Specializing in Lovebirds
by Daniel A. Pratt
The relationship between humans and parrots goes back thousands of years. Their colourful plumage, high degree of intelligence, sociable nature, and (in some species) ability to articulate human speech has always made them desirable companions. However, one doesn’t have to search the internet very far to find many people and organizations that express concerns or outright oppose the suitability of parrots as pets. These concerns mostly centre on the ability of people to provide for the bird’s physical and psychological needs, the threat to wild parrot populations by illegal harvesting, and the exceptionally long lifespan of some species. These are all legitimate concerns but they can be addressed though educating oneself to gain an understanding about the needs these unique animals and the importance of established captive breeding programs.
First and foremost it needs be understood that a parrot is a companion, not a decoration or a novelty; they are highly intelligent and have complex psychologies. Think of them more like a dog or cat, if fact their need for social interaction exceeds a cat’s and is quite comparable to that of a dog. When buying a parrot, you are committing to providing them with interaction and affection on a daily basis; and that could be a lot of days, parrots can live anywhere from ten to eighty years depending on the species, so it is a long-term commitment. In the cases of longer lived species, arrangements must be made for the chance that a bird may outlive its owner.
Every year thousands of parrots are taken from the wild and shipped into the illegal pet trade, unfortunately many die en route in deplorable conditions, not only is this inhumane but many wild populations are already threatened. This is why captive breeding programs are so important, not only do they fill the need for companion birds without wild harvest, but they also propagate species that are endangered and may otherwise go extinct. Reputable breeders close-band their birds with rings that can only be purchased by those who are registered with an established aviculture organization, this banding can only be done when the birds are still chicks. So when you buy a close-banded bird you are assured that it was captive bred by a registered aviary.
The concerns about parrot ownership are very real. But when committed, educated breeders and owners work together, they can become true companions, providing years of affection, and even some great entertainment.