Please don’t buy a parrot: adopt a parrot

close-up-parrot-on-pavementOccasionally people call or e-mail me asking me whether I can help them find a Quaker or other parrot to serve as a human companion. Sometimes these requests seem to me a bit whimsical, and which case I discourage them because my belief is that when you contemplate bringing a parrot into your home, you must prepare to make a significant long-term commitment to an emotionally demanding, highly intelligent creature who might even outlive you. That’s just my personal view (and I know many who don’t share it).

On the other hand, such requests are often serious, for example the well-meaning attempt to find a pet parrot who’s pining for his or her mate a friend of the same species. In this case I’ll do my best to hook the person up with a good parrot adoption agency.

There are many legitimate agencies around, including Adopt-A-Pet (formerly 1-800-Save-A-Pet), which functions as a clearinghouse designed to match birds put out for adoption with prospective human adopters. Using Adopt-A-Pet is easy; just select your pet type, type in your zip code with a travel range, and search. When I searched Adopt-A-Pet today, there were many parrots looking for nice people to care for them.

Another good service is Again, just type in the kind of animal you’re looking for, your zip code plus travel range, and you should instantly get results. In New York, there are local sanctuaries — one I recommend is Feathered Friends (based in Queens), because I know Barry Schwartz personally and know how committed he is to parrots who are housed temporarily until they can find new, loving homes.

So please don’t buy a parrot. Adopt one. There are many wonderful birds looking for homes. Please use an adoption service if you’re looking for a companion and are prepared to make the commitment.

Do 32 cockatiels really deserve $100,000?

By Jim Bendon from Karratha, Australia (cockatiel 2) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jim Bendon from Karratha, Australia (cockatiel 2) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
A wealthy New York woman — Leslie Ann Mandel — made a $100,000 provision in her will so that her 32 cockatiels will be taken care of for the rest of their natural lives. The story — broken by the New York Post — has now gotten worldwide media attention and sparked blowback on social media. To some, she’s the latest incarnation of Leona Helmsley, who left her dog Trouble $12 million.

But is $100,000 really that extravagant an amount? Only to those who don’t know how expensive it is to keep pet parrots.

Cockatiels are members of the parrot family who live, in captivity, for about 20 years. $100,000 divided by 20 is $5,000 a year. Yes, the funds will probably be invested in some interest-bearing account, so let’s say the fund lasts longer and we up the yearly allotment to $6,000 a year.

$6,000 divided by 365 = equals a daily budget of $16 a day.

That’s $0.50 per bird.

That’s not a lot for food, sanitation, and care. It doesn’t provide for any medical attention (people who operate on tiny bird bones don’t come cheap).

With larger parrots (for example cockatoos), the food, space, and recreational requirements may extend far beyond $16 a day. A friend who takes in abandoned cockatoos now requires donees to post a minimum bond of $75,000 for each bird he takes in. This sounds like a lot of money, but doled over the life of a cockatoo it’s not much.

Give Leslie Ann Mandel a break. Her gift wasn’t extravagant. Parrots live a long time. They’re expensive to buy, expensive to keep, and expensive to provide for. She did the responsible thing – something that more parrot owners need to do.

Sure, you can argue that there are deserving humans out there who should have been the beneficiaries, but unless we abolish the institution of private property, rich people can do whatever they want with their money as long as they pay their taxes. Unlike Leona Hemsley, Mandel appears to have done so, so she’s OK in my book.


Spotlight on the Capital Region Parrot Society


Nice article today in the Albany Times Union on the Capital Region Parrot Society, a Ballston Spa-based parrot sanctuary (Ballston Spa is about 40 miles north of Albany). Run by Sandra Preisman, the 40-member strong organization has been active for many years serving the cause of giving “discarded” caged birds good homes where their essential needs are met.

As the article points out, caring for a large number of these birds takes dedication, hard work, and plenty of money (given the costs of providing suitable tropical temperatures during upstate New York’s legendary cold winters, plus quality nutrition, toys, and suitable enclosures). The CRPS has been doing this since the 1970s, and today, successfully places dozens of birds seach months with new owners who must an application and home trial process.
The good people who do this kind of work deserve our praise, and their message — that buying a parrot should never be an “impulse buy” but should be a decision that’s as carefully considered as that of adopting a human into the home — should be heeded. Parrots are intellgent, high-maintenance, social creatures who live a long time, and deserve better than to be relegated to a caged-in life with insufficient emotional and material support.

If you’re in the Albany area and wish to adopt a parrot (and are prepared to undergo the CRPS’s screeing process), please visit the organization’s web site or call 518-982-3495. You can also donate (via Paypal) to the CRPS on the site.

The Central Region Parrot Society: