If you are looking to get a pet bird or already have one, chances are your favorite aunt or a well-meaning co-worker has filled you in on what a parrot brings to your home. You probably heard all the stories about the “worst parrot ever” and about someone who knew someone who had their eye poked out. Chances are also good that what you have been told is not quite right. So here are a few misconceptions and missed truths that can help you get off on the right foot with your parrot pal.
The Three Things You Know About Parrots That Might Not Be True
If you’ve heard any warning words at all about parrots it is probably that they bite, scream and make a mess. If you are a parrot lover, you likely figure you can handle these three little things. Maybe you even accept them as the simple truth of sharing your home with a parrot. However, in the wild, parrots don’t “scream,” they rarely bite, and they might not be as messy as they seem. So surprisingly, these three behaviors are not a given in your home.
1) Parrots Scream
Sure parrots can be loud, but most people can tolerate a bit of noise. It is the loud, prolonged repetitious noises that parrots make that drive us nutty and put us in danger of eviction. This is screaming and not something parrots need to do in the wild. A call across the forest usually gets an answer and the parrot is able to fly to its companion. Parrots in the wild do not need to sit in the same place and scream for a half an hour in order to interact with their companions. Screaming is something that people teach parrots to do. Parrots can learn very quickly that when they scream they get our attention. It’s hard to ignore a screaming parrot, but entering the room to tell a pet bird to hush is “answering the call” and giving it the attention it craved. Parrots don’t naturally scream; we teach them to scream. Instead we should teach them a more acceptable noise or activity that gets them our attention.
2) Parrots Bite
Parrots rarely need to bite in the wild. For the most part the threat of a bite keeps parrots out of each other’s personal space. Through a variety of body language, one parrot conveys to another that it is too close or in its territory. Usually, the offending parrot takes these threats seriously and flies off before any blood is shed.
People, on the other hand, miss the body language and don’t back off until they get bitten. Pet birds might quickly learn to skip all the signs of aggression and jump straight to the bite, which is the only thing their caretaker seems to understand. Just like screaming, we teach our pet birds to bite. Instead, respect your parrot’s body language and watch it closely. If you ignore its pinning eyes or some other sign and pick it up anyway, you are teaching your pet bird to bite.
3) Parrots Are Messy
Are parrots really messy? Well, that depends on how you define messy. If you had to crack shells, strip bark, hollow out trees and forage through foliage to find your food, you would be pretty good at making a mess in the right environment, too. If you asked your parrot though, it would probably say it was making a living, not making a mess. Parrots need the opportunity to play and explore with their beaks and feet. If you would prefer your parrot didn’t strip and hollow your furniture, it needs more to play with in its cage and acceptable toys it is encouraged to destroy. Maybe parrots are not quite as messy as we think! Keep these three misconceptions in mind the next time your neighbor or best friend tries to give you the low down on what owning a pet parrot really means.
By: Rebecca K. O’Connor