A PARROT'S BILL OF RIGHTS
by Stewart A. Metz, M.D.
1. GET TO KNOW ABOUT PARROTS BEFORE YOU BRING ME HOME - I am not a
domesticated pet like a dog or cat. I still have the spirit of the jungle in
me. I have special needs which you may find it hard to fill. Please don't
learn these too late for my well-being. And please don't acquire one of my
cousins wild from the jungle-it will jeopardize his survival and well-being,
and that won't be a party for you either!
2. GIVE ME THE LARGEST HOME POSSIBLE - I am use to flying through
rainforests or savannas. I have given up this great gift for your pleasure.
At the very least, give me enough room to flap my wings and exercise. And I
need toys for my amusement and wood to chew-otherwise, I might confuse your
Home with the forest and its trees.
3. GIVE ME A NUTRITIOUS DIET - I need a wide variety of fresh and nutritious
foods, even if they take time to prepare. I cannot survive on seed alone.
Take time to learn what my needs are.
4. LET ME HAVE A "SOCIAL LIFE" - I am a gregarious flock animal-but I am not
one of you. I need lots of socialization to learn how to act with you, and
with my siblings. I also need to have adequate quality time with you every
day-no matter what your schedule or other needs are. I am a living, feeling
creature. Above all, I need to be able to have complete trust in you, and
count on your predictability in looking after me-every day.
5. LET ME BE CLEAN - I may like to drop food or even throw it, but I need
meticulous cleanliness to be healthy. My skin itches without frequent
showers, the barbs of my feathers won't seal if they become oily and, worst
of all, I may become ill if my food or water is not always sanitary.
6. I NEED MY OWN DOCTOR - You may not understand my physiology and therefore
you may not recognize it early on when I get sick. And it may be too late
when you do, because I hide my illnesses (remember what I said about my
being an animal of the jungle, where there are lots of predators). And I
need an avian vet-a specialist (no HMOs for me please). If you can't afford
one, perhaps you shouldn't have taken me home.
7. PLEASE DON'T PUNISH ME - Just as I don't always understand your
peculiarities, you may not understand mine. I don't TRY to get in
trouble-remember, a house is not the jungle. If I do screw up, don't yell at
me and never hit me. I have sensitive ears and I may never trust you again
if you strike me. Hands are sometimes scary things to us (why in the world
would you not be zygodactylous like us?) Even more importantly, we don't
learn by punishment. We are gentle creatures who only strike back to protect
ourselves; we learn through patience and love.
8. SPEAK MY "LANGUAGE" - I know you get upset with me when I knock over my
water bowl, throw food, scream or pluck my feathers. I don't do these to
annoy you-I am probably trying to tell you something (perhaps that I am
hurting, lonely, or sad.) Learn to speak MY (body) language. Remember that
I, alone of all creatures on this planet, learn to speak yours!
9. SEE ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL - I am a unique and feeling being...No two of us
are alike. Please don't be disappointed in me if I don't talk like you
wanted, or can't do the tricks that your friend's parrot can do. But if you
pay close attention to me (and I always empathize with you, whether you know
it or not), I will show you a unique being who will give you so much more
than talking and playing...Give me a chance to show you who I am; I think
you'll find the effort with it. And remember-I am not an ornament; I do not
enhance ANY living room decor. And I am not a status symbol-if you use me as
such, I might nip at your up-turned nose!
10. SHARE YOUR LOVE WITH ME - Above all, please remember that you are my
Special Person. I put all my trust and faith in you...We parrots are use to
being monogamous. (no bar-hopping for us!). So please don't go away for long
periods or give me away-that would be a sadness from which I may never
recover. If that seems to be asking a lot, remember-you could have learned
about my needs BEFORE bringing me home. Even having a baby or taking a new
job isn't a fair reason-you made a commitment to me FIRST! And if you think
that you must leave me because you might die, provide for me forever after
you leave. I may live to a ripe old age but I can't provide for myself.
Remember I'm in a small cage amongst people who are not of my blood.
11. YOUR RIGHTS - You have lots of rights, but I can only assure one. And
that is, if you treat me the way I described above, I will reward you with
unwavering love, humor, knowledge, beauty, dedication-and a sense of wonder
and awe you haven't felt since you were a child. When you took me home, you
became my Flock Leader, indeed, my entire universe-for life. I would hang
the moon and stars for you if I could. We are one in Heart and Soul.