Buying a Parrot
Before taking on a new parrot, consider it carefully. A Parrot is often
for life, and that may not only mean the life of the bird but perhaps
your life and even beyond.
Compared with other pets they are generally far more intelligent, with
the mental age of the average four-year-old child.
They require just as much care and attention as the child, BUT they never
Parrots require just as much love and attention and care as any other
member of the family.
If you are convinced that a parrot is for you, please consider the following
points very carefully:
1. Read up as much as possible about psittacine birds generally and more
specifically about the species you have selected.
2. Do not rely on shop staff they may be poorly trained and remember
they are going to gain a profit out of making a sale.
Cheap birds are not bargains
There is no such thing as a cheap bird. Such birds could be ill, stolen,
or the remnants (and hence poorest specimens) of a batch of imported birds.
Be wary of buying a bird from a newspaper, a free ad classifieds paper
or the Internet. Unless the seller can prove where the bird came from
and you can check it out yourself, it's not worth it.
Choice of species
Pet birds need company. If the house is empty during the day, a parrot
is generally not suitable. Have you really got enough time, energy and
all the attention which the bird will seek?
Do you have sufficient room for a suitable sized cage and play station,
not only now, but once more children come along etc.
A bird must, by law, be able to fully extend it's wings in a cage both
lengthways, widthways and in height.
Consider noise levels with certain species (especially Macaws and Cockatoo's)
and the proximity of your neighbours.
A cockatoo can easily screech at 104 decibels. That's the equivalent
of standing ten feet away from a pneumatic drill.
If buying a parrot or cockatiel for a pet, ensure it is hand reared and
bred in this country. Hand reared birds bred in captivity make much better
pets than those that have been wild caught and imported.
Even under the current ban, wild birds that were imported before the
ban could still be for sale in pet shops and the small ads in newspapers
and classified papers.
Hand reared captive bred birds are as different as chalk and cheese in
comparison with others. Wild caught birds rarely become as tame and easily
handled as hand reared birds.
Furthermore by buying a hand reared bird you are minimising the stress
that the bird has undergone prior to you gaining ownership, and hence
reducing the likelihood of it having arrived already suffering from a
disease or illness.
Where to find the hand reared bird of your choice
Make as many enquiries as possible and ensure that you are buying from
a reputable breeder or retailer. A personal recommendation is often useful.
A good breeder will keep you informed of the birds development, up to
when it is fully weaned, which is the stage at which it can leave home.
A baby parrot should never be sold before it is fully weaned.
Most reputable breeders will fit a closed ring to the baby's leg in the
first 10 days of life, (after which time the birds foot is too large to
get the ring on), this is simply to indicate that the bird was in captivity
at that stage of it's life, which in turn tends to indicate that it is
Alternatively a microchip may be implanted, although this can be inserted
at any stage of the birds life.
Ensure that you receive a detailed receipt for your purchase. This should
include the exact description of the bird you are buying, including it's
origin, captive bred or not, hand reared or not, it's age, sex if known,
what species and if possible the Latin name, the price paid, and whether
or not is has undergone a veterinary health check by an avian vet, to
ensure it is free of disease.
If it has undergone a health check, this is meaningless unless the bird
has been kept isolated from other birds since then. Breeders should also
issue you with instructions on the birds current food type and volume
Should you consider buying an older bird?
Care should always be exercised in buying an older bird. They may well
have uncertain or even untraceable histories and health status.
The vendor may be selling in good faith, but was he or she told the truth
when they acquired the bird? Why is it being sold?
In particular beware if it screams or bites, such behaviour may relate
to it's previous keeper or it may be an indication of being wild caught,
and as such the behaviour may readily resolve.
For an experienced trainer, with a great deal of time on their hands,
almost all birds can settle down, but this would not be a bird for a beginner.
The birds health status
This is typically very difficult to tell, except that a very sick bird
generally appears to be so.
Many birds have either moderate to low grade or latent disease hiding
in their system at the time of purchase. A bird should be bright eyed,
with round shining eyes and should never appear to be dropping off to
sleep on it's perch during the day time.
The bird should not have a prominent breast bone, it should rather be
surrounded but not obscured by muscle.
There should be nasal or ocular discharges and the breathing should be
regular, even and without undue effort. Plumage should be clean and tidy,
with no significant damage or feather loss.
However, no keeper however experienced is able to tell if a new bird
is fully well, or might in fact be harbouring an infectious disease.
New bird check
All new birds should have a full health check. It is important that this
is performed before the bird has an opportunity to mix with any other
birds, or for your husbandry to adversely affect it's health and should
be carried out by a specialist bird vet.
What happens when you are not able to look after your parrot?
Have you considered what will happen to your bird when you are away on
Generally it is preferable to have an experienced parrot handler come
and stay in the house rather than the parrot go away to board. If your
bird boards somewhere, then it is likely that other birds also board there.
There is inevitably a risk of cross infection. Have you made provision
in your will for the bird.
Is the person you are leaving your bird to reliable, do they really want
the bird or did they just find it awkward to decline.
Ensure that you have contingency plans in place.
Cost of veterinary care
Insure your bird, against veterinary fees and theft. Not only do they
need an initial health check after purchase but it's recommended they
have an annual health check too.
And avian veterinary fees are not cheap.
Reproduced with permission of specialist avian vet
|St Piran's Cross - the only remnant of former times
Penhale Sands in Cornwall is the largest area of sand dunes in Britain.
To the casual eye it looks empty, a haven for wildlife.
But its splendid wilderness hides one of the greatest treasures of Cornish
Apart from an ancient Celtic Cross, theres nothing much to show
that man was ever here.
But in the Middle Ages pilgrims came to pay homage here on their way
to Compostella in Spain.
They came to visit a religious community founded in the 5th Century by
Cornwalls most celebrated saint - St Piran.
All that history is long gone, buried beneath these shifting sands, but
the Cornish want it back.
Heritage campaigners want back the church of St Piran.
It stood near Penhale Sands until the turn of the 18th Century.
But it was subsequently abandoned and left to its fate following constant
attack from sand blown across by wild Atlantic storms.
Now a team of archaeologists has arrived. Theyve got just four
weeks to discover how much of the church remains under the dunes and to
find out what other secrets lie hidden nearby.
Dick Cole is in charge of the project but his team must proceed with
Penhale Sands are a conservation area, and much of the dig has to be
done painstakingly by hand.
St Piran's legend
According to legend, Irish chieftains tied St Piran to a millstone and
threw him into the Irish Sea.
But as is the way with saints, he fetched up across the water in Cornwall,
bringing Christianity with him.
|St Piran - a legendary figure and a revered saint
One thousand and fifty years later, Cornish people come to these dunes
every year on March 5th to celebrate St Pirans Day
St Piran built an oratory on these dunes but it disappeared beneath the
So 10th Century Christians replaced it with the building now under excavation.
The dig wouldnt be happening without the efforts of St Piran enthusiasts
like Eileen. "Ive waited for a long time," she says enthusiastically.
And it wouldnt be possible without a huge amount of help from volunteers.
A week into the dig progress on the church itself is painstakingly slow.
But one of the nearby trenches reveals just how much sand has blown over
the site and - confirms the existence of a graveyard
The dig coincides with the 200th anniversary of the building of the current
St Pirans church.
This was built to an almost identical floor plan as the original. It
uses some of the material taken when it was abandoned, including wooden
pew ends and the font.
|Shifting sands - hiding a rich archaeological heritage
Its scale gives us some idea of the grandeur of the original. To be on
the safe side, this one was built well away from the dunes, two miles
inland at Perranzabuloe
Back at the original church site the project is now well into its third
Diggers have arrived to move things on. Its very exposed here and
the dig has to put up with some atrocious weather.
It's a race against time but already a number of exciting discoveries
have been made.
With most of the sand removed, much of the original church can now be
The archaeologists have also found another skeleton not in the
graveyard but in a trench they dug beyond the boundary wall.
It could be a a suicide victim or a witch.
Dicks team finish the dig just in time, the day before the service
is due to take place.
By the time next years St Pirans Day comes around, the grass
will be back.
And, according to scientists, the sand is now stable and wont ever
cover the site again.
A piece of Cornish heritage has been reclaimed for generations to come
- the legend lives on.
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