Si quieres ver este blog en versión española, pincha aquí.

Dec 8, 2012

What is a parrot? AKA Buying a tiger?

Parrots are birds of the order Psittaciformes, which includes about 86 genera and 353 species divided into three families: Cacatuidae, Strigopidae and Psittacidae. They all share some common features such as the curved beak with the upper jaw attached to the skull with reduced mobility, or having two toes forward and two steps back (zygodactyl). They generally live in temperate climates and usually feed on seeds, fruits, berries, roots, leaves ...

But apart from these features that science has identified and meticulously classified, all parrots also share a number of qualities that we should keep in mind when considering purchasing one of these animals as a companion, so we can be sure that they cover all our expectations in a realistic way, such as:

- PARROTS ARE WILD ANIMALS: Have you ever thought about  buying a tiger? A Bengal tiger is a wild animal, even if it was born in captivity in a zoo, maybe its unhappy grandfather was born there too, but it is still a wild animal ... We all know that it is not highly recommended to have a tiger in the room because we understand that it will grow and won´t be able to suppress its wild instincts.

Same thing happens with parrots, even (I hope) handfed parrots. They are not, and certainly don´t feel as, "pet" in the sense in which we would define, for example, a dog. Hopefully, that CAG we´ve seen in the famous breeder installation will be separated just two or three generations away from those other beautiful grays that forage in the selenium-laden red African soil, being genetically identical. As such, their wild instincts are intact when entering your lovely lounge, and parrots, such as tigers, gnaw, bite, destroy ... so better keep it away from your furniture from Ikea, and even more if they aren´t from Ikea.

- PARROTS ARE NOISY: Yes. All parrots have the innate ability to be noisy. These animals communicate in two ways: through a complex body language and through vocalizations. In the wild, flocks of parrots are scattered among the trees and their individuals make calls to communicate and say whether or not is food, water, nesting sites, predators, to ensure that they are not alone (“contact calls” as were defined by Joseph Forshaw decades ago) ... Jungle can be a noisy place, so it is necessary to have a strong enough voice to be heard above the others and in the distance. Naturally your parrot does not distinguish between an Amazon tree and your living room, so their form of communication will remain the same: body language and contact calls. The noise level depends on the species, ranging from the simple “enough, please stop!" to the complex "it´s the parrot or me who is leaving”, depending on the tolerance of each one. Obviously there are species and species, and the volume measured in decibels that can issue a Moluccan cockatoo is not the same as a nymph, but don´t forget also about the pitch (high as Aratinga or low as Ara) and frequency (I personally find it less bearable the constant chatter of parakeets than a macaw´s sporadic screaming, although it is very likely that your neighbors do not feel the same). So do not forget that when we read in magazines or the web that a given species is relatively "quiet", such as is often said of grays or eclectus, it is a mere comparison with those likely to be excessively noisy (male Moluccan cockatoo for example), and never means that these birds are silent at all. It is also true that parrots vocalize for some reason, and they usually do on special occasions (at dawn or dusk, more frequently during periods of hormonal activity, contact calls ...) and do not usually cry for too long unless they are trained to do so (very common). In any case, never forget that crying is not anomalous behavior, but perfectly normal for a healthy parrot living in an anomalous place for them as it is our home. However, if you are a person with reduced tolerance to noise, or if you have family or neighbors to which noises bother them, do not fool yourself thinking that your parrot may be the exception that confirms the rule: discard having one and think about the great company that some fishes in an aquarium can make ... there are really colorful ones. To get an idea of ​​the possible noise, click on this link: ... and if you want to get an idea of ​​how beautiful some aquariums can be click this one.

- PARROTS ARE MESSY EATERS: In the wild, parrots love to perch tree branches and nibble on fruits and leaves. They eat a little and throw the rest, and thereby help the reforestation of the forest through the seeds they scatter everywhere. Thus, close to the beautiful and enormous cage where your parrot lives in, do not forget to have a vacuum or broom, and you better not have carpets or valuables items in the vicinity, as leftovers (dry and wet) are launched far ahead and stick like glue. Nevertheless, being true that all parrots throw their food at a great distance, lorikeets deserves a special category... whose liquid faeces (due to their special diet) are also projected to more than one meter from the cage, decorating walls and floors. Of course, the other parrots also poop, but hopefully it will fall on the papers of the bottom of the cage that should be changed daily.

- PARROTS REQUIRE A SPECIFIC DIET: Dogs may be fed exclusively with any commercial food specifically elaborated for them. Parrots can not. There are different opinions in this regard, but everybody agrees that, in addition to a specific commercial quality food for parrots, or even in substitution of it, we should provide them with daily vegetables and, to a lesser extent, fruits, sprouted legumes, seed mixtures ... definitely a varied diet rich in vitamin A and other minerals such as calcium and selenium, depending on the species. If anyone still thinks that parrots can be fed on sunflower seeds base, or exclusively with commercial food, is definitely wrong. In addition, each species requires a specific diet that is our responsibility to provide them, for which it takes time to find the information needed to satisfy and time to prepare.

- PARROTS ARE SOCIAL ANIMALS AND DEMAND QUALITY TIME: A key factor that differentiates parrots from other animals, it is that they are prey instead of predators. This circumstance is capital therefore to ensure their own survival as a species, parrots have resorted to living in flocks more or less numerous, being markedly gregarious animals. In other words, is not simply that they appreciate living accompanied, it is just that this fact is a necessity for their survival in the wild, as a lonely parrot is a dead parrot (field studies developed in Mexico for several years by Harvard University biologist, Dr. Michael Schindlinger, while studying the behavior of Amazon parrots, report that only rarely lonely parrots were found). Because of this, it is imperative that we devote them as much time as possible on a daily basis and provide them the company they require. Furthermore, because of their high intelligence (as evidenced by the long-lived in many cases they can become, which proves their ability to adapt, survive and evolve) parrots demand quality company, ie a specific commitment to them. Otherwise, they will show their stress through various uncontrolled behaviors such as screaming, self-mutilation (click on this link for an example of feather plucking), aggressiveness, etc.. So if your idea was to have an animal that did not require too much time on your part, you should definitely look away.

- PARROTS NEED SPECIALIZING VETERINARY CARE: Parrots have come into our homes just 25 years ago, and so the whole science around them is just beginning and many of the conclusions drawn from them are simply anecdotal. Because of this, it is not uncommon to encounter veterinarians who are absolutely unaware of the peculiarities of these animals, whether dietary, improper cutting of their feathers, etc. so it is imperative to visit a veterinarian specializing in parrots really, not forgetting that the very nature of "prey" mentioned earlier results in a parrot that, when ill or feeling bad, tends to hide that fact trying to go unnoticed by predators, which means that on many occasions, quality health care (specialist) can mean the difference between life and death.

- PARROTS BITE: Yep, they do bite. Parrots are genetically programmed to fend off predators by two different mechanisms: fly away or bite. Logically, in the wild they will always prefer, if possible, the flight, but locked in our homes, where they usually are cut to prevent the flight, the only defense left is biting. It should be noted, moreover, that this behavior is usually reinforced by humans so it will be repeated more frequently. As for damages that they may get to do, logically it is influenced by its beak size and strength of the animal, but of course they are all capable of making us bleed (often more the soul than the hand) and many of them could even fracture a finger (not surprisingly their beaks and jaws are ready to develop tremendous pressure to easily open nuts like walnuts).

- PARROTS ARE EXPENSIVE: Not only parrots, but everything necessary for their proper maintenance: spacious cages, playgrounds, toys, and carriers, food, veterinary care ...

Disappointed? Think you'd be a lot more if you would discover all these qualities intrinsic to the parrots after buying one ... Do not feel bad about it, parrots are animals suitable for very few people ... And think this would be grossly unfair for an animal who, simply by behaving as it is genetically programmed, is forced to pass from hand to hand and in an environment that is completely foreign to it ...

If, on the other hand, all these qualities cover your expectations about what parrots actually are, welcome to this wonderful world of feathers and noise.

No comments:

Post a Comment