Parrots Make Great Pets

posted November 18th, 2013 by
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The PBS Documentary Parrot Confidential Gets it Wrong

Parrots Make Great Pets

Read Allison Argo’s web page titled Speaking. She is not shy about admitting she produces films to motivate change. And while she has the personal right to create such works, members of the American Federation of Aviculture wonder why PBS stations around the country would air a decidedly one‐sided piece.

In 1976, scholar Calvin Pryluck struggled with the ethics of documentary film‐making in an article titled: Ultimately, We Are All Outsiders: The Ethics of Documentary Filmmaking.” Given the technological advances on the horizon, said Pryluck, smaller cameras, lighter equipment, and easy access to subjects, “The acrimony surrounding a controversial film may be good for the box office; it is sometimes questionable for the value for art.”

People have lived with parrots and other avian companions for thousands of years. Martha Washington lived with parrots, as did President Teddy Roosevelt. Whether or not parrots are good pets has more to do with human beings than with parrots. Just as every person is not cut out to be a parent, not every person is destined to own a parrot. There are certain qualities which make good parents or good parrot owners.

The documentary claims the rise of domestic parrot breeding began after the airing of the television show Barretta which ran from 1975 to 1978. That series featured a cockatoo named Fred. The increase of domestic breeding coincided with the U.S. government’s adoption of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) agreement in 1974. This global initiative ‐‐ signed by 178 countries, with Angola agreeing to join by the end of the year – monitors parrot populations worldwide. The wild bird conservation act of 1992 (WBCA) prevents US citizens from commercially importing parrots; this act has stopped the legal importation of wild‐caught parrots destined for the U.S. since late 1991.

Unfortunately, parrots are still poached in some countries for the pet trade. However, U.S. domestic breeding has curtailed the importation of poached parrots to this country.

Note any parrot older than forty years most likely is a wild‐caught parrot and not a domestically bred parrot. And while people can debate what constitutes domestication, parrots bred and hand‐raised know no other life. These parrots thrive on human companionship and could not survive in the wild. Unlike their wild counterparts, parrot companions live in warm homes, get plenty of food and don’t need to worry about predators.

Domestic parrot breeders also do more than breed and sell parrots. These breeders share their unique knowledge and experiences with field biologists, zoos and other organizations monitoring parrots in the wild. Breeders are working to save endangered parrot species.


The American Federation of Aviculture does its part to help people become better stewards of their companion parrots through education and outreach in various communities where members live. On the national level, AFA offers a two‐part course titled The Fundamentals of Aviculture. This course helps parrot owners and potential owners understand the rich history of aviculture in the United States. The course also helps people understand the complex, personal relationships one can develop with a companion parrot.

Should people be prevented from living with domestically bred parrots?

Absolutely not.

Should people act in responsible ways when it comes to electing to live with parrots?


Note: The American Federation of Aviculture (AFA) is a nonprofit national organization established in 1974, whose purpose is to represent all aspects of aviculture and to educate the public about keeping and breeding birds in captivity.
AFA has a membership consisting of bird breeders, pet bird owners, avian veterinarians, pet/bird store owners, bird product manufacturers, and other people interested in the future of aviculture.


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