When you think about why you have a parrot, or parrots, in your life, what comes to mind? Is it their playfulness, their vibrant colors, their intelligence, their temperament and personality? For many of us, we consider all of those attributes when choosing a companion. One personality trait, however, is often ranked much higher than all the others and that is talking ability. Today’s blog is about talking ability as it relates to deciding on a parrot species, as well as some other considerations when choosing to bring a new parrot into your home.
We field several phone calls a day regarding parrot availability. Often times, we are asked what talking parrots are available. This is a difficult question to answer for us because nearly ALL parrot species can learn to speak. Parrots as small as Budgies and Parrotlets can amass quite impressive vocabularies. And, of course, the most well-known talkers in the parrot world are African Greys and Amazons.
So, here’s the catch: just because a parrot is capable of learning to talk, doesn’t mean that it will. What happens when you bring an African Grey into your home because you want a bird that will be a good talker, only to realize that the bird will only say a few different words? Add to that the chance that African Greys, as a species, have a tendency to be one person birds, can be quite temperamental, and may or may not be good with children? Now you have a highly intelligent creature that likes only one person and barely talks. What now? Sadly, this is when a lot of people decide to give their bird up. Is that fair to the bird? Is it the bird’s fault that it didn’t turn out to be a good talker? Of course not. Who’s fault is it that the bird is losing its home? The owner, the person who didn’t consider ALL of the personality traits of the species and who didn’t do their research.
When someone leaves a deposit on one of our babies or when someone adopts an adult from us, we do the best we can to make sure the bird and the family are getting a good fit. Sometimes, we are met with resistance during this process. There is an alarmingly large number of potential, sometimes current, parrot owners who only have or want a bird because it can speak. This is an issue that we have been trying to combat, but with little luck. One youtube video of a random talking parrot goes viral and then everyone wants that type of parrot, not taking the time to understand anything else about the species. Do we lose business when we tell people they need to consider more than just talking ability? Yes, we do. We could easily tell every person who calls or comes in that the bird they are interested in will be a great talker, take their money, and send them and the bird on their way. But that is just not the way we operate.
In a perfect world, everyone would do their research, understand the species they are considering and find a good fit. While we realize that is not always possible, we will always try. Here are some things to consider when bringing a new bird into your home:
How much noise can you tolerate? How much noise can your family members or neighbors tolerate?
- Not all birds are loud. Some are louder than a jet engine. This is an important consideration.
Do you have children? Younger or older?
- When we raise our babies here at the aviary, they are not exposed to children, for obvious reasons. Because of that, they need time to learn and understand what children are and that their interactions with them may be different from adults. Even young parrots are capable of understanding the difference in age amongst humans. Not all species of parrots do well around children, African Greys and some Amazons are examples of this. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but never assume that your parrot will be the exception.
Are you willing to put a large cage in center of your home?
- People often tell us that they plan to put their bird’s cage in a sun room, their child’s bedroom, or give them a “bird room”. Although this is a topic for another day, birds are flock animals and the cage needs to be wherever the center of activity is.
Parrots will poop on your floor, on your shoulder and on your couch.
- Even if your bird turns out to be a fabulous talker, will you be ok with poop on your stuff? It is ok if you’re not, but you need to consider that BEFORE you bring a bird home.
What are your plans for the bird as you get older?
- Medium to larger birds often outlive their owners. Please consider this and have a plan in place.
Are you willing to spend time with your bird EVERYDAY?
- Parrots need daily handling and mental stimulation every single day. Not just on weekends or when someone feels like it.
Are you willing to feed your bird a high quality diet and provide plenty of toys?
- Boredom and lack of nutrition can lead to all sorts of behavioral and physical issues. Caring for a parrot in the proper way costs money, every month.
These are just some of the more common issues and considerations that we try to educate bird owners about. Every situation is different, so there will certainly be other things to take into account depending on the family and on the particular parrot.
I tell people all the time that my job isn’t to sell parrots. My job is to make matches, to educate and to provide support. If you come to our aviary seeking a talking parrot, or any parrot, without having done any research, please don’t be offended when I tell you that there is more to it. I can speak for all of us here when I say that we are in this for a lot more than just to make money. We are in this to find life-long homes for the birds that we raise or rescue and we will sometimes turn people away if we don’t feel comfortable with where our babies are going. It is never personal, its just the right thing to do for our birds.
Thanks for reading!
-The TC Feathers Crew