Their beautiful colours and exotic good looks have made parrots a popular pet throughout history. Unfortunately many parrots are abandoned or put up for adoption by their owners every year, leading many to parrot rehab.

What is parrot rehab?

Parrot rehabilitation centres can be found all around the world. They care for parrots that have been abandoned or given up by their owners. They also take in parrots deemed dangerous or unsuited to domestic life. The best rehab centres and sanctuaries attempt to give parrots an environment similar to their natural habitat. That means room to fly around, plenty of perches, and other birds for company.

There are close to 400 species of parrot, all native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of the globe. Of the hundreds of species, only 4 do not qualify for protection under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Illegal bird trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to harm the population of wild parrots world wide as they are forced into captivity and into the homes of humans who often get more than they bargained for. 

Why are so many parrots abandoned?

Many people who choose parrots as pets, don’t understand that parrots are wild birds. Domestication takes hundreds of years! Unlike dogs and cats, parrots are only a few generations, at most, away from life in the wild. They are loud and messy and not suited to life in a cage. Some species of parrots fly up to 30 miles in the wild every day! Natural parrot behaviour is not exactly simpatico with natural human behaviour. Humans often can’t handle the domestic dispute, and the parrot ends up in rehab.

Parrots are loud

One of the reasons parrots have become such popular pets is their uncanny ability to mimic the human voice. But besides the occasional, “Polly Want A Cracker”, parrots are also prone to emitting ear-splitting shrieks.

In the wild, parrots rely on vocalization to attract mates, alert others of danger, and generally communicate with their flock. Macaws, Cockatoos and Amazons are among the loudest species of parrots. Their calls that can be heard for miles. Does anyone really want that in their home? Loud parrots end up in rehab.

Parrots are complex

Parrots are among the most intelligent birds on the planet. They have complex social systems and even speak in regional accents. A flock of African Grey parrots contains 20 – 30 birds. They live together socially and work together for survival. In captivity, parrots require hours of social activity with humans and other birds in order to avoid anxiety and behavioural disorders.

Parrots have shown the capacity to carry emotional baggage. Just like a rescue dog that has been abused, parrots appear to remember stressful events. Their response to the stress can affect them, and their relationships with humans, for the rest of their lives. A bird will show signs of stress by plucking out its own feathers, crying in distress, or biting and attacking humans. None of this behaviour is ideal for a pet, and again, the parrot ends up in rehab.

Petting = Sex

Parrots aren’t like dogs or cats who enjoy a good pet from just about anyone. For parrots, touching, preening and cuddling is reserved for mates only. For some types of parrots, touching anywhere other than the head and neck area could result in sexual stimulation. Yep, that’s awkward.

If they’re not into it, a parrot could respond with aggression.

On the other hand, the parrot might consider a human as its mate. You try telling a parrot, “it’s not you, it’s me”. A whole slew of other problems can arise from this messy break up, often leading the parrot to, you guessed it, rehab.

Parrots are monogamous

Many parrots choose a mate and form a tight bond, often for life. For lack of a better choice, a parrot may choose a human as its mate.  Be warned that a parrot is a jealous and possessive lover. In an attempt to defend its mate, a parrot may become aggressive to other humans including family members.

When forced to choose between a parrot and a child, most humans choose the child. And the parrot ends up in rehab.

Parrots live a very long time

On average, a parrot’s lifespan is between 60 and 80 years. So adopting a parrot is a bit like adopting a child. A child that never moves out or matures past the age of three. Needless to say, many parrots outlive their owners and eventually end up, in rehab.

So don’t get a parrot as a pet…

Parrots are amazing and beautiful, but also complex and demanding. For everyone’s sake, it’s better to leave these birds where they belong, in the wild.

Many sanctuaries and rehab centres can’t keep up with the number of parrots abandoned every year. If you love parrots, you might consider donating to or volunteering at a parrot rehab near you.