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An Open Letter to Anyone Who's Ever Thought About Getting a Parrot

from the parrots of America

If you're thinking of getting a bird, read this first.

parrot on bed

Katie Carrus/The HSUS

Dear prospective bird owner:

So you see us in the pet store or online. Or your friend has a bird. And we look reaaaally cute. It’s true. We’re amazing. But before you start planning our weddings and picking out china, you’ve gotta know a few things about parrots. The basic gist is that we’re not really pets—we’re wild animals.

The other big thing is that most any bird you buy in the store is, in fact, a parrot, and the majority of these rules apply (yes, cockatiels and parakeets/budgies are parrots). But it’s easier to show than tell, right? Let’s dive in.

1. A bunch of us don’t talk. Sorry.

2. We will poop on your floors. We will poop on your clothes. Sometimes we’ll eat your clothes first, and then we’ll poop on them. We’re not really interested in being trained to go outside like dogs (we’ll fly away, silly), and litter boxes are for actual pets, like cats.

3. What’s yours is ours. What’s ours is ours. We will destroy your stuff for the sole reason that it gives us something to do (we’re super intelligent and need LOTS of stimulation; did we tell you that?).  We’re told this is totally cute when it’s something you don’t care about. Apparently less amusing when it’s your social security card? Whatever; we don’t care.

4. We are not decoration (I know; weird, cause we’re gorgeous, right?). But we’re as smart as your toddler, have interests of our own, and some of us are going to outlive you. And unlike that toddler, we are never going to grow out of the terrible 2’s. Never.

5. We don’t really want a cracker. We want organic pellets and organic, fresh vegetables, fruits, and wholesome grains and hope you get a lot of Whole Foods gift cards for your birthday. You’re going to need them.

6. Most of us have no problem screaming (literally) in your ear. Screaming = vocalizations as loud as an ambulance siren. This is because we’re wild animals, used to communicating across miles to our flock-mates in the forest. If you don’t like loud noises, we probably won’t get along.

7. It’s really easy to kill us. We know that sounds morbid, but hey, we want to live, so let’s not mince words. We’re high maintenance, and human homes were designed for people, not parrots. Throw away your air fresheners, scented candles, Teflon pans. Turn off your ceiling fans; keep all your windows and doors closed. And be prepared for hefty bills at the avian vet., if you catch our illness at all before finding us dead at the bottom of the cage (We’re flock animals and hide our symptoms up until the end).

8. We will totally bite you. Hard. Even on your face. Not all of us, but many of the best of us. It’s usually not personal; it’s just sometimes our only way to tell you we don’t like something that’s happening to us. Remember? Wild animal. It will be embarrassing for you to go to work with a bite on your face.

9. No matter what anyone tells you, you really shouldn’t clip our wings. We’re meant to fly (birds = duh), and it makes us feel normal and safe to exercise and be able to get away from things that scare us in your house.

10. We don’t want to live in a cage any more than you do. If you work at a job, that means we’ll probably be in our cage most of the day. Even with toys, this is going to be depressing, and it’s going to traumatize some of us so much that we’ll behave badly. As some of us live up to 80 years, that’s eight decades of bad behavior. This will not help your love life. Remember this?

Prospective bird owner, we know you mean well. If you’ve read all this and still think you want to share your life with a toddler with a can opener attached to her face (that’s basically what we are), please consider adoption first, before buying a baby bird. Most of us go through a LOT of homes throughout our long lives because people give us away once they realize what they got themselves into, so there are a lot of us already out there who need someone who GETS it and really WANTS to be with us. If that’s you, let’s do this.

If you don’t think we should bunk together but still want to help, thanks!! Learn more about our situation, spread the word to your friends and family, and support groups doing good work for birds. Here’s where to get started.

parrots of America


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