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Birds as Pets

Birds are fun pets, but they are also VERY MESSY and they can be VERY LOUD!

There's no way around it. Birds are messy! Some birds can be potty trained, and this takes a lot of work. Otherwise they will just poop wherever they feel like it, and this includes your head, or your perfectly clean shirt!

Not only that, but they drop almost everything they eat, leaving a lot of food on the floor to vacuum up. Sometimes they throw their food if they don't like it. When Vinnie was a baby he HATED oranges. Any time I gave him a piece of orange he threw it across the room. Some days Holly likes sweet potatoes and some days she doesn't. When she doesn't, she picks them up from her plate and drops them on the floor.

In the wild, parrots call out loud for all kinds of reasons: When they're happy, when they're mad, and when they want to warn each other. This doesn't stop just because they are pets. When you have a bird as a companion animal, you become part of their flock. They will call out to find out what you're doing, or where you are, and they will call out when they're happy, sad, hungry or bored. This can get quite loud! You can train them not to scream, but any kind of training is a lot of work.

You can't train birds like you would train a dog or other animals.

Birds don't understand when they've done something wrong or bad. If you punish a bird, the only thing that will happen is he becomes scared of you. The best way to train a parrot is to praise and treat them when they do something good, or right. This is why training against negative behavior (like pooping on your shirt, or screaming) is very hard.

Those little bird brains are very smart!

Even though their brains might be small, birds are very, very smart. They need a lot of attention and different kinds of toys to keep from getting bored. This is one of the reasons we go to the park a lot. The birds get fresh air and sunshine, and they also get to meet new people and see new things. This helps keep them from being bored.

We also go through a lot of toys. Some toys are just for destruction. Holly likes toys she can shred to pieces. Vinnie likes toys that have beads tied onto knots -- he likes to untie the knots and chew on the beads. These toys come apart very easily, so we're always buying and making new toys. Foraging toys are made to last longer. In the wild, birds would have to hunt, and peck, and dig to find food. They don't get so bored in the wild. Foraging toys are like puzzles. They're good because the birds have to use their brains to solve a puzzle before they can get a treat.
Click here to see some of our foraging toys
Click here to see a video of Vinnie and his Mazey Munch

Training is another good way to keep them from getting bored. This takes a lot of time, and you have to keep it up or they might forget what they learn. It's really worth it! You get to spend quality time with your companion, and they learn to trust you more. Plus you get to see how smart they really really are.
Here's a video teaching Vinnie colors. See how excited he is?

Some parrots live to be at least 100 years old!

Usually, the bigger the bird, the longer they live. Some Macaws and Cockatoos live to be 80 to 100 years old. Vinnie and Holly should both live to be about 50 years old. We're going to have them for a long, long time. Smaller birds like Cockatiels and Conures live 15 to 20 years, and they're just as much fun.

Keeping any pet is a big responsibility

If you have a dog or a cat, you already know they're a lot of work. Birds are just as much work, if not more. Yes, they sleep in cages, but please don't get a pet bird if you're going to keep him in a cage all day. They need to stretch their wings and get exercise, they need excitement, and attention. They want to feel like part of the family (remember, you're the new flock). If they're not part of the family they get depressed and antisocial. You should treat a bird like your best friend.

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