15 Ways Owning a Parrot is Like Having a Forever-Toddler.

I often hear that owning parrots is like bringing a toddler into your house – for life – and I feel like it’s true. I don’t have kids myself, but I asked some friends and family who have been through the terrible twos… and they agree. There is a reason some people choose to call their pet parrots ‘fids,’ or refer to themselves as ‘parronts.’ (I prefer ‘slave,’ myself.)

Cockatoo demonstrates ‘puppy dog eyes.’
  1. Tantrums. Parrots have tantrums. Babies have tantrums. They are remarkably similar to behold. I once watched Bobo the umbrella cockatoo have a meltdown because people weren’t saying hello and goodbye to him as they passed him in his carrier – a cardinal sin, in his eyes. He crouched down and howled until people looked at him (and at me, because what an abusive human I must be to cause my animal to make that terrible noise). Later, I went grocery shopping with my partner and watched a child fall screaming to the ground. I saw people giving his mother the very same look.
  2. People judge your parenting/parronting ability. Oh, yes, if you go out in public and your bird or child misbehaves, it must be because of you. Sometimes you’ll even garner unsolicited advice!
  3. Parrots and toddlers share the same emotional and cognitive intelligence, and are therefore capable of being very manipulative. Puppy dog eyes? Enough said.
  4. The mess and destruction. Nothing is safe. What looks interesting gets explored with a mouth or beak. Everything you own has been gummed or chewed. You know how your toddler scribbled on the walls? Well, just imagine your entire wall has been chewed through to the other side, and that’s what it’s like to own a macaw or cockatoo. Toddlers and parrots both leave spectacular messes wherever they go, especially when you try and feed them. And there is no such thing as truly toddler- or parrot-proofing your home.
  5. Sleepless nights. With Bobo, our umbrella cockatoo, we would creep around after dark for fear of waking him. If he heard us, he would give a hearty shout (or seven) to let us know that he was onto us. I spent many a dark hour soothing him back to sleep after a night fright. And don’t forget bedtime tantrums. ‘I DON’T WANNA GO TO BED.’
  6. Routine. Both love and thrive on routine. Suddenly you can’t stay late because you have to get home in time for bedtime – the ‘sitter is only available ’til five. No longer can you travel on a whim or enjoy the total freedom of independence.
  7. Nothing you do is done solo anymore. Nothing. Peeing? Better count on company. Washing dishes one-handed? Get used to it. Going out on errands? Pack for two. Chores? Nope. Learn your balancing act.
  8. Noise level. They get vocal when they feel sad/happy/angry/frustrated/sleepy. Parrots who don’t get their way have been known to scream and shriek until you give in. Sound familiar?
  9. Poop. There is a lot of pooping going on with babies and parrots. And neither one tends to control it.
  10. Mood swings. Those terrible twos are ever-lasting for a parrot. Happy-angry, happy-angry. I’ve seen the same thing happen to toddlers. Laughing one moment, shrieking the next.
  11. Completely needy and dependent. One will grow up, and one never will, but they are both completely dependent on you for their every need – from food, clean living, and comfort and love.
  12. They’re hell on shoes. Toddlers outgrow them like nothing else… and parrots just chew them to pieces.
  13. Both have their own ideas of what they want to do. Look out if you try and stop them. Both are always on the move… for trouble.
  14. The majority share a limited vocabulary mostly consisting of coos, shrieks, and babbling – with a few words thrown in. That doesn’t mean that they can’t communicate their wants, though.
  15. You make sacrifices. First goes the freedom to do what you want. Then you make financial sacrifices: no eating out because you need to buy toys and supplies! Next comes the sacrifice of your own bedroom. Hey, they need it more. Finally, you even give up your sleep and the food right off your own plate. Nothing is too much.

::Bonus:: Convincing either one to eat their vegetables is a long-held battle that usually ends in a huge mess.

Brussels Sprouts
Try getting a kid or parrot to eat Brussels sprouts.
Face caked with food. Familiar?

**This is by no means a post intended to diminish the hard work of parenting. It is also a gentle warning to anyone considering a parrot, as owning these animals – even a humble budgie or cockatiel – is not as simple as many may envision.

13 thoughts on “15 Ways Owning a Parrot is Like Having a Forever-Toddler.

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      1. No, I figure my pup is enough responsibility, especially when I hit the road. But I’m sure enjoying your posts about the darling little feathered friends.


  1. Hits my macaw, Taz, pretty much on the head. 22 years old and still a toddler. Only difference is he talks more. Everything else is largely the same as when he was younger. But I would not have him any other way. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Ha, that’s cute! Talented boy. I love them just as they are too. Something about those puppy-eyes, haha. Thanks for re-blogging!


  2. Reblogged this on Ryan Jo Summers and commented:
    A blog I love to follow. Very ‘head on’ article to think about if you want a parrot in your life–forever or if you already do or just for a good laugh at those of us who already are owned by a parrot.


  3. It is amazing that someone put all of my birds personality in the posting. I have 2 rescued Amazons and 15 rescued cockatiels. Some of my cockatiels are handicapped. I moved from a 3 bedroom to a 5 bedroom so the cockatiels can have their own cage free home. They feel free and have their own window. I used to have them in big flight cages but my handicaps need more room. One had a wing chopped off. One has all the toes missing on her left foot. One has a missing leg. Some think I am Momma. Others accept me as their human and the rest don’t care what I am as long as I supply their needs.
    As for the Amazons, Rambo is a DYH 30 years old that never learned to fly because he was not allowed. He is equivalent to a 5 year old and is happy to have his own window and a fresh.cardboard box every week to tare up.
    Just like my human kids (now 40+) my feathered kids are complete opposites. BF Myrtle who is 4 and equivalent to a 2 year old is into everything. Since I don’t cage my Amazons the whole house is Myrtles area with toys everywhere and hanging things to swing on. I have a place setting at my dining room table for Myrtle. It is easier that way because she wants whatever I have in my plate. She came to me at a year old on a diet of seeds and water. She learned from Rambo what was good to eat. She then decided that whatever had had was good to eat.
    Sorry that I rattled on. I lived for my human kids and now I live for my feathered kids.
    Non parrot people do not under stand the bond we have and think I am nuts.
    You have never seen a tantrum until you witness a parrot tantrum. They start out using words and as they get more angry they revert to what I call baby blabber.
    I am 65 and will be a parent of little kids for the rest of my life.


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