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can pet parrots survive in the wild?

Can You Release A Parrot Into The Wild? (Freeing Pet Birds)

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

If you release a pet parrot into the wild, its chances of survival are low.

Pet parrots become dependent on their owners. They won’t have a flock, can’t identify which foods are safe, experience difficulty avoiding predators, and struggle with sudden weather changes.

One way to release a parrot into the wild is to entrust it to avian professionals. They operate release programs that prepare parrots with anti-predator, climate acclimation, and socialization training.

According to Conservation Evidence, captive-bred parrots only had a 4% survival rate. Meanwhile, the wild-bred parrots they released had a 41% survival rate. However, this is still relatively low.

You may prefer to rehome your parrot. If it has a troubled behavioral history, you can sell it to a private buyer or give it to a parrot rescue center for training.

Pet Parrot Survival Chances in the Wild

A captive parrot is unlikely to survive unless trained and integrated into nature. If you open a parrot’s cage and let it soar, it’s unlikely to remain alive long.

It’s illegal for owners to release their parrots in certain states for the following reasons:

  • Environmental damage.
  • Parrots reproduce, becoming an invasive species.
  • The spread of avian diseases, like Avian polyomavirus (APV) and Pacheco’s disease.

Why Parrots Are Released

Releasing pet parrots into the wild happens for the following reasons:

Demanding Pets

While parrots make loving pets, living with them is akin to living with a toddler who never grows up. Parrots require regular attention, and without it, they can develop behavioral problems like biting.

Misunderstood Studies

Many studies indicate that parrots are better off in the wild because humans can’t meet their needs, leading to mental health and behavioral issues.

The journal Applied Animal Behavior Science stated that hand-reared parrots fed and raised by humans since birth are more aggressive and difficult to handle than those raised in the wild.

Wild parrots don’t struggle with loneliness and social isolation because they have freedom, a same-species flock, and abundant natural resources.

can caged birds survive in the wild?

Why Releasing Pet Parrots Into The Wild Is Bad

There are various reasons why a parrot’s release could end badly:

Physical Weakness

Parrots raised in captivity aren’t as physically robust. Wild parrots are accustomed to flying long distances and using their curved beaks to defend themselves from predators.

Pet parrots have less developed wings and beaks. Even if their owners give them suitable toys and perches, most are made from different materials than those encountered in nature.


If a human had raised a parrot from when it was a hatchling, it’d be used to warm and stable temperatures. Indoors, there’s no wind and rain, and the temperature is consistent.

Outdoor temperatures and weather conditions are volatile, making it harder for parrots to survive.


Parrots learn which foods to eat from their parents. Even when they look for food, domesticated parrots can’t differentiate between something edible and something that could make them sick.


Parrots live in flocks, depending on each other for survival. Unless the escaped parrot finds a flock and is accepted, it won’t survive for long. The stress of living alone will be damaging mentally.

Caged Birds Are Unlikely To Survive in The Wild

Here’s how owners free their pet parrots:

Urban Release

Some flocks gather in urban settings, like the monk parakeets of Chicago’s Hyde Park. They’re native to South America but have made their home at Hyde Park.

This success story has led to other owners misguidedly releasing their parrots.

Whole Flock Together

Monk parakeets escaped a shipment, bringing them from South America for the exotic pet trade in North America over 40 years ago. Now, the offspring live in the park.

This is only possible because the parrots were together during their escape. They formed a same-species flock, which improved their chances of survival.

Won’t Thrive for Long

Over the years, the monk parakeet population in Hyde Park has been declining.

According to Urban Ecosystem, researchers thought predators accounted for the dwindling numbers. While it’s true that avian predators are an issue, they aren’t the only explanation.

As it turns out, the parrots are leaving, in part, due to conflict with humans. For example, besides trees, parrots build their nests on man-made structures.

Workers and park volunteers often clear these out. Unable to make homes for themselves and their offspring, the parrots flee to other areas, far away from urban landscapes.

Other factors that cause parrots to relocate include:

  • Limited food and water.
  • Expanding human territories.
  • Pollution and garbage.

Finding a new home isn’t easy, so monk parakeet numbers have dwindled since 2004.

Can a domesticated parrot survive in the wild?

Natural Habitat

If you release parrots without adhering to the correct procedures, it could be illegal.

Unless you live in the parrot’s country of origin, you must complete the necessary travel paperwork and ensure the bird’s medical records are in order.

You should entrust a professional to give the parrot the best chance of survival. They run rehabilitation programs and prepare domestic parrots for the wild. These programs include:

  • Anti-predator training.
  • Climate acclimation training.
  • Socialization training.

The trend of wild-bred parrots having more success when freed has been constant in every study. It’s due to how parrots raise their young versus how humans do.

Humans care for juvenile parrots and give them everything they need to thrive. However, we don’t teach parrots how to live independently.

As parrots mature and grow, they learn to do things for themselves. That’s why parent-reared parrots can be released with moderate success, while human-raised parrots usually die when freed.

Domestic parrots should never be released into the wild by their owners. Only professionals at a rehabilitation center have the necessary expertise to achieve this relatively successfully.