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Trying to choose an emotional support bird

Pipzip024

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Hi there! My name is Mimi, I’ve grown up with birds my whole life, my mother loves parrots. I’m now an adult and I’m going to be moving out of the house next year into an apartment. I suffer from really bad anxiety and since I find a lot of comfort in animals, my psychiatrist has suggested getting an emotional support pet to help me with my mental health. Parrots are my absolute favourite animal and I have loved all the ones I grew up with, we now only have 4 budgies but they are my mothers. I think a parrot would be the best fit for me, I’m just having a tough time choosing what will be the best fit. I need a bird that will be apartment friendly (not too loud), and also that is really cuddly (I find a lot of comfort in cuddles). I’ve kind of narrowed it down to African grey or green cheek conure, but I’m still not sure. I’m open to any suggestions, I just want to make sure that I can give the right home to whatever bird I get.
thank you!!
 

TheBirds

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From my own (maybe somewhat) limited research, Green Cheek Conures are known for being quieter (relatively speaking) and cuddly birds, although each bird's personality will differ of course. For an apartment, a GCC would be easier to house as they're smaller birds, so my vote - between AG and GCC - would be a GCC.

Not to confuse you or lead you astray at all, but I currently have a parrotlet and can say from a noise perspective, they're very quiet birds compared to their larger counterparts! We get a handful of flock calls throughout the day as family members come and go ("Where is everyone?!") but his chirps and chatters are quiet and pleasant to listen to. He's not all that cuddly (yet), however. I guess it depends on how important noise level is to you!

Looking forward to seeing what you choose!
 

tka

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I have to be blunt: I don't think a bird is what you're looking for.

Firstly, cuddling. Most of the behaviours that humans would describe as cuddly would be interpreted by a bird as intensely sexual. These include things like stroking a bird down its back, touching under its wings, giving full body strokes and similar. These kind of touches would only occur between pair-bonded birds. If you touch a pet bird in this way, it is going to interpret these as you courting it or even having sex with it. It will see you as its mate, and, because most birds are intensely monogamous, it will see other people as rivals for your affections. This can lead to birds being very aggressive to those who aren't their chosen one and other hormonal behaviours. It's one of the most common factors in a bird being rehomed.

This is a good article about sexual behaviours: Site Name - Articles - Behavioral - Sex And The Psittacine

The most contact you ought to have with a bird is headscratches. No hugging, no full body strokes, no running your hand down its back, no cuddling under a blanket together.

Secondly, parrots are exquisitely sensitive to the moods of their flock. They pick up on and reflect our moods. If you are calm and steady, your bird will be relaxed and calm. If you are anxious and stressed, your bird will notice that and be stressed and anxious themselves. A stressed, anxious bird is going to assume that there is something worth being anxious about (a predator or some other threat) and is more likely to behave unpredictably, bite, be difficult to handle etc. A bird is not going to respond to your anxiety by soothing or calming you.

If you want a calm, steady, supportive presence that will enjoy cuddles, look into getting a dog or perhaps a very chilled out cat.
 

Zara

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Welcome to the Avenue Mimi :)

I agree with @tka

A dog or even a pair of guinea pigs could be a better option if you are looking for a cuddly pet.
 

cassiesdad

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Welcome to the Avenue. :)

As has been said by @Zara and @tka, parrots...well most birds, will "tune in" to the moods of the flock...you. ;) I, myself, have issues with anxiety and depression (under treatment) so I also have to watch my moods around our flock...especially in Milton the U2s case. 'Toos seem to be quite advanced in picking up moods of their people...and responding in kind to the moods.

If your heart is set on a bird, my suggestion is a cockatiel...they are a most solid species, and adapt to their humans, for the most part, very well. They enjoy being around people (you can always have a rare exception to that of course) and they love attention...and head scritches! Sunshine, for example, goes nuts for gentle chin rubs...:heart:
 

malibu

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I agree with the others, a parrot might be a bit 'high strung' as an emotional support animal but if you really want to maybe volunteer at a parrot rescue to see what some of the bigger species like greys are. If you want something small and caged maybe rats?

They are super intelligent and respond to training really well plus they can be much more cuddly than parrots. The only downside is that you may have to neuter them which can be expensive and they need to be in pairs (i dont think males should be housed together hence the neutering to prevent unwanted babies) and they don't live super long (2-3 years)

Guinea pigs are also good but they need much more space
 

WeasleyLover

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As others have said, parrots do not make good emotional support animals. If fact, my parrots often heavily contribute to my anxiety. If you want a parrot and are in a good situation to care for one, that is one thing. But do not get a parrot with the intentions of it being an emotional support animal.

Noise level and being "cuddly" (parrots shouldn't really be cuddled....tka explains why) depends on each individual bird. I have both an African Grey and three Green Cheek Conures. My grey talks and makes his noises all day long. I would not consider him loud, except for a few of his whistles, but he is constantly making noise. I think I would feel okay keeping him in an apartment (he is the only one of my birds I would say this about), but that not does mean that other greys are not much louder. As far as being cuddly, he loves to have his head scratched and would let me pet him all day long. However, sometimes he gets a little frisky and starts to try to regurgitate for me while I pet him. This is a no no for me, and he stops getting scratches when he starts that.

My Green Cheeks are VERY loud. They shriek, screech, and beep throughout the day. They also make very pleasant quiet noises, like purrs. I think they would get me kicked out of an apartment, LOL. They like hanging out with me and sitting with me, but they are not cuddly with me. Two of the three do enjoy head scratches.
 

Shezbug

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I totally agree with what has been said above about birds not being the right choice for an emotional support animal as they feed off and respond to the mood of their flock.
I have severe anxiety and I honestly need to not be in the middle of an anxiety attack when I have my bird out or when I’m interacting with him.
It sends him confusing signals when I am anxious around him and I’ve noticed it stresses him badly.
The few times I’ve tried to hang out with him while I’m highly anxious have been very stressful for him, unfair to him and downright dangerous for both of us as he becomes unpredictable due to his extremely heightened mood.
He’s a completely different bird when I’m panicked, stressed or anxious to when I’m not having an anxiety issue.
I now make sure I put my anxiety away and am in a clear frame of mind before interacting with him for his sake and mine or his out of cage time has to be delayed till I’m calm and the person he is used to.
Birds are unable to ease anxiety when it’s needed by offering emotional support- they don’t really seem to feed off emotions quite the same as dogs tend to.... they kinda do the opposite and mirror your erratic behaviour and feelings instead of snuggling into you so you can pat them, a bird can never be your support the same as a dog or cat are able to simply because of the ingrained instinctual differences between them all.
Dogs and cats are actually often attracted to people who need calming or company, birds are not.

I hope you can find something that helps you with your anxiety. :bighug:
 

Imogena

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I would also agree with others. Edgar picks my moods and when I'm nervous there is no co operation from Edgar. He gets nervous himself.
Edit: But on the other side, he tought me to control my moods quite well. When I see how he behaves I immediately know that if I want something constructive done, I have to calm myself.
 

Hawk12237

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I have to be blunt: I don't think a bird is what you're looking for.

Firstly, cuddling. Most of the behaviours that humans would describe as cuddly would be interpreted by a bird as intensely sexual. These include things like stroking a bird down its back, touching under its wings, giving full body strokes and similar. These kind of touches would only occur between pair-bonded birds. If you touch a pet bird in this way, it is going to interpret these as you courting it or even having sex with it. It will see you as its mate, and, because most birds are intensely monogamous, it will see other people as rivals for your affections. This can lead to birds being very aggressive to those who aren't their chosen one and other hormonal behaviours. It's one of the most common factors in a bird being rehomed.

This is a good article about sexual behaviours: Site Name - Articles - Behavioral - Sex And The Psittacine

The most contact you ought to have with a bird is headscratches. No hugging, no full body strokes, no running your hand down its back, no cuddling under a blanket together.

Secondly, parrots are exquisitely sensitive to the moods of their flock. They pick up on and reflect our moods. If you are calm and steady, your bird will be relaxed and calm. If you are anxious and stressed, your bird will notice that and be stressed and anxious themselves. A stressed, anxious bird is going to assume that there is something worth being anxious about (a predator or some other threat) and is more likely to behave unpredictably, bite, be difficult to handle etc. A bird is not going to respond to your anxiety by soothing or calming you.

If you want a calm, steady, supportive presence that will enjoy cuddles, look into getting a dog or perhaps a very chilled out cat.
I agree with @tka, a bird is not a "support" animal. They are not as domesticated as a cat or dog.
 

Icey

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You have had excellent feedback already but if you are looking for a cuddly companion, why not go to your local animal shelter and look at dogs or cats.
Either one would give you the companionship you desire and they are both usually very cuddly.
Just a thought :)
They won't be upset if you're having a "bad day". On the contrary, they will show you lots of love and make you feel less anxious.
 

Tinta

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I think parrots can make fine emotional support animals, depending on the person and situation.
I love dogs personally but they are too needy a pet for some people. I myself have anxiety and depression and have been considering getting a parrot to help give me companionship and a life to enrich at home.

I'd say a GCC is a good choice, but they are known to be a bit nippy. Any pyrrha conure would probably be quiet enough for an apartment. Cockatiels are also very lovely.
I enjoy lovebirds and budgies but not their sounds, so I wouldn't personally own either.
Parrotlets, canary wing parakeets and linnies have all been birds I've considered before though.

The small poicephalus might be a better choice than a grey, for sound in an apartment. A senegal, meyers, red bellied parrot etc.


A cat is also less needy than a dog though and has the potential to be far more cuddly than a bird, depending on the personality of the cat. My partner's cat wakes us every morning for food and I have found her reasonably easy to train. I could teach her to meow at meal times to remind me to take meds, if I didn't just use my phone alarm. I've taught her a few tricks as well and do find that being home with her in the day is better than being alone.

On the whole I am personally a dog and parrot person and would prefer one of these species as my personal pet.
I think it really depends on the person, what animal/species will help most.

I'd pick some species to research and check out their noise levels and such in youtube videos. If there is a bird/parrot rescue near you, you can also try meeting some there and it might help you find the right species or even the right bird for you.
 

tka

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I totally agree with what has been said above about birds not being the right choice for an emotional support animal as they feed off and respond to the mood of their flock.
I have severe anxiety and I honestly need to not be in the middle of an anxiety attack when I have my bird out or when I’m interacting with him.
It sends him confusing signals when I am anxious around him and I’ve noticed it stresses him badly.
The few times I’ve tried to hang out with him while I’m highly anxious have been very stressful for him, unfair to him and downright dangerous for both of us as he becomes unpredictable due to his extremely heightened mood.
He’s a completely different bird when I’m panicked, stressed or anxious to when I’m not having an anxiety issue.
I now make sure I put my anxiety away and am in a clear frame of mind before interacting with him for his sake and mine or his out of cage time has to be delayed till I’m calm and the person he is used to.
Birds are unable to ease anxiety when it’s needed by offering emotional support- they don’t really seem to feed off emotions quite the same as dogs tend to.... they kinda do the opposite and mirror your erratic behaviour and feelings instead of snuggling into you so you can pat them, a bird can never be your support the same as a dog or cat are able to simply because of the ingrained instinctual differences between them all.
Dogs and cats are actually often attracted to people who need calming or company, birds are not.

I hope you can find something that helps you with your anxiety. :bighug:
This is a really, really honest and well described account - thank you for sharing. I'm in the Anxious Club too and I find that I have to control it if I want to interact with Leia. She mirrors and magnifies it. When I'm tense and stressed, I move and sound and interact with her differently. She then picks up on it and gets anxious and stressed because a) I'm not acting like I normally do and that freaks her out and b) if I'm stressed about something, it must be something really worth stressing out about. She's then on edge - she'll puff up and strut at the slightest things and is ready to lunge and strike with her beak. Then I feel guilty because she's stressed because of me, then on a really bad day I can convince myself that she'd be better off with someone else and...well. It's not good.

My dogs respond to an anxious person by sitting with them, curling up next to or on them. Like @Shezbug says, a parrot will not do this and it is not reasonable to expect them to. They just work in a totally different way. Parrots are prey animals - they're wired to be extremely responsive to their environment, to respond to change by becoming hyper-alert and to respond to the flock being anxious by being anxious and on edge themselves.

Thankfully my anxiety is pretty well controlled so it rarely gets as bad as I've described above, but when it was much worse and much less controlled, Leia and I would have been terrible for each other.
 

MnGuy

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I agree with everyone that parrots would not make a good emotional support animal. The situation is reversed — they often look to us to help calm their nerves.

But if the OP finds birds especially calming and interesting to be around in a way that calms their nerves, I think a small flock of chickens or a few tame doves or pigeons would work well.
 

Zara

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While this is lovely for the human..... what is in it for the bird?
For the one good day the human has with the bird, there will be many days of anxiety attacks or other breakdowns the bird will endure and even days the human cannot care for the bird.
 

Lady Jane

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There was a report I posted here a couple years ago about how much parrots were helping veterans with Post traumatic stress syndrome. there are many write ups on this subject.

 
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