Not Just Pretty To Look At, Birds Can Make Great Pets
Dogs are considered man’s best friend, with cats a close second, but where do birds fit in the pet equation? Birds have always interested Jackie Kincaid, who just moved to Gladstone with her husband and two sons. She currently has two birds, a cockatiel named Marley and an African Gray Parrot named Cowboy.
“We’ve had Marley six years; she was found on a farm in Lone Jack and given to us. She loves to follow our youngest son around the house. Our parrot Cowboy was also given to us about six months ago, from someone at work who couldn’t take care of him anymore. Cowboy is 18 years old, and will live to be 50-60 years old, so he’s still a teenager,” Kincaid says.
African Gray parrots like Cowboy are known to be easily recognizable, are playful and intelligent, with the cognitive ability of 4-6 year olds, and Cowboy is no exception.
“He knows about 100 words and noises. He can make video game sounds, repeat alarm sounds, sound like the microwave, laugh and make squeaky noises. He can bark like a dog, so my husband calls him puppy dog sometimes. He can repeat commands like ‘come here,’ and tells the dogs ‘shut up’ when they start barking. He has learned to pick up on reactions and respond. He puts food in his beak, pokes it out of the cage and feeds the dog. He knows the McDonalds song from commercials. If I’m talking on the phone and say ‘hello,’ he’ll repeat ‘hello’ back. My boys love them; they think it’s fun to talk to Cowboy and get him to flap his wings and play with them,” Kincaid says.
While African Gray Parrots sound like they could be fun to have as a pet, they are more difficult to take care of than other birds. Having a bird like this should be a serious commitment that you make for many years.
“They have to have exercise daily, and let out of their cage for several hours a day. You’ll need a caretaker if you go on vacation. They require fresh fruit and veggies once a day, in addition to regular food. We have to leave the TV on for him so he doesn’t get bored,” Kincaid says.
Kincaid has always loved birds, and her friends refer to her as the Bird Lady.
“I always had birds growing up; I got my love of birds from my grandma. I had a cockatiel for 18 years, and it died not too long before we got Marley. I’m always looking for them outdoors, and have lots of bird feeders. It’s interesting to me, and is my hobby. I’m thinking of getting finches next. They are fun and cute, and I’ve never had them before, so it’s a new breed for me and I would like to try. They are the easiest bird to have; basically they are the goldfish of birds. They aren’t very personable; you just leave them in the cage to look at,” Kincaid says.
Just like more traditional pets like cats or dogs, birds have different personalities that make them unique, and no two birds are the same.
“Different birds have different personalities. Some are more outgoing. Our Cowboy is more shy. I’m the only one who can really handle him to pick him up. He’s a one-person bird. You have to learn the bird’s personality. Most people have not been around birds and ask, ‘how do you take care of a bird?’ My friends like to come over and interact with the birds; it’s fun to see, ” Kincaid says.
Just don’t let Fido get jealous!