Question for Sitters/ What about Parrots?

All good questions. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about parrot care.
Corey needs stimulation and when we are gone we let her listen to music. A parrot organization even made a DVD for parrots to watch that show parrots in the wild which loops [cue the eye rolls of people who think this is over the top].
Corey really doesn’t like being locked in her cage. So we leave her “big” cage door open essentially all the time [unless one of our friends is bringing their dog over to our house]. She can fly [her wings are not clipped] BUT she isn’t very good at it [as a chick she obviously didn’t learn to fly] and thus will never choose to fly. So when we leave, she always stays in her cage.
We don’t have another pet now because we feel it would put her at too much at risk. The other difficult thing about parrots is that they are easy to kill. She weighs less than a pound and all birds have hollow bones. All you need to do to kill them is step on them or close a door on them. One of the reasons we have kept her safe is that typically when you put Corey someplace, she generally stays there.

2 Likes

Hi Jackie,
Totally valid point: Greys are not easy pets to look after. If we have Corey walking around, she totally needs to be constantly supervised. All parrots love to chew and they often find things to their liking. Corey will chew any wood that comes her way: like our baseboards or furniture. She does respond to the word “No” but it only works for a short time and she will be back at whatever interests her. So you need to put her in an environment that doesn’t have attractive chew surfaces. We give Corey phone books or old magazines to stand on and chew up and she has her play box where we can put her and she can tear up the rug inside it.
It’s totally a good idea to experience the realities of a parrot before you choose to bring one into your life. The other thing about these birds is it takes awhile to see their [unique and surprising] personalities so you are willing to put up with all the work it takes to keep them happy. Corey has been a totally amazing creature.

2 Likes

For good reason, I think that bites are the main reason people find parrots hard to deal with. Since parrots are not truly domesticated, they will often respond like a bird from the wild. The other reason people probably hesitate to interact with parrots is the reason Vanessa listed: flying near your face. Our bird really won’t fly [unless she is scared or falls] so generally that is not a problem for us.
I’ve heard and I think that it is true: parrots [or at least Greys] bite exactly as hard as they intend to. Greys are medium sized birds and while they can deliver a bite worse than a cockatiel, they can’t deliver a bite as severe as a cockatoo or a macaw.
Our Grey has never bitten anything other than a hand and she has never even tried to bite a face while in our care. She spends hours on my husband’s shoulder and she clearly has access to his face. But here’s the thing: if I was taking care of someone else’s parrot, I would never allow them on my shoulder so that they would be near my face . It’s just too risky.strong text

4 Likes

Waouh I would love to see your next sitter on a video sent to THS members, but I’ll nerver dare to apply. Could you show us some photos ??

1 Like

I’m not sure how to post a photo of our bird but I’ll look into it. Meantime, for those of you who are interested, this is a link about how smart a Grey is here is a link, it’s pretty sweet story: African grey parrots are smart enough to help a bird in need | New Scientist

1 Like

THS cut me off from posting too much info today, so I’m adding this to my earlier reply. I totally get it: not everyone is interested in a lot of detail on Greys. However, I did want to add information about how affectionate Greys can be because I was able to reply to how parrots can bite. Here it is:

You also make another interesting point: parrots are very affectionate and can be demonstrative. Our bird clearly gives gentle kisses when we offer her things she wants [like treats]. She will often hesitate before taking the treat, reach over and kiss your hand and then take the treat. I’ve never had an animal do that before. The problem, of course, is that if you don’t know the parrot this could look very much like she might bite.

3 Likes

Terry I know how frustrating it is when THS cuts our posts. I’m often toi long…

I’m interested by your parrott’s behaviour. For photos it’s easy. You choose to click on the pic representing a frame + landscape above your text, on the right of the cloud, B , I and ". You select a picture in a directory and load it. Choosing 100, 75 or 50%. I’d love to see Corey

1 Like

I would jump at the chance to sit a parrot! I raised chickens & guinea fowl for years and have always had an interest in parrots but have not yet had the privilege of getting to know one.

I adored my strange little flock of guineas. Many people are afraid of guinea fowl as they are not really domesticated either but with patience and observation they become more fascinating and easier to understand - and hilarious.

Parrots are so intelligent I imagine you would want someone with at least some understanding of bird body language to be able to gauge mood & health. Really I think the biggest characteristic of a good bird sitter is patience plus the ability to remain calm and not be afraid of unpredictable movement. Reading through your posts Corey sounds amazing and I’m sure you won’t have any problem finding sitters who want to get to know her!

2 Likes

@terrys We would love to look after a parrot. We have looked after our friend’s African Grey who is a real character. We also used to have an Alexandrine parakeet - we adopted him in his twilight years after his owner passed away. He was such a sad looking bird when we saw him at the rescue centre. Once we’d decluttered his cage so he had space to move and he got used to us he turned out to be such a lovely happy boy.

2 Likes

Thank you for your message, Lindsay! Your observations are totally correct about dealing with parrots. The thing is, however, Greys tend to be bonded to one person and I think they kind of shut down when that person isn’t around. Corey is bonded to my husband but she is smart enough to know that I make her life better and more interesting so she readily goes to me. But I can tell she is different when John isn’t around. And we are lucky: some Greys will ONLY go to the person they are bonded to. Their loyalty undermines their well being. I think that’s one main reason people don’t “get” African Greys and wonder about the idea that they are one of the smartest animals around. But you have to have a bit of patience. I can usually cajole Corey to have a more normal life when John is gone but I’m willing to do that because I really care about her.

4 Likes

My partner grew up with an African Grey (he has so many hilarious stories) and we have house sat for parrots before due to his experience and familiarity. I didn’t have bird experience (now I do) and we love sitting for them. But to answer your questions, I think being honest and transparent about parrot behavior and care would be helpful. I think a lot of people imagine that caring for a bird would be fun, but don’t realize that how destructive and intelligent they are, as they’re not really domesticated, as you say!

Here’s me on our last bird sit. She’s “helping me work”! BTW: socialized with her when meeting her and her owners. She’s comfy with women and she never nipped. I would only let a bird ride on my shoulder if their owner confirmed and encouraged that it was okay.

3 Likes