As a kid I remember being out once with 1 of my older brothers and I saw this big bird, a blue and yellow parrot which I now know is a Blue and Gold Macaw. I was in awe and in love with this amazing animal.
Thus my love affair with these magnificent birds begun. I visited the library, started reading about parrots and was amazed by how many there were. I learnt a lot of their habitat and how in some cases it was being demolished by humans. I started to learn of the pet bird trade, good and bad sides of it. I vowed that 1 day I would own a parrot!
The idea of a macaw was great, but they could be noisy and I liked my neighbours! I learnt how smart these birds are, needing proper stimulation and enrichment in their lives.
Your average parrot it is like having a permanent 2 year old in the house, I tend to agree with this! Some species are easier than others, Cockatoos are majestic looking and if hand raised are cuddle sponges, soaking up as much attention as possible. I also learnt such birds often end up being sold on or going into rescues. Once the novelty wears off the bird spent most of their time caged against human contact they had grown to love.
To this day the U2 or Umbrella Cockatoo is one of my favourites, would I own 1, oh yeah I would love to! But again, Cockatoo have very loud voices, designed to be heard miles away in their natural habitat so it would not be fair on the neighbours!
I knew it would not be a good move; having seen the damage done to such birds through mismanagement by humans. Taking 1 on is a full time job with a very highly strung bird.
I had budgies over the years – this is a bird often not given the credit they deserve. A great little bird full of character and chatter and often good company to anyone.
Through the internet I joined a couple of groups, one was a rescue service for parrots. I was involved in collecting birds for various reasons; from neglect to marriage break ups and then assessing them what could be the best home for them.
Everyone tends to know the African Grey, talented talkers. I did save and buy a hand reared bird. She spoke various words that I taught her, she was my bird and adored me and I adored her. Sadly aged 11 she had a heart attack and passed away in my arms. The house was so quiet without her chatter.
I did eventually get another Grey. Dolly is also a talented talker; she loves to sing, often badly as she usually learns off me howling away when burning the dinner!
The greys are now on the CITES list - to own one you have to have the right paperwork to show they are born in the UK from registered parent birds; otherwise fines can be high as well as losing your bird. Our greed had started to push the wild grey flocks to low levels so intervention was needed.
There is no need for us to take from the wild as in reality most birds there are more than enough in captivity, some being part of breeding programs to try and raise populations back in the wilds. Loro Parque in the Canary Islands is just 1 place that has a specific breeding program for endangered birds.
Dolly is well socialised and a huge part of my family. She takes great delight in singing or telling the dogs to be quiet along with coming out with phrases she has learnt, yes she can swear!.
Just the other week in the Great Estates Meeting she decided to join in resulting in Simon thinking someone had joined the room, I saw Wendy smile and say I think its Dave’s parrot!
We also own Charlie. A Quaker parrot is also known as the Monks Parakeet. We have the original green colour bird. In USA in some states, they are illegal to own as wild colonies have set up and can devastate a crop. Charlie is a chatty bird, laughs along with you and says quite a bit for a small bird.
Our latest addition is a Galah Cockatoo. They are pink and grey and unlike the more popular white Toos, nowhere near as noisy. Pickles is a bit over a year old, again shown to be a talented talker.
It is common in our house for Alexa, the Amazon gadget, to start playing music or turn a light on, set a timer or various other things. Between the 3 of them they think it is great fun to get Alexa to do these things! Dolly sits and issues a command and follows it with a “Thank you Darling!” Alexa usually replies with “Thank you Sweetie!”
If we do go out we leave the TV on. Dolly loves some of the soap operas! It is common for Dolly to bark like Pancho the pup, we think what he is barking at, to realise Dolly doing it instead! Our house is never quiet having a parrot in it! Dolly is unique just as Honey was and Pickles and Charlie are. They each interact to each other but have their own personalities.
Like owning a dog or cat a parrot is a lifelong commitment. Sadly, like everything there are unscrupulous breeders out there who are in it for a quick buck. Likewise, there are breeders who have been hobby breeders for decades, know their birds and the money they get from selling their baby birds goes back into the upkeep of their hobby. Sometimes you see parrots for sale in pet shops, I learned they are often overpriced and can be there some time waiting on someone to buy usually a spontaneous deal.
Personally, through time and experience I have forged contacts with breeders who have the birds interests at heart. I have directed folk to them if wanting a bird, usually after I grilled them about have they done their homework. Having been involved in the rescue side I have seen some sad cases, and some extremely happy endings for these birds once they get the right care and love.
I do my best to mimic things from real life for my gang from hiding treats and things in toys which all helps stimulate them and their natural instincts.
Years ago I bred the smallest parrot there was known, the parrotlet. Amazing little birds, I would hand rear the chicks from around 12 days old. It was hard work and like having a baby in the house with regular feeds!
My chicks were all closed leg rung and went to specific homes. I still hear how they are doing; some are now around 18 years old. A small bird but a huge personality and again talented talkers!