What to know before bringing home this tropical bird

Parrots have captured the imagination of bird lovers for years. If you're thinking getting a parrot for a pet, do some research to find out if this tropical bird would be a good pet for you. Here are some tips.

The right reasons. Avalon Aviary points out that parrots are "beautiful, clever, complex, instinctive animals." Parrots have the potential to learn how to talk or sing — usually a good thing — and can be as affectionate as a cat or a dog. In fact, parrots can even learn how to call the cat or dog.

The wrong reasons. Parrots make a great conversation topic. People who own parrots are kind of cool. A parrot's color scheme might even match your furniture. These are not, however, good enough reasons to have a parrot as a pet. It's an animal, not a stage prop. Some parrots never learn to talk or sing. They eat, need shelter and require cleaning. Parrots are intelligent and sensitive and often require more work than a cat or dog. They can be loud. They can be messy. Make sure you are ready for that kind of commitment.

Things to consider. If you're undecided, consider the following:

Cost. Parrots are expensive. Throw in a cage, a play area, toys and a high-nutrition diet, and the costs add up. It can be difficult to find a vet who knows how to treat parrots, and veterinary care isn't cheap.

Your lifestyle. You can't leave home for long without arranging for someone to feed your parrot. Parrots require more attention than most pets, including at least 20 minutes of one-on-one time, and that time must occur during the day when the bird is awake. In other words, taking proper care of a parrot may require going by its schedule, not yours.

Other pets. Birds are natural prey for cats, snakes, ferrets and some dogs. This may become an issue. If you have other birds, you'll need to cage them separately.

Your home. Parrots need to be integrated into your home just like any other pet. Make sure you have ample room for the cage — some can be as large as an entertainment center. Parrots also require a separate play area away from the cage. Before bringing home a parrot, plan out the living arrangements and make sure they work.