How did your lifestyle change after getting your first big bird?

Cyclone

New member
Jan 6, 2014
12
0
Florida
Parrots
1 male Quaker
Hello! Some day, but maybe never, I might like to become parront to a macaw or something big.

I've owned small birds my whole life (budgies and quakers for 30 years). I understand that commitment and have appreciated the different personalities with each little bird. Yet I'm always melting over the big birds at the pet store. They are such amazing and beautiful creatures! I would want to be sure I am able to give it a good home.

I am wondering what the leap into large bird ownership would look like. I am not asking what it is like to go from one or two big bird to two or three big birds, as that is probably not as huge a change in lifestyle. Which might open the debate that having more than one bird makes for happier birds (being flock species and all). But that is not what my question is about at this moment.

How did your life and lifestyle change after getting your first big bird?
 

chris-md

Supporting Member
Feb 6, 2010
4,120
1,278
Maryland - USA
Parrots
Parker - male Eclectus

Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
Just how all consuming it is. For me it’s all the same feelings, but everything is amplified.

For example, going on vacation I may have had anxiety about my bird, maybe a 2 on a 1-10 scale. With Parker, it’s a 10, because he’s simply far more obtrusive than a conure.

Same thing with moving cross country which we are doing now. Every...dang...thing is “how does Parker fit into this equation”, right down to “are we driving or flying”? Heck, we moved down to my moms for a few weeks just last week while our house undergoes renovations and repairs for listing. We had to spend an extra $100 and a full day that we can’t get back renting a uhaul to take Parker’s main cage down. Wouldn’t have to do that with a conure or Quaker!

They’re just bigger so are more noticeable, more obtrusive/looking larger in your thoughts than a smaller bird, even when undergoing the same event like a move.
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
15,183
3,011
Western, Michigan
Parrots
DYH Amazon
Larger Parrots are expensive! From the time needed to be with them, to their cage(s), travel cage, perches, toys to turn into tiny pieces (they can turn a fifty dollar toy into bits in under an hour), etc, etc, etc... The item that far too many forget about is Medical expense. Avian Medical can be compared to the cost for a Human. So, one needs to budget those items into the overall consideration.

Rarely will someone have friends, and/or family that will bird sit a Large Parrot. So, life is based around travel that includes Motels that will accept Pets and especially large Parrots.

Noise is one of the major issues with Large Parrots. Understanding that they can equal the noise of a non-restricted jet aircraft during take-off, which greatly effect where you can live...

We have a DYH Amazon and we activity travel with him. That said, it greatly restricts where we can stay and if he is not welcome, we don't go there.
 

noodles123

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
8,141
376
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Oh Lord...where to begin lol....
1. Had to throw out or give away most of my kitchen due to teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfcs.
2. Got rid of all of my candles, scented oil warmers, diffuses etc.
3. Had to get rid of all of my cleaning products and find bird-safe replacements.
4. Had much less freedom as far as doing stuff after work because I have to be home to get the bird out and play before putting her to bed (they have to have at least 10 hours sleep each night on a schedule, like a toddler has a sleep schedule...From 3 to the time she goes to bed, I have to be here, as she still needs to go to bed at a reasonable time in order to get 10 hours and get up with me each morning before work)
5. I rarely get to sleep in and definitely cant stay places over night without her unless I leave after she is asleep and return by 5-8am to uncover her. I also have to be there to cover her each evening-- and she needs interaction too.
6. Burning food and chemical smells are now much scarier than they were before.
7. Visiting people with my bird is a pain because you can't use Teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfcs in the same house with them, which makes being a guest very hard.
8. I think about new furniture in a totally new way (major changes often freak them out) but also, things like new couches, mattresses etc off-gas high levels of VOCs, so that is another complication.
9. You don't get sick days--- but your bird can also get sick from you, so even when you are puking, you still have to get your bird out etc, but you also have to be really careful about germs.
10. Hand washing is even more important.
11. I stopped wearing perfume or using hairspray because it's very bad for them. If I do use either, I spray it VERY lightly outside as I am leaving for the day (which, again, is rare).
12. Buying appliances is a GIANT headache because Teflon/PTFE/PFOA/PFCs are hidden in MANY things-- air fryers, popcorn poppers, microwave popcorn bags, griddles, grills, space heaters, curling irons, straighteners, pots, pans, cookie sheets, irons, counter-top grills, etc. You have to call the company and give them the full spelling of each chemical and abbreviation and that takes forever because they always try to tell you that they are safe without any basis for these claims, so then you have to ask for proof/ ingredients and sometimes you will get a call-back a few days later with an answer, but other times, you will just have to not buy the product because they will tell you that the chemical contents are a "trade secret".
14. Traveling is a massive pain. Getting people to watch a parrot is super complicated because a.)they are not you and your bird won't like them as much usually, which means taking the bird out may be impossible...b.) it requires a bird-safe home and most people use things that are toxic to parrots repeatedly on a day-to-day basis...c.) boarding birds is expensive and can be a source of disease (as they can spread deadly illnesses through dust etc and show no symptoms).
15. Having to constantly watch poop and behavior for subtle signs of change etc---as birds hide illness like crazy until its often too late.
16. Picking a place to live---- apartments and large birds do not mix...The noise and the habits of neighbors can be very problematic...Plus, many rental companies don't want parrots.
17. Cooking high oil foods----if you heat fats at too high a temp, that can be as bad for your bird as teflon in some cases. I don't ever use the oven over 400 and I am always trying to find ways to get the cooking smells out of my house. Note: teflon etc is NEVER safe in the same home--- even if you close doors etc-- birds have died on separate floors through closed doors due to teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfc use in the kitchen.
18. Art is a lot harder- as are home repairs...It's awkward to tell a maintenence guy that they can't use spray foam, scented glues, paints etc because of the bird.
19. Power outages in the winter are downright scary when heat is so important for birds.

20. The amount of time it takes to keep them entertained and happy...while setting boundaries and finding ways to interact that don't upset hormones.
21. The noise....
22. The amount of time spent researching etc...
23. LOTS of expenses...so expensive...so much less money lol
24. The amount of time it takes to cook for them and clean up..the time added to my morning wake-up routine.
25. The need for air purifiers without ionizing/ozone settings-- so much freaking dust...and as a safety net for VOCs etc.
26. Talking about your parrot and having people think you are crazy because they are used to low-maintenance pets like dogs or cats.
27. The need to overthink a lot more than I ever had to before when it comes to moving furniture, etc.
28. Talking room to room whenever I am home-- it's definitely a lot harder to focus on work when she is up, although I can do it...it's way easier to work when she's asleep.
29. Realizing that you have to work at your parrots pace can be agonizingly slow and stressful at times.
30. It is like having a VERY complicated toddler that never grows up-- but people don't give you the respect or leeway that is given to a parent when it comes to medical issues, getting home by a certain time etc etc. Can't go to a work dinner unless it's after the bird is in bed, or unless someone else can get her out and interact with her and then put her to bed-- sure, you might think that it's no big deal, but when they get stressed, they can resort to problem behaviors, like plucking etc...So even if it seems crazy, it's legitimately stuff to think about.

31. No more long trips out of town-- Being gone for 2 weeks is pretty much out of the question...Hell, even 3 days is a lot for mine. They NEED their people and leaving for long periods is very hard on them.
32. Other pets and visiting people with pets can be a problem...Dogs/cats are not the safest around birds...We have relatives who like to bring their dogs when they visit, and that is complicated, as they would both think of her as a squeaky toy...I recently was considering applying for a job with the FBI (lol no joke)-I am a great candidate, minus the bird- There is no way I could do their sleep-away trainings or be on call 24/7..I have to be here for her during certain hours and that is already a challenge with a standard job.
33. Having a room for your bird---especially large ones---I am not saying I leave her in there alone out of the cage, but her cage and accessories take up a lot of room and she also needs a quiet space to sleep when I stay up. Having a room makes this MUCH easier. When I looked for a new place to live, I looked with her in mind...Not just for a room, but also with regard to the kitchen appliances etc within the house. Similarly-- looking for certified avian vets before moving- because that is so hugely important when at all possible.


34. Car trouble can be SERIOUS-- if your car is giving off fumes or if the heat or AC won't work, or if it dies on the highway while you have your bird, that can be really really bad. I PERSONALLY would be okay in more extreme temps, but birds can't handle it. Plus, reliable transportation is important in case of an emergency.
 
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Scott

Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Aug 21, 2010
32,271
6,588
San Diego, California USA, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Parrots
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
The leap from smaller parrots to macaws is significant but not a leap of magnitude. Same overall household precautions, though macaws are capable of far more physical damage. Increased quantities of food/fresh veg-fruits, larger cage and potential for vastly increased toy budget.

My first of three macaws came ~5 years after first Amazon. Definite learning curve as their assertive personalities and increased noise apparent. If you are contemplating adding one or more of these majestic beauties, learn all you can, seek them out at a rescue/sanctuary for hands-on time. This thread shares a lot of good information: http://www.parrotforums.com/macaws/56384-big-beak-o-phobes-guide-understanding-macaw-beaks.html
 

noodles123

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
8,141
376
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Reader's Digest version--Aside from cleaning/cooking, the main ones would be:The NOISE-- and the constant vigilance is a lot for anyone to handle- as is the mess and cost...The danger of a real bite and the fear that subconsciously creeps in after.....You may think you are a great actor, but they can tell when you are afraid- at the same time, you do not want to push them because they aren't into "dominance" despite a lot of rumors that they are....


You really have to make so many changes to your life --as though you are a parent of a kid with severe allergies and special needs (and most of the things that kill birds are really common in homes). Understanding that their "craziness" is real to them, even though it seems silly to humans...and the bedtime/wake-up routines...It can actually be a lot more complicated than having a human child in many respects, as human children do not have the same capabilities and human children grow up...plus, human kids can survive teflon fumes etc.


Also- you cannot assume that birds will keep getting along, even if they do as babies...Having multiple large birds is EXTREMELY expensive and takes up a ton of space. If they don't get along, you are looking at 3 hours out of cage time PER BIRD. Having multiples can also lead to hormonal behavior and jealousy of you attention to others, or can lead to you being excluded (3rd wheel mentality). The lifetime cost of one large parrot alone is easily over 80k...easily (excluding the mess and damage etc).
 
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Birdman666

Active member
Sep 18, 2013
9,866
29
San Antonio, TX
Parrots
Presently have six Greenwing Macaw (17 yo), Red Fronted Macaw (12 yo), Red Lored Amazon (17 y.o.), Lilac Crowned Amazon (about 43 y.o.) and a Congo African Grey (11 y.o.)
Panama Amazon (1 Y.O.)
Short answer: I became an addict, and several more large birds followed shortly thereafter. At one point and time I had 11 of my own, and was working with 425 or so down at the rescue...

I became a human bird tree/bird toy... and remain one to this day...

When I die I will be stuffed and mounted as a replacement macaw tree...
 

noodles123

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
8,141
376
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
short answer: I became an addict, and several more large birds followed shortly thereafter. At one point and time i had 11 of my own, and was working with 425 or so down at the rescue...

I became a human bird tree/bird toy... And remain one to this day...

When i die i will be stuffed and mounted as a replacement macaw tree...


loooooolllllll
 

Cycletim

Supporting Member
Mar 22, 2020
114
16
Ventura, California
Parrots
Jasper Congo African Grey,
Grover Red bellied parrot RIP 10/20,
Red bellied parrot Rheya
We realized that what we were doing with smaller parrots was all wrong. We are a bit ashamed of it quite frankly. When we adopted Jasper who was a neglected African grey everything changed. It was a life changer to be honest.
I wont get into the specifics however, listen to the advice here on the forums. I cant thank the good people here enough for their knowledge and experience.
 

chris-md

Supporting Member
Feb 6, 2010
4,120
1,278
Maryland - USA
Parrots
Parker - male Eclectus

Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
We realized that what we were doing with smaller parrots was all wrong. We are a bit ashamed of it quite frankly. When we adopted Jasper who was a neglected African grey everything changed. It was a life changer to be honest.
I wont get into the specifics however, listen to the advice here on the forums. I cant thank the good people here enough for their knowledge and experience.

You describe my experience exactly with my conure. I don’t talk a LOT about frost experience, though I’ve described it a couple times here. My conure died of literal neglect (this was 15 years ago when I was a college student and her care wasn’t well coordinated). Parker had benefitted greatly from the immense guilt I carry around for my poor Aphrodite’s unfortunate life, and the fact that she could still be with me today.
 

Ephy

New member
Jan 3, 2018
72
1
Canada
Parrots
A 4 year old House Sparrow named Kiwi and a 22 year old dove named Baby
Oh Lord...where to begin lol....
1. Had to throw out or give away most of my kitchen due to teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfcs.
2. Got rid of all of my candles, scented oil warmers, diffuses etc.
3. Had to get rid of all of my cleaning products and find bird-safe replacements.
4. Had much less freedom as far as doing stuff after work because I have to be home to get the bird out and play before putting her to bed (they have to have at least 10 hours sleep each night on a schedule, like a toddler has a sleep schedule...From 3 to the time she goes to bed, I have to be here, as she still needs to go to bed at a reasonable time in order to get 10 hours and get up with me each morning before work)
5. I rarely get to sleep in and definitely cant stay places over night without her unless I leave after she is asleep and return by 5-8am to uncover her. I also have to be there to cover her each evening-- and she needs interaction too.
6. Burning food and chemical smells are now much scarier than they were before.
7. Visiting people with my bird is a pain because you can't use Teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfcs in the same house with them, which makes being a guest very hard.
8. I think about new furniture in a totally new way (major changes often freak them out) but also, things like new couches, mattresses etc off-gas high levels of VOCs, so that is another complication.
9. You don't get sick days--- but your bird can also get sick from you, so even when you are puking, you still have to get your bird out etc, but you also have to be really careful about germs.
10. Hand washing is even more important.
11. I stopped wearing perfume or using hairspray because it's very bad for them. If I do use either, I spray it VERY lightly outside as I am leaving for the day (which, again, is rare).
12. Buying appliances is a GIANT headache because Teflon/PTFE/PFOA/PFCs are hidden in MANY things-- air fryers, popcorn poppers, microwave popcorn bags, griddles, grills, space heaters, curling irons, straighteners, pots, pans, cookie sheets, irons, counter-top grills, etc. You have to call the company and give them the full spelling of each chemical and abbreviation and that takes forever because they always try to tell you that they are safe without any basis for these claims, so then you have to ask for proof/ ingredients and sometimes you will get a call-back a few days later with an answer, but other times, you will just have to not buy the product because they will tell you that the chemical contents are a "trade secret".
14. Traveling is a massive pain. Getting people to watch a parrot is super complicated because a.)they are not you and your bird won't like them as much usually, which means taking the bird out may be impossible...b.) it requires a bird-safe home and most people use things that are toxic to parrots repeatedly on a day-to-day basis...c.) boarding birds is expensive and can be a source of disease (as they can spread deadly illnesses through dust etc and show no symptoms).
15. Having to constantly watch poop and behavior for subtle signs of change etc---as birds hide illness like crazy until its often too late.
16. Picking a place to live---- apartments and large birds do not mix...The noise and the habits of neighbors can be very problematic...Plus, many rental companies don't want parrots.
17. Cooking high oil foods----if you heat fats at too high a temp, that can be as bad for your bird as teflon in some cases. I don't ever use the oven over 400 and I am always trying to find ways to get the cooking smells out of my house. Note: teflon etc is NEVER safe in the same home--- even if you close doors etc-- birds have died on separate floors through closed doors due to teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfc use in the kitchen.
18. Art is a lot harder- as are home repairs...It's awkward to tell a maintenence guy that they can't use spray foam, scented glues, paints etc because of the bird.
19. Power outages in the winter are downright scary when heat is so important for birds.

20. The amount of time it takes to keep them entertained and happy...while setting boundaries and finding ways to interact that don't upset hormones.
21. The noise....
22. The amount of time spent researching etc...
23. LOTS of expenses...so expensive...so much less money lol
24. The amount of time it takes to cook for them and clean up..the time added to my morning wake-up routine.
25. The need for air purifiers without ionizing/ozone settings-- so much freaking dust...and as a safety net for VOCs etc.
26. Talking about your parrot and having people think you are crazy because they are used to low-maintenance pets like dogs or cats.
27. The need to overthink a lot more than I ever had to before when it comes to moving furniture, etc.
28. Talking room to room whenever I am home-- it's definitely a lot harder to focus on work when she is up, although I can do it...it's way easier to work when she's asleep.
29. Realizing that you have to work at your parrots pace can be agonizingly slow and stressful at times.
30. It is like having a VERY complicated toddler that never grows up-- but people don't give you the respect or leeway that is given to a parent when it comes to medical issues, getting home by a certain time etc etc. Can't go to a work dinner unless it's after the bird is in bed, or unless someone else can get her out and interact with her and then put her to bed-- sure, you might think that it's no big deal, but when they get stressed, they can resort to problem behaviors, like plucking etc...So even if it seems crazy, it's legitimately stuff to think about.

31. No more long trips out of town-- Being gone for 2 weeks is pretty much out of the question...Hell, even 3 days is a lot for mine. They NEED their people and leaving for long periods is very hard on them.
32. Other pets and visiting people with pets can be a problem...Dogs/cats are not the safest around birds...We have relatives who like to bring their dogs when they visit, and that is complicated, as they would both think of her as a squeaky toy...I recently was considering applying for a job with the FBI (lol no joke)-I am a great candidate, minus the bird- There is no way I could do their sleep-away trainings or be on call 24/7..I have to be here for her during certain hours and that is already a challenge with a standard job.
33. Having a room for your bird---especially large ones---I am not saying I leave her in there alone out of the cage, but her cage and accessories take up a lot of room and she also needs a quiet space to sleep when I stay up. Having a room makes this MUCH easier. When I looked for a new place to live, I looked with her in mind...Not just for a room, but also with regard to the kitchen appliances etc within the house. Similarly-- looking for certified avian vets before moving- because that is so hugely important when at all possible.


34. Car trouble can be SERIOUS-- if your car is giving off fumes or if the heat or AC won't work, or if it dies on the highway while you have your bird, that can be really really bad. I PERSONALLY would be okay in more extreme temps, but birds can't handle it. Plus, reliable transportation is important in case of an emergency.


WOW!!
EVERY single point you listed, I could have written myself.
Every point, I am already obsessing over, have done, been thinking of, or realized how it has "restricted" me.
Not that i have any complaints, lol :)

Only difference is that I have 2 soft bill birds. A dove and a house sparrow.

All these issues are just so true, so important and I FEEL as well as can relate to everything you have said.

For the last 5 years, I have dreamt of that special day when I might be able to bring home a parrot.
Like the OP, I also love macaws, but I am afraid I will never achieve that perfect work/life balance that is required for their care.

(How did you current parrot owners know you could/should take on the care of your parrots? Were you terrified?)

It is a very difficult decision. IMO, it can be compared to making the decision to have a child. Which parrots pretty much are, but never actually grow up.

Just like parenthood, its nothing I would rush into without first ensuring I could provide the best, financially, emotionally, mentally etc.

I mean, taking care of 2 soft bills already require vast amounts of my time, energy and money that I couldn't imagine taking on another much larger beak anytime soon much less in an apartment.

The dream that one day I will be ready (and after having moved into a house) will always be there, and yet sometimes as much I would love a large parrot, I am terrified that maybe I will never be ready.
 
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noodles123

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
8,141
376
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
QUOTE FROM EPHY (because I messed up the coding):

"WOW!!
EVERY single point you listed, I could have written myself.
Every point, I am already obsessing over, have done, been thinking of, or realized how it has "restricted" me.
Not that i have any complaints, lol :)

Only difference is that I have 2 soft bill birds. A dove and a house sparrow.

All these issues are just so true, so important and I FEEL as well as can relate to everything you have said.

For the last 5 years, I have dreamt of that special day when I might be able to bring home a parrot.
Like the OP, I also love macaws, but I am afraid I will never achieve that perfect work/life balance that is required for their care.

(How did you current parrot owners know you could/should take on the care of your parrots? Were you terrified?)

It is a very difficult decision. IMO, it can be compared to making the decision to have a child. Which parrots pretty much are, but never actually grow up.

Just like parenthood, its nothing I would rush into without first ensuring I could provide the best, financially, emotionally, mentally etc.

I mean, taking care of 2 soft bills already require vast amounts of my time, energy and money that I couldn't imagine taking on another much larger beak anytime soon much less in an apartment.

The dream that one day I will be ready (and after having moved into a house) will always be there, and yet sometimes as much I would love a large parrot, I am terrified that maybe I will never be ready.[/quote]"


You have to have the foundations in place. I don't know if anyone is ever REALLY ready, but you will be closer to ready if you get the basics in line. I grew up with large parrots and I researched for ages, but Noodles still was a shock to my system...Granted, she is a U2 and they are super likely to be re homed multiple times before their 3rd bday statistically (they are the most re-homed of parrots, BUT when you compare all parrots to dogs/cats etc, they all are turned over more frequently). I cried all the time (secretly) for like the first 2 months or so--its intense, and worth it IF you have the capacity for it (but ONLY if you have the proper finances, housing, work hours etc are in 100%, because it isn't easy). She wasn't my first parrot, but she is unique lol.


If you work 9-5, your bird will need 10 hours and the closer you can align that to natural light cycles, the better . Although they should not have access to shadowy spaces if they are not sleeping, I do cover my cage at night (although, in some, that can create night-frights, which is all the more reason to make sure you have a space for your bird to sleep quietly, because if he/she cannot be covered and you don't have a room, that's going to likely pose an issue in terms of sleep quality long-term---more so in adults than those who are not yet sexually mature, but even then.
 
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