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

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green-winged macaw/Photo by Gamaliel Troubleson/Unsplash

What I wish I had known.

I have been 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 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 member 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.”

Others contemplated about their life with parrots as a whole.

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 in reached 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 then any human I have encountered. Mine “know” me and make me laugh every day, even the days I thought I couldn’t.”

A few people touched on specific 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.”

I added my thoughts on how hard it is to find a qualified vet to help us with our pet birds since there are limited amount of board-certified avian veterinarians worldwide.

And the 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 know before welcoming a pet bird into your life and home? Do share in the comment section!

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