I have often wondered how parrot breeders and parrot- selling pet stores can justify selling birds that will outlive the owner. What advice would you give to a potential first-time parrot owner who is considering the purchase of a parrot that will outlive a human lifetime?
The advice I would give to a first time parrot owner would be similar advice I would give to anybody planning to get a pet. Always evaluate the reasons for wanting a pet and then hone in on the pet that best meets that criteria. Size of bird and required cage, ability to talk or sing, general breed personality, neighbours and noise, and of course, life span should all be considered. After that, a person should then evaluate their own life style to see if they can meet the bird’s needs both in the present and in the future.
Circumstances in life change. Children leave home, jobs come and go, couples separate and death is not always predictable. So what happens when a bird outlives its human caretaker? Just as parents plan for their children, bird owners should plan for their birds. It is not fair or reasonable to assume your children, spouse (who, perhaps, the bird has never liked!!) or best friend will want to take over the responsibility of caring for your bird when you are gone. A bird guardian should be appointed prior to needing one – and ideally, considered prior to making the commitment of taking on a long-lived bird.
A caretaker agreement should be made clear in a will or other legal document and can be as spelled out as either party wants. Owners should consider leaving a trust account or financial stipend for the future care of the bird as part of the agreement. And whenever possible, the person named in the agreement should play a role in the bird’s life before it is a forced necessity.
We never like to think of the unthinkable, but having peace of mind that your beloved pet will be cared for means facing the reality that the life span of many of the beautiful parrot breeds can exceed that of us humans.
Dr. Kerry Korber
Calgary Avian & Exotic Pet Clinic