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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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