Thinking about buying a Parrot... advice?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Tony Whalen, Aug 21, 2003.

  1. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Hey all!

    Okay, I'm thinking about purchasing a parrot for our home. I love parrots, but I've never had a bird before, so I really fear biting off more than I can chew. (And I'm nervous that I'll buy a bird that will scream loud enough for the neighbours to complain.)

    We really fell in love with a beautiful young male Eclectus parrot, but I know little about them. This guy is four months old, and not ready to go to a new home yet... so there is a little time to decide. He's SOOOO friendly. And BEAUTIFUL.

    I *used* to want a B&G Macaw, but my wife outlawed it, as she kinda fears birds that big. What about a Hahn's Macaw, or a yellow-ring-neck, I think it's called? (Two smaller macaws.)

    Love african greys too, but I understand that they are REALLY intelligent, which is a bit intimidating. [​IMG]

    Several friends have pointed out that a parrot can be a longer-than-life commitment, and you need to KNOW you are a bird-person. So they have suggested starting out with a Budgie/Budrigar or a Cockatiel. (My wife isn't big on cockatiels, but she likes budgies.) I'm not sure I like the idea of a "starter" bird, as that sounds...disposable... to me. And animals are not disposable.

    THAT line of reasoning got me thinking about a Quaker Parrot. Not so expensive, not as long-lived as other parrots.

    So, I'm looking for opinions here. Any thoughts on the above ramblings? I really like that Eclectus, but I'm nervous about the cost & commitment. Quaker a good option? Budgie?

    Also, I have cats. Smaller birds a bad idea?

    How does one calculate a good size for a cage?

    Finally, what other start-up costs should I expect? (Obviously a cage, but what else?)

    Phew! Thanks for any thoughts you can share!!!
     
  2. David-S

    David-S Second Unit

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    Alright, well, i'll throw in my $.02, at least about the cats/small birds part.

    I have a pair of 'keets and a pair of 'tiels, and have had two cats with them. The first guy was pretty old, and never looked at them twice. My new cat is much younger (~1-2 yrs), and shows interest, but has never gotten aggressive. She (cat) only gets up close to the parakeets cage when they're near the bottom of it, and we think it's more curiousity than anything, but she still gets a water spray, and is a lot less "curious" about them lately.

    Other costs: Vet visit, finding a vet that knows something about birds should be done before you get one, and they can be a bit more $$ than others.

    Don't look at a 'keet as a "starter" bird, look as it as a fun addition to your household, who'll wake you up in the morning [​IMG] and chirp at night :b .

    Also, if you're considering getting another larger bird later on, I'd suggest getting 2 'keets, as they will bond with each other, and not miss you as much if you start paying more attention to the new guy.
     
  3. StephenA

    StephenA Screenwriter

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    It depends on the cat on whether they'll bother small birds. You'll have to be extremely careful. I'd suggest keeping the cat away in another room if you're gonna have small birds and take them out. Larger parrots can hold their own usually, and one bite from their beak will usually teach a cat to never touch it again.

    Most, if not all parrots are screamers. The size of the parrot usually dictate the noise level. They smaller they are, the less noisy they are, ie budgies are nowhere near as loud as a macaw or other larger parrot. The most noisy tend to be the Amazons and cockatoos. I've had both, and they definitely do make noise. And remember, not all parrots will learn to talk.

    Electuses are beautiful birds, but I prefer the female. I never had them, so I can't comment on how good of a bird they are. Same with quakers, I never had them either. Budgies and cockatiels are good birds to have. I've had both, and they can get quite attached to people. If you have more than one budgie or cockatiel, don't expect them to be very tame because they tend to bond to each other. African greys are known as the most intelligent parrot. It's nothing to be intimidated by. It just makes your bond with them that much stronger.

    The larger parrots are best kept single as a single bird. They won't get territorial, and they're more apt to to interact with you. If you have more than one species of parrot, keep them in a different cage that aren't close to each other so they can go to their "nest" to feel safe if they fight. Try to socialize the bird with everyone in the family, or they'll become a one person bird. Give the bird as much attention as possible.

    Try to give them as big a cage as possible so they can have space to move around. Give them all kinds of toys to play with so they don't become bored to where they'll be destructive to posessions and themselves. Alot of parrots with pick out their feathers if they are bored. Sometimes it'll get so bad that the feathers will never grow back. Also, if you notice that the bird doesn't use it's toys anymore, you can move them around and/or give them new ones.

    Always give the bird a varied diet. This can include seeds, nuts, pasta, breads, chicken, fruits, vegetables, and anything similar. No chocolate, rhubarb, and limit the salt severely, or cut the salt out completely. Give them hard stuff to eat sometimes so they can keep their beak trim. You can also hide food inside toys and other things so they have to work to get it. Make sure they get plenty of exercise too, or else they can become fat. Don't give them too much sunflower seeds or peanuts, or else they can end up with liver problems.

    Find a good avian vet that can check over your bird and find/treat any infections, parasites, or ailments the bird might have. Keep going regularly so they can monitor the health of the bird. Birds don't show signs of sickness till they're pretty much gonna die. It's a defense mechanism
    that makes it so predators don't get them. So it's best to have them checked so any illness doesn't progress.

    I hope this post has helped. If you want to know more, just ask.
     
  4. andrew markworthy

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    I'd like to reiterate that you should make sure you have a local vet who knows about birds.

    Also, and just as important, make sure that the bird comes from a reputable source. Without giving a hug-a-tree hippy lecture, it's alas true that the rainforests get robbed of enough fauna without adding to the problem.
     
  5. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Thanks for the info so far gang! Most valuable! [​IMG]

    I'm really leaning towards the Eclectus. He was just beautiful, and was very interested in my wife. (He was doing what I've come to realize many parrot owners call the blink-game. He was doing a slow blink at her while making direct eye-contact.) He's big enough that he could probably defend himself against the cats.

    My next question, is how messy are parrots? I've heard the two big negatives about them are the screaming and the messiness.

    The cost is making me shudder a little though! I've never spent that much on an animal! (That and I know very little about birds!)
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I was in a shop a few years ago that specializes in birds (it was on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles). The irony is that I was there to pick up a new litter pan for my buddy Attila. What I found so charming and amazing about all these feathered companions is how strong there personalities are. And one (a cockatoo?) was demonstrating what appeared to be affection; he (or she) tilted his little head next to my finger and rubbed against it.
     
  7. Ron C

    Ron C Stunt Coordinator

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    parrots require a LOT of attention. Don't think you can just keep the bird in the cage all day like you can with a parakeet. I have a rose breasted cockatoo this i've had since he was a baby(almost 7 years now). Average(domesticated) life span for his species is 40 years. He has a personality of a cat. Every morning he will come into my bedroom to cuddle under my blanket. If i don't let him in, he'll make lots of noise. He basically has the intellegence of a 5 year old, which is pretty damn smart =p Most parrots will outlive cats/dogs, so if you decide to get a parrot, you need to have a lifetime commitment to him(just as you would a child).
    Here are some pics:
    pic1
    pic2
    video
    server is running slow at the moment so be patient...
     
  8. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

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    I had a couple of keets a few years ago. One thing I can tell you is that birds are filthy animals and will require tons of maintenance on their living space. Birds will literally crap in their own food and water. Not only will the cage become full of crap but a good ten foot radius around the cage will quickly become covered in crap and feathers. Never again.
     
  9. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Remember, you may end up taking care of this bird, whatever it may be, for more time than your own children. And yes birds or extremely messy. Crap all over the cage and seeds all over the floor for you to vacuum up everyday for the next 20-40 years or longer depending of the species. Smaller birds only provide you with a smaller scale mess.

     
  10. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    I recently worked with a fellow who volunteered at a parrot shelter. Just like a animal shelter, but strickly for parrots. This fellow (who owns several parrots) has a low opinion of most parrot owners - they didn't realize what it took to maintain a parrot and when they find out, they give the bird to the shelter. Any Minnesotans remember the parrots at the Rainbow Cafe at the Mall of America (the live ones, not the fake ones)? They wound up at the shelter.

    Take my co-workers advice: do not go into ownership lightly - take the time to find out from other parrot owners, preferrably those who have had their birds many years, what it's like and what is required to own them. And then (according to him) - get a dog instead.
     
  11. Wes T

    Wes T Stunt Coordinator

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    I haven't read all of this thread but I have to throw in my 2 cents. I had a parakeet that lived with me for 15 years. He was my bud and he saw me through half of my life. I bought my wife a quaker a couple of years ago. He was cool, but.... I could not turn my HT up loud enough to drown that squawking bird out! He would screech and talk and would never shut up. It drove me nuts. We finally gave him away to a true "bird person" and now he eats at the dinner table and sleeps in a bed. I love animals but I will NEVER get another large bird. After roughly 500 dollars invested in bird, cage, vet, etc I was glad to just give his loud butt away. I have come to the conclusion it would be easier to just have another kid.-Wes
     
  12. Stephen_Opipari

    Stephen_Opipari Stunt Coordinator

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    My wife and I have had two parakeets for quite a long time who recently died within a few weeks of each other and we are now thinking about a Senegal Parrot. They are really cute, with sweet personalities, love to cuddle and best of all, they are very, very quiet. They don't squalk too often unless somthing is bothering them.

    Remember a few things with birds that makes them rather difficult to care for. They need a ton of attention. If you are not willing to interact with the bird at least a few hours a day, don't get one. Birds grow paranoid very easily and again, without proper attention they literally go crazy. They will pull out their own feathers and become very anti-social, mean and loud. If you have a relatively quiet bird like a Senegal as well and they start to scream a lot, it's because somthing is in the environment bothering them, it could be as simple as a box that wasn't there earlier, so you need to be mindful of things of that nature.

    When you get your cage, get somthing as big as possible and don't get a round cage. Since birds are naturally paranoid they like to have a corner to go and hide in so to speak. Since round cages have no corners, it doesn't give the bird a retreat and can make them mean.

    But, there's some things that make larger birds just adorable too. For example, they adopt you as part of their flock. After that they want to do things like eat with you at dinnertime and the books say to put a plate on the table for the bird so they can literally eat with you at the table. [​IMG] The shop owners we have been talking to where we are thinking of getting our bird told us that one of their Cockatoos has a bowl that it will carry in to the kitchen and put right with the owner and tap them with it when they want some food.
     
  13. Jim_F

    Jim_F Screenwriter

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    I got Barney, my Senegal, when I was living in an apartment. I did the last couple of weeks of his hand feedings, so he thinks I'm his mom. He was quiet enough for apartment living, but he does have a shrill shriek that most people find uncomfortable (I hardly notice it anymore) Right now, he's having some growing pains, being an adolescent and all, but he's always been a sweet bird. For a while, he would even lay on his back in the hand of a perfect stranger, as long as he got his head scratched as part of the deal. He uses his small vocabulary more appropriately than his chatty step brother Johnnie, the Congo African grey.
    Barney may live somewhere around 15-35 years (he's 7 now) but Johnnie could outlive me even if I live to be 100.
     
  14. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Some parrot species can live for close to 150 years. Be sure you plan on having grandchildren to pass the bird onto later.[​IMG]
     
  15. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Well we've focused in on the male Eclectus we've found at a pet store. He's 4 months old, and is almost weaned. He'll be ready for a home in a week or two.

    So now I've gotta make up my mind. Two things that are making me waffle.

    1. The expense. Not a cheap bird. And a good-sized cage seems to be in the 500-700 (cdn) range. Wow.

    2. Messyness. I don't mind sweeping up food and such, but I'm a little nervous after folks mentioning a 10' radius of food and poop around the cage. Hmmmm.

    Pluses to the Eclectus I've found... they tend to be quieter than most parrots. (They don't scream often) They are very talented talkers. Somewhat more independant than some parrots. Don't molt quite as much either. Life span is 40 or so years. Disadvangate: they don't like to be petted as much as other parrots.

    I don't even mind the expense that much... but if there is always going to be a HUGE radius of food, poop and feathers and such... hmmm.

    Any further info or thoughts folks?
     
  16. StephenA

    StephenA Screenwriter

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    They do leave a radius of food and sometimes poop around the cage, but it's not a huge area, at least in my experience. I have a bluefront Amazon now, and he's messy, but it's only maybe a 6 inch diameter around his cage. Electuses are a little smaller, so they are a little less messy.

    As long as you handle the bird gentely and often, especially if it's been hand fed, it should be pretty friendly. You gotta remember though, that birds have individual personalities like people, so it may not be the social type. Do't be upset if it isn't, just love and care for it the same.

    Anything else you wanna know?
     
  17. DaveDickey

    DaveDickey Stunt Coordinator

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    This is a very interesting thread. I'm an animal-lover who is particularly fond of birds. I would love to have a bird as a pet, but I feel I would be removing the bird from its natural element (flying free, outdoors, etc.). I'm not suggesting that those who keep birds as pets are doing anything wrong, however. Many pet birds have a good life in captivity.

    This is a bit off-topic, but good info for people fascinated by birds: I have a three-disk DVD titled "The Life of Birds" produced by BBC and narrated by David Attenborough. It's available anywhere DVD's are sold. It is absolutely fascinating.
     
  18. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i've always wanted a parrot as a pet.
    but the cost has stopped me.
    recently my wife acquired 3 parakeets for free so we have them in the bedroom right now.
    they don't make much noise. and the noise they do make amounts to some clicking and some singing.

    they dont make much of a mess. i have to clean the cage once a week.
    but i do need to vacuum the feathers and seed cases off the floor everyday.
    they havent taken to eating any fruit or anything other then seeds yet.
    so i guess they never had them before.

    i can't exactly take the 'keets out of the cage because my pom would gladly eat them if allowed.

    so we close the door and put them on the bed sometimes and let them walk around.

    we got them from a rescuer who got them from a house in delawre that was raided because they had dozens and dozens of every type of animal in this house.
    we had them for a few months now but they just arent used to us and do not like to come out of the cage.

    they are very happy in the cage and seem very content to just sit in there.

    now someone has a blue amazon that we can get also for free including the cage.

    i'm very tempted but dont know were we would put him yet.
    i really wanted an african grey but just cant afford to buy one and a cage, so this free amazon seems like a god idea.

    ron c i never saw a rose breasted cockatoo before that is a beautiful bird.
    i'm intrigued
     
  19. Ron C

    Ron C Stunt Coordinator

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    Buying a parrot just to keep him in the cage is not a good idea. Parrots get bored very easily. Some get so bored that they mutilate themselves. Imagine keeping a dog in a small cage all day. The dog would go insane. Generally, if my brother or I am at home, the bird is out of the cage.

    Smaller birds like parakeets you can keep in the cage all day, since you can get 4-5 of them at once and they keep themselves busy. Generally, the bigger the bird, the more attention they require.

    Some Macows are huge. I wouldn't want a bird that big, plus if you let them sit around the house, everything would be chewed up. African Greys are great birds, but they too require much attention or they'll start plucking.
     
  20. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i undestand that ron.
    we don't intend to keep the amazon in the cage all the time.
    i want a bird like this so i can interact with him out of the cage.
     

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