TITLE: Life With Parrots
By Betty Castleberry
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My husband and I share our home with three parrots. Our particular flock is made up of two macaws and an African grey. They each have a distinct personality.
Parrots make quite different pets from cats or dogs. Some folks think birds are easy pets.
They believe all that’s required is to put them in their cages, toss them a few seeds, and you’re set for the day. Not so. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Parrots are very intelligent, and can be very demanding. They take up much more time than a puppy.
Parrots in general can be quite destructive. In fact, they are feathered buzz saws. They don’t understand the difference between your grandmother’s antique sideboard and their toys.
Toys, you say? Oh yes, parrots need toys, and a variety of them, to challenge their inquisitive minds. A macaw can make a pile of toothpicks out of a fifty dollar toy in a few hours.
They also need a healthy, varied diet. I’ve been known to drive 80 miles one way to buy them special food. In addition, I buy them fresh produce, and cook them special meals. My husband has looked in the refrigerator more than once, seen something tasty looking, and asked, “Is this for the birds, or for us?”
Our birds eat better than we do, or at least when they choose to actually eat their food and not toss it on the floor. It’s not uncommon for me to scrub squashed peas off the kitchen tile. There have been times when they have redecorated my Navajo White walls with a few far flung raspberries, too. They love nuts, and drop the shells on the floor. In short, birds are messy. By the way, have you ever walked barefoot over a jagged almond shell? I believe I invented a new dance when I did just that.
Let’s consider the noise factor. The talking is not a problem, although they seem to want to do it quite loudly while we are trying to watch TV or chat on the phone. On the other hand, they can belt out a jungle scream that would put Tarzan to shame.
Parrots can bite. Hard. They can draw blood with the best of the vampires. They usually bite just because you have not done something to their satisfaction.
So, given all these negatives, what kind of person in their right mind would choose a parrot as a pet? I carefully use the word “choose”, because no one ever truly owns a parrot, but I digress.
Maybe that kind of person would be me. I’m not always in the best mood first thing in the morning. When I uncover the birds for the day, more often than not, I’m greeted with a chorus of cheery hellos. The macaws say, “I love you”, and make kissing sounds. The grey can do a convincing rooster crow that is sure to wake almost anyone up. I really hope the neighbors don’t call the police and report that we are keeping barnyard animals in town.
Recently, one morning, when I walked through the kitchen wearing my early morning frog-in-a-blender hair do, our oldest macaw said, “Hi pretty!”
That’s why I choose parrots.
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