When Is It Time To Give Up Your Parrot?

When a person without bird experience goes into a pet store, it is easy to fall in love with the young, interactive and beautiful parrot on display. She may fall head over heels in love with you, and you with her, and may call loudly to you when you leave, making your heart feel heavy. She might remember you when you come back into the store for dog food weeks later, and do everything in her power to get you to return to her cage side and all but beg you to take her home with you as you leave.

This time, as you are driving home, you won’t be able to get her out of your mind. You will argue with yourself: “A bird? I don’t know anything about birds. Do they even make good pets?” This will be rebutted with: “But she’s soooo sweet and pretty. And I think she really likes me. Maybe I should go back.” This is the most dangerous kind of bird bite – the one that takes a chunk out of your heart.

All of a sudden you find a new addition to your home, one that comes with a huge and expensive cage and accessories that have considerably lightened your wallet. As life goes on with your new parrot, you might come to realize that you have taken on a bit more than you anticipated and you might start to rethink your decision.
Unfortunately, there are very few pet stores that care enough about the well being of the birds they sell, or their customers, to give you the whole story before you buy. Had you known about the mess, the noise, the destruction and the expense of keeping a bird, you would have thought twice and would likely not have given into that urge in the pet store. This is a familiar story to many former parrot owners.

So here you are with a bird that has reached sexual maturity and isn’t as cuddly as the bird you fell in love with at the pet store. You don’t have enough time for your children, let alone your needy and increasingly demanding bird. Your home is covered in dust and your neighbors think you’re crazy. There are only three legs left on your desk chair. Thoughts begin to creep into your head about what life would be like without the additional workload of a bird. The arguments resurface: “She’s just a bird. I can’t do this anymore.” balanced with: “But I love her.” What now?

The former owner of Theo, my precious goffins cockatoo, had to make the hard choice to give her up. He had gotten her from a pet store when he was a kid. She lived with him for 22 years before she came to me. Theo had been a part of every aspect of his life. She grew up alongside him. She was there when he graduated from high school and college. She was there when he embarked on a career and when he took a wife.

She was very loved and well cared for, but somewhere during the course of his busy life, she got left behind. She was no longer getting the attention she was accustomed to and had begun some feather destructive behaviors. He knew this little cockatoo was not thriving in his care any longer, and while it would leave a hole in his heart the size of Lake Michigan, he knew what he had to do. My avian vet’s technician, told me about her situation and within the week, I had a new bird. His terrible loss was my gain, and I have so much respect for this thoughtful, caring man.

I want to encourage you to do everything in your power to keep your bird in your home. This is the time to do a lot of soul searching. Are you really stretched to your limit? Are there reasonable lifestyle changes you could make that could better accommodate life with a bird?
Rehoming can be a very difficult transition for some birds. Still, sometimes it is for the best for all parties concerned. If you are sure that your bird will fare better elsewhere, and there is no other recourse, then you are probably right.

The next move you make is very important. Since you entered into the world of birds blindly, through no fault of your own, DO MAKE SURE that you don’t hand your bird off to someone as equally in the dark about the hardships of bird ownership as you once were. This will only ensure the continued rehoming of this bird. Find a reputable bird rescue in your area, where someone experienced and knowledgeable can prepare your bird for rehoming and match its personality to the lifestyle of a new family. If you can’t find one, get online with the members of a bird forum and ask for their help. Speak with your vet about possibilities. This worked out well for Theo and myself.

Bird ownership is not for everybody. It is more a lifestyle choice than anything else. Some people are suited to it, others are not. There is no need for feelings of guilt if you should decide to relinquish your bird to someone who is better equipped to deal with its needs. In fact, it speaks highly of your humanity and says that you are a great person for acknowledging that your bird deserves a good life and then seeing to it.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.



I need to find a home for my beautiful cockatiel. Because I’m allergic to his dander. He sings and talks. He needs a loving home. Please help.

Joyce  brown

I need to fine a good home for my cockitial cannot keep him for my health concerns, donot want to give him to anybody, please help me now,

Joyce brown
Maggie Friedenbach

In response to JUANITA PINA: It sounds like the place you released your bird to is not a sanctuary but a rescue? My understanding is sanctuaries do not rehome birds but maybe I am wrong. Certainly it sounds like they did not do a great job of screening their adopter. Although if someone really believes a new adoption is not working out it is best for the animal to be surrendered. Of course, 2 weeks is not a long enough time to judge but if the adopter was that impatient it’s best your bird was brought back.

Maggie Friedenbach
Juanita Pina

Hi relinquished my umbrella cockatoo to what I thought was a good sanctuary where he would be safe for the remainder of his days. I did not give the bird away because I didn’t love him, it was because his dander started to damage my lungs and I ended up in the hospital I almost died. The doctor said it was a matter of life and death that I got rid of gizmo. I need to get in touch with a sanctuary that will not try to rehome him because within three days of bringing him all the way to main she gave him away and now in less than two weeks they’re bringing him back I am just so upset I can’t even breathe. I love him and only wants the best for him but I can’t leave him that situation please help

Juanita Pina

Hi. I have two love birds, Kiwi and Pickle, I think that they are the same gender. They are not tamed. But I have trained Kiwi to step up but Pickle is not willing to even consider . And I don’t think I can manage the both of them because I find it hard to cut their wings because I don’t know if they really like being touched. I was thinking of giving one away because since they’re flighted, I don’t really managed to get them out of the cage to them fly around because they’re really hard to get them back to their cage and my parents don’t like that it takes me such a long time to get them back in their cage. So I figured if we remained with one, my parents would let me let it out for the cage more often because birds are meant to fly. The bird I want to give away would go to a family that I know. So I think that it would be okay if I gave one away. Lastly I just want to say that I really love what you do on your channel I have checked out your Youtube channel and I really love what you do. And I would really appreciate it if you could give me some advice on this.


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