Pets & Animals

Keeping birds as pets, a first time buyers guide

Birds are beautiful creatures that are enjoyable to look at and listen to. Some people prefer to keep birds as pets, believing they are easier to maintain than dogs, cats, or other small animals. While this may be true in some cases, birds still need regular care and maintenance to stay happy, healthy, and active. The following guide describes different kinds of birds that can be kept as pets and tips for taking proper care of them.

Choosing a Bird for a Pet
When choosing a bird a first time buyer should consider things such as how much space they can provide for the bird and if there are children living in the home. Some birds are considered flock animals, which means they are used to living in groups. Birds that fall into this category not only need a close relationship with their owner, but will thrive in the company of other birds. A buyer would then need to consider purchasing two birds. Be prepared for some birds, such as parrots, to pick up phrases and sounds they hear around the home. They may repeat these sounds and noises whether the owner wants them to or not.

Some of the more popular types of birds to keep as pets include Parakeets, Cockatoos, Finches, Canaries, and African Greys. Canaries and Finches, while still time consuming, usually don’t require as much time and effort as birds that are part of the Parrot family. Finches are small birds that get most of their exercise by flying, not climbing. They are also birds that do better with a companion. Even though they are small birds a big cage would be needed when buying two because they tend to become territorial. Cockatiels are considered one of the more affectionate birds. They enjoy snuggling and being petted. Parrots come in a variety of sizes and types. Budgies and Cockatiels are smaller types of Parrots while larger types that can talk include the Macaw, the Cockatoos, and the African Grey. These larger birds, however, require more care and maintenance.

Providing Living Space for Your Bird
Just as dogs need time out of their cages, birds should be let out to exercise and fly freely. This means a perspective owner needs to bird proof his or her home. This might mean providing one room in the home that is safe for the bird to fly in when out of the cage. If devoting an entire room for the bird is not doable, the pet owner should make sure to supervise the bird whenever it is out of the cage. Some owners leave the bird out whenever they’re home and only confine the bird to its cage at night or when they’re away. Owners need to make sure the bird can’t get out of the house. Most pet birds would be unable to survive in the wild. Screens should be placed on all windows. Windows and screens should be free of rust, which can be toxic to birds.

A buyer should purchase the biggest cage they can afford and have room for. Smaller birds do well in a cage that is long, but not necessarily large in height. A buyer should pay particular attention to the space between the bars. It needs to be small enough so that the bird can’t escape, but also small enough that the bird won’t get his head stuck between the bars. A cage should be purchased that contains quality materials. A cage made of stainless steel or iron is usually the best type. Cages made of cheap wire or plastic should be avoided. The cage should also have a secure door, especially when keeping larger birds. The intelligence and strength of a larger parrot should not be underestimated.

Perches and Toys
A variety of perches and toys should be purchased for the bird. A bird shouldn’t live in a totally empty cage. The cage, however, should not be overcrowded either. A bird should have enough room to spread its wings and turn around without bumping into perches or the sides of the cage. Ideally, there should be two or three perches of different textures in a cage. A perch that’s placed next to a water or food dish should be one that is easy to clean. Birds need toys for mental stimulation. Toys should provide a variety of textures, tastes, and colors. Most birds like to chew, and larger birds like toys they can manipulate with their feet and beaks. Some smaller birds enjoy toys that have mirrors.

Feeding Your Pet Bird
No matter what type of bird is chosen, an owner should be aware that packaged seeds will not be enough to keep the bird healthy and satisfied. This is one of the biggest mistakes first time bird owners make. Most birds thrive on a diet consisting of organic pellets as well as fruits, vegetables, and certain types of grains. Parrots also love to chew on and strip to mulch twigs and small tree branches. Make sure any branches given to the birds haven’t been sprayed with chemicals or any pesticides. An owner should make sure the branches and leaves are non toxic for the particular bird he or she owns. There are some substances that are toxic to nearly all birds. A few of the items an owner should never feed his bird include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and fruit pits. While birds enjoy many types of fruits and vegetables they should never have avocados or rhubarb. Many birds are lactose intolerant and should not be given dairy products. Finally, a bird needs fresh water available at all times. This may mean cleaning the water dish more than once a day.

Health Concerns
Before purchasing a bird, a perspective owner needs to find a veterinarian who is certified in avian medicine. Many veterinarians who work with dogs and cats don’t have this expertise. Birds are known for hiding diseases and may not show symptoms until they are very sick. Regular checkups are necessary to make sure the bird is healthy. The best way to keep birds clean is to give them a shower. A spray bottle can be used to clean smaller birds. Larger birds will need to be bathed using a shower head. A first aid kit that includes either Styptic powder or old fashioned cornstarch should be kept on hand. This will stop bleeding in cases where toenails have been cut too short.

Owning a bird can be an enjoyable experience. Buyers must realize, however, that a certain amount of time and effort must be put into the care and socialization of the bird. A bird that is locked in its cage all the time will become unhappy and possibly destructive. Birds that are well cared for can become fun companions for many years. Some of the larger birds such as the Macaws can live up to 50 years in captivity. Even some of the smaller birds can live as long as 15 to 20 years.

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