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Information you should know before you adopt a bird

Although I have Psychology and Education Degrees, my understanding of parrots comes from all the experiences in my life. First, I am the oldest girl of seven children. This in itself, made me experience childhood as "the kids" more than just myself. It is the same experience in many ways for a parrot where the flock is more important than the individual bird. I was always taking care of and looking out for my brothers and sister. This is the same way a flock works. When the flock goes for a bath at the waterfall, several birds will fly up over the flock to trees where they can be sentinels or lookouts in case a predator is in the mood for a tasty treat.
Parrots have a "flock mentality" which means that they understand their survival is based on being with their flock. A flock is their extended family. On one branch sit Grandma & Grandpa, over there is cousin Joe & Ellie, on that branch is a sister and her mate. By the time the parrot is two years old he is usually practicing courtship with the little girl of his choice. They will usually stay together for life.

So, what you have in the tree is a family of birds. The mates are sitting together and they are all within communication of each other. I seem to think of it like the family reunions I went to when we were kids up in Pennsylvania. There were probably 150 of us on my mom's side of the family. When you got there you'd pick out your favorite cousin to be with and then sit down at the kids' table. Although you talked and laughed with everyone at the table, you had lots of conversation with the one right next to you. I guess you could also think of it like a wedding where a great family gathering takes place.

By being a part of the flock, a parrot knows that not only is he not MORE important than anyone else in the flock, he also knows his is not LESS important than anyone else in the flock. His flock would never leave him alone. When we take a bird into our home as a baby, the bird can only comprehend that we are his flock. Simply by bringing the bird into our home we do NOT remove the bird's natural instincts.

People buy baby birds because they are so cute, helpless and harmless. Their beaks are not formed, so they can't bite hard with those gummy little things. Their voices are not formed so they can't squawk; it is more of a little cry that makes you love the little baby. And most of all, their little brains are not formed yet, so they don't realize that life is just that, LIFE. Because their parents in the wild with skill and love would care for the birds, the beginning of life starts out sort of the same. People bring home the baby bird and fall in love with that cute little bundle of feathers with big eyes and awkward movements. Although the birds in the wild would not be "talking," they would certainly be communicating. Most of the communication I observe between my birds is silent, but certainly effective. Most people do not communicate with their parrots nearly enough for the bird to learn on a daily basis as it would in the wild.

When we've had the bird in our home for a year or so, the novelty wears off. According to Providian House Internet Site: "Consumer Reports, World Parrot Trust and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council estimate 60 MILLION exotic bird species are being kept in companion pet households in the United States alone. 30% of all exotic domestic parrots are abused, abandoned, neglected, and unwanted. 35% of all exotic domestic parrots die before they ever realize their NATURAL lifespan. 85% of all exotic domestic parrots are given away or sold within the first two years."

When the novelty wears off at about a year, it is partly due to the fact that the beak is now formed into hard, strong material, like a sharp horn. Any bite from the bird now HURTS! Birds bite to show love, fear, excitement and just to play with ones they love. The voice is now formed into the LOUD squawk that the birds need to communicate from distances of over a mile in the rainforest. When our birds communicate with us in these loud voices, we simply get angered because it is too loud a noise to have in a home. And the brain is now formed and saying. "I am an important member of my flock, I need to be part of the family in order to survive." The bird gets very agitated, as it would in the wild, that his flock just gets up and leaves without him. The bird gets even more agitated that not only does his flock leave, they have the ability to lock him up!

Because we bring these exotic animals into our homes we think we can turn them into something that belongs in our homes. Parrots in the wild would fly fifty or so miles in a DAY. Think of the metabolism and energy a parrot has to have to do that. Then think of a parrot in a cage. When does he get to fly?

Once the bird's beak is formed it needs constant grooming through the hollowing out of trees in the forest getting ready for mating season. The parrot naturally wants to chew wood. ANY wood or plastic, plaster, metal or any other material will do. We are not usually prepared for a little birdie toddler that has a mini chainsaw for a beak. We solve the problem by caging the bird. It's a great solution for us, but certainly not a good one for the bird.

My research has shown me parrots in the wild have sensual, lengthy courtship rituals. We expect our parrots to be celibate and never to think of courtship. Just because we bring them in our homes does NOT mean the parrot does not still have the natural instincts he was born with. We all have survival instincts, which include procreation, so do our birds. We simply do not allow our parrots the right to be parrots.

When we cage a parrot we are doing EVERYTHING unnatural that possibly could be. We take a magnificent, thinking, feeling, even funny being that flies and works in the flock and put him in solitary confinement. This is the reason that 85% of people that buy a baby bird realize they made a mistake and give it away or sell it within the first two years.

Before you can understand your parrot, you must understand how hard it is for a parrot to be happy in the world we have created for it. When it comes to parrots, I always say: "Smaller is definitely better. A parakeet or cockatiel is always a much smarter, happier choice than ANY of the larger parrots."

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