Parrot Advocates Say Adopt, Don't Buy!

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Marc Johnson, founder of Foster Parrots Ltd. is pictured with his parrots. (Joe Brunette)
Marc Johnson, founder of Foster Parrots Ltd. is pictured with his parrots. (Joe Brunette)

Parrots are often popular pets. But as a new Nature special on PBS, "Parrot Confidential," points out, the birds have long lifespans and often demand a great deal more attention than potential bird owners realize.

Allison Argo is the filmmaker behind "Parrot Confidential." (Joe Brunette)
Allison Argo is the filmmaker behind "Parrot Confidential." (Joe Brunette)

As a result, every year, hundreds of parrots are given up to sheltering organizations like Marc Johnson's nonprofit Foster Parrots -- or just abandoned, like Lou, who was left behind in a foreclosed home.

And as "Parrot Confidential" filmmaker Allison Argo points out, "the main thing is that they're also designed for life in the wild. Which ... we cannot replicate in captivity."

Argo and Johnson join Here & Now's Robin Young for a conversation about parrots.

"Parrot Confidential" airs tonight on PBS at 8 p.m. Eastern (check your local listings).

Interview Highlights

Marc Johnson on why people give up their parrots

“I think that it begins with the impulsive nature of humans and the way we sort of purchase things. We fall prey to our own desires to own something different – to have something a little more exotic than our neighbors. And so a parrot is like a perfect unusual pet. And, before we were around, the only advice they got were the views of the pet trade. So basically, there were people selling them, parrots, and not telling them about the negative sides about keeping them.”

Allison Argo on parrots

“Incredible – the first time I looked into the eyes of a parrot, I was just struck by how much was going on behind the eyes. I mean, this bird was taking me in, was sizing me up. And there was a communication that we had between one another. But the main thing is that they are also designed for life in the wild, which we cannot replicate in captivity.”

Allison Argo on her film "Parrot Confidential"

“There are some good stories in the film. And there are some wonderful people who take really good care of parrots. But the main message is: adopt. Don’t go out and put down $40 at Petco because there are a lot of birds out there that need a home.”

Marc Johnson on his work advocating for parrots

“To have been able to make a difference already is what keeps you going. I mean the fact that we've brought awareness to this issue, we've actually opened people’s eyes to what parrots really are, and made them think twice about the purchase before they go buy the parrot, is really what we were striving to do.”


This segment aired on November 13, 2013.


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