Ten Misconceptions About Parrots

AlieJean Brewer, editor

10. Parrots are generally clean animals

Parrots may seem like they are generally clean animals as most tend to live in a fairly small cage, aside from the larger macaws and cockatoos. This small living space however doesn’t prevent them from throwing seeds or destroying toys before you can say “Polly want a cracker?”. Many parrots tend to sift through their food and discard seed shells onto the floor causing the need for quite a bit of sweeping. Toys are often shredded in order to keep their beaks from overgrowing and cracking. This is important for the bird’s health due to an overgrown beak leading to an inability to eat. While you may have thought a once a week cage cleaning is all that was needed, you might want to break out your vacuum and trash bags if you are welcoming a new feathered friend into your home.

9. Going nuts for peanuts!

A parrot’s diet can be more complicated than those perky pet store employees are telling you. Polly can’t survive on pellets alone. A parrot’s diet needs to consist of a wide variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, pellets, and fresh produce. In addition to this there is a list of foods that parrots cannot have just like how dogs can’t have chocolate. Parrots should never be given chocolate, caffeine, junk food, avocados, garlic, onions, fruit seeds, and dairy.

An improper diet can cause an inability to thrive and lead to a host of other health issues for your parrot. Some of these health issues can include an inability to form new feathers and an inability to fight off germs and illnesses. When a bird cannot grow new feathers, heat regulation can become very hard and your bird can become too cold very quickly. Birds are very susceptible to illness and because they are predatory animals, they often hide their illness until it is too late. Without the proper balance of
nutrients in a parrot’s diet, illness can take over your new feathered friend.

8. Parrots don’t need veterinary care

Parrots are often seen as low maintenance pets considering they do not need the rigorous scheduled vaccines that dogs or cats need. This doesn’t mean that they never have to see a vet to keep healthy. Many birds often need a quick checkup once a year to make sure that everything is in tip top shape. Along with well visits you should additionally make sure to take your bird into the vet when they become ill or injured. It is also important for you to consult with your vet about your pets’ diet and environment to make sure you are giving your bird the best chance at thriving in your home.

7. Birds don’t need any grooming.

While it is true that most birds will take a splash in a bowl of water when given a chance, taking a dip in some water isn’t going to completely keep your bird in working order. Birds beaks and nails need to be maintained in order to prevent them from getting too long and breaking which can cause bleeding and in extreme cases death. Weather you want to tackle the clipping of the nails yourself or take them to a vet/groomer, you will want to keep your bird up to date with appointments every 3-6 months. Cutting
their nails can also be dangerous if you don’t know how to do it correctly. Parrots have the same vein running down their nails that dogs and cats have so if you accidentally clip that be careful, not only will it bleed it can also be painful for your bird! Its always best to take your bird in to a qualified bird groomer to get these bird maintenances done.

Wing clipping is optional but can be a necessary part of your parrots grooming. Clipping the primary flight feathers of a bird can prevent them from flying longs distances, and instead they will simply flutter to the ground. This is something that with a little training you can do at home but can be a hassle to keep up with. Even missing one flight feather can allow the bird to get enough air under their wings to take off. You have to make sure you clip all of those primary flight feathers if you want to keep your little airplane grounded.

6. Parrots don’t live very long

While most small animals like guinea pigs or hamsters tend to not live past 3 years birds are very different when it comes to lifespan. The typical parakeet or cockatiel can live upwards of 15-20 years. This is longer than most dogs or cats! This however is nothing compared to the larger breeds such as macaws and cockatoos. The average macaw and cockatoo can life upwards of 80 years! In many cases owners have to provide for them in their will due to their bird outliving them. When you purchase one of these birds you have to think that this can be a lifelong commitment. Take this into consideration the next time you think that a bird is only a short-term friend.

5. Parrots are good pets for children

While this can sometimes be the case, children and small animals don’t always mix well. Teens can often learn responsibility when taking care of an animal and calling it their own, but they may be more capable than your seven-year-old. When a child is unable to understand that a small bird is very fragile, this can end up detrimental to the parrot. Parrots also can bite very easily when they are touched or handled in the wrong way. All of these factors can cause the parrot or the child to become injured. That being said dogs or cats might be a better option for a first pet for your little one.

4. Parrots cannot get along with other animals

This statement is a bit tricky to decode and say it is completely true or completely false. There are many instances of birds not getting along with other animals and even death occurring to the bird, there are also cases of animals of different species getting along great. While it’s not an entirely true statement its also not false either. The only words of wisdom that can be said in certainty are that you should always express cautious when your parrot is around other animals.

3. Birds can be housed with other birds instantly

Many people assume that if you get a bird and then a few months later add another bird in instantly. Doing this can cause injury to both of your birds and can even end with one bird killing the other one. There are a lot of steps you need to take to get two birds integrated and even then, it might not work.

You have to consider what its like to be in the birds’ shoes. If you were living in your home very harmoniously and all of a sudden, a random roommate was introduced and you had to live together, you might not be too pleased with that arrangement. You will probably be very angry and want to defend your possessions against this unusual newcomer. Your bird
probably feels the same way. In the end you may end up being great friends and could get along great if given a certain amount of space when starting off. Consider this before deciding that your bird needs a friend when in reality it could end up a foe.

2. Birds can be very social animals and get along with everyone

While some birds, if socialized well at a young age, can get along with everyone, others cannot. Most birds tend to bond with one person and dislike anyone else. In other cases, some larger parrots can bond with one gender and become territorial when anyone of the opposite gender comes around. This should be considered if you live with someone else because in the end it might come down to them saying “its me or the bird”.

1. Parrots do not need a lot of attention

The number one misconception when it comes to pet parrots is that they are animals that can simply be left in a cage with some food, water, and toys and be perfectly fine. This statement is incredibly inaccurate. Birds are animals that need daily human interaction if they are kept as pets. They can even die without daily contact and attention. Once a bird bonds to you it can be very hard for them to bond to another human being, with time
however it can be done, but it is indeed an uphill battle. These animals can be very rewarding and fun to own if you are up to the challenge. These animals can be taught all sorts of tricks from talking to high fives, parrots are often eager to impress their owners. Please consider everything talked about in this list before you go out and find your Polly parrot.

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