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Choosing a Parrot

There are some important questions to ask before buying a pet parrot:

  • Why do you want the bird?
  • Who is going to 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 neighbors - happy with the addition of a noisy animal to the household?

If you can answer these four questions positively and practically, the search for the perfect parrot can begin.

White-bellied caique
A captive-bred White-bellied Caique: always source parrots from a reputable supplier

Your pet bird should be captive-bred, sourced from a reputable breeder or pet store. Wild birds may have suffered 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 parrot 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 harbor 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 is easy.

The really intelligent species such as the big Macaws, Cockatoos and the African Grey take a lot of training, and can be tricky to handle in the early days. Ideally you want an older bird who has already been hand-tamed, behaves itself outside the cage, and may even have learned a few words or sentences already. These larger species can live for decades, so skipping their first few years is no big deal. Watch out for bad habits and bad language, though! Spend time with the prospective bird, if possible, to get the measure of him.

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