to Consider Before you Buy a Bird
wonderful, intelligent creatures and can make excellent companions.
However, not every one who wants to own an exotic bird should own
one. A person wanting to own a parrot should be morally, financially
and physically capable of accepting the responsibility of bird owners.
Did you know:
Most parrots need
humidity. Most parrots came from the rainforest where the humidity is much higher than in our homes. While many parrots don't enjoy constant bathing, it is important that they at least receive humidity. This can be easily accomplished by them accompanying you into the bathroom while you shower or bathe.
For baths, some
birds prefer to bathe in a shower, some with a spray bottle, some
under a faucet and others in a dish. Try each of these methods until you find the one
your bird prefers.
require interaction with their owners on a daily basis. Some species
of birds require more interactions with their owners than others.
Cockatoos and lories require a great deal of attention daily.
Amazon parrots, macaws, budgies, conures, small African parrots
and cockatiels need some time with their owners for mental stimulation
- Parrots can
be expensive to keep and maintain. Initial costs include the bird
itself, a large cage, supplies and an initial checkup by an avian
veterinarian. Ongoing costs are food, routine vet checks, grooming
costs (clipping wings, trimming nails), toys and occasional emergencies
requiring avian veterinary care. Avian medicine is very specialized.
There are few avian experts around. Tests, procedures, and treatments
tend to be expensive. In addition, birds tend to exhibit symptoms
only at the point where they are fairly , if not acutely ill,
and treatment at that point is often of an emergency nature and
therefore more costly.
- Birds are
noisy. Parrots are flock animals. In the wild, the way they keep
in touch with each other when they are out of eyesight is through
vocalizations. Your bird will consider you a member of his flock
and will also want to keep in touch with you through vocalization.
At dawn, parrots call the flock to start the day, at dusk parrots
call the flock to roost. These are normal vocalizations and should
not be discouraged.
- Not all
birds talk. Even though most parrots have the capability to learn
human language, not all are interested in speaking. Some of the
best talkers are the African Grey, Budgerigars, Yellow-Naped Amazon
and Double Yellow-headed Amazon, but even with these, there are
- Birds are
messy. In the wild, one of a parrot's jobs is to re-tree the forest. In
order to accomplish this, it will take one bite of food and
drop the remainder (when food is abundant). Therefore, a large amount of your day may
be spent cleaning up after your bird. A healthy bird does not
live on seed alone. How long would you stay healthy on a diet
of seeds and water? Well, the same holds true for parrots. In
fact, an excellent rule of thumb for birds is "If it's GOOD
for me, it's good for my parrot" Try the 3-bowl system......
Veggies and Fruits
nuts and seeds
can be destructive. In the wild, parrots spend a large portion of their day
in search of and consuming food. Since food is provided for them
in our homes, they need to occupy the time they normally would
be spending in search of it. If toys are not provided on a regular
basis, they may use your furniture or rugs for a toy. Parrot toys
are meant to be destroyed. If the toy is indestructible, the bird
may not want to play with it. Toys should be rotated often so
the bird does not become bored.
They sometimes even bite the hand that feeds them and the person
to whom they've bonded. It's not like a dog biting. Birds certainly
do bite out of aggression, but it's more likely to be out of fear,
frustration or anger. Birds nip one another as part of their natural
interaction, and they expect us to tolerate some degree of this
natural behavior. It's a means of communication that leaves many
people feeling hurt and rejected. To put it simply: birds are
excellent communicators. Biting is a way of
saying "I don't like that," (when we haven't noticed other signals)and a very effective way
of saying it at that. We humans are often not so direct or assertive,
and we tend to hold a grudge when somebody or some bird is more
assertive than we are.
not appropriate pets for children. Due to their extremely intelligent
nature, parrots do not make good pets for children. Parrots are
very long-lived creatures and require daily interaction with their
human flock. A child will experience numerous lifestyle changes
(college, marriage, raising a family, moving etc) which may not
be conducive to keeping a long-term, intelligent creature as a
Do I Begin
want to take into consideration these things:
What can I afford?
according to the type of bird being purchased. You can get a pair
of Finches for about sixty dollars, a Budgie for about the same.
Cockatiels range from $40 to $100, Amazons $800 - $1500......and
a Hyacinth Macaw can command upwards from $15,000! Set a budget,
and work from there.
much space will the bird need?
The larger birds
and even some of the smaller ones, are very active and need large
cages and areas to play in.
I have the time for a bird?
is probably the most important question. Birds are intelligent,
playful, and most of all,* social* animals. Will you have time to
play with your bird? To properly care for it? Will it have an opportunity
to be part of your family? Also consider time in this sense--Birds
are rather long lived. A little Cockatiel can live up to 20 years!
An Amazon or an African Grey, could live 50 or 60, there are documented
cases of some birds living to be 100! Can you commit to that? It's
not unusual for birds to be passed down to another generation. Don't
buy a bird if you think you will quickly tire of it.
noisy is the bird? Will the neighbors complain?
Cockatiels are rather quiet. They are good for apartment dwellers.
A Moluccan Cockatoo could work in an apartment, as long as you have
understanding neighbors. Aratinga Conures are noted for their squawking--Sun conures
belong to this genus. Pyrhurra Conures are rather quiet. Of course,
there are variations due to the personality of the bird. Remember, noise is subjective and also
relative. A quiet bird might only be considered quiet (by some) next to a loud
destructive is the bird?
Do you have
priceless heirloom furniture? Rare books? Keep in mind that birds
have powerful beaks. Some birds are less prone to "chewing"
than others but chewing is a very natural behavior.
the bird need a special diet?
Lories and Toucans, for example, require specialized diets. Do you
have the ways and means to provide it? Once you've done your research
and decided what kind of bird you want, now is the time to go out
and buy it. Never, ever buy a bird on impulse!
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you still want a pet bird, there can only be one reason. Birds are
fantastic pets! To those of us who love them, they are truly incredible
and capable of the most amazing expressions of charm, intelligence,
and love. If you have what it takes to be a bird owner, and you
know what you're getting into, then you're probably in for the pet
experience of a lifetime. Congratulations on making a responsible
decision, whether it's to own a bird or not.