So much of the time I find myself telling
people why they should NOT adopt a parrot, it seems as if I'm almost
"anti-parrothood". But I'm not. I'm just "anti-ignorant-parrothood"
As a child and an adult, I've had a wide range of pets,
including the standard cats and dogs, mice, guinea pigs, goldfish, and
chameleons. I didn't discover birds until my early twenties, and I
adopted my first parrot (a cockatiel) in my late twenties. Since that
time, I've found that although I still like cats, dogs, and other
"critters", parrots have found a special place in my heart.
Here are just some of the reasons why I think they make
- Parrots are companions, not pets. The
difference is profound. They aren't obedient and they don't go way
out of their way to please you. They will love you, but they expect
you to invest in the relationship. You can't have a "ornamental"
parrot if you want sanity in the house. Parrots expect (no...
DEMAND) attention, and they want to participate (not just observe) in what
goes on in the house.
- Once an animal talks to you in your own language,
the relationship between you grows exponentially. I can't tell you
what a thrill it was the first time Siva (my first parrot) said "Good
Morning". And when he added "Wanna come out?" (asking to be let out
of his cage) and "Up!" (asking for treats), I found myself actually
talking to him - and finding that he understood much more than I ever
- Parrots are smart enough to be sneaky
so...). Someone gave me a small stuffed rabbit toy
one Easter. I loved it, but so did Siva (and I didn't want him to
play with it because he would ... well, let's just say
he wanted to do something that I felt was fairly inappropriate...).
I had to constantly pull him off of it and say "My bunny... MY bunny" as a
stern warning. One afternoon I had left Siva in the family room
unattended. From the next room I could hear Siva softly saying "My
bunny, my bunny". Sure enough, he'd been climbing all over the
forbidden toy and repeating the warning softly to himself.
- Parrots are creative.
Aussie, our 3 year old
cockatiel learned to whistle "Bridge on the River Kwai" when he was less
than a year old. A few months later, I taught him the first notes to
"Some Enchanted Evening". Not long after he learned the second tune,
he surprised me one day by performing a medley of the two (which left me
clutching my sides from laughing).
- Parrots are thoughtful - in their
own ways. In the wild, parrots preen each other's
feathers, especially around the neck and head where they can't quite reach
themselves. This is a loving way to say "I care about you and want
you to be comfortable". Many times I've had my hair "fixed" by a
conure, cockatiel, or macaw or had my earlobes lovingly "inspected".
- Parrots are caring. Not long after adopting
Jesse (our Catalina), I was sitting in the family room and heard my
husband Stephen say "Oh, no... the old canary has died". I had been
expecting the bird to die soon (he was 15 years old and hadn't been
completely well for some months), but the words cut through me.
Immediately Jesse flew from the top of her cage (where she'd been playing)
and climbed up into my lap. She pushed her head up under my chin and
made sad little "sigh" sounds as I cuddled her. She knew I was upset
and tried her best to comfort me.
- Parrots love to play. Bubba, our Black-Capped Conure loves to play hide-and-seek. He's so good at it that I am
careful about where I take him in the house, and I keep an eye on him when
he's out. Bubba loves nothing better than to fly into a new room,
attach himself to a piece of furniture, the top of a picture frame, or the
back of a lampshade - and then wait in absolute silence for you to come
and find him. When you find him, he happily climbs up on to your
hand and makes a rolling chirp that can only be interpreted as his
- Parrots are naturally clean. They work
constantly at keeping their feathers, beaks, and feet in good condition.
They care a lot about having a clean cage, too, although they are very
much dependant on us for housekeeping. This fastidiousness creates
some problems for us with Forte, our Sun Conure. She hates to have
her droppings too close, and if her cage bottom isn't cleaned frequently
enough to suit her, she will shoot her droppings out the front of her cage
(where they fall to the floor much further than they would if she just let
them drop to the paper in her cage). We now have to leave a sheet of
newspaper on the floor just in front of her cage - or deal with the
- Parrots don't love you if you are mean. A dog
will probably still be "your dog", a cat will probably tolerate you (at
least at mealtime) but if you are mean with a parrot, you are going to be
bitten, screamed at, pooped on, and generally hated. Parrots make
sure you know it when they don't like you.