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Why Not a Parakeet, Cockatiel, or Other Small Parrot by Troy Beaudoin

Why not a parakeet or cockatiel? Why do so many people overlook the smaller birds? One of the main reasons we hear is that they are not as "flashy, talkative, or as impressive as the larger parrots".

My English Budgerigar (Parakeet), Chirpie, hatched on July 16, 1998. She has as much personality as any of the bigger parrots do. She loves to play with all of her toys and talk and whistle. Talking is something that should be thought of as a bonus because even African Greys sometimes do not learn to talk.

My Budgie, Chirpie, has a best friend, Scooter our female Black Capped Caique. Scooter has been spending some time teaching Chirpie to talk. Chirpie can say most everything that Scooter can such as, Scooter Dooter, Hey Baby, etc. She will also hang upside down by one toe to get attention just like Scooter and Columbo.

I think that the statistics showing that 95% of birds purchased are not in their first household within 2 years of age, is because, especially the larger parrots, are harder to deal with. They are louder, take much more time, are more expensive to house and feed, and begin to test to see where they fit in your family's 'flock'. Along with testing comes biting - just to see what you will do. If you give a big reaction the bird will quickly learn that this is what I do to get what I want. Or wow, look at all the attention that got me. Large parrots are a lot noisier. One of Scooter's worst habits is a sharp shrieking sound that she will repeat over an over. Chirpie, my Budgie, also has copied that sound from her friend Scooter, but with Chirpie it sounds like she is doing it from 5 rooms away instead of right in your ear.

I am a strong believer that the small parrots can be wonderful pets and probably are what most people wanted in the first place if they took the time to really think about it. If you get these birds from the right sources and they have been properly socialized they are great. Don't be fooled, many stores and breeders will tell you a hand fed baby is socialized, there is a lot more to the socialization process than just the feeding. They are also a better choice for people with children or people who live in apartments where noise could be a potential problem. Also I think that most people are not afraid of a bird whose worst bite is a pinch in comparison to one that could potentially cause serious injury if you do not know how to handle a large parrot. So - Don't overlook the small birds. They are highly underrated and I wouldn't trade Chirpie for anything.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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