Owning a pet bird can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. However, if you have decided you want to adopt a pet bird, there are many things to consider before choosing the right species and size to suit your family, your home and your level of experience. Not all birds are right for all people, and to help make sure you select the best pet bird for you, it is a good idea to consider several things before making your choice. The more time you take to consider the needs of your new pet and the possible effects and changes in your lifestyle, the better your new pet will fit into your lifestyle and the more enjoyable your pet experience will be.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Some bird species are more docile than others and enjoy or even crave human interaction, while some species will simply tolerate human interaction or actually prefer not to interact at all. For some bird owners, who perhaps don’t care about the personal interactivity as much as they do the entertainment or even just plain fascination with certain species, this is fine. However, some pet owners want to be able to take their bird from the cage and talk to it or teach it a few simple tricks.
Birds that like human interaction and prefer the company of their owners over privacy and less handling will exhibit behavior patterns that are calmer and have a much more pleasant disposition. The more social birds, who also exhibit a gentler demeanor, may work best in apartments or small homes, where you live much closer to your neighbors and disturbing them might be a concern. When choosing which species of bird best suits you, try to choose a bird whose personality is similar to your own.
Size and Species
If you think you will enjoy a larger bird, keep in mind that the bigger the bird, the more space you will need for its cage. As larger birds grow, you may also need to upgrade the size of the cage in order to allow them enough room to remain healthy and thrive, which may be an additional expense. A bird that lives in a cage that does not give him ample room to stretch his wings and move around beyond his perch may not thrive in cramped conditions. Of course, the larger the bird, the larger the cage, which also means more maintenance and a bit more work to keep the cage clean. When you choose which type of bird you would like to adopt, make sure you research its size when it is fully grown, keeping in mind that with some species, there is considerable difference in the size of a mature male and female of the species.
Longevity and Health
Although the lifespan of any creature depends on the quality of life and care he receives from his owner, some species have very short lifespans, while others can live for many, many years, such as macaws, who can live for decades! Depending on what species you choose, there are certain genetic and species-related health problems that occur, which you should be aware of. For instance, Finches have a life expectancy of approximately 10 years, while Canaries, Parakeets and Cockatiels can live almost 20 years. African Grey Parrots can live for 50 years or more.
Owning a bird can be expensive, depending on the species chosen. The biggest cost varies; some may require special types of cages that are a big expense initially, while others require special diets that will be more costly for a longer period of time. Certain species may be prone to more health problems than others and require more frequent visits to the veterinarian. The purchase price of a bird can range anywhere from under $100 to $1000 or more. Keep in mind that although it may be tempting to buy a “bargain-priced” bird, the health risks may end up costing you more in the long run. A more expensive, hand-raised bird will cost more initially, but its robust health will be less expensive over time.
Time and Commitment
Some species require more attention than others, whether it is in the form of exercise, personal interaction or just giving them time out of their cages to keep them healthy. If you work full-time and only have evenings and weekends to enjoy your pet bird, you may want to consider a more independent species like a canary or finch that will have no trouble entertaining itself and actually doesn’t mind more time just perching for a nap or alone in peace and quiet.
Care and Feeding
Feeding a pet bird is not difficult, as most species do well on a pre-formulated diet that can be purchased in your local pet store or from an avian veterinarian. However, there are species that require a diet supplemented with fresh greens, seeds, some fruits and grains, which increases the cost of owning a pet bird. Before you choose which type of pet bird you will own, make sure any special dietary needs can be met easily and are readily available in your area.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1.Is this bird for the entire family to enjoy, or is it going to be the main responsibility of one person, or even more importantly, a child or young person?
No matter what age, owning a bird for the first time does require some work, and it may be best to buy a small pet bird that requires the least amount of interaction and maintenance, such as a parakeet or finch. The more exotic species, such as cockatoos, cockatiels and more expensive parrots may not be the best choice for a beginner.
2.Will our lifestyle, and the current level of activity and noise in our home provide an environment that will allow a bird to thrive? Some birds don’t like a lot of noise or activity in the home which may be unavoidable with young children.
3.Will the noise the new bird makes disrupt your current lifestyle? If you have toddlers and young children who need plenty of quiet time for naps, etc., you may want to consider a species that makes little or no sound, and doesn’t startle easily. Parrots and larger birds are much noisier than small finches, doves and parakeets. It's tempting to want to choose the larger and more colorful birds, but they can be quite vocal!
4.Will the maintenance required demand more time than you have available? For a pet bird to be healthy, its cage will need to be kept meticulously clean, and its water and food supply always fresh and available. Caring for a bird’s housing cannot be taken lightly nor neglected repeatedly, or the bird’s health will suffer. Unlike most domestic pets, a bird is more difficult to get well once it gets sick, so preventing illness is extremely important.
5.What limitations will owning a pet bird put on my lifestyle? There are several items we use in our daily lives that can be a hazard or pose a health risk to your pet bird. Fumes from cooking and cookware, air fresheners and furniture polishes, cigarette smoke, candles, ceiling fans, houseplants and extremes in temperature change, both hot and cold, will need to be monitored closely.
6.Will I have enough time to spend with my pet to keep it happy and healthy? Many pet bird species do get lonely if left for too long a period without human contact or interaction. If your lifestyle or daily routine is full and only allows very little time for you to socialize with your bird, then perhaps a bird is not the best pet for you. Even the species that require less interaction will eventually feel neglected and their health will suffer if they become despondent.
7. Will owning a pet bird have a significant effect on my own health issues, such as allergies or physical limitations? For those individuals who suffer from allergies or other breathing difficulties, a pet bird may not be a good choice, as the dander from their feathers and the dust from their cages may cause you discomfort. Check with your doctor and an avian veterinarian about which species may be suitable for you.
If you know someone who is thinking of getting a pet bird, share this article with them so they'll know what to look out for!