Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet Bird
Often times a person might ask what a cheap and easy pet is, sometimes they will be told that a “bird” is a good cheap and/or easy pet. This is false information, and should not be perpetuated to wishful pet owners.
Birds are often, messy, noisy, and most bird species are not good “pets” unless a person is home a lot. Birds are not cheap, even if the bird itself can be purchased cheaply, their cage and supplies are usually very costly.
Many people buy a bird and get the cheapest cage; one that fits well into their home, and budget. Most birds are designed to fly, but few cages offer adequate flight room, and many birds would be happier in an aviary. If you are considering getting a bird as a pet please consider the size of the cage as it relates to the bird's need for flight.
above a bird aviary (note it can also be used as a cat enclosure if not being used for birds)
Birds have very specific dietary requirements. You can meet these with most commercial bird foods, however it is important to know that birds also need grit for digestion, and may need a cuttle bone, or oyster shell for calcium. Many birds should also be fed fruit. Some birds need a nectar. As well you should note that some birds cannot eat food intended for other birds (ducks cannot have chick starter).
Some birds are extremely sensitive to temperature extremes and cannot tolerate drafts.
Birds are Messy!
Birds not only have a habit of throwing seed shells around – which is messy, but they do have dander. I had the displeasure of walking into a bird hoarder's house once, and everything was covered with a thick layer of bird dander, resembling white dust.
Birds do get sick and what makes it especially hard is that not only do most owners have a difficult time recognizing a sick bird (diarrhea, loss of appetite, behavior changes), but it can be very difficult to find a veterinarian who is familiar with birds.
above - a doves often spend time at the bottom of a cage so need lots of floor space.
Birds Need Time
Many people think you can stick a bird in a cage, clean it once a day, fill the food and water, and that is pretty much the end of it. This is very far from the truth in the case of most birds. Most birds, and especially parrots, require a lot of human attention. The smart birds will become self destructive, or suffer from depression, when left alone. Many species of birds require homes where their owners are actually home (at least for most of the day). Some birds can get by with the companionship of another bird, but few will do well if left alone for long periods of time (even 8 hours a day alone is too much for many bird species).
Birds lay eggs, while this can be great, it can also be a problem. Some birds are hard to sex. If an egg is laid you will know it is a female, if the egg hatches you will know that at least one other bird is a male. Female birds can, and will, lay eggs even if a male is not present, this is what laying hens do over and over.
Laying eggs over and over is hard on a bird, and if the bird is not on a correct diet allowing a bird to lay over and over can result in it becoming egg bound. As well there is always the issue of what do you do with the baby birds? Are you prepared to look after a baby bird if its parents refuse? Will you keep it?
While watching eggs hatch, can be exciting, it can also be a concerning time for an unprepared bird owner.
above - month old Bantam Cochin chicks and their parents
Lifespan of a Pet Bird
Some birds, particularly parrots, have very long lifespans. Sure it is great to get a beautiful bird but can you keep it for its lifetime, or provide it a home after you reach a point where you cannot care for it any longer? Most parrot owners provide for their birds in their will, and will the bird to somebody else.
Its pretty easy to find a cat sitter, or to take your dog to a boarding kennel, but it is sometimes more tricky to find somebody to care for your pet bird. Consider too that some birds become very attached to their owners and you might realize that if you own a bird, going on a vacation might not be so easy.
Some cats and dogs have high prey drives which could put your pet birds at risk. Before getting a bird you must consider the other pets in the house – even ferrets have been known to kill pet birds.
Note: The "Easiest" Pet birds are probably chickens, however they still require special care, and in some cases are not even allowed as pets. For indoor birds, finches may require the least amount of work, or perhaps doves. Both do require companionship of other birds, and a good size cage or aviary.