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Question about parrot care while away

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Question about parrot care while away

Postby baldeagle » Sat Jun 22, 2019 1:32 pm

Hi,

I'm currently researching parrot care - reading the Parrot Wizard Book among several others and I plan to visit some local rescues soon.

I have a question about the feasibility of owning a parrot given my situation and thought I'd post on here to get people's opinions.

I live alone and work mostly from home except for typically a day and a half a week when I travel a distance (from North to South UK) to work in an office.

I have a couple of dogs and a brilliant dog sitter who takes them for 1-2 days a week. However, I don't think the same situation would work with a parrot - and I'm wondering if there would be a solution to this.

For instance, if I had a pet sitter drop in a few times during the day that I"m away to change water bowls and feed the parrot? My concern is also that the parrot would be likely cage bound for a single day, and wouldn't be getting the interaction and training from me, and this would be a weekly thing.

Thanks,
BE :macaw:
baldeagle
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby Michael » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:47 pm

If the parrot is raised with these types of changes and gradually accustomed to such a schedule, I think it is fine. However, to take a spoiled bird where the owner worked from home and then suddenly started to travel would be a problem. I've raised by birds with as much flexibility in their lives as possible ranging from coming on trips with me to being left at home while I travel. They've learned to do well in any case.
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby Pajarita » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:53 am

I don't agree with Michael on this one. He is a trainer and believes that training can accomplish anything while I am a bird lover who wants her birds to be happy above all else. One can get any animal used to almost anything but that doesn't mean that it's a good life for it. Parrots do a million times better if they are kept at a strict routine (and that means every single day), with constant company (and that means 24/7/365) and with lots and lots of hours off out-of-cage and one-on-one time because that is what they evolved to have and what they need in order to be happy. The thing is that these questions always come down to one single issue: whose happiness is more important? Yours or the bird's?
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby baldeagle » Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:40 am

Thanks for the responses. My concern would be primarily the animal - I would want it to have the best conditions possible given that it's already so far removed from its ideal habitat. And I've looked at various ways I could do this - such as netting the back yard so that we could do outdoor flight training, training the parrot to wear a harness so that we could go out daily.

Pajarita: I think being away from the bird a whole day a week most weeks is probably a lot to ask of it. But it seems like you're also saying that anytime away would be unacceptable. If so, I wonder how feasible this would be for most people?
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby Pajarita » Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:16 am

You hit the nail right on the head! The sad truth is that a normal human lifestyle is not good for any parrot and that they all suffer greatly in captivity. People want to believe that their beloved bird is happy with them but it's nothing but wishful thinking because it's a fact that undomesticated species need to live the life they evolved to have to be happy and, to a parrot, that means living surrounded from birth to death of a large extended family and a life-long mate in their natural environment - it certainly does not mean living alone in a cage with a giant alien in an alien environment, eating an unnatural diet and being left alone for hours and hours and hours every day.

Now, it is also a sad truth that most people that get a parrot have completely unrealistic expectations and that they end up rehoming the poor animal once they realize they are not going to get what they wanted out of the animal so there are lots and lots of birds out there in dire need of a good home so adopting an adult bird is a VERY good deed because you are part of the solution and not part of the problem! Ergo, if you were to adopt a pair of birds (so they could bond and keep each other company when you are not home) and did not expect to get arm candy but to give two birds a good home, you could have your cake and eat it too. Because, for example, a pair of female amazons would do very well on their own for a day or two as long as they were getting the right care (strict :irn: solar schedule, the right diet, etc), had a very large cage or a room of their own and somebody (it would have the be the same person all the time) came over to check on them and feed/water them twice a day. You could also get cockatiels but I have the feeling you want a companion parrot and not an aviary one - and the reason I mention amazons is because amazons love all other amazons so it's fairly easy to make them bond to each other, they are much more independent than other species of companion parrots (like any cockatoo, african gray, senegal, etc) and the females, when kept right, are lovely birds, affectionate, calm and not aggressive at all.
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby baldeagle » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:36 pm

I really like the idea of adopting two female Amazon parrots - I've seen several videos of pairs of amazons chattering and singing together and they seem to have a great time with each other.

When I look at various sites such as pets4homes in the UK or local rescues there seem to be far more male (or unsexed) Amazon parrots up for sale/adoption. I"m assuming this is because they have more aggression/behavioral issues?

I had aspirations of training a bird for free flight eventually, by going through the training/coaching programs by the likes of liberty wings or bird tricks. I assume this would be challenging/impossible with a bonded pair of parrots?

I know that free flight is contentious and there are many risks, not least by naive owners who fail to do the required training and wonder why their bird flies away never to be seen again, or lands high in a tree and is too afraid to fly down. But I struggle to get my head around the idea of a bird that could/should be capable of flying freely over large distances being couped up in a house for its entire life.
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby Pajarita » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:36 am

Yes, the lack of flight for miles and miles in open sky is one of the saddest things about keeping parrots (or any other type of bird except for fowl or ground birds) in captivity. But I am sorry to say that free-flight is NOT a good option. I know that people say they are doing it with their bird and that it's fine but one reads about trained birds getting lost all the time - and I am not talking about naive owners, either, I am talking about professional trainers that use their birds for shows and train every single day! And them flying away is not the only danger, either. Free flying birds have been attacked by predators, other birds, crashed against cars, etc. A pet parrot is a bird that doesn't have a flock or survival skills, is not in its natural habitat and which is unmated (very important detail that any racing pigeon enthusiast would be more than willing to explain -they keep the mate of the bird they are flying to ensure the bird will do anything in its power to come back to it while an adult bird that has no mate would not only NOT have this desire but will also have the desire to go looking for a mate). The good thing about amazons is that they are the ultimate perch potatoes! It's not that they cannot or will not fly, it's that they are very happy simply perching for hours and hours and, if they happen to have a beloved companion, they seem to feel they have everything they will ever need.

I have two pairs of amazons, one is a male/female pair of a wild caught, older (36 or 37) female and a younger (unaged but I think he might be in his young teens) abused male (was very aggressive but he no longer is). The other pair are two old females which love one another as a pair (homosexual which is not uncommon in pet birds as there is no penetration in their sexual act). Mami Zon (calculated to be over 50) is an old wild-caught that had a bad life before but is now very happy, she sings all the time (loves all music but prefers tango and country music), talks and is the easiest and sweetest thing (never bites, is not overly destructive, has no issues with anybody, people, dogs, cats or birds! Naida is a bit younger (36) and, although she is not a big talker, she gets her point accross very well and is also sweet-tempered and easy-going (and the most lady-like bird I have, she steps up with the utmost gentleness, preens you very, very softly and even talks almost in a whisper with the sweetest voice). They are GREAT eaters and really no trouble at all!

The thing about male amazons (and all amazons, actually) is that they are VERY sensitive to the light schedule and diet and, as most people keep them at a human light schedule and feeds them too much protein, the poor birds end up overly hormonal which, in a male amazon, means aggression. These are large, strong, powerful birds and they know it so, when they are unhappy, the owners know it, too.
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby GreenWing » Wed Jun 26, 2019 1:40 pm

baldeagle wrote:Hi,

I'm currently researching parrot care - reading the Parrot Wizard Book among several others and I plan to visit some local rescues soon.

I have a question about the feasibility of owning a parrot given my situation and thought I'd post on here to get people's opinions.

I live alone and work mostly from home except for typically a day and a half a week when I travel a distance (from North to South UK) to work in an office.

I have a couple of dogs and a brilliant dog sitter who takes them for 1-2 days a week. However, I don't think the same situation would work with a parrot - and I'm wondering if there would be a solution to this.

For instance, if I had a pet sitter drop in a few times during the day that I"m away to change water bowls and feed the parrot? My concern is also that the parrot would be likely cage bound for a single day, and wouldn't be getting the interaction and training from me, and this would be a weekly thing.

Thanks,
BE :macaw:



My two cents is a little different. My spouse and I work (he from home sometimes), I am around three days a week, and it is not a problem for Chance. The reason why it isn't is because "Grandma" and other family members come around and she is used to this; she knows there are other flock members and this socialization is actually good for her. Yes, Greys like the status quo with as little changes as possible but this culture has been on-going for years and she is a happy bird. But the BIGGEST to note with these daily activities is that she is NOT in a cage. When I am at work, Chance is not caged and she is free on her play orb and is able to fly to her cage whenever she wants. Now, Chance has earned this trust and she really doesn't want to be away from her "area," being her play orb and cage. She is enclosed in this room and there isn't anything in the room that can hurt her.

Chance usually sees me as her mate but sometimes she prefers my spouse. It really varies. When I leave for work she tells me, "Be right back!" and I tell her I will be right back. This is an intelligent animal and she isn't just parroting when she says be right back. She used to say "No bye!" but doesn't any longer, now she says, "Ciao! Be right back! I love you!" The point I am trying to make is that when you and your bird have TRUST, that is most important. Chance doesn't pluck and Greys are notorious for plucking and neuroticism because they are so sensitive and intelligent and therefore are vulnerable to psychological issues. Chance is not in isolation, and she knows her "mate" will be back, and she knows she has other flock members around. She also has a large window and plenty of toys.

Nothing is more ideal than the natural environment for the bird. Unfortunately these parrots are being exploited and end up in our homes. That you want an older bird is so awesome and so compassionate. If you can find a parrot that has been raised in a similar environment that suits your work schedule I think it can be doable. That being said you want to introduce other members of a flock around to keep the bird company while you are away. Keep in mind that a bird could prefer another flock member over you, unless you get a polyamorous bird, like an Ekkie. A bird sitter isn't a terrible idea, and it's only for 1-2 days a week, but I would recommend having a sitter that is very knowledgable about parrots.

I understand my board mates disagree with me, but I do have a happy parrot. She could eat better with gloop but I'm not doing a bad job at all. All I'm saying is it can definitely work. Keep looking into this more.
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby baldeagle » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:39 pm

Hi Greenwing,

I think it could work out - I have several family members nearby and my dog sitter is actually somewhat experienced - she has an aviary with finches and canaries, and some experience with larger parrots.

As you suggest, I think I need to keep researching and avoid making any snap decisions. However, when I look at local bird classifieds I often see adverts where it looks like a desperate intervention is needed. For instance, recently I saw an advert for a B&G macaw that was couped in a small cage and the owner was complaining that it was screaming all day and that it rarely left its cage due to fears it might bite their children. It completely breaks my heart, and I did inquire about taking it on, without knowing if I could actually help the bird or not.

I also see a current advert for two female 7 month old amazons which are currently together but will likely get split up. The current owner says they are not tame at all and would like to swap them for tame birds - surely they become tame through handling/training/good diet etc.
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Re: Question about parrot care while away

Postby Pajarita » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:39 am

If the 7 month old amazons were hand-fed, it will be real easy to get them back to a 'people-friendly' status because they are just juveniles. If they were parent-raised, you can tame them (again, their age works in your favor) but they will never bond deeply to you because they never imprinted to humans. Mind you, this doesn't mean they cannot learn to trust you and even love you, it just means they will not have a deep bond and that you will able to handle them but not to do anything you want with them.
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