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Parrot Joy

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e-Writer in Residence

  • Grandmother and teen holding many parrots.

Madeleine Banman | October 29, 2019

"Parrots aren't common pets, but I've grown up around them, and they're such amazing creatures! So here are some interesting and useful things to know about them! There are actually 402 different species of parrots! The largest is the Hyacinth Macaw (3.3 ft long), and the smallest is the Buff-faced pygmy parrot (3.4 in long).

Some parrots are very good talkers, but not all parrots have equal speaking abilities. For example, my Lovebird only knows two phrases, “Come here” and “Step up”. He likes to use those when he wants attention! Other parrots are capable of more, like the African Grey, which can learn and use over 1000 words! If you teach your parrot a phrase or song though, make sure that you don't teach it to them in pieces, or else they'll never say it all at once in the right order!

Parrots have the mentality of a toddler, which means they need to be kept busy (certain types of parrots can live as long as humans, so this is a toddler that you will likely have for a long time!). They like playing with toys, shredding things up, and spending time with their person. You can even teach them tricks! Having the mentality of a toddler, parrots don't always know what's safe and not safe. While it might seem like having no cage will give your parrot more freedom, there are many things in your house that are dangerous for a parrot, and a cage for a parrot is the equivalent of a bedroom for you. It's their safe place for when they're stressed, and for them to go when you can't watch them or have to leave the house.

Speaking of things that are unsafe for parrots, one very important thing to be aware of is non-stick (Teflon) pans. If a non-stick pan gets too hot, it releases fumes which can actually kill your bird. If you like to cook, try to keep your parrot away from the kitchen when using non-stick pans. There are also alternatives to non-stick pans, like cast iron pans! Some people also clip the long flight feathers on their parrot's wings to keep them safe. This won't hurt your parrot, as long as they already have learned how to fly, but will keep them from flying too far, which means less chance of them flying away if the front door opens.

Parrots love food! You can find pellets for parrots at most pet stores; these are a good idea since they have the nutrients your parrot needs in them. You can also feed your parrot certain fruits and veggies; you can find lists of safe foods for your parrots online. Parrots also love seeds, like sunflower seeds and safflower seeds! Never give a parrot only seeds though. People used to think that this was enough for parrots, but we now know that is not.

A healthy diet doesn't guarantee a healthy parrot. Parrots are prey animals, therefore if they do get sick, they will hide it. This is another reason to spend a lot of time with your parrot; keep an eye on their behaviour, if you notice something out of the ordinary, like suddenly not eating much, abnormal droppings (note that some foods will change a parrot's droppings and that's okay), or sleeping a lot more. If your parrot seems sick, you might want to take them to an avian vet. If this isn't an option for you though, the most important thing in to keep them warm and hydrated. A sick parrot may or may not recover, so keep a close eye out for abnormal behaviour to catch it as soon as possible. Another important thing is to learn a parrot's body language. For example, if your parrot's eyes are “pinning” (the pupils are contracting and expanding quickly) it's probably over excited, and may try to bite.

Lastly, the library has all kinds of books on different parrots! Check some of them out; parrots are really cool!"