Friday, August 25, 2017


If you have parrots in your home,  you have probably had guests who ask about your birds, "Are they always this loud?"   Ahhhh.   You can spot a parrot owner from a non-parrot owner a mile away. 😉  I never ask that question when I visit homes of fellow parrot owners.   In my humble opinion, the cacophony is just an expected bonus. But I understand.  I do.

I was standing in the kitchen this morning preparing breakfast for my flock and I found myself smiling, really, just grinning, as I worked.  I'd only brought one macaw out to keep me company while I washed bowls, refilled fresh water and prepped food, and the rest of my birds were doing their morning vocalizations before their food hit their cages.   It was amazing...and extremely loud.

My Yellow Nape went through his entire repertoire of aria arpeggios, children's songs, and chatty repartee, over and over and over again. (I have tried to record him but he is at his best when it's just the birds in the bird room. If I walk in and want  him to do an encore, he looks at me as if I'm truly intruding on a very private performance. Crickets. )

My other macaws were squawking at the tops of their lungs, and actually, I think my DYH was the only relatively calm one in the bunch...this time.

The B&G with me in the kitchen spent her time barking, squawking, and jiving to the noises of her flock. The sound was deafening.  It. Was. Wonderful.
And then my husband came into the kitchen.    He recently got a new pair of hearing aids, looked at me in slack-jawed amazement, uttered, "I need to turn the volume down on my ears!" turned on his heels, and he was gone, momentarily. Funny...the birds have been this noisy for umpteen years and now he hears them in their full glory.   Don't get me wrong: Robert loves the birds and everything they bring to our family, but there was a "volume reality check" when he traded the old pair of aids out for these high-tech new ones.

There are lessons here that we all need to be cognizant of:

1. If you are considering getting a parrot as a pet, know that they will be noisy, very noisy.  Not all of the time, but when they are...they make up for any quiet/down time.

2. Size does not matter when it comes to parrots' decibel level production.   Smaller birds can make incredibly piercing sounds. Cockatoos can vocalize loud enough to split your ear drums.  And ANY bird, near your ear, can wreak havoc and damage your hearing.

3. Don't yawn near your birds while they are loudly vocalizing.  I am not a doctor (and I don't play one on tv), and I don't know the medical reasons for this, but it seems that the ear canal changes and makes the sounds that are close very piercing and painful, especially bird squawks. When my macaws have "yelled" near my ears and I've been in the middle of a yawn, those were memorable occasions... and not in a good way.

4. Be courteous and cognizant of your visiting family and guests.   Not everyone loves parrots like we do. (SHOCK!) I have a close friend who is very sensitive to loud noises and she's really not a fan of parrots, but she is a good friend, has auditory issues, and she brings ear plugs with her when she visits.  When we get together here, we go to a part of the house away from the birds or, if it's a nice day, the birds are outside in their flights.

Consider these three options when you have visitors who may not be comfortable with your birds:

- Don't relegate your birds to a less than adequate location in your home (YOUR BIRDS are your family members, too!) , but consider  moving them temporarily to another room, with a closed door. (Think lighting, proper heat,  proper cage, enrichment, water/food, etc. in that room.) Or...
-Entertain your friends away from the place where your birds are  normally located.
-Have ear plugs available for visitors.  They work, and it's a considerate, inexpensive, and viable option.

I wish that I had a recording to share in this blog of my birds' vocalizations, but I don't. if you have your own flock, take a moment when your birds get insanely noisy, stand amongst them, and revel in their joyous jungle sounds. It's what they do and just one of the reasons we love them so much.

And THAT is why they call us "those crazy parrot people."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


A good friend shared the following excellent article by Dr. Karen Becker with me a few days ago.   I highly recommend that you read it:

One of my upcoming  Get Creative2 Avian Workshops,"Step Up to Parrothood" at,  addresses just this - some of the vital thought processes that must go into getting a parrot, large OR small, as a pet.  It cannot be overstated the importance of having basic avian knowledge under your belt before embarking on this wonderful adventure of avian companionship.

After giving this article and the contents of the "Step Up to Parrothood" workshop a great deal of thought, it solidified my belief that bringing a parrot into your home involves a great deal more mental gymnastics. It's not enough to just consider the beginning processes of doing everything as best we can to ensure long-lasting good mental and physical health.  We have to look way down the road.  Let me explain.

My flock consists of five large parrots and two lovebirds.   Over the years I have been oh, so tempted to bring another bird (or birds!)  into our home to amplify the existing cacophony.  Who can resist?  With volunteering in the parrot rescue business for many years, there have been so many birds that  have tugged at my heart strings.  And I have passed on some of the most incredible birds I've ever met.  It has been challenging, but I have forced my heart to step aside for some sound reason and logic. 

Enough is enough.   I know what my limits are with the flock numbers.  I know the space that I have available.  I know the amount of time that I have to give to them.  I know that with the size of my flock being static, everyone is going to get consistent attention, love, enrichment, nutrition, etc. I know what I can physically do for them.  I know where "parrots" fit into the monthly budget (and believe me, that's a huge chunk of change!). I remain as passionate about my birds as I did 27 years ago when we brought our first (and now oldest) Amazon into our home.   

That's just me.   I have a friend who has over twenty parrots in her home and she treats each one as if it's an only child. They are all social and spoiled rotten.   She works 40+ hours a week solely to support her parrot habit;  to make sure they have the best food, toys, cages, everything.  She constantly reads of new avian research, always looking to make her flock's lives better.  That's her. And I applaud her for it.   She lives for her birds...and has created a life-style that accommodates that dedication.  She knows her own personal limits and handles them well.

My commitment to my birds is for as long as I am capable of giving all of them 100% of what they need.    I will soon be entering what our society considers "old age."  It is necessary for me to say, "Enough is enough," because I realize that, as I get older, caring for my animals, furred and feathered, will become more challenging.  To bring more birds into our home would be foolish and unfair at this juncture in our lives, for so many reasons.  And so this will remain a five big bird, two small bird home until I can no longer do, not just a good job, but a great job of caring for all of them. And when the time comes when I cannot be that "best" caretaker for my flock, I will meticulously make appropriate arrangements for them to move on ... to the next phases of their lives, as we will in our own old age.

Enough is enough. There are people who desperately love parrots.  They start out with one bird with good intentions, it turns to two, and then it becomes a newspaper headline of hoarding.    Or, parrot owners become too old, mentally or physically disabled to tend their birds. Too many, too hard. Again,  dire situations where many times rescue is necessary.  Some people are totally capable of bringing more birds into their care, some are not; and we all need to know when to say, "No, that's it for me." 

Knowing when to stop with what you have and do the best you can do until you are unable to continue necessitates a reality check.  As parrot owners and considering their longevity, we owe the birds in our care that commitment. Yes, it's wonderful and fun when birds are young, when we are young...but the clock ticks, and making good avian decisions at the right times in our lives, and in their lives, is probably one of the wisest steps we can take as we walk this wonderful feathered journey.