What to know about owning a pet bird

What to Know Before You Buy a Bird

Becoming an owner of an exotic bird is a lifelong commitment. Over the past twenty two years I have owned numerous species of parrots, and couldn’t imagine a time without my feathered friends. Having lived with over 100 feathered friends since the age of ten I have encountered many different pros and cons of being a bird owner. With proper care and socialization owning a pet bird can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, although one must consider many factors to ensure that the bird you choose fits your lifestyle. One must never make a buying decision on impulse!

Some factors to consider are:

  1. Compatibility- Certain species like to be handled more than others while other birds like their own space and do not like as much handling. Families with young children should buy a baby bird and visit the bird often before taking it home, so that the bird and the children can become familiar with each other.
  2. Noise- ALL BIRDS MAKE NOISE…. Some more than others. Some species tend to be quieter than others; a lot has to do with the surroundings and environments that the birds are in. Most birds do make some noise at sunrise and at sunset, as they would in the wild. If you live in an apartment a smaller species would be a better choice as they are usually not as loud.
  3. Dust and dander- Certain species of birds have a natural powder which makes them dustier than other birds, which could potentially cause problems with people and allergies. Some of this can be controlled with a frequent bathing regiment for the bird.
  4. Cost- The initial investment in a bird and a proper cage is only a small part of the cost of owning a bird as veterinary expenses should be planned for as well as the continual expense for proper food, treats and toys as well as other needed supplies.
  5. Lifespan of the bird- Many birds outlive their owners and this should be planned for in your long term estate planning. This may sound silly to some but it can cause a real problem if not properly planned for. So if you are considering a larger breed of bird make sure that you have a person or an adoption agency in your plans, this will not be as big of a consideration when getting a smaller bird, which again typically has a much shorter lifespan.
  6. Mess- Many birds are sloppy eaters and when molting there will be feathers shed and on the floor. Keeping the birds cages cleaned and the bottom of the cage changed frequently is an absolute must. While this is a quick task it is one that needs to be done daily.
  7. Aggression- Many hand fed birds are lovey dovey in the beginning but without proper training and socialization many become aggressive during their breeding season, this will be more noticeable on certain species such as Amazons, and African Greys.
  8. Dietary needs- Many people feed their birds only seeds, this is like eating fast food everyday, very high in fats and very low in essential nutrients, for this reason birds should be fed a pelleted diet that is high in vitamins and the essential nutrients to keep your bird healthy. This type of diet along with fruits, vegetables and a small amount of seed is much healthier for your pet bird. You should never feed your bird chocolate or avocados, as these are toxic to your bird.
  9. Socialization- Time to spend with your bird- Most people have very busy lifestyles that include jobs which take them out of the home for a fairly substantial part of the day, if you want to ensure that your bird continues to stay friendly you must handle him every day and interact with them. While this does not require long amounts of time it does mean setting aside some time for interaction. Your bird will love to be out of its cage to eat breakfast and dinner with you, they love to be part of your flock!
  10. Household sensitivities- Birds are very sensitive to many chemicals and smells, some of which could be fatal. Everyday products that you use in your home such as candles, Teflon pans, air fresheners are just a few of the many things that could be potentially hazardous to our feathered friends. I suggest that you consult with your avian veterinarian to get a larger list of hazardous items that may be in use in your own home.

One of the most important things to remember is to never make a purchase on pure impulse. Many people who purchase purely on impulse and do not research on a specific breed end up dissatisfied with the bird and sell the bird or place it with an adoption agency
Please check with your local bird club (www.ripbc.org)or reputable bird store to get more information before making a final decision.