Before going any further with your parrot-owning plans, answer these fundamental questions:
- Why do you want the bird?
- Who will look after it, clean it, and talk to it?
- Have you kept a pet parrot before, or have you read up on the subject and/or talked to parrot owners?
- Do you have enough space and a suitable location for a cage/aviary, away from draughts and kitchens?
- Are the people living with you – and the neighbours – happy with the addition of a noisy animal to the household?
Once you’ve answered these four questions positively, you can begin your search for the perfect parrot. Your pet should be captive-bred, sourced from a breeder or shop. Wild birds will often have suffered extreme distress during capture and transportation, and many of their fellow captives will have died en route. Bird smugglers still manage to keep a foothold in the business, so buying a bird with a known past is essential for the good of the pet trade – and indeed for the good of the bird too. Wild birds may never settle down in captivity, and may harbour diseases.
Age is another issue. With smaller parrots you will be best choosing young birds that will quickly settle into a new environment. Older ones may be set in their ways and not take kindly to a change in environment. Hand-reared birds may be available, and these will already be used to handling, so hand-taming them will be a breeze.
There are further important considerations with the really intelligent species such as the big Macaws, Cockatoos and Grey Parrot. These take a lot of training, and can be tricky to handle in the early days. An older bird who has already been through the handling process, knows how to behave outside the cage and has a smattering of conversation up his feathered sleeve, is a good buy. These larger birds live several years – even decades – so missing out on the first few years is no big deal. What you do need to watch out for, though, are bad habits and bad language! Spend time with the prospective bird, if you can, before taking the plunge and inviting him into your home.