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Choosing A Bird

What you need to consider before you buy a parrot.


A word of advice:
Never buy a bird on impulse - Do your homework first!

If you are experienced with parrots I apologise now if I am telling you what you know. But if you have never owned a bird before or perhaps looking for a different type I strongly recommend you look at all 3 sections, it may well take a few minutes but could save you years of heartache and despair by helping you choose the correct parrot for you. I will not be trying to talk you out of buying a parrot but, in the interests of both you and your prospective bird, I will offer the best advice for your particular home or Aviary.

Step One

One of the first things you have to consider when introducing a parrot to the household, is this. Will this parrot be welcomed by all the members of the household or just by you?

Who is the Parrot for, you or your children?

A Budgie or Cockatiel may be better for children. Big Parrots like African Greys or Macaws are not good pets for children.

What do you want from your Parrot?

Make sure you are being realistic about what to expect from a parrot. Not all parrots will end up talking, no matter how much time you spend with them, but most do.

How much room Do you have?

Large birds need big cages. 3 foot square is an average size cage for a Cockatoo or Macaw.

Can you stand noise?

All parrots will be noisy at times. It is a sign of a well-balanced healthy parrot. How you deal with this noise will determine how bearable it is and how often it occurs.

Not all birds are tidy.

One of the big messes can be food, a fact of life some birds will throw their food all over, it is not always easily contained in the cage. Also, some parrots produce a fine white powder known as feather dust. This is common with African Greys, Cockatiels and Cockatoos. Parrots are also fond of chewing (a speciality of cockatiels is the edges wallpaper), so you will need to lot of chewable toys for them and to think about where in the home they will be allowed to go and then bird proof those areas.

How much time do you have to spare?

One of the biggest problems with Pet Parrots is that they get bored. Parrots are one of the most intelligent animals in the world. Therefore parrots need lots of stimulation. If you are going to be at work all day and the sort of person that go out at night as well you need to ensure they have something to keep them occupied. Their cages need to be extensive enough to move around in, and stretch their wings out. but more importantly they need a lot of your time, is that something you have?

How much do they cost?

The question should be how much can you afford? Prices of parrots can very from a £10 for a Budgie to £2,000 plus for Macaws and other species. And then you must think about the cost of cages and other equipment you will need, and ongoing costs such as food, toys, and veterinary care. Having a large parrot for a pet can be very expensive. Avoid the temptation to buy a bargain-priced bird; a healthy hand-raised bird is well worth the extra cost in the long run.

If after reading this you are of the mind that owning a pet parrot is just too much trouble, then maybe a parrot is not the right pet for you. But if you still want a parrot. Take your time, choose wisely and most importantly, when you bring that darling home, give him as much love as you can, and you will have it returned tenfold.

More information on the characteristic of some of the hundreds of different species of Parrots.

Step Two

First of all why choose a hand reared bird?

When you read this little section, you may think that I am 'trying to teach my Grandma to suck eggs'. The advice I give here is purely based on circumstances that, as a 'first time parrot owner' and green to say the least, you may encounter.

BEFORE you actually commit to buy a parrot from anyone, try to sort the following points BEFORE you part with your hard earned cash.

Lets just pretend that your chosen breed is the African Grey. You will naturally have specific requirements from your future avian addition. As we are dealing with the purchase of a PET PARROT, I am going to assume I know what you would like from your birdie, check the list below and tell me I am wrong!

  1. Birdie needs to be happy at being handled.
  2. Birdie would hopefully like to engage in cuddling.
  3. Birdie would hopefully give kisses.
  4. Birdie needs to be a sociable creature making friends with all the family.
  5. Birdie hopefully will be tolerant of the family dog(s) or cat(s) even other bird(s).
  6. Birdie more than anything needs to be a sweet natured creature that is completely adorable.
  7. Birdie needs to be disease free and tested to prove it with a certificate.

Well you are in luck, because most hand-reared parrots that have been raised with love, affection and a modicum of discipline are just that. But what if the little creature is not all of the above? What if the seller is trying to tell you that the hissing, shaking feathery mass at the back of the cage will turn into all the above given enough time? What if you are promised all the above at a low price with the addition of the phrase "it will tame down"? My advice is leave is where it is, don't buy a frightened or very nervous parrot. Don't buy it, just don't buy it!

A hand-reared bird should have a happy disposition, be confident, inquisitive (nosey) and downright cheeky! They are a joy to own from the first day, it should not take six months and more for the bird to come onto your hand.

On a personal level, I own a great number of African Greys, some are pets, most are breeding birds. It would not surprise me to learn that some of them started out as semi-tame birds sold by the pet trade. About 80% of my breeding parrots have a great repertoire of sounds, most of which they have not heard whilst with me, some talk quite well whilst others just enjoy the freedom they have to exercise their lungs (so to speak).

It is a sign of a happy, well-balanced parrot, when he/she sits on the perch and goes through every sound and word they found exciting enough to remember. It is a pleasure to listen to a happy well-adjusted parrot, simply because they are glad to be alive. Unhappy, frightened parrots make little, if any sounds and when they do it is usually a growl or screech.

I apply two rules, I never use tame parrots for breeding and I don't sell semi tame parrots as pets, it never works out and the poor semi tame, spends his/her life going from home to home in an attempt by us humans to 'be rid of a problem bird'.

So BEFORE you part with your money, check out the parrot, see for yourself that it is all you want it to be. Make sure you are happy with where it is coming from and how it has been kept.

A tip:  visit the parrot a few time before you decide to buy. A good and responsible breeder will understand this is important.

Step Three

Parrots are individuals and so differ slightly in their mannerisms and character. In general, the social problem that an individual may have usually runs right through the species with, perhaps, the odd exception to the rule. On our individual parrot pages you will find information on there different type of characteristics.

More information on the characteristic of some of the hundreds of different species of Parrots.