Are Parrots a Good Companion Animal?
Butters. We named her after the most innocent personality we could think of: Leopold "Butters" Stotch of the South Park animated series. Nothing about South Park is innocent but Leopold. Over the years as Leopold grows up around his peers, he learns to become his true self, which can be quite a handful. But rarely, and when he gets out of line, he quickly regrets it and seeks solace and forgiveness. He is a kind soul.
So is our Butters. She's been a good girl these past 10 years. We brought Butters home pinny and young. We weaned her for over 13 months, as in the wild a young macaw can take a year for such progress. And I am a huge fan of abundance weaning. Those who know me know I'm a big fan of the abundance of love. Butters and I created a friendship and love her first year. She's my big blue chicken made of Velcro.
She needs my head at dusk for an hour to roost before bed. She needs my shoulder for late morning. She needs to pull my eyeglasses wonky while on my shoulder, because she loves me. I straighten out my glasses every 2 minutes after every silly tug. She's just letting me know she's there, and still most important. She'll flap her wings after every tug with a chuckle.
She needs to look out the window with me. Perched on my right hand (never left) searching for the elusive and evil slimy dinner plate named turtle. She sneezes with me every single time I sneeze. I never sneeze alone because of Butters. She sings with my guitar, acoustic or electric. She sings with me while I play my guitar. She is so humble she dares not speak her own name but calls out Snickers and Kirby's with gusto.
Butters is a big Bolivian blue and gold macaw. She's small in stature, but stout. She is truly my big blue chicken. When she was very young, she spent her time on her play blanket on the floor next to me while I worked on the computer.
- She learned what a toy was on that blanket.
- She learned how to stand on her two feet on that blanket.
- She slept at night in her big see-through Tupperware box. We would feed her dinner, hold her and cuddle until she fell asleep. And then place her in her box (no lid please, mom has to hear all her sounds, for safety concerns don't you know) and then carefully place her on a wide, low shelf in the master walk-in closet, with the door open. There she could sleep in absolute dark, and we were only a few feet away. I remember waking up to hear a baby macaw talk gibberish in the middle of the night. Her voice has been sweet as cotton candy since day one.
We have rescued, adopted, purchased, and fostered parrots. We've brought them home pinny and young, and full of themselves older. I've taken an uncertain rescue and turned him into a Felix. Or maybe a Felix turned an uncertain rescuer into a trainee. I'm still not sure. Old world, new world. We have both.
It isn't the species or the age that defines the relationship you will have with a companion parrot. It is the time you invest to discover the truth of who your companion is as an individual. It isn't their size. It isn't where they came from to find you. It is communication. Sincere communication that leaves room for messes, mistakes, and options.
The question isn't whether a parrot is a delightful companion. The question is, are you a delightful companion for them? If you love being with and caring for a child or children, and feel happy putting them first, then yes, you are an excellent candidate for a companion parrot.
Of course, ultimately, the parrot gets the final vote.