You are forever responsible for that which you have tamed
– Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
When we bring home that adorable little puppy or that crazy little kitten, we hope to enjoy their companionship for at the very least 10-15 years, perhaps even 15-20 years with good fortune, and we do our very best to ensure that they will have another loving home should we not be able to be there for them to the end of their lifetime. But bringing home a sweet young parrot can require a wholly different level of lifetime planning.
While the average lifespan of a parakeet, cockatiel, or conure may well fall in the range of that anticipated for a dog or cat, some species of those types of parrots have been known to live 25-35 years. And the larger types of parrots (African greys, amazons, cockatoos, and macaws) can have average lifespans of 25-70 years, with some species known to live 80-100 years. Lifetime care for a parrot may well require planning for generations of caregivers.
Not only is longevity an important consideration for lifetime planning for a parrot, but so also is the importance of remembering (as described in last week’s column) that all parrots are undomesticated creatures of high intelligence and great emotional sensitivity, and do not come into a household seeking to fit in. As a result, when a parrot does develop a deep emotional bond of trust with its caregiver, and that caregiver is lost to them, the grief that ensues can bring a highly sensitive parrot to the depths of despair and the height of fear and anger. Any new caregiver must be prepared to nurture any parrot in transition with great love and sensitivity, and plan themselves for the future care of that parrot.
Join me next week for some fun highlights of what you can expect from different types and species of parrots.