Pet Store or Bird Breeder: Where should you purchase a parrot at?

Socialization matter whether you purchase from a pet store or breederSo you want to purchase a sun conure parrot and don’t know if you want to buy one at a pet store or from a breeder. Pet stores and breeders can produce both good and bad experiences when purchasing a parrot. How can you tell the difference before purchasing a parrot?

At a pet store a parrot may or may not get much interaction. Employees may not know enough about the bird or have experience dealing with parrots. Pet stores can also be an expensive place to buy a parrot with a sun conure costing around $600 versus $300 to $400 from a breeder.

Ask questions before purchasing a parrot

Ask to see if you can handle the bird. Does it step up? Does it want to bite? What do the clerks in the store think of the birds? Do they interact with them at all? Is the pet bird weaned? In California it is against the law to sell unweaned parrots.

There are also good and bad bird breeders. Some breeders may put the bird back in brooder after feeding with little socialization. Others spend time with the birds giving them plenty of human interaction. A good breeder may feed fruits and vegetables as well as pellets as well; whereas at the pet store the birds most often get only a seed mix.

Once I was in a national chain pet store and I asked the clerk if I could handle a sun conure. They let me try. I asked because the bird seemed really scared, staying in the back of the cage, and since the clerk was doing some cleaning and changing the water; I thought I would ask. Well the bird definitely was frightened and had not been socialized at all. The clerk in the store even told me that no one handled the parrot at all. The bird wanted to bite me and did. I was concerned enough about the bird’s lack of socialization that I informed the corporate office of the national pet store chain.

Another incident involved a different national chain pet store. This time the clerk told me that they didn’t handle the bird because they were basically afraid of it and said that the bird bites hard. I again notified the corporate office.

One time I was visiting at a national chain pet store looking at the birds and the employee was trying to take the sun conure out of the cage because the employee wanted to clean the cage. The employee was having a horribly difficult time trying to get the sun conure out of the cage and appeared very frustrated. I promptly told the employee that I had a sun conure and to let me try. I reached in and grabbed the bird immediately with no problem and held it in my hand while talking to it to reassure the bird. The bird really just needed regular socialization.

Also I have been told of some of these sun conures being repeatly returned because people bought them not knowing and based on their beautiful appearance. A store clerk in this situation told me that yes the bird is mean and that is why it was returned. I have to say though that my observation of the bird was that it was playful and intelligent and that it probably just needed socialization by someone experienced in handling parrots.

However to be fair I have seen at a national chain pet store some employees that take time with the birds and are experienced with them. I have watched on occasion when a clerk calming takes the bird out and gives it a treat when it steps up, talks to the bird, and pets it. In these situations the clerks have told me that they enjoy teaching the birds, spending time with them, and socializing them. Unfortunately this type of parrot socialization and training is not uniform across all pet stores because of employee’s varying degrees of education and experience with birds.

Problems exist with some bird breeders too. So that is why it’s important to ask questions before you purchase a parrot. Is the bird weaned? Banded? What does it eat? Socialization? How much socialization? What toys does it have? How old is it? Is it sexed? Does it step up?

Even if you do end up with a sun conure that is not completely socialized there is hope. Goldie my sun conure was a bit mean and nipped when I got her. I was completely ignorant as to her care also. The store really just enticed me to purchase like so many others based upon the appearance of the bird. With time (this did not happen overnight or even in a few months, but over several years), education, and lots of patience, Goldie however is now a sweet, happy, and social parrot.

Nonetheless successful outcomes are not always the case with some unruly sun conures, as many of these fiercely intelligent, birds are rehomed and returned to pet stores and breeders because the parrots have not been socialized enough to be household pets. Owners become frustrated and lack the knowledge and tools necessary to deal with these personality filled little creatures. Many of these birds become breeder birds or live lonely lives in a corner somewhere with little interaction.


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