Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Sorry for the delay. I had full intentions of providing you with my take on the African Red Bellied parrot several weeks ago and life got in the way. 🙂
First of all, let me introduce Pepper our two-and-a-half-year-old ARB. I am emphasizing two year old because we are going through what I can only hope is the terrible 2s stage and not a lifelong trait with him.
For a bit of history, this is not my first rodeo. I was very active in owning, caring, training, and taming parrots many years ago. I go back to the days when most were wild caught birds that required significant patience and attention.
Back then we parrot owners were a special breed within our own right. What I mean by that is that you had to really want a parrot to go through the taming and training process back then. I won’t deny that capturing parrots in the wild contributed to their demise, but in many ways I think that captive breeding and making them more available to the unprepared general public seeking a pet may be just as much a disservice as the former. I digress and that’s an entirely different topic for another day.
Red-bellied Parrot; a male juvenile.
My point being I have owned many exotic birds both large and small including Lovebirds, budgies, Amazons, Cockatoos, and McCaws.
After a long recess from parrot ownership I decided to once again dabble with ownership after a long hiatus. I am retired now and figured I had the time to properly devote to parrot ownership once again. I am still in my early 60s, but my age certainly factored into my decision for an ARB. I didn’t want a bird that with much over a 15-20 year normal lifespan for obvious reasons. I also wanted a smaller species due to their less destructive tendencies and mess. To add to my list I was interested in speaking ability, quietness — I still remember our Moluccan Cockatoo that could out scream a 747 on takeoff — trainability, to some extent gentleness. Having done my homework an ARB seemed like the perfect fit. While I got some of it right, Pepper has not entirely lived up to the hype.
Speaking ability and vocabulary exceeded my expectation. His vocabulary is over 50 words nows and continues to grow. Although, not exactly human sounding at times — he can sound a little munchkin like at times due to his small size — he amazes me as to how well he can string together phrases (sometimes making up his own), how quickly he picks up a phrase with little or no prompting, and how often he understands what he is saying. I would on occasion say, “You dropped it” if he was chewing on something and he lost his grip. Well, now of course almost anytime he drops something he quickly follows with “I dropped it.” I could provide many other examples where he has picked up not just the phrase, but meaning, as well.
I chose not to clip Pepper. He is flight trained and comes to me on demand. He flies, well.…like a bird I guess you could say. Anywhere and everywhere around the house when allowed. I know there are pros and cons, but I wanted him to be able to exercise and have as normal a birdlife as one can have when in captivity.
One trait you will often read about ARBs is how quiet they are and suitable for apartment dwellers. We don’t live in an apartment, but we do live in a small mountain cabin and quiet is not a word I would use to describe Pepper. They have a very loud guttural flock call that is like nails across a chalk board. Another high pitched scream that is almost as irritating. No amount of training or diet has worked to keep this under control. This may be partly a hormonal thing, because he did not do this first until he hit two, but I’m hoping it will eventually subside.
The other hormonal trait is biting. At about two he went from the sweetest bird anyone could handle to Ivan the Terrible. Birds I’ve owned in the past, having once earned their trust, were gentle as they could be. Pepper was just the opposite. He went from gentle to aggressive. Once again, we are hoping he will out grow this, but this has not been the case thus far.
That’s it for now. I need to get on with the day. I’m attaching a photo and can go into more details later. I leave with you with this parting though. If I were to get another ARB I would probably get a female. Although not as striking I believe their disposition might be a little more suitable. I have read they are not as good a talker as the males, though.
My $0.02 worth.
Jeff – This is wonderful, truly.
I just scanned it as I am working but I will go through this later and also share with my husband.
We plan to check out a few rescues in September as it is cooling down and we will be traveling less.
The bird always goes with. we don’t leave one alone.
I can’t wait….
Thank you very much.