Getting a New Parrot?

Posted by Bird Tricks on

You’ve made a list of all of the qualities you want in a parrot. You’ve gone on line and carefully researched the different species that fit your criteria.  You’ve discussed the possibilities with the other members of the house. You’ve even checked out the costs of an appropriate cage and it’s accessories.  You’ve decided, and you’re going to get the perfect parrot to fit your lifestyle!!  But from where? There are really three possibilities: re-homing, breeder or pet store.


I’m a little biased in my opinions about this one: I think that there are so many birds living in shelters that the obvious choice is to give a home to one that is needy.

There are plenty of parrots out there who were given up during our economic downturn.  Many people lost their jobs and homes and had to surrender their parrots to shelters.  Many of them were not given up because of undesirable behaviors.  The shelters are overrun and need homes for their birds.   Seriously consider this as your source.


A reputable, ethical breeder is my second choice on where to purchase a parrot.  Aside from having husbandry skills that retailers typically don’t possess, they usually charge less.

I would look for a small breeder, one that specializes in a single, or just a few, species of parrot.  The best socialized birds will come from an active home that might include children and other pets.  The breeder pairs (parents) should be on very healthy diets to produce good offspring and should be in clean, well kept environments.  Breeders should not smoke around their birds.

You will want your parrot to have been hand fed and well handled. Some breeders might teach the step up and harness train your parrot for you before bring it home. Your parrot should always be fully weaned before the breeder will even allow you to take it, and if that is not the case, beware.

I strongly believe that a baby should be fledged and allowed to fly prior to the clip he might receive just before he leaves with you.  I think this is essential to the good mental health of any parrot.  This is a subject you will want discuss with the breeder, along with whether to clip the baby at all.

A good breeder will have extensive knowledge on the species you are interested in and will make himself available for advice after you’ve taken your parrot home.

Before you buy, check past references, which any reputable breeder will offer willingly.  Make sure you get a written health guarantee, and are given time to have an avian vet check your new parrot’s health before you are locked into the sale.

Trust your instincts when you meet the breeder and make your choices based on what you see and feel.  There are unethical breeders out there who, for instance, use related breeding pairs that might impact the future health of your new parrot,  Never purchase from a puppy mill type breeder.  Your chances of bringing home a healthy, socialized parrot are dubious at best.

Pet Stores:

I find that pet stores fall into one of two categories:  good and really bad.  The good pet store is one where the birds environment is kept clean and food and water is fresh.  They will be well socialized because of interaction with the store employees, who will not have them placed in an area of the store that is out of sight where a child or adult might cause them harm or torment them.

I, personally, do not like it when a pet store leaves the birds in enclosures that allow people to pick them up as they please.  I don’t believe that this is anything but stressful for the bird.  A conscientious owner will protect them from potentially harmful interactions with the customers, and their germs.

The store I use for my supplies keeps them in a closed bird room, with supervised visits, or on perches behind the counter.  The large parrots are kept one to a cage (with toys), the smaller birds, no more than three to a cage.

A good pet store will have a staff that is hands-on with the birds, knowledgeable about the species and its needs, and will risk a sale by saying: “These birds can get pretty loud. Can you handle that?”

A really bad pet store will wrestle your new bird out of its filthy, overcrowded cage into a box and say:  “$850 please.”  You might say that this is a rescue.  True, but you might also be getting a sickly bird, or one with abuse issues.

Please never, ever patronize bad pet stores, no matter how hard it is to watch the animals suffering.  The only way to stop them is to put them out of business, and the only way to do that is to NOT give them your money, and spread the word.  As soon as you have “rescued” this one bird, another will simply take its place.

Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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  • I’m sorry to break it to you, but I don’t think that most people actually “made a list of all of the qualities you want in a parrot… gone on line and carefully researched the different species that fit your criteria… discussed the possibilities with the other members of the house.”

    If people did all the proper research before buying, there would be less abused and abandoned birds and there would be fewer people buying products from birdtricks to solve problems but instead would buy products to enrich their relationship with the bird. I could be wrong. Would be nice.

    Mike on
  • Hi Mike,
    Unfortunately, you are right. Most people DO NOT do the necessary species research before buying. This is why I bring it up often in my posts. While any species, researched or not, can learn to scream and bite, it is a wise person that will research how to take care of a parrot in general before buying one. And what do you know? Here’s a website that can teach you all of these things!
    I wish more people shared your views.

    Patty on
  • Veronica,
    They’re already packing their suitcases.

    Patty on
  • Patty, that is sure a clear picture. I may be laughing, but I’m serious too! I can see Mom & Dad sneaking outside at night to have some chocolate cake, or skulking around to a non-bird area in order to enjoy their guacamole snax! For us, chocolate is dispensible (a little hard on Mom but she can deal with it). Avocado is not a do-or-die food for us either, but it’s central enough that I will have to figure this out for both human & parrot benefit.

    Hey, how about if I “CAGE” the avocado tree? hmm, that won’t help if they see us eating the fruit. Setting a bad example for the babies is… well, bad.

    Well, more thinking to do. With me, it’s slow but it’s steady and eventually I get there! LOL! this is a long-term project, probably two years until the house and environs are ready for the critters (us included).

    To Patty’s fids: Dear birds, once our avian establishment is settled, you are most humbly invited to come visit and stay at your leisure, and please do bring Patty along! :-D

    veronica on
  • Dear Patty,

    Gee, that was no help at all! :D You’re so right, it’s indeed an enormous undertaking… just the sheer number of different opinions on which woods/substances/food plants/gasses, etc., are toxic is sort of boggling.

    I wrote an Excel file to compare them; it won’t be a hardship to eliminate virtually everything that experts agree is no good for the birdies, but “no avocados” is giving me pause. The greenhouse/planters are incorporated into many sections of the house, and will grow our food plants. Would parrots eat avocados off that one tree, do you think? :-/ Seems like they wouldn’t, but… hmm.

    about breeding them… several sources tell me they are easy breeders if given the right environment, and I would want them to have as ‘natural’ a life as possible… but it will certainly require a bundle more thought & planning, not to mention little things like food, water, cleaning, hand feeding, socializing, training the babies… also am unwilling to clip their wings, but more “pros & cons” there, too… hoo daddy. More Reading!!

    Yup! misspoke when I said netting — their outdoor aviary would be much like a wrap-around 2-storey conservatory of non-toxic dark caging wire, built to protect against raptors and diggers (and the sun — gets mighty hot out where we’ll be, so they’ll need their shaded perch areas and water features, as well as easy access back to their inside jungle).

    [ I don’t think I’ll ever forget a video I saw somewhere, years ago: a little flock of green parrots in New Zealand spent a couple hours COMPLETELY and JOYFULLY taking apart a CAR. I mean, when they were done, the tires were flat (they’d conceived this great game of letting the air out) and there wasn’t a piece of rubber or plastic left on the car, inside or out!! WOW! My husband and I were alternately jaw-dropped goggling, and cheering for them… I should have known we were ‘susceptible’ right there… :D ]

    hey, you have been so kind to (grrr) encourage me, Patty! ;) I’ll just keep reading and planning, so that if I can’t convince myself not to take on these living treasures, then at least we’ll be as prepared as possible.

    I’d better move along and stop monopolizing your blog, but before I do:

    thanks SO much again for your kindness! Bless you and all your critters! :)

    veronica on

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