Guest Author - Heather Thomas
When shopping for a bird you encounter two basic types, hand-fed and not hand-fed. Hand feeding is the process where, at some point after hatching but before weaning, the chicks are removed from the nest box and cared for and fed by a human surrogate. A hand-fed baby does not guarantee a well-adjusted friendly bird. Caution must be exercised when choosing a breeder touting hand-fed babies. A visit to the breeder is always the best course of action. If babies are primarily kept in isolation with limited human interaction, the exception being the feeding process, you are likely to get an unsocialized baby. When you talk to the breeder make sure they have a passion for what they do and aren’t simply pumping out a product. Never purchase a bird you have not handled. If it appears friendly and calm, this is a good indicator. Do not take possession of your baby before weaning unless you have experience hand feeding. This can be dangerous and even life threatening, if done incorrectly. In the case of a pet store bird, you will have less information to base your decision on. Does the bird appear healthy? Is the bird friendly? It is wise to ask what type of guarantee they offer with the birds they sell.
Companion birds come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular companion birds are budgies and cockatiels. These birds require a smaller cage. Typically, a 24’x 24’ cage will suffice. Smaller birds are easier to handle and groom. Conures bridge the gap between small and large bird. They come in sizes ranging from just larger than a cockatiel to almost amazon size. Then of course you have large birds, ranging from amazons to macaws. As the size of the bird grows, other factors increase as well, such as: cost of the bird, cage size, mess, toy size and expense, possible chewing damage and lifespan.
Space requirements are not always a first consideration when you hold an adorable baby bird in your hands, but it should at least enter the equation. The larger the bird, the larger the cage required.
Some simple questions can help determine what size bird to consider:
What size cage will be required?
Where will I put the bird, in the main part of the house, so it’s not isolated?
Can I afford the size cage required?
If you know the answer to these questions, you should do fine.
Unlike small pets such as hamsters and gerbils, even small birds like budgies or cockatiels live for fifteen years or more. Because birds are so long-lived, serious consideration should be given before entering into a relationship with a companion bird. Therefore, birds are often not recommended for a child’s first pet.
As with any pet, nutritious food promotes a healthy bird. It is important to offer fresh fruits and vegetables daily in addition to your bird’s foundation diet. Fresh clean water must be provided at all times.
The following items require periodic attention:
Cage Cleaning – Once per week.
Sweep Seed and Debris from Around Cage – Daily, to avoid attracting pests.
Nails Trimmed – Monthly.
Wings Clipped – Every 2-3 months.
Bath Time – 1-2 times per week.
A small amount of advance planning and research can help you choose your first bird and avoid some common pitfalls new bird owners often face.