Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo ~ Above
Original question on Quora:
Do pet birds like parrots and cockatoos have shorter life spans when they live with humans rather than in the wild? If so, why would this be so?
I love this question.
I hate this question.
It’s a really big question.
“Parrots and cockatoos” indicate the question that comes from outside the world of pet birdkeeping.
Trust me when I say, “They had it much better off until we humans got involved.
I don’t know how much research if any has been done on the subject but sometimes it’s more fun to explore than fact check.
This way you can draw your own conclusions.
Parrots, parakeets, waxbills, and softbills are prey animals.
They spend 60% of their day trying to eat and the other 40% trying not to be eaten.
Hawks, falcons, and kites are predatory animals with only one thought, “Where’s my next meal going to come from”?
According to veterinary medicine, when taken as a group of necropsied parrots, it was found that 90% died of malnutrition.
Shocker ~ all that really healthy chop fed to birds, has no protein, at least not enough to maintain a fish let alone a creature with a standing heart rate of 200 BPM.
Birds in our home know “food is in this dish” and “water is in that dish” with distances best described in inches and perhaps feet in an aviary-size birdcage.
How do budgies find food in the middle of the Australian outback ~ teamwork?
Scouting parties following marsupials to feeding grounds and watering holes.
Then they ate/eat what nature provided for tens of millions of years ~ seed.
At least wild animals can make their own healthy choices and are not stuck with anthropomorphic (an·thro·po·mor·phic/) decisions like all sunflower seed diets (“I inherited the bird and that’s all it will eat “ is a real thing we have heard more than once) are created by human caregivers, not birds.
Let’s circle back to that amazing video we just saw of a million budgies avoiding a single hawk.
Those little hoodlums are quick, I know, I live and work with 8 of them (and 3 small parrots), but parrots, big ones like greenwing macaws, and umbrella cockatoos (per the reader’s question) aren’t as fast.
I’ve witnessed a peregrine falcon strike a mourning dove.
Came straight at it. I didn’t hear anything more than a few rustling leaves then like a micro superhero, this feathered missile struck and had the prey bird on the ground before I could focus on any single part of the event.
As a falconry hunter, I have seen a fast-flying prey bird die after crashing into a power line.
These are what constitute the circle of life.
As we drill down into this question let’s apply climate change as a factor.
Flying birds from South America to North America to a hungry crowd of anxious potential pet bird keepers.
That was made illegal by the Endangered Species Act and most of the smuggling into the US has slowed.
The deforestation of South America had barely begun, life was good and beautiful birds were plentiful.
Once again, the same species of homo sapiens do a terrible job of keeping pet birds while shortening and even ending the lifespans of those exotic birds in the wild.
What are the takeaways thus far?
Humans shorten the lifespans of birds in their homes through poor care and nutrition.
Those of you reading this can castigate me for saying these things but I’ve been rescuing pet birds for 20 years and teach bird care at avian rescues.
Humans don’t do a good job with animals and continue to shorten their lifespans in the home and the wild.