How do we tell the difference between spoiling a pet, and giving a good quality of life?
There are two main components for a captive bird’s quality of life:
- The basics: Food, water, a decently-sized cage, fresh toys, suitable perches, and a clean, safe environment
- Unconditional love: Your understanding, patience, dedication, and empathy
If you’re wondering whether a bird is spoiled, ask if what he has or is being given is really necessary in his life?
Providing a parrot the basics isn’t so basic at all in the eyes of many non-bird people. First of all, I don’t believe in saying that a bird is spoiled (in a negative way) because it has a large cage. Someone once said that about our Senegal, who lives in a cage that is built for a much larger bird, yet has small bar spacing. I feel that no cage is large enough for a creature that is in every way designed to fly dozens of miles each day, so the biggest cage possible is (to me) a necessity. He spends most of his time out, but sometimes I have to go away. Then it really improves his life.
Good diet is also a necessity. It isn’t spoiling your pet to make sure he or she has daily vegetables, pellets, fruits, and treats. To cook for your parrot is not spoiling it. Proper nutrition ensures that your bird is happy and healthy, and it reduces the likelihood of screaming, biting, and plucking. It also plays a huge role in enrichment.
Enrichment is another part of owning parrots that can seem extravagant. A lot of money gets sunk into buying or making toys. Food plays a critical role in keeping a parrot, too, as there are endless ways to present it – and it isn’t cheap to buy the organic stuff they need. And a parrot play gym isn’t overkill, again, because it provides a safe haven for your bird while he’s out of his cage. Nice perches? Once more, a decent perch prevents health issues and brings your bird comfort.
It is possible to go overboard, definitely. Sometimes we can give our birds too much love and squash them in the process. But a parrot suffers if its basic needs aren’t met.
The next time someone says you’re spoiling your parrots, feel free to let them know (gently, of course!) that you’re meeting the complex needs of a very demanding animal. They might not understand, but that’s okay. You’re doing your part.
Sarah Stull is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a photographer, violist, and violinist who has plans of opening her own avian sanctuary on the east coast of America.