Help! I've Got Bird Brain!
People think I’m crazy. “What are you doing with four parrots?” I get it. I never imagined I would ever become a bird person. I grew up with dogs, and later, cats. I loved them and still do. The way I see it, there are basically two kinds of people in this world; critter people and everybody else. I learned something about animals when I started to notice the amazing qualities of parrots. To know one is to love one. You may think you’re not a bird lover, a cat lover or even a reptile lover, but until you actually get to know one and see the personality of the individual animal, you don’t really know. I contend that if you love cats and think you hate dogs, there will always be a dog somewhere that will make you change your mind (and vice versa).
I remember being at the vet one day and someone had to put their rabbit down. He was 15 years old and a big bunny, indeed. The man who brought the rabbit to the vet was crying. I was a bit surprised. Who cries over a rabbit? They don’t make a sound. What do they do? Sit in a pen and poop all day?
Fast forward many years later. My brother’s kids found a domestic rabbit at the end of their driveway. They already had a dog and didn’t want to keep the rabbit, but you know how kids are. The next thing they knew the bunny was named Kevin (that still makes me laugh) and was soon best friends with their dog, Laila. Their friendship even made the evening news. Looking at Laila and Kevin in the video, I realize there is a lot to love about a rabbit, after all.
How did I become a bird person when I was so strictly a cat and dog lover?
When I first started dating my husband we would go to a pet store which was located near a movie theatre. After a night at the movies, we’d wander over to the pet store and look at the parrots. They had a sun conure there named Charlie who was positively brilliant. Gorgeous colours, smart, charming; he had all the traits of a wonderful pet. A few years later my husband got a job working for a major pet store chain and we thought we might be able to get a deal on a bird. Well, one bird lead to another and then there were four. Nuts, I know. My husband had a way of getting me caught up in his enthusiasm. Notice I said, “Had”. I finally put a stop to the madness a few years ago, but I still have four parrots who will likely outlive me and my children.
Do they bite? Yes, and the big birds are definitely not for the faint of heart. They will often bite you just as a joke. They can be assholes that way.
Do they talk? Yes. Some have more to say than others.
Are they messy? Very. That’s why they have their own room which is soundproof because they are also very loud at times.
Are they clever? You bet.
Are they cuddly? Yes. They are all that and more. Their most redeeming quality is that they make me laugh pretty well every day. It really does make up for a lot.
If you asked me if you should get a parrot, I would tell you not to. They are a lot of work and the commitment is longer than your commitment to your own children would naturally be. Most parrots get re-homed an average of five times in their lives. That’s sad.
The parrots cost a lot of money to buy, but the greatest expense is in maintaining them and accommodating them over their lifetime. We had to build our birds a room in every house we owned. Say goodbye to $15-20, 000 each time. They need air filters and a heater in their room. That drives up your electric bill. The vet bill for wing, beak and nail maintenance is about $2000 per year. Food is $100 per month. Wood toys etc. which they need for chewing and to prevent boredom can run several hundred dollars per year. Sometimes I think I’d rather take a nice vacation somewhere. That reminds me. Parrots really tie you down because they need to be looked after by someone who can actually handle them. Remember the biting? Care takers need to be trained and the birds have to get used to you being there. Needless to say, I rarely go anywhere. That’s a real bummer.
So here I am telling you all the reasons to avoid getting a parrot and I can hear my Macaw, Buster meowing like a cat and singing his made-up songs to his three roommates, Sophie, Larry and Oliver. Now I’m giggling and back in love with my birdies, fool that I am.