What should a 1st time bird owner know before they buy?

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%name What should a 1st time bird owner know before they buy?


“Finally, the poor health resulting from feeding seeds and table food, still being promoted by well meaning but misinformed bird owners, is and always has been the most dangerous preventable cause of suffering in birds”.

Dr. Gregory Harrison, founder – Harrison’s bird food.

It’s best to have your birds on a well-rounded commercial bird food diet.

If the majority of the diet is seeds you can add supplements like Prime from HARI (Hagen Avicultural Research Institute) which will introduce the necessary proteins, amino acids and other vitamins required for raising a healthy bird.

Adding fresh veggies and some fruits will round things out quite nicely.

What makes birds truly unique pets is that they are a “three dimensional” animal. They can fly. This is a two edged sword. A nervous flighted bird can easily fly into a window or mirror sustaining injury or death.

Ironically as it sounds teaching your bird how to fly and more importantly where the land in the house is essential for a flighted pet bird.

If you start with a larger bird say an African grey, be aware of their potential for destruction. They don’t know the difference between your $250 dining room chair and the $99 play stand you bought for them.

The usual naysayers will advise “Don’t get an African Grey if you have no experience with birds!”

Our friend Kim just got a 3 year old female Timneh African grey as her first bird. We spoke about it for weeks. Finally she turned to me and said “look” I’ve been running a daycare for 25 years. Who better to care for a 3 year old, whether covered in flesh or feathers?”



Amen to that – Zoe the new grey has been a hit with Kim and the family for the past few months.

We introduced Peaches to Zoe a couple of weeks ago. Both birds stayed in their cages but it was fun to watch the expressions and actions of the two parrot species.

Moving on –

Birds are amoral, they don’t know the difference between right and wrong so telling them “no” or “bad bird” has absolutely zero impact on the parrot other than this person is not letting me have whatever.

All behavior must be treated with positive recognition. The only time I veer off of that is occasionally when I get Peaches out of her cage in the morning she may try to bite me. Then I ignore her. She loses her morning face-time with me.

%name What should a 1st time bird owner know before they buy?

Her attitude usually changes when I come back in 10 minutes. She’s more than happy to get her morning scritches.

People will cry out with warnings about how messy birds are. I don’t disagree with that but there are ways to keep the mess in check. That said, if you aren’t up to tidy up around a bird’s cage almost every day the mess can accumulate pretty rapidly.

Don’t be scared off if you don’t have an Avian Veterinarian in your area. Perhaps you can find an Exotic vet. Avian vet’s have to learn almost the entire range of 10000 species of birds. Some vets choose not to spend their time learning about chickens and waterfowl but may be good with exotic pets.

We have been using Dr Byron de la Navarre an exotic vet here in Chicago for 15 years and although not a certified avian vet he performs (and teaches) surgery on geckos and snakes. He also collaborates with other avian veterinarians like Dr. Ted Lafeber on commercial foods to help sick birds and reptiles as well.

Besides Peaches our Senegal parrot which is a very quiet parrot weighing in about a 110 grams (a fat cockatiel is about 110 grams), we have 4 budgies that keep themselves entertained day in and day out

We started with a single budgie we named Bacon. It was clear that she had been an escapee from somewhere, quite wild and very unhappy in captivity. Fast forward and she now has three companions two other females and a male all rescued.

Aside from cleaning up after the breakfast club (4 budgies named Bacon, Eggs, Toast and Jam) and they really like millet, they keep each other great company and breathe an enormous level of life into the house. Chattering from first light till the last light at night.

They’re really fun to watch. They share a millet spray every other day. I keep a compact canister vacuum under their cage shelf and spend 2 minutes vacuuming almost every week day.

The plan this fall is that we are going to clip all four of their wings and get them to socialize outside of the cage. Stay tuned.

Pay your due diligence to understand the personalities of species that you are considering. Our Senegal predictably is a one-person bird, mine. She hates Catherine (my wife below with the magenta hair) and dislikes all other humans as much as I try to socialize her but we will continue to press on with human interactions.

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He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.