There are several good reasons to adopt a bird rather than buy one. First, it’s the right thing to do because commercial breeding operations are flooding the market with exotic pet birds, many of whom end up in rescue groups when consumers realize the complexities of caring for these animals. If you buy a parrot from either a pet shop or a breeder, it simply makes the problem worse. By adopting rather than buying a parrot, you help reduce the demand that drives the commercial breeding of pet birds. Also, if you purchase a parrot, you probably won’t have a great deal of support if you have questions about your bird’s behavior or care further down the line. By contrast, reputable parrot rescue groups do provide that support, offering advice and resources as you and your new bird adjust to life together. How much do parrots cost? Another good reason to adopt rather than buy a parrot is that you’ll most likely spend a lot less money. A parrot can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the species. Adopting a parrot costs considerably less, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have saved a life. Some things to consider These birds are intelligent, sensitive, curious animals, but living with them and caring for them properly can be much more challenging than people imagine. If you’re thinking about getting an exotic pet bird, consider the following: • Birds, even the ones bred in captivity, are not domesticated animals. Domesticated animals, such as cats and dogs, have been bred for hundreds of years to live in the care of humans and are distinct from their wild ancestors. Birds commonly kept as pets are no different than their wild relatives; they are the native species of other countries. • You may be surprised to learn that more than 350 species of parrots have been identified, and each species has distinct behaviors and particular needs in terms of care. So, before you adopt a parrot, you’ll need to educate yourself about the characteristics and needs of the species you choose. • Parrots have been compared to human toddlers in terms of their emotional and social lives, which means they need a lot of daily interaction with people and/or other birds. If these needs aren’t met, they can easily develop behavior problems, such as feather plucking. • All parrots have long life spans. Depending on the species, they may live 20 to 50 years, and some species live longer than that. Caring for a bird is often a lifelong responsibility. • Parrots are noisy. Vocalizing via squawking and chirping is a parrot’s way of communicating. Also, you should know that not all parrots are talking birds. While all parrots are vocal, not all of them learn to talk or choose to talk. Education is Key If you’ve never had a parrot in your life before, get to know some real parrots and learn how to handle and relate to them. Educate yourself thoroughly about all the things you’ll need to know to keep your parrot happy and safe. The points mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg. You should spend several weeks or months learning about parrots from books, magazines, and people. You’ll need to read about parrots in general and about the particular species of parrot you plan to adopt. (The Avian Welfare Coalition website is a good resource: www.avianwelfare.org). If you have had a parrot before whom you no longer have, you may need to ask yourself some difficult questions: What is the reason you no longer have your parrot? Is your life stable and secure enough for you to make the required commitment? Are you knowledgeable enough to keep your parrot safe and well? Remember, a choice for a lifetime is not one to be made on an impulse. If, having considered all of the above, you still want to adopt a parrot, you may find the most wonderful friend of your life – one who is intelligent, magical, whimsical, loving, entertaining, and endlessly fascinating. To view adoptable birds at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, visit www.bestfriends.org. Parrots First offers adoptions in Los Angeles. For more info, visit www.parrotsfirst.org.