Let’s start at the beginning. Our goal in this series of articles is to introduce the persons that might be interested in purchasing a companion bird to a series of facts that will impact their lives by having a pet bird. Some of these may involve minor adjustments; others will impact daily lives in major ways both short and long term.
First let’s talk about research and commitment. This is primary and cannot be overemphasized. There can be nothing more disastrous to a companion bird than having been transferred over and over again to new caregivers because you did not do adequate research or have a firm commitment prior to purchasing your pet. This can lead to extreme anti-social behavior as well as self- mutilation, feather picking, and illness. Remember this: parrots can require a lot of time, attention, care and love. A parrot’s lifespan ranges from about 15 to 85 years and generally is related to size. Are you ready to commit to having a bird for a long time and/or to make provisions for it should it out live you?
So before even thinking about a pet bird you need to do research. This means a very realistic assessment about yourself, your family, your home environment and your way of life. Do you live alone; do you own or rent; do you have close neighbors; how much room and time do you have to invest in a companion bird; how much time will your spouse and children devote to it? All these are important considerations that need to be addressed before falling in love with a bird. It’s very important to the type of bird you might be considering (and it’s characteristics).
It’s most important to do research about the breeder with whom you might be doing business; and, most importantly, an assessment about just why is it that you want a bird in the first place. Your research can take several forms.
There are numerous books on companion birds in general; or various books on specific birds. These can be located at public libraries (or they can obtain them for you through their inter-library loan departments). Bookstores are an excellent source. Usually a reputable breeder will have a wide selection of general and specific books available. You might consider subscribing to an educational magazine such as Bird Talk (which would also be available at the library or Book store such as Boarders. There’s a never-ending source of information on the Internet. It can be very helpful for you to get to know your local Avian Veterinarian, prior to your selection, for advice and later for professional services. A reputable breeder will be happy to provide you with a referral.
Some birds mix well with both children and adults. There are small birds that live in their cages all the time and just eat, exercise, entertain you with their antics and sing beautiful tunes all day long. These birds are not usually handled outside their cages. Some popular varieties of these include the Finches, Canaries and Grass Keets.
Other companion birds can dramatically fuse themselves into your lives in a most personal manner. Popular varieties of these include Senegals, Cockatoos, Amazons, Eclectus, African Greys, Quakers, Budgies, Cockatiels, Love Birds, Conures and Macaws. There can be numerous varieties among these individual species.
It’s important to purchase your bird from a reputable breeder. Get to know them well. Know things about the bird you’ll be bring home such as its hatch date; and the band ID number. Why this is important will be the topic of another article. Make sure it is completely weaned. The ideal situation is for you to make a selection of a very young bird and then visit it at least once a week, with members of your family, to play with it for mutual bonding until it’s ready to be placed into your care. You’ll learn a lot like what foods are being introduced; how to properly play and keep it clean; and things to avoid.
And finally we recommend that you join and become active in the Black Hills Companion Bird Club (if you live in the area). You will have a lot in common with other companion bird owners and membership can be an exceptional source of continuing education.
The next article in this series will prepare you more for an exciting journey of fun and enjoyment with a new companion bird and life long friend.
Patrick & Barbara Paur
Mt. Rushmore Birds