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50 Things a Companion Parrot Owner Should Know

by Desi Milpacher

1. A companion parrot needs proper nutrition – do the research before buying the parrot – a good place

to start:

2. A companion bird needs fresh water every day

3. Parrots need to be able to get clean – have a bath

4. A parrot needs mental stimulation – things to do – every day

5. A parrot needs to be kept safe – indoors and out

6. Birds need companions – other birds, or you

7. The care of some species of parrots is more challenging than others – see about cockatoos, macaws,

lories and lorikeets at

8. A parrot needs space – keep him in a large enclosure or flight

9. Parrots chew. Some plants are safe for them to chew, some are not – see link

10. A companion parrot should be purchased/adopted from a rescue, or a reputable breeder

11. Wild parrots do not make good pets – don’t purchase a bird whose origin is unknown

12. Trapping for the wild bird trade and habitat loss are the greatest threats to wild parrots

13. Trapping techniques that are used to catch wild parrots are inhumane

14. Birds caught and transported often die before reaching their destination

15. Wild caught birds can introduce disease into captive populations

16. Wild populations are reduced through trapping, genetic variety and breeding birds are lost, and nest

sites are destroyed

17. The continued trapping of species that are known to survive only a few months in captivity (for

example, the long-tailed parakeet) results in higher losses of birds

18. Whatever a human child can get into trouble with in the house, a parrot also can, and faster. And it

can fly

19. Parrots live a long time in some cases. Make plans for their care after you’re gone

20. Always have a plan for your parrot in case of emergency (including fire, earthquake)

21. Always keep your parrot’s area (cage, aviary, perch) clean. This will help prevent the spread of


22. Monitor daily the health of your companion bird – check for changes in behaviour, appetite, and


23. Have on hand a way to catch an escaped parrot (nets, people to help)

24. Keep a list of phone numbers close at hand (vet, friends who can help, family who can take the bird)

for whatever emergency happens

25. Basic training (ie teaching step up/down, or getting the bird to enter a carrier) can help with many

other activities (example: going to the vet!)

If adopting a parrot for the first time, ask yourself:

26. Am I willing to devote the time required for the proper care of a parrot?

27. Do I have the physical space to devote to a parrot?

28. Do I fully understand what is involved in caring for parrots, particularly parrots in captivity?

29. Realizing that parrots are very different from cats or dogs, am I willing to learn about parrot

behaviour as best I can?

30. Do I have a family? Children? How will this impact them? The parrot?

31. If I have health issues am I physically able to look after a parrot?

32. If the parrot is noisy, how will this impact my family? Nearby residents?

33. Will the parrot be comfortable with different family members?

34. Will the parrot get the attention it requires?

35. Will the parrot receive the veterinary care it requires? Is there an avian (parrot) vet nearby?

36. Will I always try to do what’s best for the parrot

37. Is my house parrot-safe? Am I willing to make it so?

38. Will the parrot be outside or in? For the area I live, which is safer?

39. Will my parrot be flighted, or will it have its wings clipped?

40. Buy or adopt healthy (vet-checked) birds

41. Is pet insurance an option?

If you find yourself having trouble making ends meet and you have a companion parrot:

42. We all need to eat. See if you can make a deal for your dry food with your local pet store - if you

buy bulk they may provide a discount. You can then freeze it – most extruded pellet foods can be

stored in this manner for up to a year

43. They need something to do. Toys needn’t be expensive, either. A lot of fun can be generated using

bird-safe, inexpensive items from around the home. And some pet toy suppliers will sell parts in

bulk as well

44. They need a place to call home. If you have more than one bird you may house them in a separate

building altogether. Providing lighting and heat can be expensive – and can be partially solved by

installing solar panels and skylights. These are initially a bit costly, but pay for themselves over the

long run and are greener

45. They need something fresh to eat. Growing your own fruit and vegetables (organically of course),

buying locally or getting clean, older produce from larger grocers (so long as you use them

immediately) is less costly and greener. And it’s better for your birds

46. Home, part 2. Keeping your aviary at a slightly cooler temperature (around 16-17C; acclimatize

them to this of course) if they are not breeding will help lower costs

47. Out on a limb. Use bird-safe (unsprayed, non-poisonous) wood for perches and browse found

around your own property (no poaching of park trees now!)

48. Ye olde barter system. If you know of other parrot owners who excel at certain parrot related

activities, you could employ a barter-and-exchange system (say, you grow the organic veggies in

exchange for some toys or pet sitting). This can only be done if all parties involved (birds, people

and other pets alike) are completely healthy, to reduce the risk of transmitting disease

49. Home, part 3. If you can manage it, try building your aviary into a hill so that heating and cooling

costs can be further reduced

50. Last but not least: Love, love, love your companion birds!



Article “Beginner’s Guide to Parrot Keeping”, D. Milpacher, World Parrot Trust

Article “Don’t Buy Wild Caught Parrots”, World Parrot Trust

Article “Keeping Up Care for Pets in Financially Troubled Times”, D. Milpacher, World Parrot Trust




Parrot Rules


We are deeply loved and respected members of our family. We are not a dog or cat and will not behave like one.  Just because our human can cuddle and snuggle with us does not mean that you will be able to do so.  In fact, it is almost a given that this will be the case.  If you persist in trying to do so, be forewarned we can and just might bite the daylights out of you.  It is a natural response , and we cannot help doing .

Strangers may frighten us. This is not a reflection on you.  It is a natural and completely appropriate response for a prey animal, and forcing yourself on us will only make us more fearful.  Talk to us, keeping your distance, and allow us to decide when we are comfortable enough to interact with you, instead of the other way around.

 Poking fingers at us, taunting us or any other forms of harassment are cruel and frightening behaviors.  Those, and similar unnecessary and intentionally fear inducing activities, will not be tolerated.  Because you appear to be an intelligent human, we know that you will not behave in this manner.  However, were just helpless  little birds, and we like to make sure that the house rules are clearly defined, so that you can defend us.

 Flattery is greatly appreciated.  Frequent applications are the most effective way of telling us that you are a wonderful and discerning human with extremely  good taste.  We may even do something cute for you, in our own time frame and manner of course.

Speaking of good taste, ask my people if they will allow you to offer me a treat.  We can be boughtbut only with healthy goodies that are deemed appropriate by our human.

No, not all birds talk or perform amusing tricks.  We would find it most interesting if you would juggle a couple of chainsaws and wrenches, or play classical piano or recite Homers Odyssey from memory.  However, we will still think that you are OK if you cannot do those things, so please be as gracious regarding our own abilities, or lack thereof. Besides, we are infinitely cuter than you will ever be, so we always have that going for us.

Enjoy our presence.  Although our body is relatively small, we bring great love and joy to our household.  The people and animals that live here are our flock members, and we love them in return.  We are not required to love strangers.  However, if you allow us to be ourselves, without any expectations, and treat us with kindness and respect, you will learn a lot about birds and will be entranced by our beauty and grace.  Your life will never be the same, this, we promise you.

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