Realities of our Parrot Lifestyle

Parrot lifestyles are a learning process for both parrot and human.

Realities of our Parrot Lifestyle

There are, I believe, several stages in the development of a true "parront". While there are many people who share their lives with a parrot, parronts are the minority, and they eventually reach the level of parront through empathy, observation, patience, love and a deep seated desire to provide for their parrot-child the most physically and psychologically healthy life possible. And through passing through these stages. Sharing your life with a parrot means adjusting who you are as a person; normal human thinking and behavior just doesn't fit the parrot lifestyle.

Stage 1 (Bringing Baby Home): When bringing that first baby home, most parronts have no idea what a life hanging effect such a seemingly small act can be. The truth that assimilating a parrot into the household is so much more than just bringing home a bird probably doesn't enter the thought process until the evolution into parrontage is under way. For many, bringing home a parrot is an impulse often the direct result of witnessing some parrots antics at a pet store, marvelling at how beautiful they are, or after encountering a well-socialized parrot at some neutral venue and being gifted the singular pleasure of applying a head scratch upon his/her beautiful head. Never mind the less desirable behaviors yet unknown, or the expense to come. Forget about the mysterious nature of responsible parrot care. Let's not think about the impact upon our way of life, we must bring this baby home! And so begins the evolution.

Stage 2 (The Awakening): While our evolutionary awakening does not necessarily begin with the often rude wake-up calls of our new family member, I think it a fitting analogy. Birds are loud, and seldom more obviously than in the early hours when they wake wishing the world to know they are here and ready to greet the day. Nor does it begin with the twice, or three times daily feedings to come. It does not begin with the first cleaning of the area around and inside of the cage or the daily poop inspection. This awakening begins the moment that we make the decision that this beautiful living being will come home with us; for in that decision lay a life changing truth that in time will begin to reveal itself to us and begin influencing how we conduct our lives, as well as how our time will be spent. For a responsible parront, bringing home that first bird will be no less an act than bringing home a new born-child. The similarities between the two seemingly disparate acts will soon make themselves manifest.

I was 12 years old (1970) when Frank came to live with us. He was a cockatiel whose presence in our house was the result of a sudden fascination with him during a visit to a local pet store. Frank, I am sad to say, didn't have such a great experience in our home. It's not that he wasn't loved, nor was it realized by us at the time, that he wasn't well cared for. We had believed that his medium sized round cage, a seed diet and a bit of occasional conversation was enough to fulfill his needs. There was not a lot of good information easily available in those days regarding parrot care, but even so I believe he could have been better looked after if I had more responsible parents, or possibly if I myself had taken a more active interest. But the truth is, that while he fascinated me, and I wanted a more hands on relationship with him I was quite put off by his biting, and quickly gave up on trying to friend him. In retrospect, it seems to me that he lived a very sad life from his perspective, and I am sorry that he was subject to life with my family. He was loved, but not really cared for. 

I have now spent the better part of 45 years trying to repay Frank for the suffering he may have experienced in those early days of my association with parrots. While I know I cannot give back Frank a life long past, or even see a comfortable existence provided for one long since gone, I know just as well that I can try to make a difference in the lives of those parrots with whom I now share a home, as well as a few beyond those borders. Both the information as well as access to such information is now so easily available (although sometimes flawed) that to pay it forward seems to me the only acceptable approach to dealing with the amount of abuse and neglect parrots have suffered at our hands for so many years. I know that not every parrot in a human household back in those early days suffered such a fate as Frank, but I also know that many today still suffer from such ignorance as once displayed within my own household. This is the reason that we, as parronts, must reach out with what knowledge we can to all of those who now share their lives with parrots, so that whatever mistakes have been made in the past are not repeated. If we are to make mistakes, then they must be new ones, and as they arrive they too must be eliminated. Hopefully the day will come when our feathered babies are all well understood and taken care of. Hopefully the time when so many suffer the scars of irresponsible captivity will pass. Hopefully we will grow wiser as we share life with these precious souls.

While I would not encourage the uninitiated to bring home a new feathered baby, neither would I discourage such an act. Rather, I would try to give from what hard earned knowledge I myself have acquired over the years, and push for responsible companionship as well as constant research, both before as well as after making a decision that a parrot would be right in a household. I would prefer to see that the awakening come before home placement as opposed to after. We are considered an intelligent species, and yet so many of our decisions are made in a very hasty manner betraying such intelligence. It should not be that other lives pay the cost of such ignorance, and I think we here on Flockcall, as well as other such dedicated forums can help put an end to that.

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