Phoenix Feathers & AZ Parrots

hand raised conures, african greys, and macaws

I want an African Grey

I want an African Grey!

African Greys are amazing birds and they make amazing companions. Sometimes people are so focused on what they want, that they don't understand what they are asking for.

Our first pair of Greys, Dexter and Zoey had laid their first clutch of eggs with us. Dexter was around 20 years old and Zoey was in her late teens. African Greys are monogamous and these two had been put together early in their life. They love each other very much. They had not been successful parents yet, but each time Zoey laid a clutch she got better and better at incubation. We were hopeful that eventually they would get it right. I had been talking to a couple and they really wanted a Grey. I explained who the pair was and Zoey had just started laying. We communicated a few times during the incubation period and she told me how her wife had this magical ability to tame wild animals that showed up on their property. I talked about both Dexter and Zoey's personalities. Dexter hates humans. He has given me several nasty bites, once taking a layer of skin on my finger down so far that the muscle below was exposed. Zoey is sweet. She comes to the side of the cage. Blows kisses, sings to me and bites Dexter when she catches him being rude to me. Sometimes when he's in a mood I'll pull out a green scrub brush that he hates. He will go into the back corner of the cage and Zoey will say "Oh No!". Just because Zoey says and does all of these things, it does not mean she is inviting physical interaction. I respect these things. I do talk to her and she watches me with interest, but I make no move to physically interact with either of them because they are not pets. As it turns out, the eggs weren't fertile, so I relayed it to the woman who had been interested. Instead of asking to wait until the next clutch, she asked if she could purchased Dexter instead. She actually suggested that Dexter come to her house for a weekend for a "trial run" and since her spouse had such a magical ability with animals she would have him converted to a pet in no time.


I had never made any mention that either of the adults were for sale individually. She was so focused on having a Grey that she really had no idea what she was asking for. She just wanted one. What she wanted me to do was separate a breeding pair of birds that been together for most of their lives and truly love each other. I would have been left with a female bird who didn't understand why her mate just disappeared. She would have been depressed, anxious, and nervous. That kind of event leads to birds that stop eating, scream, pluck their feathers, or self mutilate. While I don't doubt the woman had the ability to tame wild animals. Some people do have that kind of energy. I have serious reservations that Dexter would fall under her spell. He hates humans. He would most likely become more aggressive, resulting is some very nasty bites. He too would most likely stop eating, start plucking, or self mutilate because he is missing his mate. Who would willingly do that to an animal? I explained this, but I'm not sure it was understood completely.

She just wanted a Grey.

Living with a parrot

This came from the Alabama Parrot Rescue

Living with a Parrot

Before you head out to the pet shop or breeder’s, you need to know one simple fact. Parrots, in a sense, are lousy pets! Why would I say that? Think about it for a minute. They are expensive to buy and even more expensive to maintain. They are noisy, dirty, dusty, messy, domineering, destructive, demanding, unpredictable, can be mean as a snake, and they can hurt you. Honestly, what more could you NOT want in a pet? It is an indisputable fact that parrots are not the right pet for everyone. It is our intention to inform you of some things you need to know before making a decision that could be one of the most rewarding or most regrettable of your life.

What we are about to present are just the facts of living with a pet Parrot. Have you considered:

Parrots are wasteful – Buy $30 worth of groceries and throw $24 worth in the trash as soon as you arrive home. Do this several times a month. Parrots require fresh food in addition to pellets (not seeds) and are wasteful eaters. If you can’t afford the wastefulness of a parrot, you can’t afford the parrot.

Parrots bite – If you have a parrot, you will be bitten, usually just hard and sometimes really hard. Consider yourself lucky if they bite and release. Walnuts and Brazil nuts are no challenge to a large beak. How do you think your skin and bones will fare? An angry parrot may bite and continue to clamp down.

Parrots are demanding – Plan on spending several hours every day interacting with you bird. In the case of Cockatoos, they crave the physical contact of their flock – YOU are their flock. If you don’t have the time or the desire to have this much interaction with a parrot, reconsider your decision to bring one into your home.

Parrots are messy – Anything within their reach is fair game to be dropped to the floor. This includes food, treats, toys and of course, poop. Dried droppings can become hard as concrete and fresh droppings can be difficult to remove from porous surfaces like clothing, carpets and furniture. Plan on cleaning the area around their cage 2 to 3 times a day. Cage papers must be replaced several times a week. The cage, toys, perches, play areas and stands, must be cleaned at least once a week and sometimes more depending upon the bird. Birds are clean by nature. They spend several hours a day, every day preening themselves. Don’t be selfish and ignore the mess. If you can’t or won’t spend the time necessary to keep the parrot’s home clean, then a parrot isn’t right for you.

Parrots are noisy – All parrots talk, squawk, sing, or scream. They do it when they’re happy, scared, mad, on alert, or just for no reason at all other than to do it. If you live in an apartment or condo, your neighbors may become your enemy. Do loud noises bother you? Are you a nervous person? If the noise would be a reason to find your parrot a new home, DON’T bring the parrot into your home!

Parrots poop – It’s inevitable. it will be on your floors, carpet, on their cage, on your furniture, and yes – on you. More important is the daily observation of what the poop looks like. You can tell if they are sick, if they are eating too many watery fruits, if they aren’t eating enough of something, etc. The poop must be cleaned off daily or the build up will be more disgusting than daily clean-ups. Birds are messy, not dirty. Don’t force them to live in substandard conditions because you are too busy or too lazy to tend to the mess.

Parrots require daily care – Planning a vacation? Travel a lot with business? Enjoy frequent weekend getaways? Need to paint? What about if you are ill, have an accident, or die? Where will your bird stay? Find someone to care/board your parrot before you get a parrot. Local bird shops may be a place, but do you really trust them? Parents, friends, siblings, neighbors are a good choice, but find out if they are truly willing beforehand. The day will come when you must board your parrot for one reason or another. Make certain you are prepared for that day.

Parrots should see an Avian Vet – Routine vet check-ups are a must, but what about medical emergencies? Is there an avian vet in your area? Not all vets see birds and not all vets that see birds are qualified avian vets. Locate the nearest avian specialist before you need them and get prices on routine care vs. emergency care. Wings and nails can be clipped by yourself, your vet, or qualified pet shop. Be careful, blood feathers and nails will bleed if a mistake is made. Do you have the money to spend for the initial vet exam, the yearly exams, and medical emergencies? If not, then please consider your overall financial situation. Parrots are expensive from the very beginning. If you get a great deal on a “used” parrot, there may be health problem and $1500 (or more) later, you may have a healthy parrot. If you don’t have an emergency stash, get one now. If you can’t afford to divert any funds to an emergency stash, you can’t afford a parrot!

Parrots chew – If you don’t provide chew toys, they will find their own (sheetrock, furniture, wood trim, themselves, etc). Parrots don’t care what value an item has to you, all they care about is chewing, so provide plenty of chew toys at all times, as well as stimulating toys. Play with your parrot, remember they are intelligent and enjoy a variety of activities. Toys are a MUST to achieve a happy, healthy parrot. Add the cost to your budget, if your budget can’t absorb the cost, don’t get the parrot!

Teflon kills – All nonstick surfaces have Teflon type coatings that produce a gas that kills birds quickly! Opt for stainless, alum, copper, glass, ceramic or enamel. TEFLON coatings can be found in many household appliances such as ovens, toasters, irons, waffle irons, coffeemakers, blow-dryers, etc. If you think just this one time won’t hurt, YOU ARE WRONG! If you can’t part with the nonstick stuff, then at some point you will be parting with your parrot from death of the fumes.

Other Toxins – Certain plants, smoke, aerosols, fragrances, candles with wicks that contain a metal stem, carpet fresheners, air fresheners, FeBreeze, some essential oils, certain hair products, certain foods (avocados, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate) contain toxins that are hazardous to your bird. As new products are added to the market, new dangers arise. You must continue to educate yourself on these hazards. Be prepared to parrot proof your home. If you can’t forgo the use of these items and are unwilling to keep your parrot out of harm’s way, why spend the money/time for a parrot at all?

Parrots require daily attention – Your parrot needs your undivided attention for a considerable amount of time. Each species and each bird is different. A Cockatiel may only want 20 mins 3 times a day, but a Cockatoo may only be happy when they are by your side for hours at a time. Are your evenings filled with school activities, work from the office, college courses, etc? PLEASE reconsider the notion to bring a parrot into your home if you can’t spend quality and quantity time with that parrot!

Parrots need discipline and structure – Discipline is not punishment. It is establishing boundaries, respect, schedules, education, and acceptable behaviors for both you and your parrot. In order to effectively discipline yourself and your parrot, you must first learn what is considered normal behavior and what is considered destructive behavior. This means you are going to have to READ, READ, and READ some more. Do you have the dedication it takes to effectively discipline yourself and your parrot? If not, don’t set yourself up for failure and jeopardize the well-being of another parrot by unknowingly encouraging behavior that will only pave the way for the parrot to placed in another home.

Parrots are destructive – A large parrot can and will remove gemstones from their settings! Earrings or other piercings will be removed with or without a piece of flesh. Parrots seem to love metal and enjoy breaking chains into pieces. Clothing will have a new look that is personalized by your parrot. Little holes around the arms and neck is normal. Anything that is 3 dimensional is considered fair game (rhinestones, studs, sequins etc). Eyeglasses are no exception! If this behavior is unacceptable, then a parrot in your home is unacceptable!

Parrots can be jealous – Parrots may consider children and other pets as rivals. Be cautious of this fact. If you have or are planning on having children, you are in for a rocky ride. Be forewarned!

If after reading this you still want a parrot, I welcome you and ask that you commit yourself to being the best friend you can be to your companion Good luck and remember that right now may not be the best time for you to become an owner, you be the judge. Please remember to always keep the parrot’s best interest at heart.

I want a bird that talks

I get this a lot - does the bird talk, or I only want a bird that talks.

Having a bird that talks should never be your primary reason for wanting a bird. While almost all parrots have the capability to talk, not all of them do. Think of it more as they have the potential to talk. Take the African Grey parrot for instance. Along with the yellow headed amazon parrot, they are one of the best speakers. They are also highly intelligent. Some of them speak clearly, have large vocabularies, understand abstract concepts like colors, shapes and numbers, and can communicate exactly what they want. Others don't speak words but are amazing at music, sound effects, beeps and whistles. There is no difference between them. One speaks, the other doesn't. Why pass up an amazing bird just because it doesn't speak words?

Sometimes people are so fascinated with the idea of a bird that talks that they don't see the reality of it either. My African Grey, Zoe, has quite the vocabulary. She sings "la la la la la". She also growls like a dog. She says Good Morning, her name, says Jump! while she jumps up and down. She also says, "Don't fucking swear" and a few other things. This is funny and entertaining when I'm outside feeding them each day, but not something I want to hear ALL DAY LONG.

My Blue Crown Conure, Jackie, starts each day out with something that sounds like a quack. He repeats it every few seconds for several hours. While I love that old man to death, the quack is annoying and some days it tries my patience. Now imagine hearing, "Good Morning, Hi Zoe, Jump, Don't Fucking Swear" every few seconds for 3 or 4 hours at a time. That's the reality of a bird that talks. I'm not saying that every bird will do that and if properly trained they will use it to communicate with you, not bombard you with a constant stream of vocalizations.

Teaching your bird to swear

A bird that swears like a sailor. Isn't is the funniest thing ever? Teaching your bird to say the most offensive, and outrageous things sounds like great fun doesn't it?

No, it's not.

This is what happens. Birds get surrendered to rescues or bird stores. There are many reasons, and sometimes it can be a sad situation. Sometimes the bird is too much for them to handle, or they have a child and they're afraid of the baby getting bit. Sometimes people do it as they approach the end of their own life and they want to find a home for the bird. A local store recently had a bird come in as the owner was about to enter hospice care. The owner was very old and had lived alone for many years. This person had a colorful vocabulary that included profanities and ethnic slurs. So does the bird.

Imagine that you're out with your family and you've decided to get a bird as a pet. You've done your research and made the decision to get an adult bird that has already had a home. It gives you a warm feeling to take in a bird that has lost its owner. Now imagine that you're all standing around a cage and watching a bird that's having a great time jumping around, dancing, and chattering up a storm to your kids. It's that great? Now how will you feel when that bird stops in front of your kids and says, "What's up mother fucker?" Or "Fuck You" or maybe "Hey N*gger".

It's not so funny anymore, is it? You're going to walk away and not give it another thought. The bird has potentially lost out on what could have been the perfect home. The bird isn't the one at fault here. The human that taught the bird is.

Through no fault of its own, the bird may wait months before being adopted. Imagine how stressful that must be for the bird. Leaving the only human you've known for your whole life and then being passed over time and time again because you're only repeating what you know.

Birds are like sponges. They will hear something and repeat it years later for no apparent reason. Don't swear in front of your bird, and don't purposefully teach your bird to swear.

Cuddles and Parrots

Here is a link to a great article about why you shouldn't cuddle your parrot. I think getting them used to be touched as young birds has value, but only for the first 5 or 6 months of their lives. After that, it's head scratches only.

Cuddles Mean Sex