A good friend of mine fell in love
with an adult sun conure she saw at her local pet store. The bird (a 2 year
old) was a little nippy with her husband in the store, but allowed her to
pick it up and seemed quite affectionate. The price was right and she took
the bird home.
Within 3 days, this little charmer
went from “sweetie bird” to “birdzilla”. My friend was bitten quite hard
several times, and finally called me to see what I thought. “Take the bird
back,” was my advice. My friend was reluctant. She worried about the
trauma the bird would suffer from being shifted from home back to the pet
store. She really was concerned about this parrot’s welfare; but every day
it seemed worse. After another week and a half, she finally did contact the
pet store owner, who agreed to work something out with her and take the bird
back. I will never forget the tear-choked voice of my friend telling me
that she’d “failed” and how dreadfully guilty she felt about it all. She
still worried about little “Mango” and prayed he would find a home where he
would be happy.
It was an extremely painful and
guilt-ridden trauma for my friend, and probably not much fun for the conure,
The pet store owner eventually found
my friend another bird of the same species, but this time a baby. This
newer bird quickly became the joy of my friend's life, and her pain over
“Mango” eventually healed.
Another friend decided to adopt a
7-year old cockatiel from a co-worker. This bird had been with only
one family, and was quite tame. The adoption went well. There were some
adjustments for everyone in the first couple of weeks, but after a while
“Tweetie” settled down and it worked out well.
|Re-homed birds often
adjust well, especially if they were well socialized to begin with. And
there are hundreds of stories out there about so-called “problem birds”
who became wonderful pets when they came to live with the right person
and family situation.
Not all adult birds offered up for
adoption have problems. Here are some reasons a perfectly wonderful
companion bird might be given up by it’s owner:
- The owner has passed away
- The owner is elderly and no
longer able to care for the bird (or must move into a housing situation
where pets are not permitted)
- The owner has developed
dust/dander allergies and cannot live with the health consequences of a
pet that generates the amount of dust that some parrots do
- The owner is having some other
normal "life change" situation that now makes keeping the bird impossible
When considering being a bird’s
second (or 3+) home, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions about
the bird’s health, typical behaviors, and why the owner has decided to part
Here are some questions which may
lead to revealing answers:
- What kinds of situations make
this bird unhappy?
- When this bird screams, how do
you deal with that?
- When this bird bites, how do you
deal with it?
- Who is your vet (this is, I
guess, a sneaky question. A person who cannot name the vet may actually
have never taken the bird to a veterinarian at all…)
|Listen to the
answers to your questions and consider carefully what you are being
told. And never, ever, allow yourself to be pressured into adopting a
bird. If the person you are dealing with says “I have several other
people interested in the bird…” then you must assume that if the bird is
adopted by another family, that it was “meant to be”.
In the case of adult birds offered
in a pet store, ask if the bird can be returned for a full or partial refund
if it begins to exhibit unusual problem behavior once in your home.
Birds that undergo the stress of
re-homing have a “honeymoon period” where they are too nervous and timid to
show their true character. In the case of my friend with the sun conure,
that honeymoon period lasted only 3 days. It takes a while for the bird to
settle in and relax enough to behave “normally” (whatever normal is for that
bird). Being moved from “home” to the store, and then to your home is a lot
of stress for a bird, and you should expect to see some changes to
personality (even if only mild ones) once the bird settles in. No pet store
can afford to allow an open-ended timeframe, but if you agree to have the
bird see a vet within a week or so, and agree to share some responsibility
if it doesn’t work out, a ‘trial period’ should be acceptable to the dealer.
If it isn’t, you should seriously
consider whether you are willing to risk problems.
|Pakshi, my Hahn’s
macaw was 9 months old when I bought him from a local pet store. He had
been in the store for 3 months when I got him, and since the pet store
that had him is part of a nationwide chain, it’s possible he’d been in
another store for a while before being moved to that location.
The store clerk admitted to me that no-one had been handling Pakshi -
and although Pakshi seemed "interested in being friends", he wasn't
exactly cuddly. I was concerned about ending up with an expensive
bird that might never been the companion I was wanting.
I asked for (and got) a
2-week no-questions-asked guarantee from the store before I took him
Once he came home with me it took
about a week before he relaxed and acted like the bird I know now. He
and I get along fine, and there have not been any severe problems. But
he’s not at all well socialized. I am the only person who can handle
him without incurring a nasty bite, and some days he bites me for
reasons I don’t quite understand.