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Parrots in captivity


There is no doubt that persons become more attached to parrots than to any other kind of pets and after one experience in keeping a parrot we seldom find a person who will thereafter wish to be without one. While it is true that they require care and attention, still they are the source of much amusement and are considered good company, especially in families where there are no children. Many of our friends would as soon think of selling a child as selling their parrot, so greatly do they become attached.
It is always better to buy a young bird which has not been trained nor taught to talk, as you can then teach them just what you wish them to say and they will become accustomed to your voice so that they will learn more readily from it. If you purchase a parrot that is already talking it is quite apt to say something which is objectionable, or use expressions which do not apply in your family. For instance, it may call the first names of persons whom it has been acquainted with heretofore, and your friends will want to know what it is talking about.
When the birds are first taken from the nests there is quite a heavy mortality, owing to the change of food and manner of living. This mor­tality becomes greater when they are shipped to the northern climates where the atmosphere is much drier and the temperature changes more frequently. They are fed also on food so entirely different to what they were accustomed to even after their capture, that they are unable to stand the changes. Indigestion and cold are the cause of most of the mortality, though there are some diseases which affect parrots, even in the wild state, to which they are subject thereafter. It should not be thought, however, that parrots ex­ported from their native country cut any great figure in the total number there, as the farmers hunted them mercilessly. They were destroyed, not only for their plumage, but because they also ruined the farm crops, and it would haven been impossible to grow any grain crops in some parts of Mexico or Central America if the parrots were not shipped away or killed.

In Europe it was formerly a common practice to split a parrot's tongue, thinking that they could only in this way be taught to talk, but this is a very cruel practice, and not only does it not help the bird to learn, but it actually hinders it ever learning to articulate distinctly. To encour­age talking, parrots should be made comfortable and happy. Have plenty of good food and coarse grit to aid its digestion and also a good, light, clean, roomy cage.
While there are more than four hundred varieties of parrots, still there are comparatively few kinds which are considered talking birds. The Mexican Double Yellow Head, Mexican Red Head, South American Single Yellow Head, the Panama, and the Cuban, are the only varieties kept largely in this country which prove satisfac­tory, with the exception of a limited number of African Gray parrots, which is the only variety from the eastern hemisphere which has ever proved satisfactory here. A11 young hand-raised parrots of these varieties will learn to talk with proper care.
It does not matter what sex your bird is, as there is no difference between the two sexes in talking abyty. In fact it is practically impos­sible to distinguish the two sexes. As a rule the females have broader, flatter heads and broader pelvis, and at the lower part of the back, the bones stand wider apart. In the male parrot the head is usually higher and the parrot has a bolder ap­pearance.
There is very rarely indeed, a complaint of par­rots failing to learn to talk, and these complaints usually come from persons who have purchased a bird from some peddler or from a dealer where they can secure a parrot at a low price, regardless of whether it was a desirable bird or not. As we have previously said, trapped parrots can be pur­chased at almost your own price from the natives in Mexico, and this is a strong inducement to an unscrupulous dealer to supply his trade at what appears to be a low price and still secure an enor­mous profit. We know of one dealer in a large eastern city who makes it a rule to handle only trapped parrots. He did quite a profitable busi­ness for about five years, but was finally com­pelled to quit, as the people became acquainted with his methods. It is far better to purchase from same responsible dealer who has a reputa­tion to sustain and on whom you can depend to furnish a first-class bird, even if it costs you a trifle more.
The "homing" instinct is not greatly devel­oped with parrots, and if permitted great freedom they are apt to wander away and become lost, being unable to find their way home and they are also apt to starve to death through inability to find suitable food for themselves.

A few years ago we owned a very fine Scarlet Macaw which was about three and one-half feet in length. He was a great favorite and known to hundreds of people by the name of "Wack." One summer we allowed him his freedom for several weeks on our lawn, and he attracted a great deal of attention, flying from tree to tree. We have known him to fly upwards of 200 feet, but he never staved away from the place and always came to the house to roost at night. While we had him in the store there were many persons who would come in to see and pet this bird fre­quently. He enjoyed being rubbed and petted and would even lie down on his back and play with children as well as older people. The bird finally lost his life by some rascal giving, him
tobacco. He lived only a short time after being poisoned with it.
One who has never kept a parrot can scarcely understand how greatly one becomes attached to these birds. It is said that a New York lady shed bitter tears of grief when her pet parrot died. She had the body embalmed and laid away in an expensive coffin, with suitable funeral services and erected a tombstone over his grave.
Often in a home there is apparently an abun­dance of everything. The most luxurious fur­nishings, beautiful paintings, statuary, and seemingly everything heart can wish, but still there is something lacking to make home happy. The flowers bloom and fade away; books are read and then cast aside and soon forgotten, and we tire of the so-called pleasures of life and demands of society. In such a home a parrot is a God­send. It amuses and interests, and it is a pleas­are, from day to day, to watch it develop its powers of mimicry. It will soon learn to greet you with "good morning", and call you "mama". Such a pet will stand the test of time and grow in favor constantly.