Benefits of Rescues/Rehomes Vs Baby Parrots

Benefits of Rescues/Rehomes Vs Baby Parrots

Here at Soaring Wings Training you will see us promoting rescue/rehomed parrots a lot but just why is that? Many people seem to have the belief that rescues/rehomes are “damaged,problem parrots” that tend to come with behavioural problems and require a lot of training. While we aren’t here to completely debunk that myth; we will be the first to admit that rescues/rehomes aren’t always easy but guess what, baby birds aren’t either! Unlike other common pets such as cats and dogs, parrots aren’t domesticated animals, they aren’t built to live in our homes and this can pose a challenge for many owners whether they adopt a parrot or buy a baby bird. Owning a parrot comes with a lot of changes either way, there will be a lot of mess, noise and destruction, it’s simply a part of keeping a wild animal in your home.

Throughout this article you will hear me referring to rescues and rehomes as separate things, this is because in my opinion they are. For example, I refer to my adopted cockatiel Pearl as a rehome because she came to me from a very loving home that catered fully to her needs, rehomed with her best interest in mind and required little behavioural modifications to integrate into our flock. Whereas Corliss, Ola and Nash’s Military macaw, we refer to as a rescue because her basic needs weren’t met, she was terrified of new people and required a lot more training and attention to become a confident member of the flock. Keeping that in mind let’s get down to the nitty gritty, the benefits of adopting a parrot vs buying a baby bird.

Pearl my rehomed cockatiel and Corliss Ola and Nash’s rescued Military macaw.

One of the biggest things to consider when bringing any parrot into your home is will they outlive you? If so, what’s your plan for them after you pass? This can be difficult to think about but may play a huge role on the species and age of parrot you bring into your home. Many macaws live 80+years, so if you buy a baby they will need another home when you can’t care for them anymore, adopting an older parrot may be a more favourable option. Alternatively many rescues will allow parrots adopted from them to be signed back over to them in the owners will, ensuring the parrot has a bright future in a loving home after your pass. Can you ensure a baby bird has a good life if they outlive you?

Many first time parrot owners opt to buy a baby bird as they’re generally seen as less of a ‘challenge’ to own. If the baby is hand-raised they will be used to human interaction and generally pretty sweet. What they fail to remember is that their sweet baby will inevitably grow up to become an adult parrot with all the adult behaviour typical to its species. They will require training during this development and go through a “teenage phase” in the same way many animals do, if their behaviour isn’t correctly managed and adjusted in this critical development stage they can develop bad habits that can be difficult to break. An adopted parrot MAY already have these bad habits but you’ll learn from the get go how to work with them and modify their behaviour rather than continuously modifying your strategy as they mature and develop. A baby raised without the correct training and guidance will end up with just as many behavioural problems as any rescue.

An example of a bad habit, many hand-raised baby parrots develop is they don’t learn to entertain themselves, they have relied on people to feed them and as they become weaned they still depend on people for affection and stimulation. This can initially seem cute but can very quickly turn into a problem, in a similar way to dogs parrots can develop separation anxiety, especially if they haven’t been encouraged to play independently. This can lead to a range of issues such as being overly clingy when you’re in the room, hyperactivity, screaming when you leave, destructive behaviour when left alone and in severe cases self-destructive behaviour such as barbering and feather plucking. This can be an incredibly frustrating habit to break once it’s formed and requires a lot of time and patience. On the other hand, many rescue parrots have been forced to entertain themselves, although this is a very sad reality for them, it generally means they are a lot calmer as well as more comfortable being left to entertain themselves. If you have a busy life and cannot devote all of your time to your parrot, a rescue may be a better fit than a baby.

A common reason for parrots to be rehomed is they “suddenly” become aggressive and defensive, this is usually linked to hormones around mating season and is completely natural and unavoidable. The good news is many rescues/rehomes are already past their first season of hormones which tend to be the hardest, whereas with baby birds you will have to battle hormones with them and it tends to hit all of a sudden. If you aren’t prepared to handle hormones, adopting an older parrot can be a great option.

Rehoming from a registered charity also comes with many bonuses. They tend to have first hand experience and expertise with a range of species, as well as the individual parrots they have available to rehome. This means they can help match you to a parrot that may be a better fit with you and your lifestyle than the species you may have had in mind, which in the long term will be a more successful companionship. Most rescues also have a policy that after adoption if you don’t feel your parrot is the right fit for you they will take them back and find them another loving home, this offers a bit of a failsafe compared to many breeders who will not take a baby bird back. Many rescue charities will ask for a donation fee, this is usually lower than the cost of a baby bird and is put back into helping more parrots, so in adopting them you’re helping more than just the parrot you take home. For a list of registered rescue charities click here.

To summarise, all parrots have their difficulties as they aren’t domestic animals, we need to stop branding rescues/rehomes as “damaged,problem parrots” as the majority of the time they’re just misunderstood. Whether you choose to adopt or buy a baby bird, please do your research and don’t support bad breeding.

Written by Hannah Green