We may talk about large birds here a lot at Birdtricks.com, but the fact is that we are also small bird keepers and we have learned that the smallest of our birds sometimes occupy the largest places in our hearts. My cockatiels are beyond precious to me.
Something that really bugs me is when the small birds are treated like second class citizens. Even though the message about appropriate parrot diet and enrichment has reached more and more people, somehow the small birds are still being overlooked.
People getting larger birds are typically much better educated before taking them home than the prospective owners of small birds. Perhaps the bigger birds get the lion’s share of the focus because they can scream louder and bite harder, but that doesn’t make a small parrot any less of a parrot – or any less deserving of our full attention.
Are small parrots under-rated? I think they are. While it is usually the attention grabbing colorful or crested parrots that get the applause, the smaller parrots have some of the more notable skills locked up. For instance, it is a budgie, Puck, and not the African grey that claims the title for the highest recorded vocabulary at 1,728 words and phrases. He would adapt words appropriately to indicate his understanding and awareness of his environment.
It is a group of parrotlets in a recent study that show their species to be much more adept at foraging than the cockatoos and macaws that also participated in the study.
Small birds are just not recognized for the brilliance they continually display. We should approach the small birds with the same expectations for learning that we automatically accredit to the larger species – they are not smarter. If you have small birds, I know I am preaching to the choir.
Still, there are small bird owners that do not encourage their birds to fully utilize their brains. There are small bird owners that simply accept their bird’s behavior problems because the screams and bites are not intolerable or life threatening.
Be the companion that gives your small bird a big life.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.