difficult to apply advice to real-world situations, so that's what I was trying to express. I hope it helps:

"Let me try to address some of the questions you have asked several times without giving an "in your face" answer, and also to address something you have reiterated several times that to me says a lot about your true feeling about getting a bird.

First of all, any parrot is going to be much more work and much more of a commitment than a dog. Period. I have also had dogs since I was a little kid and I love them to pieces, I currently have my second Australian Cattle Dog, she's a little over 3 years old and she's my baby. I got my first ACD when I was in college at age 21, she was a 9 week old puppy, and the reason I got this breed to begin with (and the reason I got a second one after my first girl passed away 3 years ago at 14) is because Australian Cattle Dogs are not only one of the most intelligent dog breeds but they are also absolutely one of the most loyal breeds, if not the most loyal breed. They are one-person dogs, and once they find their person they are set for life. My girl won't go further than 5 feet away from me at any time, inside or out. She follows me everywhere, wants to go everywhere with me, and is waiting for me right inside the front door every time I leave. I could quite literally leave her in the care of a kennel or a relative that she knows very well and likes, like my mom, for a month or a year, and she would be waiting for me by the door until I came back. Now here's where you need to pay attention: I have had my mom watch both of my dogs for me while I've gone on vacation or on a business trip several times (my other dog is a 1 year old Shar Pei, totally different breed). I think the longest I've left my Cattle Dog for one trip is 2 weeks, but I've done many long weekends and 1 to 2 week trips with my bands, for work, or just to get away. And either my mom has watched my 2 dogs or I've boarded them with my vet. BUT, I've taken all of my birds with me on every single trip! Why? Because while you can leave your dog for an extended period of time and when you come back the dog will be excited and happy to see you and want to be with you, your bird may absolutely hate you, not trust you anymore, not want anything to do with you anymore, and possibly even be aggressive with you and bite you. So yes, birds are a ton more work than dogs, cats, reptiles, any other pet that I can think of...Why? Because they have the intelligence of a human toddler and have very human like emotions. They seem to feel things very intensely and just because you had once earned their trust, this does not mean that you won't lose it at any time. This is why spending only 1-2 hours a day with a pet bird you are responsible for doesn't work.

Think of it this way: Let's say you go out and buy that Senegal parrot you put a deposit on (I have a 6 month old Senegal so I am dealing with this right now). It's most likely a hand-raised, tame, young juvenile bird, and you should be able to handle it right off the bat. So you bring him home and you're excited because he's new, your first bird, and for the first few weeks you spend quite a bit of time with him, even enough to earn his trust (even though he's a tame baby that you can handle from the beginning you do not automatically have his trust). Your bird is bonding closely with you now, he head bobs for you and regurgitates for you now. You decide to take your bird with you for an overnight trip to your girlfriend's house, so you pack him and all of his stuff up and head over to her house. You put his cage in her room, open his door up, and let him out on top of his cage. He sits up there while you and your girlfriend are watching a movie. At some point your girlfriend goes to hug you and kiss you, and suddenly your Senegal flies down and bites through your ear until you're gushing blood, and there's a hole through your ear lobe. Why did he do this? Well, any parrot will do this out of jealousy, you're his person and this was his way of warning you that this predator was trying to touch you, and he wanted you to move away! But since your bird is a Senegal parrot it's much, much more aggressive, way more jealous, and that's how Senegals are about their people. They don't like competition from other people or other pets, and they attack.

Your girlfriend feels badly and wants your bird to like her, so the following day she comes to your house to stay. She tries to get your bird to step-up onto her hand, and he does. You're both happy that your bird is OK with her and she continues to hold him. Then you sit down next to your girlfriend as she has your bird on her arm, and his eyes suddenly pin and he violently bites your girlfriend's hand. She is scared of him now because she doesn't understand why he's acting like this, and she doesn't want you to bring him over again. You have to leave him locked in his cage when she comes over to your house from now on. Then after the first month or so of having your Senegal parrot you start to want to spend more time with your friends again, you've been missing out on a lot, and your girlfriend is feeling a bit ignored too, plus she now hates your bird. So you start to go out at night after school or work instead of staying home with your Senegal. You feed him and give him water before you leave in the morning, you're gone all day, and then you stop in at home for a short while, about an hour or so after work or school. You open your bird's cage and let him out, again feed him and give him clean water. But you have to get ready to leave, so you take a shower, put your bird back in his cage, and you leave to go hang out with friends. Then later you go to your girlfriend's house for the night...As you stated above, in the morning you "run home to check up on your Senegal", again feeding him, then you're gone again all day long. This goes on as it had prior to you getting your Senegal parrot, you even go on a long weekend trip with your girlfriend, leaving your mom or whomever to make sure your bird has food while you're gone. Then after your life has gone back to normal (or the way it was before you got your bird) you come home after school one day and decide to stay home that night to spend time with your bird, because you haven't done this in a while and you miss him. You open his cage up but he won't come out. You ask him to come out, he refuses and backs away from you. You put your hand in the cage for him to step up and he lunges at it and bites. After leaving him alone for a while he finally comes out and goes on top of his cage, but every time you go near him he backs away from you. Finally you get him to step up onto your hand again, but he just keeps jumping off and running away from you... You've lost his trust, he's not getting nearly enough attention from you anymore, and most importantly he doesn't know why.

You see where I'm going with this? Dogs don't work this way, they don't get emotionally upset, angry, depressed, or aggressive just because you go away for a week. Parrots do. Dogs also don't self-mutilate because of not getting enough attention.

You have asked several times "Is there any upside to having a parrot, is it worth it?" You have to understand that when I was reading you asking that question several times I cringed, because to me there really are no downsides to having my birds at all. They are my family, they love me and I love them. They are always here for me, they always make me laugh, they always snuggle with me when I'm sad or lonely. I don't look at having to stay home at night with them as "a downside" because I prefer being home with them to being out doing something else. Of course I do other things, I play guitar and sax in a band, I mountain bike, I go to the gym, I go to a lot of concerts, I have a life. But 90% of the time I include my birds in what I'm doing, and if I can't include them then I just can't be gone for long. And that's just fine with me because I arrange my life around them.....Does this sound familiar to you at all? It's just like having a young, human baby or child. You keep comparing having a parrot to having a dog or another type of pet, and really with their intelligence, emotions, and personalities, having a parrot is a lot more like having a human child in your life, and having the same responsibilities that come along with a human child."


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Last edited by EllenD; 03-05-2017 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 03-05-2017, 04:51 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

I LOVE THIS!


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Old 03-05-2017, 05:03 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

So very well said. My thanks.
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Old 03-05-2017, 06:06 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

Love this. LOVE THIS.
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Old 03-05-2017, 08:58 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

I hope this is a sticky post, because it will help birds and humans both. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
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Old 03-05-2017, 09:05 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

This is perfection
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Old 03-05-2017, 10:25 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

I quadruple the sticky! And add to the list of newbies email!
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Old 03-06-2017, 06:40 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

This is so beautifully worded.....

Even before I got a parrot, I could still relate to some of this with my cat. I got her when she was 5 years old from my local shelter and almost completely feral. Poor thing was literally in a room in a cage all by herself. Cats are generally known to be independent, but not mine.. from the first day I got her she clung to me like glue. Whenever I would leave for even a weekend, she would be extremely upset. Puke up a storm around the house, and ignore me for a while when I got home to "teach me a lesson". Over 5 years after I got her, she's still like this. Even if I just have work or school for just a few hours a day, she still gets very noticeably upset. I've taken to bringing her with me on trips when I can, and working my schedule around HER needs instead of my own.

I've only been on one out of state trip since I got my parrot, but still I wish I knew that I should have taken her with me. I know that this is a forum for birds but I thought it necessary to mention that even in pets that AREN'T birds, sometimes there's still a very strong emotional need. The moral of this is ALWAYS make sure you know what you're getting into before you purchase any pet.
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Old 03-06-2017, 07:28 PM
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Re: To All You "Maybe" Future Parrot Owners With Questions

We are very lucky in that Geri was and is a homemaker, and is home all the time and that Salty has accepted her into his 'flock' . So when I am away doing a gig, like the OP( I play fiddle and concertina in a band) or am away for 2 weeks 2X a year , in CHina, she can give him the attention that all parrots need. Salty gets a little pissy when I come back from a China trip, but less so now then after the first trip. The likeness to a 2 year old is so very appropriate. So getting a parrot means changing your life. BUT your parrot will change your life, too, and for the better. No pet loves, entertains, or makes you feel closer to the animal kingdom then a parrot. You bring a wild animal into your house, and if you are lucky, he lets you become a part of his flock.
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