CHOOSING THE RIGHT BIRD FOR YOU

 

If you are considering adding a bird to your family, it's important to pick the right bird for your lifestyle. You need to do your research carefully to be sure that you can meet the needs of the bird you bring home. A lot of the popular birds that are available aren't appropriate pets for most families. The physical, behavioral and social needs of some birds can't be met in the average household. 

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Good choices for most families are canaries, finches, cockatiels, parakeets or lovebirds. These are all considered domestic after their long history of breeding in captivity. Conures, parrots, cockatoos and toucans do not make good family pets for most households. These birds are still considered wild animals even if they have been bred in captivity. Their normal behavior makes them difficult and demanding to live with, something that most families are not equipped to deal with. They live 50 years or more so making a lifetime commitment to these birds means you must be willing to deal with and work on such issues as noise, biting and destructive behavior. Most people can't provide for the many complex needs of these species which leads to suffering for the bird's entire life.

You also don't want to support the cruelty of the wild animal trade. Despite laws prohibiting the import of many species, millions of these birds are still caught every year and sold in pet stores or online worldwide. This commercial trade threatens the survival of many different species while promoting inhumane treatment of millions of wild animals each year. For every colorful bird you see in the local pet store, many have died during the process of getting them there.

When you decide you are ready to welcome a bird into your family, you need to decide what bird best fits your lifestyle and the time commitment you can give. Keep in mind that bigger birds generally involve bigger commitments. While they can make wonderful companions, they make more noise, more mess and can be much more demanding than their smaller counterparts. It is generally wise for first time bird owners to start with a small to medium size bird. The size of the bird determines how you will care for your pet. You have to consider training, housing and interaction with your new family member. Your interaction with your bird will be important in establishing a bond. Therefore, it is important to decide up front if you would rather have a bird that is seen but not touched, or one that will be eager to come out of their cage to socialize with the rest of the family and other pets.

Time commitments should also be factored in to your choice. Some species require daily exercise and time out of their cages. If you can't spare a few hours every day to socialize your bird and supervise his time out of the cage, you need to look into an independent species like the Finch or Canary. Remember that each species exhibits different behavior patterns. They are all individuals and have their own personalities and dispositions. You have to choose which personality is most compatible with your own. Birds also have different dietary needs. Some species, like Lories, require specific diets. They must be fed pollen, nectar and fruit. Their diet causes them to produce liquid droppings, which make it necessary to clean their cages more frequently than other birds. There are many good reasons to get a pet bird, but issues like this make it vital that potential owners do as much research as they can about the species they are interested in before adopting their new pet.

Cost is another factor in choosing which species is right for you. Larger birds can also be more expensive. Not only is the initial cost high, they require costly cages, toys and other accessories that can boost your bill much higher. Even though smaller birds are often less expensive initially, they can present their owners with higher costs long term. Some species live a long time, leaving you responsible for their housing, feeding and vet care for a number of years.

If you decide that a bird is the right pet for you, the first place to start is your local animal shelter.  Many birds are surrendered by families who didn't do their research first and found that caring for them was more work than they were willing to do.  They don't realize that the bird they have purchased has a specialized diet or needs daily exercise time outside of their cage.  This leads to an unhappy bird who acts out, creating an unhappy owner.  Responsible owners do their research before any getting pet, including birds.  When you have chosen the bird species you want to add to your family, you can google bird rescue groups in your area as well as searching on PetFinder to find your new pet.  There are many unwanted birds out there that need homes.