I would like to preface my response to this post with my disclaimer post
, which describes my view that problems concerning psittacine ownership should be managed with near-term and long-term strategies.
The falconry license is a model that I will draw inspiration from. In USA, Mexico and Canada a person must have a license to legally keep a hawk (there might be some exceptions for non-native hawks that not used to hunt, which vary state-by-state).
Although it is not perfect, the requirement to obtain a license to possess a bird has its upsides. A licensing regime improves the hawk's welfare in a number of ways. Top on the list is, there are not a massive number of unwanted birds that have no place to go. Falconry birds includes both wild-caught and captive breed birds, such as the Harris's hawk, which is one of the most widely breed birds for falconry. I believe that it is because of the limitations imposed by licensing, that Harris's hawk are not over-breed the way many parrots are. In comparison to psittacines, there are far fewer hawks that are abused and kept in squalid conditions. In the US, sometimes hawks are kept illegally, and those birds are sometimes abused, but that is the exception rather than the rule. In those cases the birds are confiscated and there are also legal penalties for the perpetrators. Overall, I feel that for hawks, licensing requirements has helped the birds.
The fact that owning a parrot would require a license would automatically weed-out those people that don't want to devote a chunk of there life/time to a bird. The people that only want a pretty creature in the east corner of there room would be turned off by the idea of having to obtain a license. Impulse buys would be eliminated. When someone sees a friendly bird and is captivated by it's intense beauty, that person would then learn that keeping such a creature would require licenses. The person would then have to decide if they are willing to go through the licensing process.
A licensing regime for psittacines would share many features with the licensing of falconry, however there would be may differences due to the licensing regime being crafted specifically for parrots and their nature. I believe that the system should be multi-tiered system with a number of requirementsmulti-tiered: definition
First, I think parrot species should be rated on a scale of 1 to 3 (or 1 to 4) based on how difficult it is to keep them. I had read many accounts by people who have obtain a cockatoo after having kept a smaller psittacines, those people compare it to the different experiences to the difference between collage and professional sports. Budgies have been selectively breed long enough so that they are more manageable. Budgies and similar psittacines would be a 1 on the psittacine scale. Species that are the most difficult to keep and have shown a tendency to self-destruct would get the highest number on the psittacine scale. Birds on the psittacine 1 category would never require a license to own however, caretakers would be held to a standard of humane care, like cats and dogs should. I believe that a multi-tiered system would be superior to a binary regulate or not-regulate system. A multi-tiered system could be implemented in stages, where only the highest category(s) would require a license, after review, the law could be adjusted to require licensing for other categories if needed. Another advantages to a multi-tiered system is the possibility for more stringent requirements on a license to keep some birds.Requirement 1:apprenticeship
Just as a falconry license requires an apprenticeship before a person can earn the license, a psittacine license would also require that a person would have to do an apprenticeship under a licensed person. This requirement would provide hands-on training with an adult bird. This way people can get a real-world feel for the difference between handling a young bird and an adult bird and even a hormonal bird. As a person works with real live birds not just when the birds are being sweet, but when the birds are "acting up", the apprentice would have to ask himself/herself, "Is it really worth it, and do I have what it takes to be a parrot caretaker, or should I just love them from a distance?".
From my own experience in the late 90s, I was considering getting my bird from one particular Texas breeder however, he would not allow an outside person to handle a bird who was not the intended purchaser. As a result, I had to travel to multiple pet stores, so that I could get a feel for handling a bird. Still however, I was usually not dealing with adult birds. I think everyone who is concerned for parrots can agree, hands-on experience is needed before a someone commits to becoming a parrot caretaker. Anything else would be unfair to both the bird and the human. In the near-term, parrot rescues could provide much of the requirements for apprenticeship.Requirement 2:contingency plan
Because of the long lifespans of psittacines, a contingency plan would be required for keeping large parrots. A contingency plan would be made so that if the caretaker dies or if for some other reason he/she can not take of the birds, the birds have a place to go. A licensed person or organization must be willing and on-the-record to take in the birds in an emergency situation. Possessing a psittacine licenses would mean that you would be required to keep the contingency plan up-to-date. As the years pass, persons on the contingency plan may find themselves in a different situation, or they may become the recipient of birds from another contingency plan, leaving them with limited space.Requirement 3:bird database
I think along with licentiateship, the law should require a universal database of birds that are members of the highest psittacine category(s). The purpose of universal tracking is to see how genetic and environmental components effect how well the bird is able to adapt to a life as a companion animal. The bird's bloodlines would be tracked. The circumstances of the bird's early life and weening experience would be contained in the database. As all of these may be factors as to why some birds do better as companion animals than others.