In the previous article we stressed that it’s important to make an honest and realistic assessment about yourself, each member of your family, your home environment and your way of life. With that information, your breeder will be in a good position in making recommendations to you. It’s not a good idea to drop everything and go out and spend a lot of dollars just because a child expresses a desire to have a bird. After visiting with a reputable breeder a decision could be made as to what type of bird would best fit into your situation. The next question is “Will your child be good with the bird?” Most people agree that a child should be 6 or 7 before entrusted with the care of a pet bird because birds are not as “durable” as cats or dogs. Some 5 year olds are very calm and responsible; some 8 year olds are wild and irresponsible. It falls on the parents to honestly access whether the child has the maturity to be responsible for the care of a delicate pet such as a bird. Intrusting a bird to the care of a youngster can be an excellent way to teach what responsibility is all about.
So two important questions: which Birds are good with children? And, is the child going to be good with the bird? Birds are individuals and some birds will fit in while others of the same species may not. In general the smaller the bird the more delicate and the greater the chance of the bird being stepped or sat on or in other ways, abused. The larger the bird the more likely your child could get a nip should he or she be frighten by the bird. Not all bites are aggression, but all birds have the potential to bite. Birds use their beaks as a third hand to assist them in climbing. There are times when this scares some people because they think the bird is biting. It is good to understand how a bird uses his beak. It’s very important for the bird to build up a trusting relationship with its owner; that helps to build confidence with its each other.
Sit down and talk with your children. Does your child want a pretty bird in a nice cage? Does your child want a bird to ride on a shoulder, to talk to, or to be a companion? It’s important to determine who is going to have the responsibility for its total care; or if it’s going to be a family pet with everyone taking part in its care. Where does the responsibility lie? Children are given the privilege of caring for the pet bird but in the end it is the responsibility of the parents to see that the bird is fed and taken care of. No pet should have to suffer because of a child’s neglect. Parents need to be willing to provide veterinary care if need be.
Handicapped children are Special. Sometimes they can be the best owners for special pet birds. Breeders are sometimes faced with birds that are handicapped themselves, missing a limb, toe or disabled in some way. These birds can be loving companions to children that understand their special needs. Talk to your breeders or local Bird Club for help in locating just the right bird.
Accidents happen and children take the death of a pet very hard. No bird should die because of neglect or abuse. Remember, the adult is ultimately responsible for the pet. One of the most common causes of bird loss is escape. Trimming your bird’s wings will prevent this from happening. It will also prevent the 101 accidents that can occur around your home like flying into a pan of boiling water or drowning in a toilet. It’s important to have the wings clipped properly. Not straight across. Current research shows that improper grooming can be a cause for the bird to start “feather picking;” Once that starts, it’s very difficult to get it stopped.
Another common cause of death to your bird is other pets! Anticipating these disasters is the best prevention. Keep other pets under control in relation to your pet bird.
Kids and pets belong together! The experience of owning a pet should be educational, fun and rewarding.
This is the second in a series of articles on pet Birds. Next time we will look into buying that special feathered friend.
Patrick & Barbara Paur
Mt. Rushmore Birds