Title: The Parrot Companion
Sub-Title: Caring for Parrots, Macaws, Budgies, Cockatiels & more
Author: Rosemary Low
Pages: 192
Format: Soft-cover
Our Rating: 3.8 out of 5

Many parrot owners, like me, often want to have a comprehensive guide on our pets that we can refer to at short notice. I don’t know about you, but when I need basic information about my pet in a hurry, I don’t always want to Google it. It’s often more convenient to have a book on the shelf or my tablet, which contains much of what I need to know – all in one place.

In my view, The Parrot Companion attempts to fulfill that need. Does it succeed? Let’s find out.

Front cover of the book The Parrot Companion by Rosemary Low
The Parrot Companion

Who Is This Book For?

If you are considering a parrot as a pet, this book will give you valuable insights into the pros and cons of owning one

If you decide that you are ready to take the plunge and get one, it will help you to decide which species is right for you. Then it will equip you to prepare for your bird’s arrival and integration into your household.

Once you become a parrot owner, the kind of information that you need to know about your pet changes. This book contains plenty of content that focuses on proper parrot care. It discusses common behavioral and health issues; how to avoid them, and how to deal with them if they appear.

About The Author

Rosemary Low has cared for and written about birds for most of her life. She spent 8 years with zoos in the Canary Islands. There, she was curator of 2 of the world’s largest collections of parrots.

She has written more than 20 books on birds, most of them about parrots. She is also credited with writing several articles and scientific papers about birds.

In 1989 she co-founded the World Parrot Trust, and edited its magazine for several years. World Parrot Trust is an international charity dedicated to the protection of parrots.

She is quoted as saying that her goals are “to widely publish information which will lead to a better standard of care for captive birds, to reduce the demand for wild-caught parrots, and to promote and assist with parrot conservation projects“.

There is not much wrong with those credentials then.

Parrots As Pets

As this title of the opening chapter suggests, the book attempts to help readers to decide whether a parrot is an appropriate pet for them.

If you are already excited by the idea of owning a parrot for the first time, though, this chapter could very well be a downer for you.

From the start, Rosemary Low emphasizes the responsibility that comes with owning a parrot, and the commitment needed to care for it successfully.

For much of this part of the book she lists several challenges and potential problems that parrot ownership brings. Although she does mention the pleasures and benefits, she discusses these very briefly by comparison.

You can be forgiven for thinking that the writer is trying to dissuade you from acquiring a parrot.

My impression is that she is simply trying to address the very real problem of parrots that end up unwanted or neglected. Often, this happens when unsuitable owners become disappointed with their parrot ownership experience. Even though this approach may not go down well with all readers, I agree with it.

By the way, if you don’t want to incur the expense of buying a book only to discover that you are perhaps not the best fit for parrot ownership, try to first read our article 7 Things to Consider Before Getting an African Grey Parrot.

It focuses on African grey ownership, and doesn’t cover all of the same ground that the book does. Many ownership issues are common to all parrot species though, and this article could serve as a useful starting point for you. It might also save you a little money.

Species Profile

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

If you’re not sure which kind of parrot you should get, the next chapter could help you decide. It mentions several commonly kept companion parrots, and talks about some characteristics of each.

Plenty of color photographs make it easy to identify each species or even sub-species. This is helpful when there are notable differences between sub-species, such as those within the Amazon and Conure groups.

A useful table categorizes the loudness as well as the shrillness of the calls that the various birds make. This table also includes a mimicry score for each category.

Rather than being based on any scientific measurement, these ratings appear to be subjective, and based on the author’s own assessments. Considering Low’s many years of experience with these birds though, I presume that her table is accurate enough for the purposes of this book.

Another table rates birds according to their suitability for families with small children, and families with older children. Again, these scores appear to reflect Ms. Low’s own opinion. She concedes, that “parrots are highly individualistic, thus generalisations are not always accurate”.

She advises that the ratings only be used as a guide and describes the criteria and some of the assumptions that she used to determine the scores.

Curious to know how she rates our favorite bird? According to her, the African grey parrot is not recommended for families with small children, but is fine for a family with older kids.

Preparation And Arrival

Having decided that you’re up to the task of caring for a parrot, you’ve probably chosen which species is the one for you. Your next steps are to work out what cage and accoutrements you need. After that, you will start to think about how to settle your new pet into its strange new home. The following two chapters are intended to help you with these matters.

There are sound recommendations about the types of cages and accessories to buy. There is also sensible advice on what age of parrot to get, where to buy it, and whether to consider acquiring an unwanted parrot. Low then discusses how to acquaint a parrot with its new environment, what precautions to take, and more.

In general she does not mention specific products or vendors, but equips you to make an informed decision when the time comes.

There is also simple, practical advice on how to reduce the likelihood of your parrot escaping, and what to do in the event that it does.

There is one situation unexpectedly covered in the book, and which parrot owners seldom consider. That is the value that many parrots have to thieves, and the risk of your parrot being stolen.

Behavioral Problems Of Parrots And Basic Parrot Training

Next is a fairly comprehensive section dealing with the most common problematic parrot behaviors.

Screaming, biting, feather-plucking and fearfulness. These are issues that most owners will encounter at some point in their relationship with their feathered pets. Low expertly explains the possible origins of these problems, how to reduce the chances of them occurring, and how to deal with them if they do.

The few training techniques taught in the book are basic. Yet, they are enough to empower the novice parrot owner with some confidence when approaching the management of his or her pet’s behavior.

Food For Parrots

Diet is one of the most important aspects of parrot care, and plays a big role in determining your parrot’s longevity and general state of health. Rosemary Low is clearly aware of this and pays particular attention to it in the section dedicated to feeding.

Various types of foods that may be fed to parrots are discussed, from seeds and pellets, to nuts, fruits, vegetables and even edible weeds.

There is plenty of useful reference material in this section, including a table indicating recommended proportions of each, of seeds and pellets, fruit, vegetables and pulses, for several different parrot species.

More useful table data is provided for protein and fat content for different seeds. There are also tables containing nutritional data for several types of nuts, and the vitamin content of certain fruits.

The tabled lists are not exhaustive by any means. I suppose that this is due to space constraints, but they are handy for quick-reference. If you need more information than this, don’t forget that we have also compiled a long and expanding list of foods for parrots for you. Almost all of these are accompanied by comprehensive nutritional information tables.

African grey parrots on a branch
A Pair of African Grey Parrots

Parrot Health And Grooming

One important aspect of parrot care is the timely identification and treatment of illnesses. Another is maintaining basic preventative hygiene. The book covers common parrot afflictions, diseases, toxicity and injuries in varying detail, and provides some advice on how to deal with them.

It also deals with the grooming of a parrot and the maintenance of its beauty, as the author calls it. Among other things, easy-to-understand instructions are provided for safely clipping a bird’s nails and for keeping its beak in good trim.

Succeed in keeping your parrot healthy until it reaches a ripe old age and the short section about recognizing the signs of ageing will be useful. However, very little information about managing the needs of an ageing bird is provided

If All Else Fails …

The book concludes with a chapter that, in a way, links back to the start of the book.

There, Rosemary Low tries to make potential owners aware of the challenges and pitfalls that come with parrot ownership. In doing so, she hopes to get the unsuited to recognize this before it’s too late, and increase the probability of a parrot ending up with a good carer.

In closing, she addresses the all-too-frequent and unfortunate need to re-home a parrot. It seems clear that successful re-homing is not as easy a task as it may seem, and is seldom achieved. She therefore tries to offer advice that she hopes will help owners to identify the best possible outcomes for their birds.

Given the importance of its content, I wonder whether this section should not rather have appeared at the beginning of the book instead of at the end. In my view, perhaps it should even have been merged with the very first chapter.

Pros

Cons

  • Helpful information if you have not yet decided whether a parrot is right for you, or if you are unsure of which species to get.
  • Plenty of good, practical advice. All the essential information to help a new parrot owner to get off to the best start is included.
  • The author clearly places the interests of the birds first.
  • Covers several kinds of parrots. You may find it a little thin on specifics for your chosen parrot species. In our case, this is the African grey parrot.
  • The book was published in 2006. Some minor information may possibly be out of date.

Conclusion

It’s not hard to deduce that Ms. Low has a strong emotional connection to parrots. The information and advice that she offers is never shared in a detached, clinical way, but rather in an anecdotal style that allows this emotional bond to come through. To me, there is no doubt about the integrity of her intentions in writing this book, and her writing style makes its content easily accessible to most readers.

The book was published in 2006. While the information and advice provided is still valid today, some contact and other details of organizations and publications provided at the end of the book may be outdated. In this age of Google search that should not pose too much of a problem.

Although the book covers a wide range of topics, it is not encyclopedic in its detail.  To be so it would have to be a whole lot longer than it is, so it should not be the only title about general parrot care on your reading list.

There is a reasonable amount of material which is specific to the African grey, yet it makes up only a small portion of the book’s content. For regular visitors to our website, who are presumably mostly interested in grey parrots, this detracts from its value somewhat. For that reason, our score of 3.8 out 5 is slightly lower than it would otherwise have been. Having said that, if you do own a parrot, or are considering getting one, it is a very handy and valuable source of parrot information.

Share Your Thoughts

We’re really keen to hear what our readers think. If you have read the book, or have anything that you would like to say about our review, other parrot books, African greys or parrots in general, please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

 

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4 Comments

  1. A very nice and interesting article. It is really nice that you presented information about the author and the work she has done on birds during her life. I never thought that owning a parrot is that demanding and complicated.

    Very good work

    Regards,

    Anestis

    1. Thank you Anestis. Parrots are really only demanding if they are bored and don’t get enough mental stimulation and social contact with their owners. Spend enough quality time with them and they’re amazing to be with.

      Regards

      Frank

  2. I found your book on parrots as pets to be very interesting, and I have experienced owning pets has been my best medicine for managing my health problems. I have been considering adding a new pet to my home, and a parrot sounds like a fun pet. I will add this book to my book wish list, and do you happen to know how parrots and dogs would get along in the same home?
    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff. Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the therapeutic power of pets.

      A parrot would be an excellent pet so long as you have the time and commitment to fulfill it’s social and other needs.

      As for having parrots and dogs in the same home, it is possible. We’ve had up to 3 dogs in our house together with the parrot. BUT, I would not pin any hopes on these creatures “getting along” with each other, neither would I risk them being near each other in an unsupervised situation when the bird is out of its cage.

      I have written an article which you might find useful. It’s called 7 Things To Consider Before Getting An African Grey Parrot and it deals with having parrots and dogs in the same household. This article should also help you to assess whether an African grey is a good fit for you and your environment. I hope you find it helpful.

      Thanks for your input. Ask away if you have any more questions.

      Frank

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