If you’re thinking of buying a parrot, or if you’re starting a bird store, parrots require much consideration before purchasing them. They’re intelligent, beautiful creatures full of personality, but you need to know what you’re getting into, or what your customers will be getting into if you’re starting a bird store.
First of all, parrots are loud and some are shriekers, so if you have close neighbors, they’re not going to be very happy with you. You might also find yourself kept up at night as your parrot makes its presence known.
Parrots also need space. They’re large birds, and many are kept in cages that are too small, which is in opposition to their nature. They also need 10 to 12 hours of quiet time each day, so they may need a separate cage in a private room for part of the day, particularly when they’re young.
Parrots also require plenty of out-of-cage time, preferable four hours a day or more. It’s imperative to their physical and mental health, so your home needs to be made safe so they can roam and get exercise.
If you have an outdoor area, such as a balcony or a garden, that can be wired in, that would be ideal for the bird. It will be like having your own aviary.
Parrots require more time and attention than a dog or cats. You’ll have a cage to clean and a water bowl to change frequently, since the birds are messy, and a complex diet of fresh foods to provide.
Parrots also need outside stimulation, or they may engage in behaviors such as self-mutilation and feather plucking, so you need to talk to them and socialize with them.
Finally, parrots that are well cared for can live as long as 60 years, so you may be making a lifelong commitment.
You should feed your parrot a variety of vegetables, fruits, and pellets that are specially designed for parrots.
Variety is key, and foods that are found in the wild are ideal, such as blackberries, plantains, and dandelions. Sprouts and beans are also good sources of nutrition.
Nuts can be a great treat for parrots but avoid giving them anything with sugar or salt. Don’t give them anything fried, and never give them caffeinated drinks or alcohol.
Seed mixes can also work for parrots, but this should not be their main diet, since fresh foods are essential.
Foods for parrots should be served in pea-sized pieces for the safety of the bird. Many recommend feeding the parrot twice a day, with some snacks or treats in between.
You’ll know you’re feeding your parrot well if it has bright eyes, shiny feathers, and an active posture.
Choosing a Parrot
The parrot you choose should be captive-bred, not captured from the wild. Wild-caught parrots may have been mistreated and will not settle in well to a new environment. They may also have diseases.
For small parrot species, it’s best to choose a younger bird who will settle well into a new environment. They also should have been raised with a human touch so that they will adapt well to your care.
When choosing the highly intelligent Macaws, Cockatoos, or African Grays, unless you want to do a lot of training, it’s best to get an older bird that is already trained and accustomed to a home environment.
It’s best to observe the bird for as long as you can before you buy to see its behavior. You can also assess its health.
A healthy parrot should be awake and alert during daylight hours. Feathers should be shiny and close to the body, and the eyes should be bright. It also should be making sounds, even if they’re not words.
Some breeders will offer a vet-signed bill of health for the bird.
Parrots that are on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list will be required to have proper breeder’s paperwork and must wear a leg ring or have a microchip to identify them. It’s a criminal offense to sell or buy a CITES bird that does not have these things.
Buying a parrot is a huge commitment, and potentially a lifetime commitment. Parrots require a lot of time and attention, and a healthy diet.
If you cannot provide the parrot with everything it needs to live a happy and healthy life, you should consider choosing another kind of bird or another type of pet. If you want to make the commitment, you’ll have a wonderful and beautiful companion for years to come!