National Bird Day is recognized on Thursday, January 5 – so what better way to celebrate than to find out what sort of bird is right for you?
Humans from all levels of society have been keeping birds for thousands of years, from kings (Henry VIII) to explorers (Christopher Columbus) to presidents (Teddy Roosevelt).There’s so much to choose from! Do you want a small singer who will fill your house with beautiful chirping? Or do you prefer a large parrot who will talk back to you?
Before you make your decision, please keep in mind that keeping a bird as a pet is a big responsibility. Your bird will depend on you for everything—food, protection, health care, and enrichment. You must also commit to providing the best home possible for your bird, with the appropriately-sized cage or small enclosure.
It may take some research and planning to learn about the right foods for your bird. For example, premade mixes and pellets are available, but you can offer your pet plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—but not avocados.
Boredom in birds can lead to many health and behavior problems; bored birds may shriek, chew on themselves, and become overly fussy eaters, to name just a few possibilities. To fight boredom, rotate your bird’s toys on a weekly basis. Also, spend time with him every day, and rotate what activities you do with him every day as well.
So how do you choose a bird right for you?
Some are better suited for first-time bird keepers, like parakeets, cockatiels, canaries, and some species of finches. Some parrots, like African greys and Amazons, can grow in excess of 13 inches (33 cm) and therefore may be too large for some people to care for.
Dr. Michael Krinsley of the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital created a few helpful scenarios that may help you make your decision:
“I don’t like a lot of mess.” Choose small birds, such as budgies (a.k.a. parakeets), canaries, finches or lovebirds.
“I don’t like loud screaming birds.” Although there are individual exceptions, avoid conures, parrots and cockatoos.
“I am afraid of being bitten by my bird.” If this is a concern, find out how large your bird will be when fully grown. As babies, medium- and large-sized birds are very sweet and have little beak strength. But when they mature, they can become somewhat aggressive, their beaks more powerful and their behavior somewhat erratic. Instead, choose a smaller bird, such as a cockatiel, who is less able to cause harm when he bites.
“I want my bird to talk.” African Gray parrots and Amazon parrots are considered the best talkers, but there is no guarantee that your bird will talk. Birds who speak the most are those who are spoken to most often.
“I am concerned about how my new bird will get along with other pets and young children.” Adequate space and close adult supervision will promote harmony among birds, children and other pets. You will need a room in which you can close off your bird for his or her protection when you are not present, even if you are just in another room. If you have a very large bird, such as a macaw, you may need to protect your children and other pets from the bird if he has been provoked inadvertently.
“I want my bird to bond with me, so maybe I’ll buy an unweaned bird.” Newborn, unweaned birds, like human infants, need to be fed by hand, which requires a great deal of care. Also, they are more likely to develop problems that weaned birds (birds able to eat by themselves) don’t experience. So if you have no prior experience hand-feeding birds, make sure the bird you select is weaned. As for the bonding issue, birds who are young but already weaned bond very well with caring and affectionate owners.
“I’ll take my neighbor’s bird, since he is looking for a home for her.” Pet birds are often given away or sold at a loss because of behavioral or medical problems. If you are thinking about buying a pre-owned bird, it is best if you know the previous owner and are aware of any preexisting problems. Ask to see the bird’s veterinary records or take the bird for a veterinary exam before you finalize the purchase.
Whatever you decide or any questions you may have, Pets Plus is here for you. Talk to one of our experienced staff members today!