Originally posted on Parrot Nation. Modified for Bird Talk.

Are you thinking about getting your first bird? This thirteen-step guide will emotionally and physically prepare you for what it’s like to live with one. If you follow this, you will have a fairly good idea what it’s like to have one of these lovely creatures in your house.

  1. Take a big bite of carrot. Chew it up well, but don’t swallow it. Now go out to your dining room and spew it all over the wall. Leave it there until it dries. Get a sponge and a scraper and scrape it off the wall. Repeat at least three times a week.
  2. Go to the bird supply store. Buy everything you need for the month. Then with the leftover money, go to the grocery store and pick up a five-pound box of macaroni, some parmesan cheese, and some margarine. These provisions should last you about two weeks, and it’s about all you’ll be able to afford after all that money you spent at the bird supply store.
  3. Take a newspaper to the bird supply store. Place it in the bottom of an empty birdcage. Read it while it’s laying on the bottom of the grate. This is how you will be reading the newspaper from now on.
  4. Get some pelleted diet, some chopped up vegetables, borrow some bird poop from the bird supply store (they’ll look at you funny, but they probably won’t charge you for it), some parrot feathers, pieces of bird toy parts, some wood chips and some almond shells. Combine in a one-gallon container. Throw some of it on the floor. Now clean it up. Throw more of it on the floor. Now clean it up. Repeat at least twice a day.
  5. Get a screwdriver from your toolkit. Make some gouges in the paint on the wall. And while you’re at it, use it to rip one of your lampshades and smack up a couple of picture frames.
  6. Make sure you know the meaning of all of these terms: Cloaca, preen gland, PDD, PBFD, calcium to phosphorus ratio, polyomavirus, E.N.D., and boing. This task involves a lot of research, so get some reading glasses while you’re at it.
  7. Measure out a cup of flour and place in a sifter. Move about your house and lightly coat all surfaces with the flour. Now dust all the surfaces. Repeat at least three times a week.
  8. Look up some wild parrots on YouTube. Turn the volume up on your phone to full blast and place it right next to your ear. Repeat at least three times a day for 15 minutes.
  9. Take some of that bird poop you borrowed from the bird supply store and place it on a spatula. Now reach over your shoulder with the spatula and rub the bird poop on the back of your shirt. Let dry and then go grocery shopping. Count the number of people who either stare at you or tell you that you have bird poop on your back.
  10. Do a little dumpster diving and collect odd items like water bottle caps, pieces of raffia, tree branches from bird-safe trees, pieces of cardboard and old plastic clothesline. With these items, attempt to make an interesting toy. You have 8 minutes. You may begin.
  11. Save the wild parrot sounds onto your phone and set them as your 6 a.m. alarm. Make sure they are on the loudest setting possible. Repeat every morning for the rest of your life.
  12. 12. Get some bed sheets. Now take that screwdriver and make various beak-shaped holes in them. Take some of that bird poop and smear it on the sheets. Launder and repeat at least twice a month.
  13. 13. Find a reputable bird veterinarian and make his car payment for him. Repeat at least once a year for each bird you intend to get.

Do these exercises for as long as you can. If you can keep this up for at least six months without losing your mind, you just might be ready for a parrot.

Patricia Sund is the creative director of Bird Talk Magazine, and has written for a variety of avicultural-themed publications, including Bird Talk, the Bird Talk Annual, Birds USA, Phoenix Landing’s Phoenix Beakin’ and Watchbird magazine for the American Federation of Aviculture (AFA). She lives in Florida with her three African grey parrots, Parker, Pepper and Nyla, stars of the popular column, “Memo to Parker & Pepper.”


  1. Very 1 sided.good,but 1 sided. What about all the great things you should get ready for,they even out the bad. With out the negative there would be no positive. Did like the article

  2. Well done, Patricia! A sense of humor is important when living with our birds and providing all that they need, and you capture that tone so well.

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