Many people often ask the question:
Should we go with a baby bird, or look for an older bird who needs a new home?
Hubby and I have done both; each experience was fulfilling in its own way. The biggest benefit to a baby bird is that it allows you to learn to handle your parrot without fear early-on; but they grow up, they often change, and young birds are incredibly vulnerable to illness.
As far as older, rehomed birds go: there is nothing so touching as bonding with an older parrot. I have never met a more grateful creature in my life than a rehomed parrot.
It may take patience, it may take some very deep understanding, and for some, it might just take lots of time. But winning the trust of a parrot neglected or formerly abused is one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced in my twenty-seven years of pet ownership.
Sure, they have a funny way of showing their gratitude–tearing up all the cardboard and wood we provide (and some that we don’t), singing, dancing, screaming their hearts out when I’m trying to work, making giant messes, destroying a student’s homework for funsies, chasing my feet around and trying to kiss my ankles while I cook dinner…
There is an element to a rehomed parrot that just doesn’t exist when you raise him or her from a baby. It is absolutely beautiful and indescribable.
Even Louie, who clearly hasn’t been neglected a day in his life, also has that extra element of thankfulness and joy that many home-raised babies I’ve met and/or raised do not: he is deeply, deeply attached to us now, not because he thinks we’re his parents, but because we have been excellent flock-mates. =) We have earned his trust.
I’m sure that people who adopt shelter dogs and cats experience this as well, but there’s something extra special about forming a bond with so long-lived a creature.
That trust can be hard-won, but once you have it, it’s incredible.
Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and take home a bird that clearly hates you (or is even indifferent about you.)
Before we adopted Louie, I visited:
-a goffin’s cockatoo who liked me just fine, but just wasn’t all that into me. I could just tell.
-an amazon I wasn’t comfortable handling, though he seemed to like me. A lot.
-another smaller amazon who bit the dickens out of me (with virtually no warning)–no way we were taking her home!
Finding the right ‘fit’ is essential; you have to know what you’re comfortable with, what your triggers are, examine your own experience.
And you may walk into a bird store one day, and a bird may fall in love with you. They may dance when they see you–they might let you pet them when no one else can touch them. They might sing you a lovely little song.
Louie met Fletcher and I and immediately began kissing us on the cheeks, over and over. His former owners were blown away–he NEVER does that. Now that we’ve had him for over a year, I can vouch for that!
If you’re struggling to decide what to do, my advice:
Pick the parrot that picks you.
It is beyond worth it.
If you’re really struggling with the idea–baby or adult?–I implore you:
Look for that right fit: Give a re-homed bird a chance.