If you are adopting a “baby”,
it’s a great idea to go and visit your baby regularly in the weeks
before you bring her home. These visits allow you to get to know each
other, and makes the transition to your home easier. It’s also a great
time to ask questions and observe the other parrots that the breeder
has. The more you know about your bird, its background and parents, the
Adopting your first parrot –
especially if it’s a large bird – is a very different experience than
adopting any other kind of pet. Somehow it feels more intense and
little worries become big panics very quickly for many of us. The time
you spend socializing with your baby before you bring her home develops
confidence for both you and the parrot. You will learn each other’s
sound and feel. You’ll become more comfortable with those big feet,
that huge beak, wings, and (if she's a macaw) tail. The bird becomes
more comfortable with how you approach, talk to, and hold her. The
pre-adoption visits allow you and the bird time to get over your initial
If you are
adopting an unweaned baby
If you happen to be among those
who are planning to finish the handfeeding yourself, this is also a good
time to learn how to hand-feed a parrot. It’s definitely worth asking
the breeder to show you how feeding is done – and you should not be shy
about asking if you can try your hand at it.
I suggest this for two reasons:
Your newly weaned baby may
“regress” after you bring her home. Some birds, when they are taken
home, are overwhelmed by the change and will stop eating as well as
before. They need additional nurturing, and being prepared to offer
“comfort feedings” with a little formula allows you to offer a special
kind of reassurance that your bird may truly appreciate.
You, like many who’ve gone
before you, may one day want to try breeding yourself. Having at
least this short practical introduction to hand-feeding is useful
education. I’m not, of course, suggesting that one or two
hand feedings of a near-fledgling is adequate education for someone
planning to handfeed infant chicks. But every scrap of
experience you have eventually becomes useful.
There are many who believe that
hand-feeding your own bird strengthens the bond between you. I’m not
sure if the bird feels that bond, but feeding our baby certainly evoked
a greater bonding feeling on my (and my husband’s) part. Somehow,
feeding Jesse ourselves and caring for her during the intense weaning
period made us feel that Jesse was “ours” in a way that we don’t feel
toward the other parrots. For us, it took the emotional experience to a
new (deeper) level.
The pre-adoption period is a
great time to make contact with other parrot owners and learn from
them. Perhaps the most convenient is to read as many books (like this
one) that you can find. Books are a wonderful resource, but there are
many other ways to do this, including (again) visiting your breeder,
local bird clubs, bird fairs, and online message boards and discussion
groups. The more people with parrots like yours you can meet, the
better. Most parrot owners are enthusiastic about their avian
companions, and are more than willing to share and advise you. There
are millions of great ideas out there – so “plug in” as soon as you can
and start learning!
We were especially fortunate in
finding a breeder who encourages adoptive families to bring their birds
back to "visit". We attended several of these visiting sessions
and were able to see a wide range of people interacting with their adult
parrots. Any ideas we had about our large macaw perching placidly
on our arm for long periods certainly were shattered by what we saw.
These birds were crawling all over their owners, tumbling and playing
without stop. The only birds who "sat placidly" were the ones who
were nervous; everybody else was "vivacious". Watching and
participating in these interactions was extremely useful to us, as well
as listening to the other owners' stories about occasional "bratty"
behavior and how they dealt with it.
One word of caution; it won’t
take long before you begin to realize that not everyone agrees with each
other on very many topics. You will need to be flexible and use “critical
thinking” when you are given advice (including what you read here).
It's best to have several sources of information so that you can
cross-check what you are hearing.
This is especially true for
internet chat sites and message boards. Not all of those who pose
(sometimes convincingly) as experts are as knowledgeable as you might
think. And just because someone defends a position with passion
does not mean they are right (or wrong). For the most part, what
I've seen on these sites is mostly profoundly good advice - but
occasionally someone posts something which is just the opposite.
The more lively the board, the harder it is for administrators (who may,
themselves, not be all that experienced) to control quality and catch
misinformation. So when you "chat" online, remember that you don't
really know who the person on the other end is - and proceed with