Parrots make colorful, intelligent, playful pets and are known for their ability to imitate sounds they hear around them in the human and natural world. However, like all living things in human care, parrots need to be looked after well so they are safe, healthy and happy.
This means they need a lot of attention from their owners but don’t need all-day care, allowing their owners to do other things.
Parrots are social animals and are unhappy when left alone. They require company and need human interaction for a minimum of two hours a day while not being alone for longer than six or eight hours at the most. Your bird should spend enough time with you to feel like you are its flock, its companion.
Your birds can’t be left alone for extended periods of time; they’re intelligent pets that will learn your schedule. It can be harder to bond directly with your pet if you have a full-time job or long hours that take you away from your bird.
Having two parrots allows your birds to be less dependent on you and provides the freedom for a more flexible schedule.
Adding a parrot to your family is a real commitment and should not be entered into lightly as it will be wholly dependent on you for all its needs. If you are a parrot owner or are thinking of getting one, consider the following points:
1. Need to leave your parrot alone? Make sure you spend enough time with him before and after that!
You should be interacting with your bird at least two hours a day, that is the minimum criteria for bonding with your parrot. If you can devote one hour or even less for one-on-one interaction with your pet then a parrot may not be the best for you.
You have to remember, a parrot will treat you as a flock-mate, a family member with whom they now share their life. If you can’t commit to this, it can be harder to bond directly with your pet.
If your parrot hasn’t bonded with you, you will always be the stranger… it will not want to hang out with you or play with you. Aggression and indifference can be the result of you keeping your bird alone all day.
We have created a couple of articles to help you with that:
- Here are 6 reasons why your parrot is still scared of you and what will help!
- 10 Reasons why your parrot is still afraid!
2. You will be your parrots’ flock mate, so here is what you need to keep in mind
In the wild, parrots live in flocks; they come from families that provide constant company. Most parrots bond with their owners and consider them one of their own. In this role, they will expect you to:
- keep them company
- talk to them
- cuddle with them
- share food with them (That doesn’t mean that your parrot should regurgitate on you. If that is the case, your parrot might be in trouble. We show you why here!)
If they are left alone for extended periods of time, they will be deprived of this bond and will make a troublesome pet.
3. Parrots need a lot of stimulation and physical exercise, can you really afford/manage this?
Parrots can and will get bored if left alone. A lonely bird may resort to decreased activity, long periods of sitting, plucking, and other self-harming behavior.
- Parrots should have two or three different toys in their cages at all times (You can even give them baby toys! We show you 8 recommendations here!)
- You should constantly be changing the toys in their cage to keep them mentally stimulated and active. These toys should include puzzles and/or foraging toys to keep them stimulated.
Every bird is different; yours may require toy changes more frequently than others. Some parrots require daily toy changes – this can be a result of boredom.
The parrot in the video is happy now, but bad husbandry and probably neglection led to psychological problems (feather plucking).
4. Parrots create a real mess and expect you to clean it up
Parrots preen a lot, smoothing their feathers and removing dead ones. This results in feathers and dander flying around which need to be swept away daily.
- a clean cage
- fresh, clean water
- daily servings of perishable food
This is not possible if they are left alone for longer than a few hours at a time.
Since we know that cleaning a birdcage can be a pain, we have created a birdcage cleaning guide for you where we share 10 highly valuable birdcage cleaning tips. Read it here!
Besides that, did you know that you can clean your birdcage with vinegar? We show you how you can do that here!
5. Parrots need company, can you commit to being there for them?
Since parrots are social by nature, they want a lot of company – your’s and a fellow bird’s. While you can give them undivided attention when you’re home, what happens when you’re out for long? You could always
- get parrots in pairs, they’ll keep each other company while you’re away
- keep the radio or tv on to provide the illusion of company
6. Parrots get used to your schedule and expect your company accordingly
Once a parrot is bonded it’ll learn to expect you at specific times. If your schedule suddenly changes your birdies may react poorly at first, they might not be as welcoming to your return.
Your feathered friend can learn to adjust accordingly but this is stressful for them the same way it would be for a child.
7. Bored Parrots can be temperamental, remember it has an IQ of a toddler!
Parrots have the intelligence of human toddlers, expect tantrums stemming from loneliness to be of the same level. Parrots are known to have a spectrum of attitudes and behaviors but there are generalizations between species, especially when it comes to symptoms of stress and boredom.
Listed below are indications of a parrot sulking for lack of attention:
- hissing (We show you 10 reasons for hissing in parrots here)
- ruffled feathers and a
- sulky back turn
In extreme cases, loneliness can manifest itself in self-harming activities such as feather plucking and a refusal to eat.
8. Parrots of any size can be really noisy – especially when alone and bored!
Can you and your neighbors deal with it? Parrots in the wild call out to their flock mates with loud screeches, squawks and other “contact calls”.
However, a noisy bird at home may be bored and trying to get its owner’s attention. If your pet is calling you, it is quite possibly bored and wants your company. Remember, the bigger the parrot, the louder and harsher its call.
9. Bored Parrots are destructive and can go through an entire room in a few hours!
Parrots left to their own devices for the better part of the day can find different uses for their big intelligence no matter what their physical size.
Parrots are known to let themselves out of their cage and wreak havoc around the owner’s house. Shredded couches, bird droppings everywhere and chewed up wooden furniture can all be the work of a parrot that is bored.
If your parrot destroys your furniture, you should read this article: How to stop your parrot from chewing furniture!
What should I do with my parrot if I have to travel? Parrots don’t respond well to change, it stresses them. If you own parrots and must travel, it may be best to leave them home. Find a responsible carer who can visit daily to change the food, water, and cage liners. If that isn’t possible, find vets with avian boarding facilities or bird sitters.
How do I train my parrot to stop screaming? Did you get your bird with a pre-learned habit of screaming needlessly or does it want attention? In either case, it usually works to walk away from the bird till it’s quiet, then return with praise, treats and a cuddle. It takes time, but your parrot should learn that screaming results in being left alone.