By Cathy Coleman
Parrots are beautiful, intelligent, funny and sensitive creatures. People bring them into their lives for these reasons, but sometimes do not fully understand their nature, their needs or the level of commitment necessary for their parrots to be happy and healthy.
Here are some of the most common reasons why parrots are often given up:
Reason No 1: Not Enough Time And Attention
Parrots require significant emotional and financial investment.
But one of the most important requirements they need from us is our TIME.
Unfortunately, many people are not aware of this until after they bring a parrot home.
Phoenix Landing Foundation has over 2500 plus birds in their adoption program, which represents a good statistical basis for understanding “why” parrots are given up.
Ann Brooks, founder of Phoenix Landing, states, “The No. 1 reason parrots are given up, verbatim, is ‘not enough time and attention.'”
So, how can something like this be avoided?
First of all, parrots should never be a “whimsical” decision. They are intelligent and sensitive creatures that suffer tremendously if neglected. Sometimes the neglect stems from a lack of understanding of what a parrot needs to live a happy and well-balanced life in our homes.
Unfortunately, a lot of retail pet stores and individuals who are in the business of selling parrots are not interested in educating people about parrots. Why? Because if people knew EXACTLY what to expect in terms of loudness, messiness, probability of being bitten and just how much commitment SHOULD be involved, well … they might not buy a parrot.
Adoption agencies such as Phoenix Landing Foundation make it their priority to educate people about parrots. Why? Because the more knowledge and understanding one has about parrots, the better educated a decision can be made about adopting one.
Reason No. 2: Health Problems
According to Brooks, “The second most common reasons parrots are given up are allergies, illness and death.”
Allergies And Illness
A lot of people are unaware about the negative health aspects that parrots can have until they bring one home and discover that they, or someone else in their family, are allergic to them. The dander and feather dust that parrots constantly shed can pose significant health risks to individuals who have breathing difficulties or previously unknown allergies to bird dander.
Certain species of parrots, like African greys, cockatiels and cockatoos produce prolific amounts of feather dust, while other species like Eclectus’ are considered more “hypoallergenic” due to the fact that they produce oil instead of powder to coat their feathers and skin. However, ALL species of parrots produce keratin that coats each feather shaft and crumbles away as new feathers emerge, and THAT can still cause problems.
Regular showers for parrots, air filtration systems and scrupulous cleaning can often keep allergic reactions to feather dust at a minimum. But sometimes even the tiniest amount can be just too much for some people.
For a small number of people, exposure to bird’s dander can lead to a disease called bird keeper’s lung. What’s that? In the article “Air Health For You And Your Bird,” bird keeper’s lung is:
“…respiratory hypersensitivity reaction (allergic reaction) to inhalation of airborne dust from bird feathers, dust, dander and dried droppings. In the medical field, the condition is referred to as Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis (EAA) or Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP). It is more commonly known as bird keeper’s lung.
Specifically, EAA is an allergic reaction to the protein found in organic avian matter. “When birds flap their wings, all those proteins go up into the air and when people inhale them, they can develop an allergy,” noted Washington state avian veterinarian Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM.
This condition is usually associated with keeping birds indoors, particularly heavy powder-producing birds such as cockatiels, cockatoos, African greys and pigeons. It is more likely to be a problem in situations where there are a large number of birds kept in a small area, and the cages or flights are not well maintained. People with allergies and asthma are most susceptible to this disease.”
When someone who has a parrot in his or her life dies, family members are often completely unprepared for “who gets the parrot.” In these situations, it’s very important to have a plan, whether it involves a family member who understands the responsibility and is willing to bring that parrot into their life; or an avian adoption agency that can safely place that parrot into another loving home.
Reason No. 3: Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes are something that we all go through at one time or another. Marriage, children, jobs, and moving from one place to another can all have a great impact on us. But it can have an even greater impact on our parrots.
People often bring a parrot into their lives when they are single, and often that parrot bonds closely with that one person. They get used to having a routine amount of time and attention.
But when that person decides to marry and brings another human into their life, it can sometimes cause a parrot to see that new person as a rival.
The arrival of children may be seen as yet another threat. In such cases, a formerly docile parrot might become aggressive and unpredictable. Frustration and aggravation from not knowing what to do often causes such parrots to be given up.
Jobs that require travel or being away for long hours can cause parrots to be given up. Shifts can sometimes interfere with a parrot’s waking and sleep patterns. Because of that, it can be very difficult for both parrots and their humans to find a happy medium that allows for quality time to be spent together.
Sometimes people bring parrots into their life without a real understanding just how much “space” they are going to take up.
Even a small parrot can take up a considerable amount of room with cages, playstands, perches, bird toys, etc.
Cages for larger parrots can be huge, as well as the toys and perches that go with them.
Knowing how much space you have and how much you are willing to give up for a parrot can often keep “not enough space” from being a reason to give a parrot up.
Sometimes lifestyle changes such as moving leave no choice for a parrot to be given up. But other times, understanding how to help a parrot adapt to new people and new environments can be crucial in allowing a parrot to remain with the people they love.
Reason No. 4: “Behavior Problems”
Statistically, “behavior problems are almost last,” according to Brooks. Furthermore, “behavior problems are almost always people problems, not bird problems. If ‘behavior problems’ were No. 1 on the list of reasons why parrots are given up, people would always think ‘It’s the bird’s fault’… when it is not.”
Most problems labeled “behavior problems” in parrots have to do with parrots living in captivity. Parrots living in the wild do not have behavior problems. Things that people see as problems in parrots, such as their ability to be loud and their creative messiness, are perfectly normal behaviors in the wild. These “problems” have more to do with people not fully understanding normal and natural parrot behavior.
Parrots can and will bite. Biting is often labeled as a “behavior problem,” but this behavior is not the parrot’s fault. Biting happens if a parrot feels threatened, insecure or afraid, and it is really their only means of self-defense. Sometimes biting becomes a bad habit when it is not properly understood and addressed.
If you have a parrot, sooner or later you may be bitten. But understanding a parrot’s body language and respecting their personal space will lessen these occurrences considerably.
How a person handles a parrot that bites determines whether or not biting becomes a habit. When people get bitten, they often lose confidence in handling their bird. This usually leads to a parrot being a prisoner inside their cage, not being handled, losing their tameness… and inevitably being given up.
Feather destruction and body mutilation are serious and sometimes life-threatening issues. These are also often labeled as “behavior problems.” Once again, this is not the parrot’s problem or fault. These are OUR problems for bringing parrots into a world they were truly never meant to be in.
“… behavior problems are almost always people problems, not bird problems. If ‘behavior problems’ were No. 1 on the list of reasons why parrots are given up, people would always think ‘It’s the bird’s fault’… when it is not.'”
Regardless of the situation, we should “never blame the bird,” says Brook.
Avian adoption agencies such as Phoenix Landing Foundation are extremely helpful in educating people on the caring and understanding of parrots, as well helping adopt parrots into homes that are best suitable for their nature, as well as the nature and lifestyle of the people interested in them.
It is ultimately our responsibility to educate ourselves so that our expectations, knowledge, and understanding about parrots are all in line with reality.
Proper knowledge and understanding makes the possibility of parrots being given up for all the wrong reasons even less … and the enjoyment of having them in our life an even greater success.