Selecting a Bird
Birds are popular pets because they are beautiful to look at, may learn to talk, and smaller species are permitted by most landlords. However, purchasing cages and food supplies, and providing veterinary care for birds can be costly. There are many species of birds to choose from, all with their own advantages. If you are thinking about a bird as a pet, you should know most large birds are given up within 5 years because they are louder and messier than people realize. Select the right bird for you to ensure you'll be able to provide for him throughout his life.
Rescuing a Bird
FCAC works with Phoenix Landing. Rescue representatives often take birds from the shelter for adoption so that they spend little time here at the shelter which is already full of dogs, cats and small mammals.
Birds are most often acquired from pet stores or private breeders. Be sure to check references and ask questions about any guarantees. An offer to replace your bird may not be satisfactory if you need help with vet bills after you become attached. It's tempting to buy an unweaned baby bird in hopes that it will help the baby bond with you. It's risky because some babies do not survive but baby birds are made to leave their parents and form long term relationships with other flock members.
Second Hand Birds
Birds are often available secondhand because they are loud, messy and live a long time. They are also smart, beautiful and fun to care for. Be sure your source is honest about why the bird is available. If the bird is a friendly, healthy bird, ask for vet records or plan to have him screened at your own vet right away. Birds can be sick without showing any outward signs.
Selecting a Bird
Expect a clean and fresh smelling aviary with cheerful, colorful and active birds. Your seller may require you to wash your hands or restrict you to certain areas of the facility because of quarantine procedures. Birds are susceptible to many diseases and since several pet species are imported, isolation from new birds is very important.
Signs of Sickness
If a bird is sitting on the bottom of the cage, is missing feathers, has a discharge from his eyes or nose, or is sneezing or coughing, resist your temptation to rescue the bird unless you are prepared for expense and possible heart break. Once a bird looks sick, it's usually too late to save him. Never let a seller tell you feather loss is normal. Feathers can get broken with rough handling, but numerous broken feathers or bald patches are not normal, except in babies who have not grown their feathers yet.
How Has Bird Been Handled?
If the bird you are considering is not tame or screams or threatens to bite, ask the seller how long the bird has been in his care and how the bird has been handled. If the bird has behavior problems or received poor care or nutrition, it is difficult to evaluate his pet potential until he is healthy again.
Soft Bill Birds
Mynah birds, Toucans and Starlings are excellent mimics and not as popular as pets as they once were because in addition to their large space needs, they eat fresh fruit and insects.
Even tiny birds need large cages. Investing in easy to clean and feed features is well worth the expense. Birds are social and active so research safe toys for different species. Perching birds like Finches and Canaries need lots of space, safe plants and a varied diet. Larger birds can climb and require cages that allow them room to spread their wings and plenty to do. Safe (no chemicals) fruit tree branches come in handy for busy beaks.
Many people are under the impression that birds eat seeds. Most birds will eat seeds in winter when fresh food is not available. Seeds are easy to store and pour so many people rely on them as a diet staple. This can cause health problems for birds over the long term. Birds are reluctant to try new foods, so it can be difficult to get them to make better choices. Food for birds, just like kibble for dogs, is available from several reputable companies. You can also prepare salads of herbs, grasses, some fruits and vegetables for your bird. Some birds will try warm pasta which can be mixed in with healthier food once the bird is willing to try something new. Consult with your vet about the best diet for your bird.
Breeding birds is easy to prevent by separating males from females. However, some birds bond for life and can be housed together without encouraging breeding by controlling nesting material or even putting lights on a timer. But if you do have a bonded pair intent on laying eggs, you can talk to your vet about proper treatment of the eggs to prevent hatching. It's a delicate topic for many pet owners but for shelters and rescues that are unable to house all the birds in need, it's an easy choice.