What should you consider before getting a pet bird?

Goup of parrots in front of a white background
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Children are loud, messy, and time consuming,  but every family has 2.6 of them (Pew research).

 

I probably spend less time cleaning up after my eight birds in three bird cages than most moms cleaning up after 2 six-year-olds 

 

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or a single toddler

 

To say that all birds are time-consuming is an unsupported blanket statement.

 

We have a Senegal parrot and an African ringneck.

 

Neither is very noisy.

We also have six budgies which are probably the noisiest of the bunch but I call them my singing flowers.

 

I prefer to listen to our budgies than most media.

 

Most people get it backwards when they suggest to find a vet after you get the bird.

 

First of all geography may preclude you from having easy access to an avian vet.

 

Let’s face it, the small percentage of pet birds that see veterinarians on a regular basis usually cycle out around six months to a year for visits.

 

Today you can always videoconference with an avian vet but have a relationship with a local veterinarian who may be into horses and cattle.

 

If the avian vet is familiar with chickens he or she is familiar with birds as well.

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Catherine, MitchR. and Peaches

I would advocate you start your inquiries about helping a bird find you.

 

Editor’s note: all our birds are rescues and all found us we did not track them downt.

 

We let people (in ur avian circle) we were seeking specific species and because of the network that we maintain the task was not difficult.

 

Your vet may know who wants to relinquish birds, who is hoarding birds and may have a relationship with a bird rescuer two.

 

Bird rescues and bird fairsare all great sources for anything avian.

 

Stainless steel bird cages are overrated and overpriced (says the guy who sells bird cages for a living)

 

Unless they are going to be out-of-doors or sanitation is an issue wrought iron or wire powder coated cages are just fine.

 

Unless the birdcage is surgical grade 304 stainless steel it will rust in the same timeline as a good powder coated cage

 

Our Senegal parrot and African ringneck both reside in cages that can be purchased retail for under $250.

 

Buying the largest cage you can afford or a cage that is double the wingspan of the bird really are not informative ways to judge the size of the new birdcage.

 

Birdcages are more a matter of lifestyle.

 

Don’t assume your bird will only have one cage.

 

Peaches our Senegal has her

 

  • home cage
  • travel cage
  • Birdie Boutique cage
  • travel trailer cage (permanently parked).

 

Keto our rescued African ringneck ended up with a cage we thought would be for our six budgies but once we built it was too small.

 

It happened be sitting in our living room when we rescued Keto and we made it his cage.

 

A bird that is out of the cage all day and only sleeps and it needs a far smaller cage than a bird whos confined 10 to 12 hours a day.

 

Yes some bird toys can be expensive.

 

We offer one line of bird toys that is literally as large as small children.

 

On the flip side we make lots of videos and offer suggestions our website for free and do-it-yourself bird toys.

 

You can easily make bird toys for any size bird using common household products.

 

Two wooden stirring spoons for a dollar at the dollar store hung with a quick link in the predrilled holes in can be great foraging toys for a Rose breasted cockatoo.

 

We introduce new toys into our three bird cages, we are in the business – that’s a slam dunk.

 

I also have forging boxes set up in front of my computer and on tables throughout our living area so that Peach who is fully flighted has something to do when she gets to “allowed” hang out areas..

 

Harry’s razor boxes have cute little pullout drawers that I fill with high-value treats.

 

Many small electronics boxes are suitable to place business cards, playing cards or product tags.

 

I stand the cards vertically and sprinkle some sunflower seeds in between them which keeps Peaches occupied for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.

 

We are food agnostic with our birds, serving them whatever we receive in broken boxes, tubs and bags.

 

They do not have a base diet of pellets but we do include pellets and all eight birds diets, blending them in ourselves.

 

The two bigger birds might get five or six brands and a single dish not knowing it but they are happy.

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Bacon, Eggs, Toast, Jam, Biscuit and Gravy

 

All the birds get fresh food and water the morning and in the evening.

 

15 to 20 minutes a.m. and 5 to 10 minutes p.m. – not a lot of time and that’s for eight birds.

 

The budgies love cucumber slices.

 

The senegal likes “warm” veggies, almonds, walnuts and nutriberries (we crush nutriberries for the budgies.

 

Through forensic facebooking we have deduced he’s at least 17, a male (male ringnecks have the ring, females have none) and we’re at least his third home.

 

We’re still figuring out what Keto’s into.

 

He talks and chatters in a typical that typical ringneck voice.

 

Catherine is a 20 veteran of ringnecks and wanted one when our Sennie decided I was the only human (or bird) worth acknowledging.

 

Keto was rescued and in my car 12 hours after we learned of his owners passing.

 

Editor’s note: do you have a will for your birds or ay pets for that matter?

 

People say you have to constantly interact with these birds otherwise they will begin to exhibit negative behavior.

 

Who on God’s green earth interacts with the child 6 – 8 hours a day (besides teachers).

 

I’ve had children – that is not possible and when it happens I ended up taking ibuprofen (think family vacation)

 

A flighted bird is a happier healthy bird but you must be prepared for this and so must your home.

 

Birds don’t need help learning to fly, they need to be taught where and how to land.

 

Birds that fly for the first time may panic fly which can result in injury.

 

The rooms your bird are in must be bird proof much like childproofing an area except birds are three-dimensional animals so Windows are a major factor.

 

We have a large living room/dining room area with 9-1/2 foot ceilings.

 

The top window sashes are covered with shades or wooden shutters.

 

Lower window sashes have lots of stained-glass and or large plants in front of them.

 

We fill in the remaining open clear areas by hanging small stained-glass pieces on suction cups.

 

Nutrition is the most important part of a birds life.

 

Editor’s note: The major cause of pet bird death is malnutrition

 

The second most important part of a captive bird’s enviornment is lighting.

 

Many, many negative behavioral issues can be avoided by simply placing a full-spectrum light no higher than 6 inches above the cage.

 

The light should be on a timer providing 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

 

The bird should be in the cage when the light comes on and when the light goes out.

 

This signals to birds the beginning  and end of the day.

 

Proper light cycles help keep  bird’s circadian rhythms synchronized.

 

Circadian rhythms control humans by making us feel sad in the winter because of insufficient daylight.

 

Light is the single most important data flow a bird can get.

 

Light signals to birds when to breed, when to molt and for many species when to migrate.

 

Clicker training should be implemented with any bird creating a rewards for positive behavior state of mind.

 

Clicker training dramatically reduces negative behavior like biting.

 

There are ways to silence birds temporarily with things like redirection.

 

Larger parrots like umbrella cockatoos and green wing macaws are going to want to vocalize and  must be allowed to.

 

Yelling at a bird to shut up only makes the bird want to squawk more because it’s thinking “oh boy somebody’s finally talking to me”.

 

In conclusion when you say a “pet bird” you have opened the discussion which of 600 or so species of parrots and parakeets

 

Knowing specifically which species you should bring into your home is your first step

 

Conures and macaws indigenous to South America are loud birds.

 

Umbrella cockatoos and moluccan cockatoos are loud birds from Australia.

 

Major Mitchell cockatoos and bare eyed cockatoos are not all that loud.

 

Senegal parrots (poicephalus) in general (Meyers and red belly parrots as an example) aren’t so loud.

 

We live in an apartment building Chicago on the first floor, our landlord’s daughter lives directly above us.

 

Her music is louder than our birds – we get along, famously.

 

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Visit a rescue or a zoo that has birds.

 

People will tell you that you should volunteer in a rescue.

 

I’ve never heard that you should volunteer in a orphanage to learn about raising children.

See the original Quora question here with other answers

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Author:

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.

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