Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scene from a mutli-parrot household

One of the main issues I've run into in my multi-parrot household is jealousy. Our parrots love attention! With 2 of us and 6 of them, there are bound to be times when someone is feeling left out.

Usually, this jealousy is expressed verbally. That's what's happening in this video. Prior to filming, Calypso kept making kissing sounds. Since he is underrepresented on this blog, I wanted to try to capture that. He and Beeps are sharing (different levels of) a stand, Max is on the adjoining stand. Rocky is playing on the kitchen table, uninvolved in the scene. Stella is in the living room in her cage (for her safety) because the stove is on and she has an unhealthy fascination with it. Daphne is in the living room (also for her safety) as I was cooking and couldn't risk anything happening to her because I couldn't supervise adequately. She is also uninvolved in the scene.

It may be hard to distinguish what's going on. I'm asking Calypso for kisses, then Max says "gimme a kiss!" (really quickly). Beeps and Stella also give kisses after I ask another parrot for one. In this case, "kisses" just means making the noise and not any sort of beak action. Off-camera, Max was also trying really hard for me to pick her up.

One of the issues I've run into while volunteering at the rescue is people quickly acquiring too many parrots. Oftentimes, they start with one, then two, then six (that's where we are!), then ten, then twenty. It's amazing how these things can snowball out of control. After all, there's always room for one more, right?

Ultimately, it's the birds that suffer when people get in over their heads. Because there is the same amount of space for more birds, more fights happen -- beaks and toes go missing. One-on-one time with each parrot diminishes, then oftentimes disappears altogether. Cleanliness suffers; quality food and vet care may no longer be affordable.

In my opinion, there is no magic number when suddenly things are out of control. Many households can't adequately care for one bird. Others do fine with many more, especially with smaller birds in an aviary environment that have each other for company and don't want human companionship. Or when birds have formed a bond with each other as well as their humans. (Us? We're not so lucky. I think my parrots think they're people.)

This has been on my mind a lot lately because of one couple in particular that I know through the rescue. In the past three years, they have acquired 8 amazons, a macaw, a conure, and a grey. At least three of their birds who used to be handleable no longer are because they don't get enough attention. They just surrendered an amazon back to the rescue because of aggression issues stemming from packing too many parrots into too small of a space. And now they want to add another macaw. I've tried talking to them, but it does no good because they don't think there's a problem.

So, to get it off of my chest, I just whine about it here...thanks for listening :)


Beloved Parrot said...

I hear you! I'd love to have more parrots, but that would be stealing time, money, and attention from the four birds I've already promised to take care of.

I know several people with way too many birds -- but you can't talk to them about it because they "love" each one. "Love" needs to include space, time, and individual attention; otherwise, you're getting the birds for YOUR satisfaction, not the birds.'

Good post!

Mary said...


It's hard to know your limits and to stick with them. I think many people only discover too late they've taken on more than they can handle and then the birds are rehomed. At least that's my experience with people at the rescue.

As I write regularly about birds I love at the rescue, it's obvious I struggle with limits as well.


Mallow said...

Oh that must be very difficult to witness, but hopefully the parrots that get re-homed will have all the love and tlc that they need.

b.t.w. I'm looking at the Couch 2 5K page you have in your side bar. You may be responsible for the future conversion of a couch (computer) potato!

Stephanie said...

I hear you! It takes alot of work to keep things on an even keel when you have multiple pets. If I wasn't a stay at home worker I doubt we would have more than one dog and one parrot.

Mary said...

Mallow: you have made my day! I love it when people get excited about running! I hope to read updates on your blog!

Stephanie: Yes! I keep telling my husband I need to stay home for the happiness of the parrots...

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary, Really a good topic to discuss. The more I think I understand of a bird's perspective, the more I see we humans don't have a clue! As Beloved Parrot points out, it's OUR satisfaction that is often at the forefront of having and "collecting" these so-intelligent birds. I drew the line with 4, and I have relatively "easy" parrots. If Sam were as keenly intelligent as a Grey, for instance, I would not be able to give him adequate time, or would sacrifice the time I should spend with the others. As it is, I have to stagger all vet visits so that I can afford them good care.

I know some rescue places have very stringent criteria for rehoming 2ndhand parrots. Is that something your rescue place could adopt?

Thanks again for bringing up the topic.

I used to run and loved it so much. But my knees began complaining. Now I walk and use a Nordic Track machine.

Mary said...

Shannon --

IMO, the policies and procedures in place at the rescue where I volunteer are not strict enough. I have unsuccessfully tried to change things. There are at least two volunteers there who have made comments to me like, "I only need to add a severe macaw (or X bird) and then my collection will be complete." It's very sad, and my heart aches for these intelligent creatures.

I love the Nordik Trak! We cross country ski in winter -- what great exercise you get!!!