Photo by Dave Location: Moab, UT With me: Blue throat macaw "Jinx"
No one has an entirely perfect parrot. Every parrot makes noise, every parrot makes a mess and every parrot bites whether it means to or not. Sure, there’s that abnormally calm cockatoo that hardly every screams or that super sweet and cuddly macaw that comes around every so often, but no bird is without problems just like no human is without a fault. It can be so easy to fall in love with a bird online, like Marnie the famous blue Indian ring neck parakeet that talks in an adorable voice to stuffed animals, or even with my birds like Bandit and is sweet voice and dorky house games. I get a lot of people leaving me comments on my youtube videos especially of Bondi and Bandit saying things like, “What type of bird is Bandit? I want one!” or “I love Bandit, I just have to have one of those! How much are they?” It’s like a “sign me up for one of those right now!” type of thing and my stomach always tightens when I read them, with a ping of guilt for ever uploading the video for someone to fall in love with one of my birds and go out and get their own hoping it’s something like mine.
What people often don’t realize is that is a cute moment caught on video tape, that’s not what every moment with a parrot looks like. And most things you see from other people’s birds is trained or reinforced or encouraged in some way in that household or bird’s lifestyle based on how it was raised and continues to be raised and cared for. That’s something that can’t be identically copied. Can you raise a Bandit or a Bondi? Nope. They are one of a kind. Can you raise a nice rose breasted cockatoo that says “hey cutie” and learns tricks on cue and is mostly sweet and likes to be cuddled? Yes. Can you accidentally raise a rose breasted cockatoo to become mean, constantly bite and scream for attention and refuse to train? Yes. It’s very risky to get into a type of parrot just because you saw a cute video of the same kind. I know, I was looking for some reason to get a ring neck after seeing Marnie’s videos! Even to this day if ever had to get a ringneck I’d want a blue one like Marnie! It’s... contagious. I even thought maybe I could get my parents a ringneck so I could live vicariously through them! But then I sit and think to myself, there’s no good reason to have one other than they’re just “so cute!” as Marnie would say. You gotta resist when you know it’s not right, when you know it’s like candy at a candy store. Even if you don’t have a bird and you want it to be your first, I tell people to always start with a budgie from a petshop. They are easily trainable and fun and if you’re not willing to put the effort into a small bird that’s so simple and easy like that, then you sure as hell aren’t cut out for the cute ones you see on youtube that you’re so tempted to bring into your life. Pet parrots are AMAZING animals, companions and entertainers and I wouldn’t trade mine for anything but I also realize how much work and how challenging they can really be and you’ve got to know what you’re getting into. Though I’ve met the lucky few who just accidentally did it right.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.