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Parrot Pros and Cons

Although all parrot species are different, there a few general facts and rules to bear in mind:

Cockatoo pros and cons of parrot keeping
Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo - one to avoid if you suffer from asthma

  • Larger parrot species can live up to 70 years or more. Budgies and cockatiels have much shorter lifespans, but can still live as long as a healthy pet dog - 15 years or so. It therefore follows that if you buy a large parrot as a retirement present, it may still be squawking when your grandchildren retire!
  • African Greys and Cockatoos are messy birds, with lots of ‘dander’ (bird dandruff). This makes them unsuitable for anyone who suffers bird or dust allergies. These parrots are more likely to cause asthma and sneezing than their cousins.
  • Lories and Lorikeets require a fruit and nectar diet, so their droppings are very runny, which makes their cages messy. They are surprisingly good at squirting it between the bars too!
  • Many species - notably the Amazons - become very ‘squawky’ if they do not receive enough attention from their owners.
  • Macaws can turn nasty if they feel neglected; and some older birds seem to develop a mean streak regardless of how you treat them.
  • Many species, including Macaws, start to pluck their own feathers if stressed, and stress can be a result of anything from too much light or noise, to overcrowding and frustrated mating urges.

How Much do Parrots Cost?

Prices vary with species, as you would imagine:

  • A Budgie will cost as little as $15 for a standard blue or green variety
  • Cockatiels range from $100 to $200
  • Parrotlets cost between $200 and $350
  • Large Parakeets can be bought for $80 to $150
  • A Lovebird can be found for as little as $50, with prices up to the $200 mark
  • Lories and Lorikeets range from $100 to $1000
  • An Eclectus ranges from $600 to $2000
  • African Greys will cost between $1500 and $3000
  • Amazon parrots range from $400 to $1000
  • Pionus will cost you $200 to $900
  • A Poicephalus sets you back $1500 to $2000
  • Hawk-headed parrots cost from $1400 to $2000
  • Caiques range from $500 to $1500
  • Small Conures range from $200 to $450
  • Larger Conures are available for between $500 and $700
  • Smaller Macaws cost from $750 to $1000
  • Larger Macaws start at $1000 and rise to around £3500
  • Small Cockatoos range from $100 to $2000 or more
  • Large Cockatoos are in the $2500 to $3000 price range

Price of a Cockatiel
Cockatiels cost around $150

Fostering a Parrot

Fostering is a good way to see how you take to parrot keeping, without making the time and money commitment of owning a bird for the next few decades. Because larger parrots live so long, they often outlive their owners; or perhaps a previous owner is no longer able to cope. As a result these birds are often in need of fostering. Check locally and online for availability in your county. If, after a few months, you realise that parrot keeping isn't for you after all, there's no harm done.

Choosing a Talking Parrot

There is no guarantee that any individual parrot will become a great talker. The only guarantee of taking home a talking bird is if it’s already a proven talker when you buy it. By definition, this will mean buying an older bird, as they are unlikely to master speech before the age of three.

African Grey parrots talk
African Grey parrots - can they talk? You bet!

There are other ways of giving yourself a better chance of having a talkative avian companion. Males tend to talk more fluently than females. The following species are renowned talkers:

  • African Grey (the greatest talkers, once they get the hang of it)
  • Amazon Parrots
  • Budgie (see our Budgerigar Guide elsewhere on this site)
  • Cockatiel
  • Cockatoos
  • Macaws
  • Quaker Parakeet
  • Ring-necked Parakeet

It’s important to remember that there are no guarantees, when buying a young parrot, of ending up with a good talker. This should not matter - if your primary reason for buying a parrot is to have a talking pet, you should reconsider your priorities. Parrots have lots to offer as pets, and a non-talking bird can still make a fantastic, long-lived companion.

Blue-fronted Amazon
Many Blue-Fronted Amazons learn to talk

Parrot Leg Rings

Rings, or bands, are fitted to captive-bred birds soon after birth. They record the date of birth and details of the parrot’s origin. They are made from steel; but many breeders fit plastic ones too, recording details specific to that particular aviary. Some larger parrots are micro-chipped these days, like a pet dog or cat. The chips are the size of a rice grain and remain under the bird’s skin for life. When scanned they give a unique numerical code that identifies the bird as yours and no other.

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