Choosing a Pet Bird

You have decided that you need some companionship and after doing a bit of research you have come to the conclusion that a pet bird maybe just what you are looking for. There are many things to consider when choosing a pet bird. The first thing to consider is what type of bird do you want. Following are some questions you should ask yourself before choosing a pet bird.

Questions To Ask Before Choosing a Pet Bird

  • Do you want a big bird or a medium sized bird or a small bird?
  • Do you want a bird that can talk?
  • Do you want a bird that will cuddle?

    cockatiel stepping up
    cockatiel stepping up
  • Do you want a tame bird?
  • Do you want a bird that is already trained?
  • Do you want a young bird or an older bird?
  • Are you interested in adopting a rescue?
  • How much time can you spend with your pet bird?
  • Are you away from home a lot?
  • Do you have any other pets?

When you have narrowed down what you are looking for in a pet bird then it is time to look at the various types of birds and see if they fit your criteria.

Each bird type have their own characteristics and then each individual bird has their very own unique personality.  

When choosing a pet bird one of the main considerations is the bird’s lifespan.  Little birds like finches can live a couple of years up to a few years while bigger birds like parrots can live anywhere from 50 to 75 years.  Make sure if you choose a larger, longer living bird that you have someone to look after them when you are gone.  In all probability the bird will outlive you.  Following is a chart of some of the more popular birds and their potential life expectancy.

Life Expectancy Chart

             Bird                                                    Life Expectancy in Years

  • Macaws                                                            50 – 100 +
  • Cockatoos                                                        40 – 60 +
  • Amazons                                                          50 – 70 +
  • African Grays                                                  50 – 60 +
  • Eclectus                                                            65 – 85
  • Conure                                                              12 – 30

    Large Bird
  • Lories and Lorikeets                                      13 – 25
  • Caique                                                               30
  • Senegal                                                             50
  • Cockatiel                                                          12 to 20
  • Parakeets(Budgies)                                         7 to 18
  • Lovebirds average                                          15 to 25
  • Canaries average                                            10 to 15
  • Finches average                                               5 to 10.

 

You also need to consider how much money you are willing to spend buying your new companion and all the accessories that he/she will need.  A larger bird will be more expensive in the actual cost of purchasing the bird and the accessories needed for a larger bird will also be more expensive.

Also you need to take into considerations trips to a veterinarian.  Not all vets treat birds so you may need to look around in order to find an avian vet.

Some of the traits that a pet bird owner looks for often are traits that have been taught to the bird over time.  A bird that has been hand raised will have different traits than a bird that has been raised wild.  The environment that a bird is raised in will impact the traits of the bird.

You also need to consider how much time you can spend with your bird.  Does your lifestyle keep you away from home a lot or are you going to be able to spend a lot of time with your bird.  Some birds love interacting with their humans.  They like being cuddled, talk too and generally interacting with you.  Other birds would prefer to keep their distance and are quite happy to play and talk by themselves.

Some birds prefer that they are not handled at all and would much prefer that you keep your distance.

Some birds will take a liking to one person while others like everyone.  Some birds will also have a preference to a female or a male.

Birds that prefer not to be handled are often very entertaining to watch and they are quite content to play away in their cage.  These birds do well living with other birds.  Most birds by nature are a flock animal.  Some of the birds that we keep as pets still prefer other birds in their flock while others gladly accept humans into their flock.

Caique
Caique

Another thing that you should take into consideration before choosing your pet bird is how much noise can you put up with or how much noise can your neighbours tolerate.  Some birds like the Macaws and Cockatoos can be quite loud.  Usually in the early morning and early evening is when they tend to be the noisiest.  This goes back to their natural instinct from living in the wild.  If they were still living in the wild this is the time that they would be calling out to their other flock members.  

Other birds like the Conure and Parrotlet are noisy anytime of the day or evening.

So after looking into the various types of birds that people keep as pets you have decided what bird you would like to bring into your home.  So now the question is where does one buy a bird?

Most pet shops will have birds for sale.  They tend to carry the smaller type of birds like budgies and canaries.  If they specialise in birds they may also carry Conures, Caique and Senegal.  If you have an aviary in your area they will carry many types of birds.  If they don’t have the bird you want they can usually direct you to where you can get the bird you want.

Bird Magazines are another place to look for a reputable breeder and you can also find breeders listed online in your area.

I would not recommend that you purchase a bird without seeing it especially if you are a first time bird owner.  You want to make sure you are getting a healthy bird.

Things To Look For Before The Final Sale

  • Eyes should be clear and clean
  • Breathing should not be strained and no wheezing
  • No bare spots on the bird
  • Feathers should be shiny
  • Bird should have a good weight
  • Handle bird if possible
  • Bird should be aware and alert
  • Need to have a complete bill of sale
  • Health guarantee bird can be returned if it fails a vet check

Final Thoughts

Good luck finding your perfect bird companion.  I have owned cockatiels for around 20 years now and they are a great pet.  They all have different personalities.  

Again before you purchase make sure you have the time to dedicate to your pet bird.  You cannot get one of these birds and stick them in a cage and shove them in a corner.  Most pet birds are very social and they love interacting with you – they do not like being ignored.

My pet cockatiel Binkie is normally out of his cage for about 6 to 8 hours a day.  He has a playstation that he hangs around.  He loves looking out the window watching the other birds.  If for some reason I cannot get him out of his cage you can hear him squawking from a good distance.

I hope you enjoy your new bird as much as I enjoy mine!

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Comments

    • Simon Crowe in Asia
    • June 10, 2017
    Reply

    This is really helpful thank you! My wife and I were looking at buying a pet bird for our young daughter ad I’m just researching to make sure I choose the right kind of bird.

    I must be honest, my main thought is there might be more to it than I thought! Defintely need to think more about this. Thank you for the great questions, really very helpful.

      • Maureen
      • June 11, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Simon thanks for your comment.  Like any pet, birds are a big commitment especially the big parrots since they can live so long.  Birds are social and they do like to mingle with their flock whether it be other birds or humans.

    • Rob
    • June 10, 2017
    Reply

    beautiful site! I’m really glad to see that somebody like you is out there to dispel some misconceptions regarding keeping pet birds (especially Parrots)

    It can be tough to tell what your birds personality is going to be like prior to purchase. Really need to be open to many possibilities and of course like you have said plan not to spend too much time away from them.
    (I have an Amazon Grey (Balki) that really stresses out when we are away and HATES our Bird sitter haha)

      • Maureen
      • June 11, 2017
      Reply

      Birds really are quite social and if they are in the habit of having you around all the time and that changes it can stress them out.  I went away for two weeks one time and when I got back my cockatiel was so mad at me it took him about a week to settle back into the routine.  

        • Rob
        • June 12, 2017
        Reply

        you bet! However, we looked after a friends blue fronted Amazon for a month once and it was incredibly friendly with us I even got to hold him (which apparently was impossible even with his owners)

        I like to joke that I have a face that only a bird can love haha.

    • Jazmin
    • June 11, 2017
    Reply

    This was a great post, especially since you have examples of toys and how they would be useful for your pet bird. I’ve owned a couple of parakeets when I was younger and I wish I found this type of information when I was looking for cages and toys. I bought a small cage and ended up having to pay more for a much bigger cage later

    • Jair
    • December 12, 2017
    Reply

    This is a really great and super helpful article for anyone who is considering a bird for a pet. I wish I had this when I had either of my 2 birds but I had no real say in the matter as both my birds were rescues. I grew up on a sailboat all my childhood. I saved a Canadian gosling that got separated from his family and was drowning as he couldn’t get out of the water. The other was a budgie that flew onto our boat while at anchor in a thunderstorm. He landed on the lifelines and was so tired he could barely hang on. If I had this article it would have saved me 3 dinghy trips in the rain to get him supplies from the pet store as I had no idea what a bird needed and we didn’t have the internet back then to google it.
    You have a fantastic and super informative site here for any bird lover or prospect, keep up the great work.

    1. Reply

      Thanks for the comments Jair. Saving the gosling must have been so neat. There are certain types of geese that are domesticated but to save one that is wild is not an easy thing to do. Budgies are a pretty neat little bird also. I had one years ago and if memory serves me right he lived a long life. Right now I am on my third cockatiel but he is the first male cockatiel that I have had. When I had the females I had them together and they did bond with me but now that I have the male and only him, he has really bonded with me. He amazes me every day with how smart he is. Anybody who says it is just a dumb bird or a dumb dog have never had the pleasure of owning and bonding with a pet.

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