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September 2018 by V. R. Duin

A RARE BIRD
MAY LEARN TO SPEAK

In the wild, these birds risk being caught.
Prized as pets, they are worth a lot.
Suddenly a male parrot swooped from a tree
And perched on the table right beside Dolly.

A “rare bird” captured in the illegal pet trade for its speaking ability, may suffer loss of habitat followed by abandonment if it does not learn to speak by association of words to human activities and identities.

Rare Bird

A “rare bird” is something unusual. Rarity often adds value. This value in a parrot is beauty and the ability to associate words with human activities and identities. Parrots are not the only talking birds.


Captive Audience? Crows, ravens, mockingbirds, Myna birds of the starling family, such songbirds as finches and other wild birds kept as pets can learn to mimic human words. The MBTA makes it illegal to own migratory birds.


The nocturnal Kakapo Owl Parrot is unique. It does not fly. It is friendly to humans. It is near extinction. It is noisy at night, so it would not make a good pet. In any event it is protected from hunting or harm.


Some birds are poisonous to eat or touch. The ifrita, pitohui, rufous shrike-thrush and spur-winged goose would be dangerous pets. Their skin and feathers are toxic to humans, causing numbness, paralysis and death.


Parakeets are members of the colorful and intelligent parrot family. A Budgie is a type of parakeet, so it also is a member of the parrot family. However, a Parakeet is not necessarily a Budgie. Neither is rare.


A fast-rising star is the Parrotlet, or “pocket parrot”. This miniature parrot can fit in a pocket. Because it is small, it needs less space and food than a large parrot, like the macaw.


Cockatiels are members of the parrot family. These popular birds easily are raised for pets in captivity. Native to Australia, they are neither scarce nor endangered by over-hunting or loss of habitat.

Birds May Learn to Speak

Here's how parrots learn to speak: They gradually associate words with human activities or identities, such as greetings and names. Their vocabularies may be limited to a very few words.


Parrots are captured for beauty and talking ability. Those of bad character may not sell. They may be abandoned where they cannot survive. Some species have fewer than 100 members left in the wild.


Not all parrots learn to talk. It takes regular practice to teach a bird to talk. Training begins with simple names and words. The slow process frustrates expectations for instant gratification.


Forest and timber crime is of industrial scale. Valuable habitats are being cut down. Habitats are compromised by human migration and encroachment of residential and commercial development.

Illegal Pet Trade

Wildlife traffickers are criminals. The tourism and travel sector should become involved. Urgent collaboration is needed to halt the decline in animal health and welfare. Foul Someone's Nest is an understatement.


About one third of parrots face extinction. This is largely due to human activity. Many species are endangered by hunting, pollution and loss of habitat. Animal welfare volunteers are needed.


Organizations and laws are in place to reverse the losses. Organizations manage and restore habitats. They re-introduce species into once-native environments. Laws prevent capture and egg poaching.


CITES protects wild flora and fauna. It pledges strong action against animal crimes and requires registration of commercial breeding operations. It holds World Wildlife Day among global events.


Protection of native species is of benefit to everyone. Communities are involved in protecting the parrot species native to their locations. They are creating alternative means of income to stop crimes against birds.


Dolly is a lucky bird. To learn which parrots are most at risk and what is being done to help the parrot family, we have provided this link to Parrot Fun Zone, an educational site for parrot lovers.