Wild parrots live in territories populated by humans. While owning most parrot species is legal, the bird must have been hatched and raised in captivity. It’s illegal to capture and keep a wild parrot.
Authorities monitor wild parrot populations. Capturing or harming birds unbalances the ecosystem. Removing wild animals from their natural territory can have a significant environmental impact.
Diseases are common in wild birds. Some diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be passed to humans. Sickness can spread if a virus becomes airborne or you get bitten and develop a bacterial infection.
Capturing and keeping a wild parrot in a cage is also considered cruel. Wild birds aren’t accustomed to confinement, becoming stressed and developing stereotypies when forced to live in captivity.
Wild parrots can be tamed sufficiently to spend time with humans, but this doesn’t mean they’ll make good pet birds. Appreciating the colors and sounds of wild parrots in the yard is advised.
Do Wild Parrots Live in Urban Areas?
Most people associate wild parrots with tropical conditions, expecting them to live in rainforests and jungles. In reality, some parrot species reside within significant metropolitan areas worldwide.
Wild parrots are often intentionally introduced to urban areas to conserve the species.
Deforestation and poaching have drastically reduced available terrain for many birds. Former pets are also released into the wild and mate, forming a feral population.
The sulfur-crested cockatoo, long-billed corella, and rainbow lorikeet have a sizable population in Australian cities, while the Alexandrine parakeet is an invasive species in Tokyo.
The UK is home to rose-ringed parakeets, especially in and around London. Many American cities and states also have large wild parrot populations.
The most commonly sighted parrots in urban parts of the U.S. – most notably in Florida, California, New York, Louisiana, and Arizona – include the following:
- Peach-faced lovebirds.
- Blue-and-yellow macaws.
- Chestnut-fronted macaws.
- Mitered conures.
- Nanday conures.
- Blue-crowned parakeets.
- Canary-winged parakeets.
- Orange-chinned parakeets.
- Orange-fronted parakeets.
- Red-masked parakeets.
- Yellow-chevroned parakeets.
- Lilac-crowned Amazons.
- Red-crowned Amazons.
- Red-lored Amazons.
- Turquoise-fronted Amazons.
- Yellow-crowned Amazons.
- Yellow-headed Amazons.
These parrot parrots have adapted to their new surroundings, forming colonies and acting as tourist attractions.
However, not all residents welcome wild parrots with open arms. Wild and feral parrots are sometimes considered an agricultural nuisance.
Although parrots are gentle-natured birds, they sometimes compete with native bird populations for food and resources, potentially reducing or eradicating the local wildlife population.
Are Wild Parrots Friendly?
Wild parrots are curious and social, but calling them friendly would be inaccurate.
Wild and feral parrots have no reason to trust humans, so if you approach them, they’re likely to react defensively due to fear, which could include biting.
Parrots that forage for food and share space with other birds, especially pigeons, can carry disease. The most common concern is psittacosis (parrot fever), a zoonotic disease of the lungs.
Seminars in Respiratory Infections stated that, while up to 200 cases of psittacosis in humans are reported annually, more people are likely to carry the disease – potentially asymptomatically or with such mild indicators they mistake psittacosis for a common cold.
If you encounter a wild parrot, admire its beautiful colors and grace from a safe distance.
Can Wild Birds Be Tamed?
Wild parrots can be tamed, but it’s different from domesticating a bird.
Even if you have the best intentions, wild parrots will never respond well to being restrained. Follow these rules to interact with wild parrots and tame them to avoid injury:
- Don’t follow the parrot or approach because it’ll be considered predatory behavior.
- Keep your distance and talk to the parrot in an even tone.
- Avoid making sudden movements or gestures that will startle the parrot.
- Don’t tease the parrot. If you hold a hand out, the parrot will expect you to offer food.
- If the bird approaches and perches on your hand or shoulder, remain motionless and silent.
- If the parrot wants to escape, allow it to do so. Never restrain a wild bird.
Treat the bird respectfully, not as a feral animal. Behavior compares the intelligence of parrots to primates, which have an IQ comparable to a young child. However, a tame parrot is still wild at heart.
Is It Legal To Keep A Wild Bird As A Pet?
Wild parrots aren’t used to living in cages. Birds kept in captivity from when they hatch often share this space with their mothers, so they’re comfortable with this arrangement.
Keeping a wild parrot as a pet is illegal in almost all countries and territories:
- America: Parrots are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act 1918.
- Canada: Birds are safeguarded by the Canada Wildlife Act of 1985.
- Australia: Keeping a wild parrot under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2018 is illegal.
- UK: The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects the rights of wild birds.
These are federal laws, but local states, provinces, and cities may have further regulations.
You’re unlikely to be imprisoned for capturing and keeping a wild parrot as a pet (unless your decision leads to significant damage or harm to other people or the environment).
However, the bird will likely be confiscated upon discovery, and you risk financial penalties.
Can I Rescue a Sick or Injured Parrot?
If you spot a wounded parrot in the wild, you may consider it a moral obligation to rescue the bird and nurse it back to health. This remains a questionable decision that could backfire on you.
There may be some leeway if you take the bird home in these unfortunate instances.
However, you could still face prosecution unless you can prove you’re qualified with the skills and experience to rehabilitate the bird before releasing it back into the wild.
Taking a wounded parrot to a veterinarian is usually permitted by law. Call ahead and confirm that the vet works with wild birds. A vet will also check for a microchip to see if it’s an escaped pet.
If you don’t wish to handle the bird, call animal control, an avian wildlife sanctuary, or a registered charity like the ASPCA. They’ll send somebody over or offer advice over the phone.
Why Is It Illegal To Keep a Wild Parrot as a Pet?
Here are the reasons why keeping a wild parrot as a pet is illegal:
Many people end up rehoming captive parrots because they can’t cope with unwanted behaviors or provide the lifestyle the bird needs. A restrained wild parrot will become stressed and act out.
Taking a parrot home may deprive it of the essential skills to thrive in the wild. Parrots are prey animals and rely on finely-honed instincts to remain safe.
Most parrots are socially monogamous, mating for life. If the parrot doesn’t return, its mate will miss and mourn its loss, and its absence may put its chicks at risk.
Wild parrots will react adversely to being restrained. If the bird is large, it’ll exert significant bite force. Any bites will be painful and break the skin, leading to bleeding and possible infection.
We discussed the risk of spreading zoonotic diseases to humans and other pets. In addition to psittacosis, wild parrots can spread the following dangerous medical conditions:
- Avian influenza (H5N1 strain.)
- Avian tuberculosis.
- Newcastle disease
Avian flu can spread to epidemic levels, endangering the health of immunocompromised people.
When parrots are imported, strict quarantine protocols must be observed to minimize the risk of life-threatening diseases and infection. These restrictions are hard to maintain in the home.
The natural world has a balanced ecosystem, especially when non-native wild parrots have been introduced to a new territory.
Diversity explains how 166 different Psittaciformes have been deliberately introduced to over 120 countries worldwide. Changes can destabilize the bionetwork.
In addition, the WWF considers at least 18 species of parrots to be endangered or critically endangered, with another 40 classed as vulnerable.
Capturing and trading parrots for the pet trade is among the explanations for these dwindling numbers.
Wild parrots are a gift to the natural world and should be treated as such. Respect the right of wild and feral parrots to fly free, interacting with them from a safe distance and abiding by national laws.