Buying a Bird
I'm excited about getting a pet bird, but don't know what kind to buy. Can you give me some advice?
First, you need to answer some questions to help you select the appropriate bird. How much time do you want to spend each day caring for the bird? Are you away from home often? How much space do you have for a cage? Are there children in the house? Do you want to hold to bird or just watch it?
If you have never owned a bird, you should start out with one of the smaller and easier to care for birds, such as parakeets, finches, canaries or cockatiels. Parakeets and finches enjoy living in groups so you could have several in a cage, enjoy their antics and not have too much hands-on interaction with them. Cockatiels are good beginner birds if you want a bird you can hold. People are often attracted to larger birds like parrots, cockatoos and macaws. These birds are not appropriate for someone who has never cared for a bird, is not home often, and cannot afford their maintenance. The larger birds are more expensive to purchase and require sturdier and larger cages. They are usually housed alone and require mental stimulation (such as play activity), exercise and handling to remain calm and healthy. They live 25-50 years or more, much longer than the smaller birds. They also have a loud voice or call. If you want a pet bird, purchase only a hand-raised, domesticated bird, preferably a young one. This prevents depletion of the wild bird population, and assures that you will receive a healthier pet and one that is easier to handle. Birds that are hand-raised by a breeder will readily bond with people and enjoy being handled. The extra care taken by a breeder to raise a "sweet" baby bird will increase the purchase price, but is worth the expense. Even parakeets can be hand raised and make very sociable and comical companions. There should be parental supervision when children interact with pet birds. Birds have a much more fragile body than other pets the child may be used to handling. The bird also may be frightened by an inexperienced handler and could cause serious bite wounds. Like all pets, birds need daily exercise to keep a healthy mind and body. For smaller birds that are handled less often, a cage may be large enough to provide exercise space and can give you fun watching them socialize with each other. Larger birds need to come out of their cages on a regular basis to get enough exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction with you. You will need to bird proof your house to prevent any injury or accidents. Some birds can be destructive with their beaks when out of the cage and need supervision and appropriate chew toys.
Once you've thought about what you want to gain from pet bird ownership and what you are willing to give to the relationship, you should visit pet shops and bird shows to learn the characteristics of different bird species. Contact breeders and talk with them about their particular breed. Read books or contact your veterinarian or the Association of Avian Veterinarians at (561) 393-8901 for more information.