Before Bringing Home Birdie: Deciding Which Bird to Get.

Too many people go out and buy or adopt a pet without putting much thought into it before hand, and with little preparation often with negative consequences for both pet and owner.  I hear all too often about someone buying a parrot not having any idea just how loud that parrot can get, only to have their neighbors complaining, or even that they themselves cannot handle the noise.

Many people still assume that birds do not require much attention and are easy to care for, only to find out the hard way that otherwise is the case.

You only have to look as far as the pet section on Craigslist to see the consequences of owners biting off more than they can chew, not just with birds but with cats and dogs. This is certainly not to say that everyone whom is giving up a pet is irresponsible, or didn’t put enough thought into their decision to get a pet, but many times this is the case.

There are many things that should be done before someone even brings home their bird, and things which can be done to make it more likely that bird ownership will be a positive thing both for bird and owner

Figure out which species you would like to have and research

If you all ready have a particular species of bird in mind then research that species, and find out as much as possible about them.

If you aren’t sure what species you want yet, then I recommend visiting pet stores, and bird breeders, and bird clubs (find out if there is a cage bird club in your area), so that you can have a chance to meet various types of birds, this may help you to get an idea of what species is right for you, and is ideal because seeing a bird in person and perhaps even getting to handle it is different than reading about them in a book or online or just seeing pictures of them.

There are also various online resources that can help a person in determining what bird is right for you, and several pet bird forums that may be of help, such as birdboard.com and ThePerch.net. You will get a lot of different advice from these different sources on what bird you should get, so here I’ll give some of my own.

First, what is it you are looking for in a bird? It is very important that you figure that out. Some people like birds for their song, and that don’t need a lot of human attention, others prefer birds that are affectionate and playful.  For some being relatively easy to care for is important, while other people are perfectly capable of providing proper care for the more challenging to work with birds. Other people are more drawn to the unusual and rare birds.

Once you have some idea of what sort of bird you want then research and research, and then research some more. You  need to know all about the needs of your bird of choice, its diet requirements, its space requirements, and how to provide enrichment for your bird so its life is interesting.  Also make sure you can handle the amount of attention your bird will need, and afford to provide for it properly.  Also does your bird species of choice do better if kept in a pair, or with a flock or singly? If your bird is best off kept in a pair or group, can you handle taking on multiple birds? Also be aware of the potential behavioral problems of your bird, and make sure you can deal with those problems if they arise.

Beginner/starter Birds

Common advice I see on forums is that a person should get a so called starter or beginner bird for their first bird.  This is especially a common response when a first time bird owner is thinking of getting something considered to be more challenging to work with, like a macaw or cockatoo.

Certainly these starter birds really can be great pets, but I don’t think a person should get these birds simply because they are new to birds.

If you get a bird, it should be because that’s really the right bird for you and you are the right owner for that bird, not because you want to start out with an easy bird and work your way up to the more challenging to work with ones.  Birds commonly thought of as starter birds include cockatiels, budgies (common parakeets), and some finches such as the society and zebra.

I did get a budgie for my first bird, but that was because I really wanted a budgie, and I was sure I could provide a budgie the care it needed.  If you get a starter bird because ease of care is something you really are looking for in a bird that is one thing but I suggest against doing it just because you plan to use that bird as a stepping stone of sorts to more challenging birds.

Using starter birds as a stepping stone runs risk of interest being lost quickly in the bird, and some people will underestimate the care and attention these birds such as the cockatiel require. So even if you are looking for an easy to care for bird, make sure you really research that bird, you will be less likely to be really surprised by their demands and less likely to find that they are really a bit more than you can handle.

Bottom line is, if you want a cockatoo, or a macaw or a toucan, etc… research and find out all you can, and make as sure as possible that you can properly care for such a bird.  If you don’t think you are up to the challenge either hold off on getting a bird
at least for a while, or figure out if there is another bird that you would really like to have that you could properly care for.

So here’s some things to think of when making your choice

-What size of enclosure do you have the space for and can you afford?
Some birds require a lot more space than others.  If you have little space I recomend looking into smaller birds such as cockatiels, budgies, parrotlets and finches.  Also if you are going to be keeping multiple birds, they may have quite different space requirements than keeping a bird singly.

-What are the bird’s diet requirements?  Can you afford them?
Most pet birds eat primarily seed, which is relatively inexpensive and convenient thanks to not being particularly perishable.  However even those that primarily eat seed should not be limited to just seed.  Make sure you find out what other foods your species requires.  Some birds, particularly softbills such as toucans, and mynahs have highly perishable diets, which can easily become more expensive.

-Is it important for your bird to enjoy human company, if so can you provide the
human interaction they will require?
Most bird owners want tame birds that enjoy human company, but enjoying human company can often mean needing a lot of it, do you have the time to spend with your bird that it will require to keep it happy?

-Do you want to keep birds singly or in pairs or flocks?
If you want to keep a bird singly chances are it will need more human interaction than if you kept the bird with other birds, while some birds kept with other birds will become less interested in human attention. If you are keeping multiple birds together make sure you learn about the potential risks of doing so (such as mate agression, space requirements, if your keeping different species do they tend to get along?).

-What else is important to you?
Do you want your bird to be colorful? Something more rare and unusual? To have a beautiful song? To have speaking ability? How important is life span?

One response to “Before Bringing Home Birdie: Deciding Which Bird to Get.”

  1. Pet Haven says:

    Thanks for information.