by Dr. Lora Mengle
Did you know that parrots are the third most popular pet in the United States with populations estimated to hit 100 million birds by 2020?
Did you also know that approximately 85% of birds purchased are rehomed or abandoned within the first one to two years of ownership? Bird ownership comes with its own unique set of challenges. Most birds have the intelligence of a 3-year-old toddler. As such, they need lots of mental stimulation and environmental enrichment. If these needs are not met, birds can resort to destructive behavior such as plucking themselves bald and self-mutilation (chewing into their own skin and muscle).
Birds are very social creatures by nature and when their needs are not met, they may resort to undesirable behaviors such as screaming, biting, and feather plucking to get your attention. Pet birds can also be very noisy companions.
An adult male macaw cry can be heard for upwards of 5 miles and may not be the best pet for an apartment or small living space. Larger birds such as macaws and cockatoos can live up to 50-60 years and may outlive their owners, compared to small birds which may only live 8-15 years.
Some birds such as lorikeets and toucans require specialized diets. A lot of people will purchase pet birds without realizing the commitment that they are getting themselves into. Birds can make excellent loving companions, but you need to do your homework before choosing which bird is right for you.
Please consider adopting a loving bird companion in need rather than purchasing one. Talk to your veterinarian or local rescue about which bird may be a good fit for you and your family.