Parrots, in my humble opinion, are not good pets. Unlike dogs and cats and horses, whose domestication goes back thousands of years, pet parrots are only a few generations removed from the wild. Prior to the late 70s, if you purchased a parrot, it was likely caught in the wild and sold into captivity. That is changing with stricter laws about this kind of thing, but those earlier times lead to parrots coming into homes as pets that were still completely wild animals. For the most part, they remain so, even if they are bred in captivity.
As a result of this, they are very difficult pets. Stripped of their natural flock, they must adopt a new one - namely the family within which they live. But just because they adopt a new family doesn't mean they adopt new ways of living. They still behave as if they live in the wild. They try to find mates (often you), they nest, they lay eggs, they greet the morning sunrise and sunset with piercing calls, and generally act like - well, wild animals.
I try to convey this to people whenever they talk to me about how much they want a bird. It's hard to tell someone that has their mind set on a certain pet what a bad idea it is, but I still try. Parrots are not good pets for most people. Any parrot rescue can attest to this fact. They are overrun with poor, feather-plucked, neurotic, screaming birds dumped by families that were overwhelmed by what is simply normal parrot behavior.
See, I knew all this prior to getting my parrots. I did careful research before adopting each bird. I knew about species' individual characteristics, personalities, and quirks. I made careful decisions. I fed the right diets, bought the enrichment toys, made sure the birds were uncaged at least 75% if not more of the time. I'm the ideal birdie parrot.
And yet, even I was unprepared for the changes wrought by the addition of our child to the house. My African grey, Titus, has not adjusted well. First, the birds had to be moved from their privte room into a more common area of the house. This leads to less bird "quiet time" - which is essential for normalcy. Unfortunately, I didn't plan that when buying this house. So, first, he is sleep-deprived. Despite covering his cage and keeping it dark where they sleep, they are still aware of us and make noise when they hear us up and about.
Secondly, I just don't have the time to pay attention to him that I once did. Between full time ER work and full time mommy hood, the hours in my day are limited. Thus, he is in his cage more than he is used to.
Thirdly, the presence of competition for my affections has caused him great unrest. He sees me as his mate, and he doesn't appreciate the competitor.
All of this has lead to incessant screaming in my house since the baby was born. He screams all day - if he can't see me, but can hear me, if I go into the kitchen without him, if I shower without him, if I walk out the door to get the mail, or if I'm sleeping between shifts. It's a high-pitched, ear splitting, repetitive scream that goes on and on. My blood pressure probably gets into the 200 range easily when it happens.
It has steadily worsened over the last 5 months, leaving me worried about the next 40 years of this. My nerves were getting frayed, and I was starting to think I would have to find him a new home. This thought made me feel absolutely terrible. I knew what I was getting into when I adopted a parrot. I'm a veterinarian for frick's sake, I'm not Joe Schmo random bird buying consumer.
I digress. A beautiful situation has worked out. My office manager loves parrots. She offered to let Titus come and live at the clinic. I thought it would be a bad idea, giving his vocalizing. Amazingly, the opposite is true. Due to the heavy socializing I gave him as a younger bird, he is making friends with everyone at the clinic. He is out of his cage all day, has loving attention from many of my technicians, gets lots of (healthy) treats and attention. Many of my techs who have never even expressed interest in birds are surprisingly fond of him. His screaming has dropped to virtually nil. I get to see him when I work and interact with him, and he is a totally different, happier bird.
In the long run, I foresee him coming back to live with us when we move next. We'll have to have a bird specific room so that he can get his beauty rest. In the meantime, I could not ask for a happier resolution to a problem that has been eating at me for months now. It was hard to even write about it, but I want to serve as a cautionary tale. Parrots are difficult pets, and they are not for most families!
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