By Vern and Lori Gieger
Polly Wants a . . .Tortilla!?
Parrots are among the most beautiful and intelligent birds in the world. This explains why they are such a popular pet. Unfortunately, people who are attracted to them are often disappointed, when they get to know the other aspects of what makes a parrot a parrot! They are charming, social, loving, intelligent, and comical; they are also emotional, noisy, easily bored, destructive and messy.
Whoever coined the phrase “bird brain” was not referring to parrots. They are known for being extremely intelligent, with smarts that surpass dogs and cats and sometimes even their owners. A parrot’s intelligence can rival that of a four-year-old child. And have the emotions of a two or three-year-old. They are boisterous, playful, loving and also prone to fits and tantrums. Parrots are brainy. This means they need interaction, attention and toys they can destroy. It also means that a parrot can absolutely not be locked in a cage all day. They need stimulation. It is important to add new toys, change the cage setup every week or two to keep them on their mental toes. (This can be a costly endeavor.)
Yes, parrots can talk. However, human language and cute tunes are not the only things to escape that hooked beak. They love to hear themselves make noise; any noise they scream, at any opportunity. (Especially when you’re on the phone.) Some of the noise can be curbed, but it is part of this bird’s social structure. They love to chew, shred and they otherwise destroy whatever they can get their beaks around; not only that $20 toy you just got them, but also the couch, the TV remote and other items in your house! While we expect this of the toys we give them, it can be a dangerous behavior when your bird finds other things around the house. The possibility of electrocution or poisoning exists. They cannot be left unsupervised.
In the wild, the forest floor is their litter box. The remains of their meals (parrot poop) help to move seeds around their habitat. This is an important link in the delicate “web of life” in the rainforest. However, just because a bird moves indoors, does not mean their manners improve. Food scraps and bird-doo are still going to be left in a parrot’s wake.
Locally it is not uncommon to see these beautiful birds for sale, but remember, without proper legal documentation, it is illegal for you to have them. Before you buy, be sure the “vendor” can give you the correct legal documents. Any bird /wild animal without proper legal documentation is “illegal.” Only buy from a reputable pet store. Not off the street. Most of the birds for sale on the street are not legal, are usually sick, and will most likely die. You may think that by buying the poor little parrot, you are saving it, but in reality, you are supporting an illegal trade, and helping to create a market, encouraging people to catch and sell wildlife. Think of it this way: for every one bird that makes it to the market three have died.
Parrots have become one of the most threatened groups of birds in the world, primarily because of international trade and habitat destruction. An estimated 50,000 wild parrots are caught or plucked from their nests in Mexico each year.
Approximately half of these parrots will die while being transported. Trafficking in exotic birds has been a problem for decades along the border between Mexico and the United States. Trafficking parrots is the second-largest illegal border business next to drug smuggling.