adorable animals Health

100 days not smoking

It’s true! I was going to reward myself with something, but I can’t think of anything I want. Everything about manufacturing pretty much disgusts me these days. I think I have reached the end of Capitalism. All I want now is to write, travel, and eventually to come back and get a companion parrot. I guess I’ll just calculate how much money I would have spent on cigarettes and put it in a parrot fund or something.

Since you’re definitely wondering what kind of parrot I would get, I’ll tell you the options:

1) African Gray

parrot-africangrayThey are the smartest of the bunch from a human perspective. They require a lot of attention and can get quite sassy if they are displeased. But their ability to communicate astounds me and I would love to be able to be able to provide an engaging environment for one of these creatures that require so much intellectual stimulation. Most famously, Alex the African Gray demonstrated that parrots aren’t just mimics, and that they think critically to use words in context and apply referential meaning to objects just like humans do. Anyone who’s ever had a parrot knows they do that, but Alex scientifically validated it. And he could do fucking math. He didn’t get nearly as much YouTube fame as he should have in his short life, so I’ll be sure to teach my parrot to do math and make him a YouTube celeb in memory of Alex.

2) Amazon

parrot-amazonThere are lots of variations of Amazons. This one is a yellow-crested Amazon, and it looks exactly like the parrot that first enchanted me in Puerto Rico when I was 8 or so. There was one in a cage in a hotel near where I was playing at the beach, and I went over to look at it. It looked at me, and I don’t think I left the cage for an hour. One of the hotel workers came over to say, “watch out kid, that parrot will take your finger off,” and kind of teased it by flicking the cage. I knew the parrot just didn’t like that particular worker and that he really wanted me to scratch his neck. So I did, and the workers were amazed to find that an animal they assumed was aggressive by nature actually just had standards.

Amazons have a pretty big capacity for human language as well. I used to parrot-sit for an Amazon named Jake when I was in college. Jake’s owner had rescued him from a man who had no idea what he was getting into with parrot ownership, and grew so worn of Jake’s noisy demands that he kept him locked in a dark closet with only sunflower seeds (not at all the kind of balanced diet any kind of parrot needs) for years. Jake was too traumatized to be handled in his new home, but he still delighted in interaction. One time late at night, I got quite a startle to hear a man’s low voice in the house and thought someone was breaking in. Then I realized it was just Jake imitating his previous owner’s voice.

3) Eclectus


Eclectus are just the most beautiful birds in the world, I think. They are a sexually dimorphic species, meaning the males and females look different. Above is a female, and the males are bright green with a candy corn beak. I once knew an eclectus female named Girdy, also a rescue that I parrot-sat. She had also lost trust of humans due to a traumatic past, but she really tried and it was cute. She would sit on her stand and when I would try to pick her up she would have a neurotic breakdown, part of her wanting to step up and be a carefree parrot again, but the abused part of her holding her back. Her eyes would turn frantic and she would start panting a little bit. I succeeded in picking her up a few times, but felt bad stressing her out by the process, so I decided to just admire her from afar.

Someone once asked me why I liked parrots so much. It’s because parrots only care about three things: play time, snack time, and mischief. What better companion animal is there than that? Don’t get me wrong, I love all animals, but parrots are just the best.

My ideal future parrot is one I would raise from an egg, like I did my childhood parrot. That way you become their BFF automatically. The ethical thing to do though would be to adopt a parrot, since there are so many adult parrots out there in need of good homes. Chances are an adopted parrot probably wouldn’t be as nice as one I raised, or have the learning aptitude and vocabulary, but as long as it would let me scratch it’s neck every now and then, I would be happy.

6 replies on “100 days not smoking”

Good luck with the smoking – there’s a parrot out there planning it’s future wrecking your flat. But make sure it comes with bandages.

actually, the second bird pictured is a Yellow-headed Amazon (Amazona oratrix), a species that shows a bit of variability in the extent and intensity of the yellow on its head.

of all the parrots you’re considering, eclectus are the best pet parrots for apartment dwellers because they are less noisy and MUCH less destructive than the other two species. and like the other two species you list, eclectus can be talented talkers, although they, as a general rule, are not very “cuddly” (the males are a bit more physically interactive than females, who are like miniature einsteins, always sitting back and analysing everything around them.) there are seven eclectus subspecies, the smallest and least expensive being the solomon islands eclectus. my companion, elektra, is a solomon islands eclectus parrot. there’s another favourable aspect with this species; if you have allergies or if you don’t dust your flat every week, this parrot is also a good choice since they do not have powder down (my flat is COVERED in dust from my two Congo African grey parrots! it’s truly astonishing how dusty everything here is now that they’ve arrived.)

as a parrot breeder, i’ve raised baby parrots from the egg and i’ve also purchased hand-fed domestic parrots from other people immediately after they weaned. i highly recommend getting a newly weaned bird from the breeder. they will bond with you just as strongly as if you’d hand-fed it/them yourself, but without all the potential (parrot) health and behavioural problems that come from hand-rearing a solitary pet parrot from an egg. even professional handfeeders lose baby birds now and again, and not all veterinarians can help you if you run into trouble! (further, most parrot breeders refuse to sell newly hatched parrots to those who are not professional handfeeders.)

although, as you point out, adopting a “used” parrot is the ethical decision, i don’t recommend it as being ideal for everyone. for example, bob got me two female Congo African grey parrots recently (for my birdday). they lived their entire lives in a pet store, so although they are not, strictly-speaking, “used parrots”, living with them does raise a number of “used parrot” issues i’d not considered before. like listening to someone else’s nanopod, they came “preloaded” with a huge variety of sounds (they did live in a pet shop for 3 years!) — some of which are unpleasant. sounds such as LOUDLY screaming macaws and LOUDLY shrieking mynah birds (and mynahs have a very metallic voice) — and these sounds can be heard in the courtyard in front of my building 13 stories down.

they also bark like a chihuahua (or some other “teacup” ankle-biting dog breed), they whinge like spoilt kids, and — this is the worst — they imitate the various gaseous emissions created by men. their favourite sound (right now) is a long, loud “juicy” belch. it’s this belching sound that makes me SO crazy that i’ve taken to wearing earplugs during the day when i need to concentrate. fortunately the grey sisters have been replacing their unpleasant sounds although they are adopting new unpleasant sounds (do you remember that the next door flat had a fire break out around midnight a month or so ago that set off the building’s fire alarms and intercom systems? yeah? well the grey sisters remember that too!)

good luck with everything. a nice aspect about giving up smoking and using the funds to buy a parrot is the fact that parrots are an ongoing expense — those toys that they so love to destroy are expensive! after bringing your parrot home, you’ll never again have enough “spare” money to resume smoking. also, second-hand smoke is as much of a health hazard for parrots as for humans.

Thanks for the advice, Grrl! I so wish I could have met your flock before you left NYC. Maybe I’ll have to make a stop in Hellsinki during my travels this fall and get the real Parrot 101 from you and Bob :)

Good luck with the smoking! As to the parrots… Eclectus don’t tend to like to be touched because of their feathers being more like hair, so may or may not bend his head for scritches, haha. But Greys tend to be pluckers and neurotic as hell – plus a lot of ’em never say a word. As to hand-raising a baby yourself, you said you did it for a parrot before (which sounds like a cool experience) but you don’t need to! I’m an advocate of parent-raised birds; my parent-raised ‘tiel has FAR fewer, erm, sexual issues compared to, say, hand-raised sennie – who is also known to pluck out a few feathers, occasionally. I think if she weren’t a pet shop bird, our ‘tiel would be the perfect pet.

Breeders are starting to think that plucking and ‘unwanted’ behaviour like over-bonding/mate guarding can be helped by parent-rearing infants, or at least co-parenting, and letting the breeding pair raise the baby until a few weeks in. That also happens to be much healthier and more natural for the parents.

I know that with each my parent-raised and hand-raised birds, I hold very strong bonds with them all. It took no effort, since it’s a parrot’s natural instinct to choose a sexual mate. Even if you feed the baby yourself, the parent bond changes at maturity to one of a sexual nature. (Or it could still transfer to someone else.) It would be wonderful if you chose to adopt, but as someone said above, it’s not for everyone. Remember, though, that a lot of healthy, well-behaved, and well-loved birds are given up for adoption because of family circumstance, like a birth or death or finance. Not all have loads of issues, though ALL birds do face some kind of issue sometime. I gotta say, I am very happy with my re-homed parrot. One more huge benefit to adoption: if you do, you’ll be skipping the HORRIBLE ‘teen’ years as a parrot sexually matures. Nothing to sneeze at, haha! And it’s typically a lot cheaper.

Good luck!

Interesting! Makes total sense that the parrots who were reared by their parents would have less health problems due to the complex nature of microbiomic inheritance that science is just beginning to scratch the surface of. Thank you for the great advice!

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