Dogs are from Mars, Cats are from Venus
Parrots are from the Wild Blue Yonder
While our domestic cats and dogs all fall within the same biological species classifications (our cats within the species Felis catus, and our dogs within the species Lupus familiaris), parrots fall within the order Psittaciformes and then diverge into 300-400 unique species. We are inclined to think of different kinds of parrots as different “breeds” of parrots, much as we do dogs and cats, but that is not the case. Each “breed” of parrot is a distinctly different species of bird, incapable of reproducing fertile offspring when hybridized with other species of parrots, and manifesting not only vastly different physical characteristics, but also very different behavioral traits. The broad order Psittaciformes includes the tiniest Parakeet and the largest Macaw, the meekest Pionus and the cheekiest Cockatoo, all wonderfully different types of birds, and each type diverging into different species.
But as important as individual species characteristics may be in selecting the right parrot companion, the most important consideration for any prospective parrot owner is that, unlike our pet dogs and cats, parrots are not domesticated animals. All parrots, regardless of species, origin, or degree of tameness, are captive undomesticated creatures of high intelligence and great emotional sensitivity, with specialized nutritional needs and a physiology that demands specialized veterinary care.
It’s important to remember that a parrot, as an undomesticated creature, does not come to us seeking to fit in. It takes a great deal of patience and sensitivity to build a joyful relationship with a parrot. It takes a very special kind of person to nurture a parrot, and the bigger the bird, the greater the challenges.
Tune in for more about parrots during the coming weeks…