Parrots as Pet Birds: Macaws, Cockatoos, Cockatiels and Lovebirds

When people think about owning a parrot they tend to think about the big parrots: the cockatoo and the macaw. Certainly the various cockatoo and macaw species make impressive pet birds, but they come with special challenges and requirements. Parrot cages for macaws take up lots of space, and few people have the space to build a parrot aviary. Even fewer have the time needed to keep a large cockatoo happy, and it’s a rare neighbor indeed who doesn’t mind the noise a large parrot makes.

Fortunately, pet birds come in many sizes. Beautiful and intelligent though the large parrots are, they certainly aren’t for everyone. Parrots as a species range from lovebirds and budges up to the hyacinth macaw, a monster of a bird measuring four feet from beak to tail-tip.

Don’t be fooled however: even a small parrot requires more time, care, and effort than almost any other pet. Even the humble cockatiel is an intelligent, demanding pet that needs regular attention to be happy.


Before Buying a Parrot

Please do your homework before bringing home a parrot. Parrots aren’t like hamsters, with a lifespan of one or two years; adopting a parrot is a long-term commitment. A small parrot such as a lovebird can live up to fifteen years. Larger macaws and cockatoos can easily outlive their owners.

Then there’s the noise factor. All parrots make noise. Generally, the bigger the parrot, the louder the bird. A Moluccan cockatoo, the largest of the cockatoos, also holds the title of the world’s loudest bird at 135 decibels. One of the only other fliers capable of topping this noise is the jumbo jet, at 140 decibels.

In comparison, the smaller parrot breeds (the cockatiel, the budgie, and the lovebird) are much quieter. Size can be deceptive though. The conure, a small South American parrot, is well known for its ear-splitting cries.

Bright and Easily Bored

Parrots are intelligent animals. The cockatoo is as intelligent as a five year old human. Even the budgie and cockatiel are capable of exceptional problem-solving skills. This is one of the great joys of parrots as pet birds. It’s wonderful (and a little humbling) watching a parrot exercise its brain.

Too often, however, people make the mistake of assuming parrots are “bird brains.” A parrot without toys, activities, and personal interaction is a bored parrot. And a bored parrot easily becomes neurotic or self-destructive. Constant screaming, feather plucking, and even self-injury are common amongst neglected parrots.

Parrots are flock animals. In the absence of a flock of their own kind, they turn to their owners for interaction. How much interaction depends on the species. A cockatiel might be happy with an hours play every day. A cockatoo, however, will want to spend as much time out of the cage, and with you, as possible. Think about a clingy five year old and you’ll get some idea of a cockatoo’s attention needs.

Parrot Talk

For many people, the allure of a parrot lies in its talking ability. Certain parrots, the African Grey, the Eclectus, and the humble budgie, have excellent talking abilities. And yet there’s no guarantee. It’s unusual, but some African Greys never learn to talk. Talking should never be a factor when buying a parrot, because it might not happen.

On the Plus Side

Sounds rather deterring doesn’t it? On the plus side, if you’re willing to spend time with your parrot, play with it, train it, and accept its instinctive behaviors, a parrot can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable companions you’ll ever meet. You can get more infos here.

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