Are you thinking about welcoming a feathered friend into your family? Well, as with any pet there is plenty to consider before you purchases your bird. It’s important to find the right type of bird that suits your lifestyle, as some breeds of birds require a lot more attention and work than others. Its also important to consider is this the first of many? You may not have an answer for this second question, but it is definitely something that you should consider early as it can affect the breed you choose and the setup that goes along with it.
When choosing which type of bird to get, you will need to keep in mind how much time you have to give your new pet and how experienced you are in keeping birds. Some birds require a lot more time than others as they may soil their cage quicker, eat food that spoils quickly or require more interaction with their owner to meet their stimulation requirements.
If you are time poor, you might want to reconsider getting a single parrot. Instead you could have a pair of birds that could keep each other company when you are away or you could consider breeds such as canaries or finches who aren’t so reliant on their owner for company. Birds are flock animals so are always happiest when kept with at least one other friend.
When choosing a breed of bird to keep, you will need to consider the commitment required to care for the bird for its entire lifespan. Some large parrots can live 50 or more years. These birds can become so closely bonded to their owner that re-homing can be difficult for the bird to adapt to and something you should try to avoid.
What type of bird should I get?
Canaries and Finches
Canaries are in fact, a type of finch and are available in a range of delightful colours from green to yellow, orange or even brown. These little birds don’t like to be handled, so are the perfect choice if you just want a bird to observe. Male canaries will also keep their owners entertained with their delightful song, so if you want a singer be sure to get a male as the females don’t sing.
Finches, like canaries are a hands off bird and are available in a range of colours and feather patterns. They will keep their owners entertained with their lively nature and constant twittering. Their twittering is quiet soft compared to the high pitched tweets from members of the parrot family.
Finches are canaries do best in social situations, so plan on buying two or more birds and a suitable sized cage that will allow them to stretch their wings. Given that they don’t like to be handled, these birds won’t be coming out of the cage for additional exercise, so it’s important that their cage provides sufficient exercise space. If the space is too crowded, territorial battles between cage mates may occur.
Still compact in size, but a little more hands on, these Aussie favourites are a great choice of bird. The vast array of colours that have been bred over the years offer a great range of choice. With some patience and persistence these little birds can be tamed and handled, often forming a very special bond with their owner. Some lucky owners have even been able to teach their budgie to talk! Male budgies tend to be gentler and easier to tame than females, but that being said, female budgies can still be tamed, they just take a little more time and patience.
Budgies also enjoy being kept in pairs or small groups, so make sure that your chosen cage allows enough space for the birds to stretch their wings and climb about. If your budgie has been tamed you can allow it come out of the cage and fly around in a safe room of your house. See our Fun Facts about Budgerigars.
Cockatiels are the smallest member of the cockatoo family. They even have the cute little crest to prove it! Cockatiels can be hand tamed and they love to spend time out of the cage with their owners. The opportunity to be out of the cage provides a chance to really stretch those wings and practice their flight manoeuvring. These clever little parrots can even be taught to talk and the males in particular, are known to sign beautiful songs and mimic sounds.
As with budgies, breeders have been able to develop a number of colour and pattern combinations of cockatiels. You might be quiet surprised at how many options you have to choose from!
There is a large variety of beautifully coloured parrots to choose as a pet and also a range of sizes to consider. Generally the larger the parrot, the higher the cost and the louder the noise! They can be affectionate, playful and loving if they’re socialized when young and given consistent, respectful handling.
After they decide you’re trustworthy, these birds are especially fond of having their heads and necks scratched — in fact, they beg for it, tipping their heads and leaning over to expose their necks for a good scratch.
Some great parrot choices include;
Quaker Parrots – also called monk parakeets are an ideal pet for a first time parrot owners.
Lorikeets – These little guys amaze with their spectacular colours. The have brush like tongues which help them consume a nectar diet.
Conures – There are a number of species of conures to choose from but be prepared for plenty of noise if you choose a Sun Conure.
Peach-faced Lovebirds – These compact little parrots can be very affectionate, are not overly loud and are capable of picking up a few phrases.
Amazon Parrots – They are very smart and some of the best talkers around!
African Greys – Great talkers but also challenging and demanding, so require an experienced bird owner.
Cockatoos – They are lively, affectionate birds that bond very closely with their owners. Their sociability and need for affection mean they demand a great deal of time from their owners. Can be destructive if they feel they are not getting the attention they deserve.
Macaws – These are very big birds! They are intelligent, beautiful, and affectionate birds. However, they are also loud, stubborn, and need a lot of space. But they are spectacular!!!
The costs can quickly add up with any pet. For birds there is the purchase price of the bird itself, its cage and accessories such as toys etc. Then there are also ongoing costs such as food and potential veterinary bills. As stated earlier it is also important to remember your bird may need some friends and you may soon be looking at aviaries.
If you live in an apartment a noisy parrot probably isn’t a good choice as the neighbours might not be too happy with all of that noise. Even a screeching cockatoo in a backyard cage can be too loud for a suburban area.
Some birds can become noisy and destructive if they have enough to keep them stimulated. Just like a child, a parrot is easily entertained with toys. Some birdy favourites include bells, swings, ladders and toys that they can grab onto and chew on. Be careful with toys made of fabric or similar as parrots can ingest these fibres and they cannot digest them.
The ultimate form of entertainment is spending time with their owner. Spending time together strengthens bonds between owner and pet and it’s the perfect opportunity to work on some training which will in turn make handling the bird easier.
If you want your bird to be a part of the family and not just the bird of one person, it is imperative that all family members handle the bird. If all of the work is left to one person, the bird may become territorial toward this one person and aggressive towards everyone else.
Other Care Considerations for your feathered friend
Whichever bird you choose, you cannot skimp on cage size. Keep in mind the space you have to put a cage as this will ultimately affect the size or number of birds that you can home. Bar spacing is an important factor as well, as small birds can easily squeeze between bars that are spaced too wide. This could result in an escape or even injury to the bird. Furthermore, large birds will benefit from a dedicated space outside of the cage such as a stand of play gym. Check out our blog on “A Spotlight on Bird Cage Features”
i.Pet 168cm Large Bird Cage
As would be expected, it’s important to clean the bird’s cage regularly and provide fresh water and food daily. Some species such as canaries and finches have a fairly simple seed diet complemented with greens, parrot species have a diet consisting of pre-formulated food (e.g. pellets), a variety of fresh foods such as greens, sprouted seeds, grains and fruits, along with some seeds. As a general rule, the larger the parrot, the less seeds they should be fed. Some fruits and vegetables can spoil quickly, so don’t give more of these items than can be eaten within a few hours.
Birds can be messy! They are constantly scattering little bits of food everywhere and not to mention they lose a lot of feathers, especially when it moulting time and breeds such as cockatiels are prone to making a mess with their feather dust. In general, the larger the bird, the larger the mess, so be prepared for daily cleaning around the outside of the cage as well.
Birds have delicate respiratory systems and there are things around the house that can be hazardous. Non-stick cookware surfaces give of toxic, odourless fumes when heated to high temperatures. These fumes can be fatal to birds within a matter of minutes. Scented candles, deodorisers and cleaning products can also be fatal to birds or at least cause irritation of the delicate airways.
If you are a smoker, than a bird might not be the best fit for you. They are very sensitive to cigarette smoke, even that, which lingers on your hands, clothes or around the home.
If you are interested in owning a feathered friend, it is extremely important to examine your motivation for getting a pet bird, along with your ability to commit to caring for the bird for its entire lifespan. Careful consideration will help you to make a good decision and find a bird that will be a good match for your personality, lifestyle, and household.