The fun and educational site for parrot loving kids of all ages!

Is a Bird Right for Me?

The ThinkerHaving a pet is really great but, it also is a huge responsibility!  Birds can make absolutely wonderful pets and companions given proper care and training, few pets are as engaging as parrots!

  • Parrots are animated and fun!
  • Parrots are very intelligent!
  • Some parrots learn to talk!
  • Parrots are very social and can bond with their human family!

There is a misconception that because birds live in cages that they are easier to take care of than dogs or cats.  Parrots are nothing like having a dog or cat as a pet, they have some very unique needs.   Just keeping a parrot in a cage does not mean they are easier.  Birds depend on us every day to make sure they are safe, properly fed and their environment is kept clean.

Parrots can also present some very unique challenges:

  • Some bird species can be VERY noisy! In general, the larger the bird, the larger the noise.
  • Most birds are very good at making a big mess!
  • Birds like to chew and can be destructive!
  • Birds need a very healthy diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pellets, seeds, nuts, cooked beans and more!
  • Birds will bite if they are scared and it can hurt!
  • Birds are very sensitive to chemicals in their environment and some foods and plants are poisonous to them!
  • Bored birds can develop behavioral problems and need lots of enrichment.
  • Birds need consistent social interaction with time out of their cage in a safe environment.
  • Birds are not  temporary playmates.  They can live a VERY, VERY long time.

In order to develop a good relationship with a bird and to ensure they live a happy and fulfilled life in captivity it takes a lot of personal time and appropriate attention.   It also takes time to properly feed them and clean their cages.  There are lots of things you should consider and talk about with your family before buying or adopting a bird including the following:

  • Are you ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a bird?
  • Have you researched what kind of bird would be best for you and your family?
  • Have you done your homework on what it takes to properly meet a bird’s full range of needs?
  • What’s your home like?
    • Do you have enough space to provide your bird with a suitable cage and other safe play areas?
    • Can you bird-proof your home to ensure their safety?
    • Can you keep your bird safe from other family pets?
    • Is your home calm or very chaotic?
  • What is your lifestyle like?   How much time do you have to properly feed, exercise, interact with and clean up after a bird?
  • Do you have the patience to train a bird and deal with their annoying traits?
  • Can you afford to properly care for your bird (cage, food, toys and medical care)?
  • Some large birds can live more than 50 years.  Are you willing to make a lifetime commitment to your pet? What about if you head off to college or start having a family?
  • What if something happens to you, who will take care of your bird?
  • In case of an emergency, is there a veterinarian in your town that specializes in birds?

Making the decision to have any pet is a big one and definitely should not be an impulsive one.  Parrots are not for everyone.  It is better to walk away from the idea of having a parrot, than it is to endure a creature in your home that is unhappy and making you unhappy. That is why there are so many parrot sanctuaries at their full capacity now. Take your time. Learn as much as you can. There are many resources out there to help you gather information.

If you decide to move forward, then do your research on the specific needs and behaviors of whatever bird species you may be considering as a pet.   If your decision is based on careful thought and if you are willing to open your heart and make the commitment to provide for your bird’s needs then you can have a very successful, rewarding relationship with one of the most amazing creatures that could ever grace your home for many years to come!

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Choosing the Right Bird

bird right forme

As discussed in our article "Is a Bird The Right Pet for Me?" there are many aspects of bird ownership to ponder before deciding to bring a parrot into your home.  If you have positively answered those questions and are willing to make the commitment to ensuring a fully enriched life for your feathered companion then it is time to consider that species would make the best fit for your family.

The choice of a suitable species may hinge on several factors including:

  • your ability to tolerate noise
  • your desire to have a talking pet
  • your fear of "BIG" bites
  • space considerations
  • the presence of very young children in your household
  • your financial ability to provide care and enrichment
  • your age and health relative to a bird's lifespan

Additionally, everyone should give serious consideration towards adopting a parrot from a rescue rather than purchasing one.

All of these issues are presented in more detail below:

Adoption vs. Purchase

There are many great reasons to adopt rather than buy a bird:

  • There is an overabundance of birds in captivity that deserve a forever home and by adopting you would be doing a great thing!
  • A store purchased pet is an “unknown”. An adoptive bird is already an adult with a known history and temperament. The rescue is also invested in ensuring that they find the right fit and a forever home for any adoption placement so the bird can find its forever home.
  • You know the bird you are bringing into your home has seen a qualified veterinarian and is healthy.
  • An adopted pet can be just as loving, intelligent and entertaining as a purchased bird. It is mistake to think that you need to purchase a baby bird in order to bond with it.
  • The cost to adopt is less than the cost to purchase.

 

The Noise Factor

If noise is a big concern for you or, if it is not an option where you live due to the close proximity of neighbors, then you are still in luck as there are several parrot species that are known to be quieter in their demeanor.  Recommended species you may want to consider are:

  • African Grey Parrot
  • Budgies
  • Cockatiels
  • Lovebirds
  • Parrotlets
  • Pionus
  • Senegal parrot

Talking Ability

One of the most fascinating characteristics of many pet birds is their ability to talk and often use our language in context.  There are never guarantees that an individual bird will talk but some species are known to have a larger probability of talking.  The parrot species most recognized for their talking abilities are:

  • African Grey Parrots
  • Amazons
  • Budgies
  • Indian Ringnecks
  • Quaker Parrots

Fear of the All-mighty Beak

OK, the truth is if it has a beak it will likely bite at some point.  Biting is largely a learned behavior in parrots and it more often arises out of frustration on our bird's part when we ignore their means of comminicating. Please refer to our article "Why Does My Bird Bite?" for more insight into this behavior.

Large birds have the physical ability to exert a lot of pressure with their beaks and cause significant damage and therefore they are not recommended for inexperienced bird owners or those who are unwillling to participate in training exercises with their parrot.   If the potential for serious bites is a concern in your household then small to medium sized species should be considered.

Available Space

The amount of space a bird needs grows exponentially with the size of the bird.  Birds need as large a cage as possible, outside of the cage play areas and perching stations and room to fly if unclipped.  If you live in a small apartment with restricted or small compartmentalized spaces then only small to medium birds should be considered.

Kids and Chaos

If you have young children in the house or very rambuctious older children then you must assess the suitability of a particular species for your household. The top choices of pet birds for young children are Budgies, Cockatiels and Small Conures. 

Financial Considerations

The initial cost of purchasing a bird is just the start!  The next biggest expense is purchasing a quality cage and accesirories.  Over a bird's lifetime they will also require veterinary care, lots of toys and a high quality diet.  If finances are a concern then consider staying with a smaller parrot like a budgie, cockatiel, lovebird or parrotlet as they will be much gentler on your pocketbook over the long run.

Longevity Concerns

By the time we can afford one, larger parrots have the potential to outlive us.  Macaws and cockatoos have been known to live in excess of 60 years and even to over 100 years.  Typically , the smaller the bird the shorter their lifespan.   When considering a bird it is necessary to research what a particular species lifespan may be relative to your own.  If you are older and desire to have a larger parrot species in your life then perhaps adopting an older bird from a rescue would be the best alternative for you as well as the bird!  There are many excellent pet birds available in rescues who have lost their owners who would love to be part of a new home.  One key advantage to this scenario is that the rescue staff should be knowledgable of a particular bird's history, personality and behavioral traits and therefore be able to help match you with the right bird. 

 

To learn more about individual bird species please explore our website further.

 

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