Did Pirates Carry a Parrot on Their Shoulder?
If you lived in the 17th century and saw a parrot on a pirate’s shoulder, it was most likely not going to be there for long. That bird was just another way for a pirate to earn a few extra bucks. And, of course, parrots excrete pretty much any time they want, so having one perched on one’s shoulder for any length of time probably wasn’t feasible.
Although there are no accounts of pirates having pet parrots, there was a trade in animals from all around the world throughout the age of piracy. A colorful talking bird would have been expensive, so pirates probably stole them along with other valuable cargo. The crew on a pirate ship may have been glad to have these intelligent birds onboard to entertain them on long, dull voyages.
Parrots were particularly popular because they were colorful, could be taught to speak, and were easier to care for than, say, monkeys. They also fetched a good price. Additionally, there are records indicating that parrots were also used as bribes for government officials.