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can pet parrots survive in the wild?

Can You Release A Parrot Into The Wild?

(Last Updated On: May 12, 2023)

Some parrots struggle to cope mentally with a life of caged confinement. Consequently, owners mistakenly believe that releasing parrots into the wild is the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, if you release a pet parrot into the wild, its survival chances are low.

Pet parrots are cared for by their owners and have grown dependent on them, so they can’t identify which foods are safe and have trouble surviving attacks from predators and coping with harsh weather.

The best way to release a parrot into the wild is by entrusting the bird to avian experts that operate release programs that prepare captured parrots for freedom.

Can Pet Parrots Survive in the Wild?

A parrot’s unlikely to survive unless cared for, prepared, and integrated into nature. If you open a parrot’s cage and let it soar, it may not live for more than a few days.

It’s illegal in many regions for owners to release their parrots for the following reasons:

  • Damage that parrots can cause to the environment.
  • Parrots breed and become an invasive species.
  • Avian diseases that parrots can spread.

Sadly, releasing parrots into the wild has become more common for these reasons:

Parrots Are Demanding Pets

While parrots are affectionate and intelligent animals, it can be akin to living with a toddler that never grows up. Parrots require 2-3 hours of attention daily and can become destructive.

Rehoming a parrot can be costly, time-consuming, and harmful, which leads many owners to believe that the kindest option is to return the parrot to its natural habitat.

Misunderstood Studies

Many studies indicate that parrots are better off in the wild because humans can’t meet their needs, leading to mental health problems 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 as much as domestic parrots. They have freedom, a large same-species flock, and natural resources.

Studies showing positive integration involve gradually preparing parrots for integration.

can caged birds survive in the wild?

Why Is Releasing Pet Parrots Into The Wild Bad?

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

Weak Bodies

Parrots raised in captivity have weaker bodies than those raised in their natural habitat. Wild parrots are accustomed to flying long distances and using their curved beaks to defend themselves from predators.

Pet parrots have less developed beaks and wings compared to wild parrots.

Even if their owners give them toys and perches, most of those toys are made of softer materials than you’d find in a parrot’s natural environment.

Pet parrots are usually kept indoors in cages and are unaccustomed to flying long distances.


Most parrot species are native to countries with warm climates.

Still, this doesn’t mean pet parrots can be released if the weather is warm. If humans had raised a parrot from when it was a hatchling, it’d be used to human temperatures by the time it’s an adult.

Indoors, there’s less wind, fewer chances to get wet, and temperatures stay consistent. Outdoor temperatures and weather conditions make it more difficult for parrots to survive.


Owners care for caged parrots, so they’ll squawk to get what they need. Pet parrots aren’t accustomed to foraging for food on their own.

Even when they look for food, domesticated parrots can’t differentiate between something edible and something that might make them sick.

Parrots learn which foods are good to eat from their parents, and hand-reared parrots lack the necessary skills to fetch food for themselves.


Parrots live in flocks and depend 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 leads to a disordered state of mind.

Can Caged Birds Survive in The Wild?

There are 2 ways people free captive parrots:

Urban Release

There are cases of flocks gathering in urban settings, like the monk parakeets of Chicago’s Hyde Park.

They’re native to South America but have thrived in Hyde Park. This success story has led to many owners releasing their parrots when they’re no longer wanted.

Whole Flock Together

It’s said that the 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 are living in the park.

This is only possible due to the parrots all being together during their escape. They naturally formed a flock, which improved their chances of survival significantly.

Won’t Thrive for Long

The success of this story won’t last forever, and it doesn’t matter that the current parrots there were born and raised in Chicago. Over the years, the population in Hyde Park has been declining.

According to Urban Ecosystem, researchers originally thought predators were why their numbers dwindled. While it’s true that predator birds in the park 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 parts of the country, 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 following the correct procedures, it’s illegal.

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

You must entrust an avian expert to ensure the parrot can survive in its natural habitat. Professionals run rehabilitation programs and prepare domestic parrots for the wild. These programs include:

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

According to Conservation Evidence, captive-bred parrots only have a 4% survival rate. Meanwhile, the wild-bred parrots they released had a 41% survival rate.

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 raise parrots.

Humans care for young parrots and give them everything they need to live a good life. However, we don’t teach parrots how to be independent like adult parrots.

As young parrots 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 will have the necessary expertise to do so successfully.