A parrot belongs to any of a large family of birds that include Cockatoos, Cockatiels, Conures, Lorries, Macaws, Lovebirds, Parakeets, Budgies and many others. Wild parrots can be found throughout the Southern Hemisphere and in the warmer parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Parrots are usually kept as pets.
The smallest parrot is about 3 1/2 inches long while the largest may reach a length of 39 inches. The glossy plumage is usually bright colored with green being the most common color. Patches of red, yellow or blue can be seen on the head, wings or tail. Male and female parrots are generally similar in appearance. All parrots possess a compact body, a short neck and a large head. The upper half of the short, hooked bill is hinged at the base of the skull and is movable. This enable parrots to cut or crack open hard objects due to the extra leverage given to the bill. Serious wounds can be inflicted by a parrot’s bill. In fact, it is known to be able to bite-off a finger. This bill is also used as an aid in climbing. Its two strong feet have two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward for each. Parrots use their feet to hold food while eating and they are either right-footed or left-footed.
Parrots often live in pairs during the breeding season. It is not uncommon for a pair to remain mated for many years or even for life. They usually live on flocks at other seasons. Wild parrots do not imitate sounds although they squawk and scream harshly. They generally sleep in tree holes but some sleep hanging upside down from branches.
These birds are apparently intelligent ones. Parrots learn to imitate speech and other sounds readily while some are able to open complicated cage locks. They appear to enjoy being petted and being the object of attention. Many parrots live for 50 years in captivity while some manage to reach the ripe old age of 80.
Their popularity as pets suffered sometime in the 1930’s when it was discovered that parrots can transmit a viral disease called psittacosis to man. However, it was soon discovered that other birds can also transmit the same disease. An antibiotic was developed to treat the disease soon after. Parrots quickly regained their stature as one of the more popular pets of man.
Parrots as Pets
The costs of parrots widely differ according to species. The same goes with the required cage and other equipments as well as ongoing costs including food, toys and veterinary care. Generally, the larger and more exotic the bird, the costlier it is and its maintenance.
Most species of parrots require a complete diet composed of pre-formulated diets such as pellets plus a variety of fresh foods such as greens, sprouted seeds, grains, fruits and seeds. Some may require very specialized diets while others would have less complicated dietary needs. The larger parrots benefit most from different kinds of food and require fewer seed servings.
Parrots can be very messy especially when eating and this mess do not always remain contained in the cage. Feather dust is also usually produced by some species. Whenever the parrot is allowed to get out of the cage and allowed to move freely inside the house, owners should thoroughly bird-proof the house as parrots are very fond of chewing things like furniture. Bird-proofing not only serves to protect belongings from destruction but also prevents injury or harm to the bird.
The allotted space for cages would of course depend on its size. The larger a cage is, the better it is for the birds to get the exercise they need. Parrots require time outside the cage for extra exercise. A place especially provided for the parrot outside the cage such as a play gym or stand will provide the bird something to look forward to.
Parrots screech and there is no avoiding it. Some which are able to talk will do so for hours. Apartment or townhouse living may not be very suitable for larger parrots since neighbors would always find the noise level something to complain about. Owners themselves may not be prepared for parrot behavior that would make peace and quiet such an elusive dream.
An owner’s commitment should never be wanting for pet parrots. These are birds that need attention and time with their owners. Highly intelligent as they are, parrots need various stimuli to avoid boredom and emotional upsets. Parrots who find themselves in unsuitable situations can be very destructive to others as well as to themselves.
Early socialization is very significant to the personality development of parrots. Generalizations do not always apply to parrot species as their characters are products of a number of combined factors. It is important to gain the trust of the parrot for it to turn to something humans would like to see in companion parrots.
Parrots have the capability of learning throughout their lives. The most entrenched behavior can be worked with and changed for the better. Taking in a parrot has been described by many as similar to having a new child.
Contrary to common belief, parrots are not easy-to-care pets. Parrots have one of the most complex behavioral needs. It would take perseverance and a genuine love for parrots to make them happy pets.