Avian Expert Articles

Bird People Share: “What do you wish you knew before getting a parrot?”

green-winged macaw/Photo by Gamaliel Troubleson/Unsplash

What I wish I had known.

I am fortunate to have lived with various species of parrots for over four decades. As a child, with my first parakeet, Tweety, I was taught responsibility, unconditional love, and acceptance of something different. I learned that your best friend did not need to be a human.

Tweety was my constant companion for 10 years. She was the same age I was when she came to live with me from a pet store. We were both 8 years old and had many years to learn about each other. I told Tweety all my hopes, dreams, and fears. She came to school with me as part of my science projects, went on vacations with me and watched as I graduated high school and beauty school. The night she passed away, she also taught me heartbreak and pain like I had never known. Something I will never forget.

Tweety fueled my passion about birds. As I got older, I branched out to other species and shared wonderful relationships with them as well. I am proud to say that almost all of my birds have lived out their natural lives in my home. I’ve grown, evolved, and never passed on an opportunity to learn.

A Time For Sharing

I run a rather large social group for African grey caregivers on social media. I’ve observed members share their proudest moments, cutest pictures and medical dilemmas where they found comfort from others who understood their fears. Watching the members interact prompted me one day to ask them, “What do you wish you had known before getting a parrot?” Many people responded about traveling when you have pet birds and the hardships it may cause.

Katrina Miller wrote: “Finding a bird sitter, you trust is one of the hardest things to do explanation point there is not like you can just drop them off at the kennel or boarder while you take a break. You truly have to have someone you trust and who loves her birds as much as you do. That has a relationship with them to temporarily step off as caregiver mom and dad and make ridiculous baby talk and scratches and all that jazz.”

Claudia Lamp added: “I wish I knew that when I needed to travel for work or even vacation how hard it is to find someone who will watch my birds while I am away. Many people are afraid of birds and don’t want to let them out or even put their hands near them to feed. I worry when I leave them if they are OK.”

Life With Parrots

Julia Patterson said: “As someone who never wanted children, I had no idea how much getting a grey would basically be the same thing. From now on I can only accept people into my life that will accept my bird and our relationship. I have to put her needs above my own at all times as well as finances, travel and relationships.”

Janet Charbula wrote: “That my life would be forever changed for the better! Who knew a bird could be so special?”

Siobhan McHale commented about: “How wonderful it would be and how our world would be [enriched] by a tiny little being who is so clever and funny and chooses to love us in return.”

Ellen Scheidt added: “That I will never sleep later then 7:30 am! My grey is an alarm clock.”

Robin Lawson made sure to mention: “That when you get a bird your life will change. No one told me how I would change my way of living just to make sure my birds are happy and healthy.”

Christine Carter’s sentiments about her birds is one many share: “My pet birds have changed my world for the better. They are smart and empathetic, more than any human I have encountered. Mine ‘know’ me and make me laugh every day, even the days I thought I couldn’t.”

Parrot Medical Needs

Colleen Fresco wrote: “Your bird needs to see an avian veterinarian (board -certified avian vet). Office visits for pet birds are usually more expensive than other types of pets. Wellness visits, checkups and emergencies can be costly. Items such as good quality cages, accessories, lighting, air purification systems, toys, perches, scales and such can be expensive, but good quality is a must.”

Kay Darnell added: “How new avian vet science actually is, how much experience varies among vets and how I much I would become my girl’s best advocate to survive.”

As for my own thoughts? It is difficult to find a qualified vet to help us with our pet birds because there is a limited amount of board-certified avian veterinarians worldwide.

Final Thought

With all the responses within the conversation on ““What do you wish you had known before getting a parrot?” Kathleen Sullivan summed up the hardest reality in one sentence that none of us want to know. “They break your heart more than anything I know when they die and leave an empty cage behind.”

What do you wish you knew before welcoming a pet bird into your life and home? Do share in the comment section!







13 thoughts on “Bird People Share: “What do you wish you knew before getting a parrot?”

  1. My Birds…..where to begin, They are my life 24/7 I jump up if they have a night tremor, Amber my goffin cockatoo if famous for that. And the screamer Kiki my Umbrella Cockatoo all she wants is ME!!!!! I am there for her. My Blue Quaker Angel will do anything for her nutri-berries. The funniest is Captain my McCaw good boy he has been until one day after many years living with me “He” layed an egg!!!!! She became Captina LOL……… I have had many birds over the years finches, love birds, cockatiels and parakeets. It’s not just having a cage with a bird and feeding it, it is about so much love you get back from them and their funny antics. Love hearing them speak to me we converse back and forth. I would have never known all of this before getting my birds and would have missed out on their true unconditional love and what a shame that would have been. 🐤🐥

  2. I agree with Ellen, when the sun rises, my grey wakes me up. I have always had budgies as I grew up. I wish I knew how different each of their personalities were, even between male and females. I had 2 budgies that talked and one even said goodbye to me before he passed away. I really never knew they could know this or be able to tell me. I still remember it to this day and it was in 1992.

  3. I wish I had known sooner how sweet and loving cockatiels are. My birds are 14 years old and their cage doors have never been closed. Every morning about 9:30 a.m. one of them (Angel, my whiteface cinnamon pied) flies to my bed where he has his own pillow. There is a paper towel and he is paper potty trained, so their is no mess. He tells me that I’m a pretty bird which makes me laugh and he gets head scratches until we both fall back to sleep. Being fully flighted, he goes back to his cage as desired for food, water, to play with toys and, at night he puts himself to bed. I grew up on a poultry farm and had many different pets, but nothing like these cockatiels. They’re either on my shoulder or cuddled up with me and I love it so much.

    1. I have had budgies at different times during my life. They were entertaining and happy. We called them parakeets back then. When I was born, we had a parakeet named Dickie Bird. He was the most fascinating bird around. He talked a blue streak! He passed away when I was 15 years old and this made him 17 when he died.

      Late in my life ( when I was 53), I decided to get a parrotlet ( dwarf parrot). I researched all I could about them. I purchased a male named Humphrey Bogart Miller ( Bogie). This little green piece of dynamite changed my life for the better. We bonded like no other! I kept a daily journal on his life and he lived 10 years. He had a vocabulary of 65 words and sentences. He sang a song that spelled out his name, Bogie. I wrote daily in a forum obout parrotlets and Bogie became famous all over the world. He knew his colors and could count. He was such a great little guy.

      I am writing a book about him at the request of the members of the parrotlet forum. I miss this little guy so much! When he passed away, I received 5,000 condolences from all over the world. The thing is this….If I had it to do all over again, I would have started to raise parrotlets 50 years ago! There is no other bird like them! He loved his Nutriberries as his best nutritious treat! I now have another parrotlet named Ricochet. He is another story!

  4. I became acquaintedi with a friend who had an African Grey and I was amazed at the friendship she had with her bird and the the bird’s responses to her. I just had to have one! I acquired Dusty when she was 67 days old and she is now 40.. She is amazing and learning new things to say as well as telling me what and when to eat, go to church, to bed, shopping, etc. She and my Dog, Jodie love to tease each other although I don’t trust either one when Dusty is out of her cage for playtime, etc. everyday. When I first got her, I never gave a thought to how long grey’s live. I am now 82 and in good health, but worry what will happen to her if something happens to me. I have no family and she needs to be with someone who will love her, be home most of the time and be good to her-something that never entered my mind when I got her. I treasure all the years we have and hopefully will have together for many more, the Lord willing. Age is something to think about when getting a bir oif this type.

    1. Hello, JoAnn M.
      I am a fan of the African Grey, but when I realized there were other birds to raise than budgies, it was too late to have a parrot because I was too old. (I’m David M…I wrote a comment right above yours). Anyway, there was an African Grey named Alex. He was famous because he was put on You Tube by his trainer. He knew his color, etc. and he was very intelligent. I saw him on You Tube and became fascinated with the African Grey. Sadly, he passed away much too early .

      What I suggest to you is to look up a web site that deals with Parrots. Join the forum and tell the forum members all about your bird. Tell them about the problem you have if you pass away and fear that your bird will be left homeless. You will get a lot of comments that will help you out! Look up ” Talk Parrotlets ” and join them. They talk about all parrots, not just small ones. Dave…

    2. Hi Joann. It would be a good idea to look into putting your dog and African Gray in your will if possible. You can also look into seeing whether there is a bird rescue in the area you live that might be able to take your bird in the event that something happens to you.

      In response to David Miller, the Talk Parrotlets web forum is primarily focused on parrotlets, hence the name. Some members do have other small birds. NO active members have an African Gray or a medium/large parrot. Joann would be better suited to join a group that is focused on African Grays since they have unique needs.

    3. I have two greys and a macaw.
      I would love to care doe your grey.
      I love them
      Oh I’m in my 40s.
      Take care

  5. I wish I had known how much mess two active caiques could generate on a daily basis. They are not big birds like macaws or amazons, but can they create a huge mess. By the end of every day, there’s food debris in, on and under their cages. Yes, they each have their own cage — big cages, too. Big cages for big personalities. Don’t get me wrong. I adore them. They are funny, lovable little guys and my husband and I are totally committed to them. They even have a trust fund and young adult relatives who are willing to take them should they outlive us. We’ve had them for 22 years (they were 3 or 4 months old when we got them). I cook for them, clean for them, play with them, buy toys I think they’ll like, take them to the vet twice a year. I’m happy to say they’re healthy, happy and have everything I can give them. Really, I can’t imagine life without them. I’m just tired of all the cleaning. My solution was to get a cleaning lady. That has been a help. I’m already on Facebook’s parrots and caiques pages and was on a caique list before that. But thanks for letting me blow off a little steam.

  6. Hmm – as a new parrot owner and lover, I wish I had known that I should expect to be bitten no matter how much my birds love me. I have an Alexandrine and a Grey that I never imagined how much joy they could bring to my life

  7. I agree with Catherine Balkin, I have had my Grey and Blue & Gold for over 30 years. Yes, my mother said I might as well had children, at least they would have moved out by now! The mess is huge, daily cleaning, HEPA filter runs daily, ideally I would vacuum daily, but at least three times a week. But what most non-bird people don’t realize is how intelligent these birds are, and how as a bird parent daily intellectual stimulation is as important as cleanliness and an excellent diet. About 5 years ago, my Grey figured out my name, I think because she heard me answer my phone with my name. She looked me right in the eye and said, “Cheryl” . Now she calls me by name.
    Birds are a different kind of pet, and they live for a long, long time. Both of my have living trusts set up, too, and while the “empty cage” is sad, I really worry about predeceasing my birds. I once saw a B&G pacing frantically in a pet store. I asked the pet store owner what was going on with the bird and she replied, “oh, its owner is dying of cancer and we’re trying to rehome the bird.” Tragic.

  8. I wish I’d known that there are so few bird people out there. When there is company or when I dont live alone my grey spends much more time caged and i know it’s not fair. But for his safety and the non bird peoples safety it just has to be. He flew once when i had company over and it scared a dear friend so bad that she just reacted and almost slapped him to the floor mid air. I actually caught him after she made contact but before he hit the floor. I am not angry u could tell she was just that startled and deep down scared of a flying bird that she reacted. After she apologized profusely for nearly a week. He was uninjured but shook up by it. I wont ever make that mistake again and cage time is the least of the two evils. I just wish I had known how many people r actually scared of a bird in flight.

  9. I love to talk about my parrots. My wife wanted a bird. I fell in love with him. We ended up with 22 birds that came to us as rescues. All large parrots and basically a nice sampling of types. They all lived a very happy exciting life and still do. We purchased a toy hauler RV trailer. We had no idea how well the birds traveled and how happy the uh would be. They traveled thousands of miles . They all had individual cages AZ nd each is covered every night. They get the best foods and of course filtered water. They have the biggest room in the house with glass all around.

    I had no idea of the love I had for birds and they return as much. Messes yes. Noise, yes. And they do bite now and then but not without a reason. Some of the rescues had been miss treated but we showed they so much love that they healed and became happy. A full time hobby of love. I have so much experience to share.

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