You know your bird, especially if you have only one or two that interact with you. Like a beloved child, you know the bird’s favorite foods, most interesting toys, and need for interaction with you. But if you are a first-time bird prospective owner, you can get a head start by knowing exactly what your bird is going to want from you.
Let’s face it, most of the little birds like finches and canaries simply want to be safe, fed, and left alone by people. Finches want at least one other companion. I needed to bring a finch in from the aviary because he was being picked on. Possibly because he was not a nice bird to begin with. I put him in with my Fife canary, Barney, and have been amused by their interactions. The finch wants to be as close to Barney as he can, flies after him around the cage and takes on the personality of Sid the Sloth from Ice Age. Barney can’t believe the gall of this little thing and continues to attempt to escape the devotion of his new pal. The finch is stuck inside until at least July, and by then they just might be getting along.
Parakeets, budgies, if not hand raised are similar to the finches. But if they have been hand fed and like people, they will want a few hours every day to interact. They want fresh food, large cages, water, and toys. A budgie can also be challenged to learn tricks and to talk, which keeps them busy. A bowl of water for a bath is nice, but the budgie may like a few leaves of lettuce to roll in much more.
I don’t have a lot of experience with parrotlets that wanted to be with humans. Lovebirds, on the other hand, I have had many in my life. When tame, they are clever, demanding birds with huge personalities. They become devoted to their person just as they would to a mate, so keeping a proper relationship is important. Don’t pet the bird on its back, keep to the head and chest, and don’t let it “mate” with your hands. Next thing you know, you’ll have bird oatmeal all over you.
Conures are birds of a feather with lovebirds, as far as personality. My sun conure, Sunny, liked to rub her beak against my thumb as if she were feeding a chick. She also loved to go into my shirt and sleep. My new sun, Tron, likes to do that as well, even though he hasn’t quite mastered the maneuver yet. He also likes to have daily fresh food and is very vocal about an empty food dish. Due to his feet being different, he hasn’t mastered step up yet. But he has managed to perch on my finger so I have hope. More than any other parrot, sun conures like to sleep inside something. A box, a tent, a shirt, any similar item can become their bed.
There is a whole range of parrots that I don’t have experience with, Meyers, Pionus, Cape Parrots, galahs, Splendids, mostly the mid-size birds. I also have limited interaction with any of the Macaws. So I have placed helpful links here for your pre-purchase research. I do want to say that while I have not owned a cockatoo, I do understand a lot about them. They live probably the longest of the larger parrots, sometimes over 100 years. They pick one person to love forever and can die of grief if separated from their person. They are not happy to sit in a cage while the person is at work. Cockatoos don’t eat massive amounts of anything in one sitting. In the wild, they fly to food, eat a little bit, socialize, fly to the next source of food, and so on. If you get a cockatoo, feed it several times a day in small amounts. Provide lots of toys and puzzles for it to work out. Give it fresh and safe tree branches whenever possible. And do have an estate plan for when you leave this earth and the bird needs a new person.
I have only one Amazon. Maynard is a double yellow headed Amazon or DYH. He is unbelievably funny and entertaining. Crowds love him, but he prefers to be around just me. He wants his demands met. He’s mostly a perch potato, but the cage he is in now is bigger than the one he came with and gives him more climbing space. He has a cardboard box stuffed with fun things to chew on and had made a hole in the top of it. Now he can sit on the top as well as up on a perch. He will go inside the box and make sexy Amazon parrot noises. He can’t understand how I manage to resist those calls.
On those rare occasions when I can’t meet Maynard’s demands, he will get noisy. But usually, he will calm down when he figures out he’s just going to have to live with things the way they are. He can’t stand it if I got outside without him. Or if I shower without him. And especially if I eat something without sharing with him. Basically, he is that toddler with a megaphone and a chisel. Don’t know why but I love him in spite of that. Or because of it. One of those.
Finally, my favorite parrot, African Gray parrots. They are the unique birds in this set. If you share your home and your life with a gray, you know how much more like people they are. Grays want a relationship with people. They must first trust you. They want to be involved in all your activities but they don’t want to be surprised by anything. And most of all, an African Gray Parrot is afraid of falling.
My two grays are special needs so there are lots of differences between them and a normal gray. Because Io is blind, everything comes as a surprise. He recognized voices and doesn’t mind too much if I let him know I am going to touch him. He has learned that I do this after giving him fresh food and water, so he expects it now. He leans toward the sound of my voice and waits. My toeless girl, Bo Dangles, is simply amazing. She trusts me enough that I can pet her, ruffle her feathers, and even scratch at the pin feathers when they are ready to erupt. She has let me carry her on her “birdyvator” (a panel of an old cage with a towel over it) to the living room and outside. Certainly, she has no control over where I take her, but she continues to step onto the platform with complete trust.
The times I take her outside to hang out in her old cage are problematic. She rarely wants to come back in. She loves to watch other caged birds and the wild birds. She talks to them and often suggests they “Come here!”
Living with parrots and any bird companions can enrich your life and give you insights into how we all fit into the world. Do your research and spend time with the species you want before you commit. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.