Parrots are highly interactive, seriously emotional yet simple companions. If I had to make one Universal Truth about companion parrots it would be that there is no such thing as Auto Pilot and parrots. You just can't rely on that setting inside parrot care and interaction. I say parrots are simple, not because they are easy, but because simply put, they want to be with us as a flock. All success comes from this center truth. I was pondering this at dinner.
My husband and I went to one of our favorite restaurants over the weekend. Seated just a few tables away was a husband, wife and new baby. The little boy couldn't have been past 4 months old. Mom had his impressive and high tech stroller-high chair-trundle-rocketship-combo setup facing her. Dad sat across the table from them. I enjoyed a clear view of this little one's face. So young, so attentive, so completely enamored with his mom. He never really took his eyes off her, except to look at what was in her hand heading his way. I thought to myself; baby humans are alot easier than parrots. We enjoyed our meal, and every once in a while I would glance at that little boy. Mom was bottle feeding him at one point, then set him back in his Stroller/High Chair for a few spoons of baby food.
Both of our tables finished our meals at about the same time. I looked over and saw that mom had put her eTablet up on a kickstand and was playing a cartoon for the baby to watch at the dinner table. I couldn't see his face anymore, only the back of his head. Ironically, he was not paying attention to the device, but kept looking up at his mom's face. She was not looking down at him, but continually repositioning him to "look" at the device. I watched their relationship, and habits form right then and there. I'm certain it wasn't his first lesson, but it wasn't yet a habit. This little boy was being groomed to accept Auto Pilot. I can't say I looked over more than a handful of times, and I certainly could have missed a lively interaction. But the point remains. Auto Pilot is a really poor choice for life. And it's a really poor choice for us and our parrots as well.
I wrote an article called "Why do you have a Felix?". It came from a moment in time when a young girl asked me that exact question at a parrot expo. I have a Felix, and other companion parrots, because I love companions that will laugh at my jokes, wake me up early, share food with me and throw some on the floor. I have companion parrots because I don't care about a fancy house, but I do care about a house full of joy. I have companion parrots because they are great conversationalists even when I have NO idea what they are saying. I love their noise, their smell, their demands and their joy. I love the fact that a companion parrot can not be fooled or contrived, but requires honest interaction. I love that the returned affections and trust is not a domesticated response, but a free willed choice on their part. I have companion parrots because they are beautiful, challenging, surprising and up to the task of making me a better person. I don't do Auto Pilot generally, so they fit my lifestyle.
Make no mistake about it, having companion parrots is a lifestyle choice. It is NOT a pet choice. The responsibility and seriousness of the decision is akin to adopting a baby. They have our lifespan, our intelligence at a child level, and are as sensitive as a little one. You are not getting something that is happy on Auto Pilot, like a cat. You are bringing into your home a new lifestyle choice and this companion will most definitely require dedication, sacrifice and a new perspective on priorities.
Oh, but the payback is enormous, glorious and wondrous. Because every great relationship is built around emotional investment. A companion parrot relationship is no different.