Have you ever met a person who just isn’t cut out to be a bird person? You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all met them. They have no business having a parrot in their home. You know this in your bones and can feel that understanding in the deepest darkest reaches of your soul. You know this as well as you remember your own name.
They. Should. Not. Ever. Have. A Bird. Ever.
But why? Why shouldn’t they have a bird? I have listed some reasons below, the imagined quote from the person acquiring the bird and a few comments:
“They’re so little! They should be easy to take care of, right?”
(Sweetie, you think you’re short on time now? Get a bird and you’ll see how little time you have…)
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“This should be a snap! He can just stay in his cage! They like that, don’t they?”
(I’ve seen you throw a fit when the person giving you a pedicure used the wrong shade of polish on your toes. Get a bird and that pedicure money is going to end up being used for food. Or toys. Or perches. Then you won’t have to worry about what the hell shade she used, because you won’t be able to afford to get a pedicure.)
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You know damned well they have no idea what they’re getting into:
“Awwww! He’s so cuuuuute! I want one!”
( Ummm, no you don’t. We’ll see how cute you think he is when you don’t train him and he’s hanging by his beak from your earlobe.)
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They’ve already unloaded the first two birds they ever had:
“Well, I think I just got a couple of bad ones. This little one seems kind of nice.”
(And now you’re getting ready to screw up a third bird. Great….)
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They think it’s a “cheap” pet:
“How much can they eat, right? And seed doesn’t cost very much, right?”
(How do you feel about selling all of your hideous knock-off designer purses in a garage sale?)
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They have no idea what they eat, and just think seed is fine because that’s what they “heard” you should feed birds:
“They just eat seed, right?”
(No comment here. Just the sound of my head banging against the wall: Wham! Wham! Wham!)
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They want to give one to someone else as a Christmas or birthday gift:
“Oh, he’ll love this little guy! And I’ll also buy a bag of seed and put it in a Christmas stocking! That’s a really cute idea!”
(Continued head banging…)
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They think because a bird is relatively small, they aren’t much work and won’t take up too much space in their apartment:
“I think I have space in the back utility room. It’s nice and dark back there. He’ll like that right?”
(The answer is, “No. No, he won’t like that, you blithering idiot.”)
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They were a big fan of the show, “Baretta:”
“Fred was soooo cute! They just do those tricks naturally, right?”
(I’m in pain now. If you don’t shut up and do some research, I’m going to end up going completely through this wall.)
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They refer to a Cockatoo as a Cockatiel. Or they reverse that:
“Those are like parakeets, right?”
(Could someone call the paramedics? I seem to have damaged my frontal lobe.)
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They want one just like their neighbor’s bird because he can do tricks and he talks. You ask them what kind of parrot their neighbor has and they answer, “Green:”
“He was just the cutest thing. And he could swear and everything!”
(Gee, how cute. I’ll bet he’s a big hit at the church picnic. Why is the room spinning?)
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They like the idea of a bird as a pet because they don’t need to be walked:
“You see, if I get a bird, they don’t have to go outside and they’re easy, because they don’t need much work or attention. And they’re small, see? So no barking and they’ll just sit there and chirp and…”
(No comment. Just the sound of an ambulance siren slowly fading away.)
January 8, 2011 at 11:54 am
Multiply this feeling by a million and you’ll know how those who are involved in sanctuaries and shelters feel. We have our own private ambulance and driver.
January 8, 2011 at 11:57 am
Want to borrow my Bellevue Hospital pajamas?
January 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm
Another GREAT article!! I’ve known some people that shouldn’t be allowed to own ANYTHING. I am guilty of the “he’s soooooo cute” thing. Then again. I know EXACTLY what I’m getting into before I do it. If I don’t think I’m 100% commited, I don’t take a critter in. I mostly adopt/save other peoples unwanteds rather than buy.
How about the high pitched crybaby whine that Cockatoos can do SOOOOOOOOO well!! Nope you’d never hear that The Conure warning “alarm” that goes off if a shadow moves. Uh huh.. they don’t do that. Birds would NEVER do the”I don’t wanna eat my food, so on the floor it goes and I don’t care if you just spent 12 hours cleaning in here”. 😀
January 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm
Robin, I just wish people would take some time and do the homework. If they know what they’re getting into and still want to do it, then fine. But for the most part, people just have no idea. I love the fact that you take in “unwanteds.” I think these guys make the best family members for the most part.
January 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm
Another great article…and so TRUE. Just ask that “non-bird person” who wants that cute little parrot in the pet store, “Are you up to taking care of a two year old for the next 20+ years?” (Even longer for a larger parrot) Two year olds are adorable, loving and fun. They are also messy, demanding, noisy and prone to tantrums. But they do grow up eventually, and with any luck, leave your house. A parrot is a two year old forever. It takes a special person to live with a bird. It also helps to be a little insane, and, of course, insanely in love with these beautiful creatures.
But then, there are people who just should not have pets of any kind. For them an animal is just another accessory or status symbol to be disgarded when mood or fashion changes.
January 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm
My “oh he’s so cute” lost his cute for his former owners when he tore off part of a friend’s ear and was living in their basment in the dark unless they came down to smoke!!! I really wasn’t ready for an Amazon but when I saw his living conditions I couldn’t leave him there….He is now my best friend and he will not have another home….. of course, as an Amazon he has tried his best to get me to change my mind…bites on the arm, bite on the face….typical amazon fashion…NOPE….still love him!!!
January 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm
Pets should come with warning labels just like cigarettes and alcohol. When you share your life with a bird you step back into “Human Slavery”. “And, in the end, the love you take/ Is equal to the love you make.”
January 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm
I loved this!!!! I have a blue and gold macaw and after a friend saw him she wanted one. I begged her to come spend the day at my house. She finally consented… Needless to say after 4 hours of feeding, cage cleaning, training, cleaning, bathing, cleaning and some much adored cuddle time she decided to stick with her cats!!!!! Not much work… HA!!!
January 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm
Excellent work Kelly! Great idea! That’s what I tell people to do when they say they want a bird: “Hey! Come on over!”
January 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm
Sorry I meant 4 hours and cuddle time. I hate auto mode on the iPhone sometimes!!!!
January 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm
That’s okay Kelly, I’ll fix it…
January 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm
And everyone knows that the only noise a parrot makes are cute chirps and funny words. NEVER would you hear screaming and hollering from a parrot. Oh no…never…
My turn for the head banger’s ambulance…
January 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm
Stand in line, Jackie! So glad you flew by to join the “Headbanger’s Ball.”
January 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm
patricia you have done it again!
im in pain from hysterics you may be across the pond but you may as well be next door as i think the same things mentioned – im the one with the two miniature hahn macaws i would love the person illustrated to take these guys on for 10 minutes (there again after 2 minutes max they would be begging for me to take the guys back lol)
keep up the fantastic work
lots of love and squawks
January 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm
Thanks so much, Jane! I’m glad you got a laugh or two.
January 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm
Loved the article! I think you forgot one or two:
“But the bird so small! It shouldn’t be that noisy, right?”
(You’re thinking of fish.)
“At least it will keep its mess in its cage.”
(Seriously, you are still thinking about fish. Spend all day cleaning your house, carpets and walls alike, and within an hour the bird will have crapped on your clean clothes, wiped his beak on your wall, and flung his food further than you thought imaginable.)
Keep up the good work! I have to go get my screaming blue crowned conure to his cage before he starts biting my toes….
January 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm
Hurry before you begin bleeding!
January 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm
working at a corporate pet store i go through this laundry list of comments ALL DAY LONG and it gets so old and so rehearsed. I wish i could just make a CD of the speech and hand it to people and just walk away!!!
I tell people ok, you want a budgie? are you willing to get 2 of them, or do you have a couple hours every single day to spend doing nothing but entertaining this bird? no? ok… umm are you willing to drop about $200 minimum TODAY? they always say no … and i refuse to sell them the bird. and as we ALL know $200 is CHEAP, thats including a decent cage, the bird, food, toys, feed cups, perches etc… $200 is NOTHING. So, if you are not willing and ready to slap that cash down now, you won’t be willing to do it at a vet office when its 5 times that …sadly…
I explain all day long parrots have the intelligence level of a 3-5 year old child, which makes them smart and NEEDY as hell … toys are meant to be destroyed, sometimes within hours…its a constant replenishment and they stand there with this blank deer in the headlights kind of look and tell me they STILL want to get the bird LOL …ridiculous.
what i hate more than anything is parents who come in with their kids and want to get a few parakeets. The kid is terrified of going near the poor bird and refuses to even touch it let alone enjoy it and yet the adult insists they want it for their 4 yr old ..grrr…
January 8, 2011 at 11:53 pm
You said everything i see and hear everyday. Its not the birds who give us headaches,its the people! Thank you for this.
January 9, 2011 at 11:35 am
Patricia, your talents amaze me. So very well said. I would assume that most people that read this magazine already know all this and wish we could find a way to get it out to everyone else. Perhaps a big poster board of it in every pet store or breeders office/home.
You had me giggling all the way through!!!
February 24, 2012 at 11:35 am
Love! Love! Love it!!!! Very fun read!!!!
February 24, 2012 at 11:51 am
So true – have heard all of these and more for years and years. Hilarious to see them all in one place with comments/additions too! Hilarious and head-banging ammunition, that is. I’m trying to talk a friend out of getting one right now…. although her comment that her cats don’t do as much damage as a bird would is WAY off base! I’ve never known a bird of any size that could come close to cat-destruction 🙂
February 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm
So true. A colleague of mine was asking me about birds recently because his girlfriend wanted them. He wanted to know how he can keep them from flying around the house pooping on everything and was going to shut them up in an upstairs room no one used. Endless emails back and forth… wing clipping and how it is not cruel, training, one on one time even if they are budgies (people don’t think of them as much more than goldfish, apparently), Most of all, he was highly displeased when I told him they needed to be with people, not shut away from them. But since the girlfriend wanted free flying budgies, by god, she was going to get them no matter what. I suppose it is a good thing they weren’t after macaws or greys or cockatoos, but after seeing all the little birds that go unwanted and abandoned or that are turned loose to take their chances in the wild…in a country and climate they were never meant for… grr. My own niece is, unfortunately, one of those people who should never, ever, ever have anything but a stuffed animal. I thank the Maker she’s never wanted birds.
February 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm
I am surprised that people who love birds so much can see them in such a negative way. In fact it really hurts my feelings to think that others don’t feel that the joy of having a relationship with a bird doesn’t far outweigh the cost and the trouble. Let’s be honest, kids are expensive, messy, demanding and a lot of trouble but people still have them – on purpose. Dogs are really a lot of trouble (and I love them) but by the time you spend your time and money on grooming and flea control and house training and vet visits – are you really going to claim they are less expensive or less time consuming than birds? Seriously?
Every one of the uneducated comments that you hear have a cure – education. I am very honest about birds with people. I don’t gloss over the hard parts ever and yet I have sent birds home with many people whose first comments to me can found in the list above. Many of them became wonderful bird people.
Instead of talking people out of birds, why don’t we correct the misinformation, share our passion and help them to know the joy of birds too.
February 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm
Well, now I don’t feel so bad being called a “Parrot Nazi” (as in NO parrot for you!”
February 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm
I have to agree with Jamie Whittaker to a large extent. While there are plenty of people out there who should definitely not have a pet bird, there are also many people who would make great bird owners/servants but simply lack education. (I still occasionally say cockatoo when I mean cockatiel, and vice versa – the names are just too similar to not say the wrong one from time to time).
When I first met my wife, she had a cockatiel (yes, cockatiel). That little parrot taught me so much about birds. Prior to that time, I thought that birds did spend almost all their time in the cage, and I would have had no idea that a round cage was a bad idea. Even two years later, when we adopted our BGM, I still knew relatively little. Through diligent research, and membership in our local bird club, I’ve learned a great deal, and our macaw is a very happy, beautiful creature.
Education is indeed the key, if the person is interested in learning and making the effort. You can take a good person with good intentions and time, and educate them into being a wonderful bird owner. But there are also many people out there who should indeed, never own a bird.
But the article is funny, nevertheless. Thanks, Patricia.
February 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm
My three little zebra finches have flung so much water across the room, the paint actually peeled off. It would be the equivalent of ME throwing a bucket of water on the house across the street. Once again, I have underestimated their powers, but I gotta say- I am in awe of their abilities!
February 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm
Education is the key to most of the above NON-educated comments from people who think they want a bird. IME education is needed in many areas of life now, not just with birds. For instance, IF you are a serious owner of a dog, or a serious parent of a child, or even a person who is serious about the food you are consuming, then you need MORE education on a routine basis. Everything changes. To life a responsible happy life, that means you need to keep learning…not just about parrots, but about everything related to your life. Back to parrots…by the way, it isn’t just learning about birds in general, it is about learning the different types of needs of the different parrots…Frankly, one size does not fit all in terms of diet, housing, or handling. There is NO one diet that works for all parrot species. Even the diet for a specific species of pet parrot may need to be changed for that species IF the parrot is part of a breeding pair. One reason I find parrots and birds of interest is that they are complex creatures, intelligent and always interesting, as well as beautiful.
February 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm
I don’t think anyone is opposed to education. But Patricia’s post speaks to many of us who have grown frustrated with the predominate feeling that birds are more like fish than like sentient, reasoning, emotional beings. Her post is just blowing off a little steam.
Let’s be honest here, the average person doesn’t do research before buying a pet of any kind, and birds are not excluded from that. How many new owners of Border Collies and Australian shepherds find themselves over their heads? Yet with just a tiny bit of research on breeds, nearly all of them would choose something different.
Sure, education is always a good answer, but I think people who have answered the same question a thousand and one times have the right to vent a little about how people don’t even do the basic research before jumping headlong into pet ownership.
February 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm
It seems like some people have taken this so out of intent and twisted it… Sheesh!!! People, we need to lighten up and laugh! Haven’t many of us heard the comments mentioned and shook our head? Haven’t some of us try to educate a potential bird owner only to be walked away from and ignored? I thought this entry was amusing, I know Patricia well enough that I called her upon reading it and laughed… it was a light read, it wasn’t meant to be heady… Live, Love, and Laugh!!
February 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm
I still love this article because I can relate to it so well. I don’t consider myself better or worse than people who want a parrot but have no idea what they are getting into. I do feel it is my responsibility to educate people about the tremendous life they are bringing into their homes, especially when I know they don’t know anything about birds. I gave a friend of mine a SHORT list of things that you cannot have near the parrot (such as Teflon, ANYTHING zinc, perfume, scented lotions, candles, onions, avocados, etc.) and she realized a bird is not for her. It *is* a lifetime commitment. The bird *is* a 2 year old who never grows up (but you never have to pay for a car or college either, so there’s that). A parrot will test your patience, scare you to death when he/she gets injured or sick, and will throw tantrums with ear-piercing and blood-drawing qualities. But we love them. They are worth it. It’s the little things: the “bitey” rescued blue crowned conure who took 6 months to decide to trust you gives you a kiss out of nowhere. The pretty green cheek conure whom you admire because she doesn’t back down from ANYTHING. The sweet African grey who started waving and saying “Bye bye!” when you leave for the day. The sun conure who just wants to snuggle under your shirt for a few hours. At the end of the day, you tell people having a parrot can be an enriching experience, but it is not recommended for everyone.
February 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm
I spit my tea across the desk when I got to “green” because I had that exact conversation with a neighbor who could (surprise!) hear my guys from her house… only SHE was the one who had the bird- and the color was red. Being a crazy person, I asked her what kind, and she said ‘medium.’ Even though I knew better, I listed all the red parrots I could think of (short list after all), she shrugged and said, “yeah, I don’t know what kind, but it was cute! I can’t wait to get another one- can I come play with yours?”
“Yeah, honey,” I thought, “Good luck getting those fingers reattached…”
February 25, 2012 at 12:13 am
Our African Grey Kito, is the love of our lives…and anyone else he comes in contact with.,….he is so entertaining, our happy little buddy…just turned 19, says over 200 variations of words and phrases and makes us laugh every day…he has traveled with us by car, sailboat and motorhome and is perfectly happy and secure. We had to educate ourselves by reading book after book before and after he owned US and are happier for it.
February 25, 2012 at 7:44 am
I LOVE this article and I don’t own a bird……..and never will because I AM aware of all it takes. I have learned so much from you Patricia about this. This article could be adopted to any pet (well, except fish maybe?) It chaps my ass (am I allowed to swear?) when people give up their pets……..to which I always ask……would you give up your kid? Because if you are going to have a pet, it better mean as much to you as a kid. A while back someone said to me “it’s only a dog (feel free to insert cat, bird, rabbit etc. here) I was horrified and this comment was from a dear friend. With a little education she finally understood…I HOPE!
February 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm
Just as your most unlikely screwball girlfriend amazed you with her maternal instincts, we can’t always presume to know who will fail at birdkeeping. There are days when I fall far short of my own expectations… but nobirdy at my house is packing a suitcase.
When confronted with some of the aforementioned comments, we can (and should!) snicker at the obtuseness – to keep our own sanity – and then begin with basic fact-finding: to determine their level of committment and help them make the best match. Aquaria can get pretty complex when done right, so a stuffed toy or a ceramic bird might actually be a better choice for some. For the rest… well, class is in session. For as long as they need it to be. Just as young mothers benefit from having experienced mothers nearby…
It’s a fun and funny article, Patricia, and I appreciate its humor. I also commiserate with those who’ve seen the backside of birdkeeping and who shuddered to read this. (Lighten up, y’all!)
Few people begin with the mindset, “I’m gonna be the worst birdkeeper ever!” It’s up to *us* to make sure they don’t accidentally wind up there.
February 27, 2012 at 10:27 am
loved the article . let us not forget chewing behaviors as well. are they willing to repair damaged property? i have lost baseboards, cupboards, window ledges, computer cords, tv remotes…uhm, the entire side of a brand new dresser…….etc etc…. BUT i knew what i was getting into and each time i blamed myself for not being attentive enough. some people would just throw the bird in a cage and lock it there forever creating further issues by causing that bird to scream in frustration or pluck. many people ask me why i still have my birds after all the damage they have done and my answer is simply this: they are my children that i have made a commitment to. do you abandon your child when they get in trouble at school, or write all over your walls or break your dishes….NO. do your research folks. these guys are amazing companions for people that take the time to learn about their needs
March 29, 2012 at 2:53 am
gosh I started out laughing at your comments, and yet its so sad that this goes on all the time. my first two birds were begged for months to get them away. I knew nothing about having birds, but I knew what was happening to these beautiful guys was not right. finally i was able to take them home. wow I learned a lot… but it was worth every bite, scream etc… heck if i was treated that way I’d be doing the same. one died within months, had a broken beak which started seizures the other went to his forever home and I’m jealous of the love he now gets! believe it or not I rescued two more, one went to his forever home and the other guy just screams, twerps and shakes like heck (insert other words) if I come too close, but he is starting to trust, will come and sit on the floor by my feet, if i venture to talk to him he is off running but will come back when he thinks (ha) I’m not looking lol I’ll wait for his love….