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My First Bird

Should I Get a Pet Bird?

So you're thinking of getting a pet bird? That is featherly fantastic! Talk to any bird owner and they will love to tell you why pet birds rock.

"Ginger, a Red Lored Amazon Parrot, is always glad to see me and cuddle up and show me she's there for me," says Stacey in Florida.

"Jazzy, a Senegal, always has been there through thick and thin. She always follows me around the house and she always wants to sit on my chest or shoulder. She doesn't care, she doesn't judge you, she just wants to be close to you," shares Richard in Ontario, Canada.

And Liz in New York says her African grey is the most loving bird; "Salem is a very kissy bird, always asking for and receiving kisses. He is my child and I can't imagine life without him!"

Before you add this newest member of your family, it's important to be realistic and informed as to what it takes to own a bird. Owning a bird is not like owning other pets. A pet bird requires a lifestyle adjustment, but most bird owners agree that the adjustment is well worth it. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the needs of your new companion before you make that commitment.

Cleanliness

If a clean house is a priority, you may want to think twice about getting a bird. Birds are notorious for dropping feathers, dust and food from their cages and generally birds cannot be housetrained. And most bird owners agree… birds poop a lot.

Let's Talk Poop

The number of times a bird poops in a day loosely correlates to its size. Smaller birds poop more frequently than larger birds. For example, a budgie may go 40 to 50 times in a day, whereas a macaw may only go 15 or 20 times. Either way… that's a lot of poop! The good news is, bird poop usually doesn't smell and there are special bird-safe products designed specifically for the clean-up of poop.

Chirp, Chirp… Squawk!

If you live in an apartment, townhouse or condo with a shared wall, it's important to take note that birds make noise. Sometimes a lot. Make sure your neighbors are okay with any squawking noises that may be coming from your place.

Birds Like Company

Most birds are social creatures and do not like to be left alone. If you are often gone for long periods of time that will be hard on your bird. And finding a bird sitter isn't always easy.

Grooming

Birds require routine grooming and most birds enjoy a daily bath. Nails should be trimmed as needed and wing clipping should be considered carefully. Wings are generally clipped to prevent escape or injury from flying into windows or ceiling fans. However, some owners choose not to clip the wings and allow free flight.

Space

If you have a small living area, take into consideration the cage size you will need for your bird. If a bird will be in its cage most of the time, it's recommended to get your bird the largest cage that can be accommodated in your home.

Cost for Care

Like other pets, birds cost money. The larger the bird, generally the more expensive they are. However, in addition to buying the bird, make sure you can afford the cost of food, housing, accessories, veterinary care and toys. Toys might not seem like a "necessity" but for birds they are. Toys encourage physical and mental exercise. But keep in mind, bird toys don't last forever. When a bird gets a new toy, his first thought is "how can I shred and destroy this?!" Toys need to be occasionally replaced as a result of wear. Regularly introducing new and exciting toys also keeps your bird mentally stimulated and prevents boredom.

Is There an Avian Vet Nearby?

A local veterinarian who cares for birds on a regular basis can be tricky to find. Check out vets in your area to make sure there will be somewhere to take your bird for their checkups or other veterinarian care. It's recommended that new birds should visit an avian veterinarian within three days after purchase. Routine vet visits should be done annually to help detect signs of illness and disease.

What About Kids?

If you have children in your house, you all must commit to helping care for the bird. Perhaps it is your child who wants the pet bird. While it can be a tool for teaching responsibility, an adult must be willing and able to supervise the bird's care to make sure all its needs are being met.

Lifelong Commitment

One final thought to keep in mind, some species of birds have quite long lifespans and they could outlive you. Make sure you research the average lifespan before bringing them home to make sure you are up to that level of commitment. Parakeets can live anywhere from six to 18 years, cockatiels have been known to live for more than 30 years and larger birds such as African greys, macaws, Amazons and cockatoos range from 20 to 100 years.

If you are still a bit unsure if a bird is right for you, don't rush into making this type of commitment. However, if after reading this you are more excited than ever to get a bird, then congratulations and have fun welcoming the newest member of your family! Now it's time to ask yourself "What Kind of Bird Should I Get?"

Sources

American Veterinary Medical Association

Association of Avian Veterinarians

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