Ah… the electricity of bringing home your new parrot. The focusing on every single move they make, being marveled by just watching them strategically walk across their cage. Seeing them pick up a pellet with their foot and eat is the coolest thing you have ever witnessed. Hearing those morning shows that our beautifully exotic companions are so famous for. These are all the wonderful parts of being the owner of a companion bird, but what happens when the glitz wears off and you feel like you might have made a mistake?
I know what you are thinking and before you put on your “judgey” caps, please read the whole story.
I received my first email from Jane about a year ago. Jane is a forty something single woman who works in law office. She commutes right down the street to her office from her loft and works part-time from home. The building she lives in has a restriction on pets, but the HOA association does not have a problem with caged animals or fish. Jane being the research minded person that she is, did her research into various species of parrots. She owned a Cockatiel as a child and was absolutely in love with the idea of owning a parrot that was able to be her companion as an adult. She went to a local rescue shelter to volunteer, clean parrot poop and feed love starved birds. She also wanted to make sure that she knew what she was getting herself into.
After a few weeks of volunteering a 16-year-old Blue Fronted Amazon came to stay at the rescue. She was owned by one owner, who due to age and health issues could no longer care for her. Jane said she was “instantly enamored” with this bird and the feeling appeared to be mutual. Jane decided this was it and this was the bird that she would so lovingly give a forever home to.
“I want to make sure and do everything right”, Jane said in an email to me. I thought, oh how I had that idea in my mind when I brought Dexter home. I didn’t just want to do it right, I really wanted to make everything perfect. I laugh now at that idea, because first of all, there is no such thing as perfection in life. Second of all, as we all know, there is absolutely nothing even near to perfect when you own a parrot. There is no perfect cage, no perfect cleaning schedule and no perfect behavior…. so Jane found out.
Jane bought a stainless steel King’s cage that was top of the line. A few large Rubbermaid totes of parrot toys and set and automatic order with her pet store for Harrison’s pellets. When Jane brought Fossy home everything seemed to be great. She would step up on command, she loved her toys and she had her own corner of the loft with an extremely lavish bottlebrush playstand from The Golden Cockatoo. A parrot’s dream.
After a few months of living with Jane, spring came and Fossy began developing some sever hormonal behaviors. Screaming and biting were on the top of the list, also wanting nothing to do with Jane was the other. So like many people, Jane logged on to various forums and chat groups throughout the internet. She received a plethora of opinions and advice from all over the world. One person told her to cover the cage anytime she made noise and another told her to slap her bird on the beak if she bit Jane. The list goes on and on. One group even ganged up on her and almost had her convinced to take Fossy back to the rescue. I read something recently “Remember, the comments that people you never met, make about you… matter.” ~ Bianca Del Rio and it hit a nerve. We are told to ignore people’s opinions and comments, but it’s not always that easy. Being hyper critical can destroy someone’s passion for parrots… so stop.
I receive a lot of emails on a weekly basis. People from Ireland to Australia asking various questions about behaviors, toys, food and the list goes on and on. Mostly emails I get are readers thanking me for making light of certain situations, telling it how I see it and having a very conversational writing style. I have made some great “Bird Buddies” via Parrot Earth and I am very fortunate to call some good friends and I usually don’t like to get preachy with my readers because like I have always said, I do not claim to be an expert at aviculture or birds, I just have some education and some experience. If that helps you, great! If not I will damn sure find someone out there that is an expert and can help you. The same thing applied to Jane.
Jane has not only been bullied online in these Facebook groups and other online forums, but they had her second guessing why it was that she even wanted a parrot in the first place. She was berated and criticized because she was not doing what the self-proclaimed “experts” told her do. If she did, she was crucified for that as well. There was just a never ending cycle of hate and negativity. In an email, I asked if she had ever thought about consulting a vet or professional behaviorist and Jane responded “you know I really never considered it, because information is so inexpensive online and readily available I just thought I would be able to ask other owners”. So I asked, “what if they aren’t doing it right either?” Knowing Jane was ready to pack it in, I began emailing her a few times a day. I made sure that she took Fossy to her bird vet and made sure there was nothing wrong with her physically before I put her in contact with a trainer friend of mine.
The next step was to get her out of those forums that were spewing all of the negativity. There’s too much crap in this world right now, why willingly subject yourself to it and sign up for updates? I chatted with Jane regularly and I convinced her to relax. Everything isn’t going to be clean all the time, everything isn’t going to be perfect and guess what, birds are more resilient than we think. They have been on this earth longer than humans and will probably outlive us after we are long gone. In time everything found its natural rhythm.
Jane worked with Fossy daily, bought a harness and a Celltei backpack carrier and even takes her into work with her occasionally on Friday Pet Day that her office has (she has an office in the back that is pretty sound proof in case there is a squawk or two).
This morning I got an email thanking me for not giving up on her and not letting her give into her fears. I was looking to get my spark back after taking a bit of a break from writing. I needed to recharge and that is all that I needed. Owning a parrot can be hard work and it can be a downright pain in the ass at times. But there is a flip side to that coin. Sometimes owning a parrot can be one of the coolest and magical experiences that a person can have. You just have to take it day by day and sometimes minute by minute. Don’t get frustrated and if you do, take a step back and start over. Don’t give up because everyone goes through it and remember…You own one of the coolest animals in this world. Just enjoy the ride.
Copyright – 2014 – Parrot Earth – You Own A Parrot, So Now What?