Why Adopt a Parrot?

” The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

October 2010

I want to tell you our story about adopting a bird from Parrot Education and Adoption Center (PEAC); this organization finds homes for homeless exotic birds. In 2002, my husband and I adopted a 22-year-old Yellow-naped Amazon from PEAC; she had a history of screaming and biting men, as well as over-bonding to the woman, in each of her previous four homes. This learned behavior was addressed during her time in foster care with PEAC, and today, she thinks my husband is fabulous.  We’ve both learned much about taking care of birds and worked diligently to reward desired behaviors, and Herbie is a beloved member of our family.

We enjoyed Herbie so much that we are currently fostering another bird, a Blue-fronted Amazon who, in 28 years, had never allowed head “skritches” or any physical handling; she came to us with a history of over-bonding to one person and would fly at and bite other family members.  Now, after several months of “shaping” and positive reinforcement, Roz now looks forward to head scratches, allows toenail trims without toweling, willingly drinks liquid from a syringe, and eagerly learns new tricks, such as turning in a circle.  With literally thousands of birds needing permanent, loving homes in this country, please consider adoption before purchasing a baby parrot.  The store will quickly replace that baby with another, while a dozen or more parrots wait for their forever homes.  There are many advantages to adopting an adult parrot instead of buying a baby parrot. The PEAC foster care volunteer knows the bird’s personality, and we can help match you with the bird who best fits your personality and lifestyle. Additionally, when adopting an adult parrot, you avoid dealing with the hormonal nightmare of bird adolescence.  Moreover, the old myth that only a baby parrot will bond with you is just that – a myth.  Parrots, like people, are capable of forming new relationships throughout their lives.

Many species of parrots have the potential to be extremely long lived. Many of these companion parrots will outlive their owners. Two common reasons that birds are relinquished to PEAC are that the human companion becomes ill or dies, or the person/family no longer has time for the bird. Sadly, the average length of time a parrot lives in a given home is only 5-8 years.  Too often, the donating party says, “I didn’t know about the time and special care it takes to own a parrot.  I simply can’t care for it anymore.”

Parrots are highly intelligent; this trait, along with their highly social and interactive nature, creates the potential for loving long-term relationships.  Observations prove that parrots can frequently outsmart us!  So, caring responsibly for a companion parrot requires diligence and is considerably more time-consuming than caring for more traditional companion animals.  Along with the more intense husbandry and specialized veterinary care, a parrot’s social nature demands significant daily interaction with its human flock.

Unfortunately, there is little incentive for bird stores, breeders, or individuals selling their birds privately to educate potential purchasers of the challenges associated with providing for the physical, nutritional and psychological needs of a parrot.  Many sellers fear that an educated customer may then decide not to purchase a bird.  Only the most ethical sellers prepare the buyer for life with a parrot.

As a primarily educational organization, PEAC’s goal is to provide education for current and potential bird owners so they are able to make a truly informed decision before bringing a bird into their home.  Our educational programs are designed to offer the knowledge and skills necessary to provide buyers of companion parrots with the tools they need to properly care for their parrot. Parrots need a varied diet, which is critical to a long lifespan; they also require mental and physical stimulation through play and daily human interaction.  If a foster bird comes into our program with behavioral issues, our foster volunteers are trained to manage and correct these issues using positive reinforcement techniques.  We only accept pet quality parrots into our foster program; and unfortunately, we are forced to turn away several birds each week, simply due to a lack of qualified foster homes.

At PEAC, our goal is to assure that each person who adopts a bird is aware of and committed to the physical, emotional, and financial responsibility of caring for a companion parrot.  Bird ownership is a lifetime commitment; with the proper care, parrots can live 30-80 years, depending upon the species.   This is not a relationship to be entered into lightly.  People who cultivate successful long-term relationships with parrots are most often open to lifelong learning. They share our view that there is always more to learn about parrots.

In closing, with ever-escalating numbers of unwanted parrots in this country, please consider giving one of these magnificent animals a second chance in a loving and knowledgeable home.  Our seminar and event schedules are posted on our website.  We look forward to meeting you soon at one of our events.

Barbara Crouse
Executive Director
Parrot Education and Adoption Center (San Diego)