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For the Love of Parrots by Shari Beaudoin

At Parrot Island, the number of phone calls we receive per day is astonishing, calls from people wanting to "get rid of their parrots". Why? Because they scream too loud, make a mess, bite, and actually are just not as "cool" of a thing to have around as they originally thought. To make matters worse, some people cannot even find a suitable cage to match the new " lavender couch they have in their living room". It is hard to believe, but sadly true.

At Parrot Island we do everything we can to find only the best homes for the birds we sell. No, we do not sell a parrot to everyone who wants one, nor do we ever intend to. Every parrot that leaves Parrot Island will always go to only the most suitable of homes. We will always do our best to ensure that each bird goes to a loving and nurturing environment, to owners who completely understand what is necessary to do well with a companion bird. Not all customers leave our store happy and many just go somewhere else and purchase the bird we would not sell them.

Do we feel all people who think they want a parrot are bad people? No, absolutely not, unfortunately most people are unaware of what they are about to get into. For this I blame uncaring production breeders and stores. Neither the breeder, store, or owner will suffer over the long run, they will simply put an ad in the paper and sell a confused bird to the first person with the money or get rid of it in another manner. Just take a look in the pet section of the newspaper sometime.

I am not trying to sound harsh, I simply know of no other way to come out with the hard truth. I feel comfortable saying this because I know that our customers care about their birds and understand their amazing intelligence.

Remember, that the larger parrots have an intelligence level of a 2 to 5 year old child. Who would ever think of leaving a child because it simply acted like one? Cried too much, wasn't potty trained, needed to be hand fed. It was not a parrot's wish to removed from their natural habitat and sold to you as a pet. Parrots are not domesticated animals and do not know how to behave as pets. They are animals that have been removed from everything they instinctually know and go on to live in our world. I am personally honored to have earned the love of my companion birds. As that is what we have, we have earned it. I could go on right now to talk about behavioral issues, but that is a whole other story.

Parrot Island will continue to sell birds to people we truly believe will care for them in the manner they deserve. You will never see a lot of birds for sale here. Most of the parrots at the store belong to us. These birds are our companions and take turns coming home with us at night. They are at Parrot Island for you to visit with and to learn from. The clients that we feel are ready to make the commitment we will happily find the right baby for you. We will continue to support local adoption agencies as well.

Stores that sell birds to anyone who wants one and have large quantities of birds from large-scale breeders must understand the damage they are doing. The only way we can combat this is to stop patronizing them completely until they start doing the right thing. We all heard of the puppy mills in the 80's and eventually you stopped seeing dogs at pet stores. Please keep in mind the intelligence level of these parrots when you see them in such situations. Buying the bird from such a place does not save it. It simply dooms several more birds to the same fate. I realize patronizing other stores is not always as convenient and may be more costly but we must realize what we are supporting.

Terry and I had a difficult time finding a store to purchase dog food from that did not carry birds. We did find a few after a bit of searching that we could feel good about patronizing. Even some stores that we thought did not carry birds have unfortunately begun to. We did let these stores know why we were not going to purchase dog food from them. Did Terry and I make a difference? Probably not, they just looked at us funny and thought we were kooky animal rights activists. Will all of us together make a difference? Yes I think so! So next time you are running to pick up that bag of dog food, cat toy, bird toy, etc. patronize only the people that care as much as you do. It is as simple as that. What is an extra mile or two when lives really depend on it?

Please talk to us before purchasing a companion bird and think it out long and hard. Those of you who are still serious please talk with us about what bird would best fit in with your lifestyle. We will be honest - many people who think they want a large parrot have no idea the commitment and knowledge it takes to do well with them. We will do everything we can to help you make an educated decision.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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