Choosing the right bird for your lifestyle is the most important step.
Sure, everyone loves a cuddly cockatoo or a comical macaw, but can we appropriately care for one of these formidable, yet VERY demanding parrot species? Most don’t have the time nor the financial resources to do so. Big birds need LOTS of (often expensive) toys, they can cause considerable damage to furniture and can drive close-living neighbors crazy with their loud calls.
And yet, some people wouldn’t do without them. My friend Lynn succinctly expressed:
“A good bird owner is one who enjoys the company and interaction with birds more than they mind their messes and loud voices.”
Whether or not you belong to those “big bird enthusiasts” will depend on whether your prioritize “neatness” and furnishings (like whether they are chewed on or not) or are willing to accept some bird destructiveness in your house. Alternatively, you could provide an entire room or sunroom, or outside enclosure for your large companion where his or her destructiveness is not so much an issue.
It helps when you understand why birds DO what they do (like chewing on furnishings): In nature, parrots chew on tree branches all day long, “customizing” their favorite tree or chosen nesting place to their liking, and keeping their beaks trimmed this way as well, and let’s face it — it gives them something to do that they enjoy. As a general rule, the larger the bird, the more destructive they are. Although even cockatiels have been known to “customize” the wooden frame of a picture or mirror. Another thing:
Parrots are very intelligent creatures and without “things to do” they can develop serious psychological and behavioral problems. They need daily stimulation that can be provided by lots of toys, an interesting environment where they can interact with either people or other birds. They like to learn and experience new things. Keeping your companion (especially the larger ones) entertained and engaged will require some creativity, involvement and effort on your part.
If your heart desires a larger bird, there are some larger birds that are less noisy, less destructive than others. There are smaller cockatoo species (goffins, bare-eyeds), that are less noisy and less destructive than the larger cockatoo species. Pionuses and some conures (green-cheeks, maroon-bellieds) are also known to be less noisy than others. Still some people who are sensitive to noise, still are offended by their “sentinel screeching” and although they are LESS destructive than their larger counterparts, they are STILL destructive. Anyhow, I have made it fairly easy for you to find out about all the different birds that could be potential companions for you, and assimilated a lot of resources on each parrot and bird species:
For information on parrot-type birds, like parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, conures, quakers, pionuses, amazons, macaws, cockatoos or such birds, please visit the Parrot Species page – or choose the species you like on the menu to the right.
- Noise: How much noise can your neighborhood tolerate? How much noise can YOU tolerate? If you like quiet birds, then finches, Australian parakeets (I LOVE the grass parakeets – of which I breed the Burke’s parakeets, the scarlet-chested parakeets and the turquoisines) or canaries would be great choices. If you prefer larger birds, amongst the quietest and most beautiful are the King Parrots.
- Which birds sell well in your area? You may want to ask your local pet stores or breeders which birds are popular. You don’t want to be stuck with a lot of unwanted birds, as your breeders start producing.
- How much money will you get for your birds? If you want to make money or at least cover the cost of your hobby — this will be an important factor. If you like to concentrate on the more expensive birds (as you would get more for them), African Greys or King Parrots, might be a great choice. They are both popular and you will be able to sell the babies at a decent price.
Procuring the Right Bird For You – The Right Way
Considerations before buying a bird … Where to buy / adopt a bird from? … In case your pet “flies the coop” or gets stolen: Pet Identification Methods
The following information has been provided by Dr. Jill M. Patt, DVM practicing in Mesa, Arizona. She has been keeping and raising exotic birds for years, providing her a unique knowledge and understanding that goes beyond that of a regular vet who does not have the benefit of daily interaction with birds / parrots.
“Birds are fascinating, beautiful, incredible creatures that I have chosen to share my life with. I’ve enjoyed keeping and raising birds for as long as I can remember and they are greatly responsible for my becoming a veterinarian. While I love these critters, I also understand how difficult they can be to live with.
Before anyone acquires a pet bird they need to understand what they are getting into. Never acquire any type of pet on an impulse and especially a bird. Studies have proven that birds are much more intelligent than our other commonly kept pets and they also are very long lived. These two factors often contribute to some of the problems we see in avian veterinary medicine.
Because birds are so intelligent, they become bored easily and this commonly leads to behavioral disorders such as feather picking and skin mutilation. Their intelligence can also get them into trouble. As an example, it is not uncommon for a bird to learn that when they scream the owner comes to the cage and they quickly become attention yellers.
Also, because they often live for decades on very poor diets, we regularly see diseases associated with severe malnutrition. Therefore, I encourage anyone considering acquiring a bird to become thoroughly educated in the needs of the bird prior to bringing your feathered friend home.”
Consider the following before adding a parrot to your family:
- Are you able to provide an appropriate and safe space for this bird?
- Larger parrots can live up to 100 years. They bond for life — are you ready for a long-term commitment?
- Will you be able to provide daily, supervised time outside his cage?
- Many parrots are noisy — will this be acceptable to family members and neighbors?
- Will you be willing to take time out of your schedule to give daily attention to your parrot, play with him/her and train him to ensure that he or she doesn’t adopt behaviorial problems?
- Is the primary care taker a mature and responsible person who can adequately care for this complex animal?
Obtaining a HEALTHY and well-socialized bird is one of the most important aspect of bird ownership. Never rush the process. Why not wait for the right one! The options are listed below.
Second-hand parrots are a great option; however, be prepared that many of them have been neglected and may need to be trained and rehabilitated. You may be lucky to find a well-adjusted bird that was kept in a great home and something unexpected happened that caused the owners to longer be able to appropriately care for their pet.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of looking for a certain species to become available on the adoption market, or you don’t want to deal with some of the problems that may come with rehabilitating a potentially abused / neglected parrot, the following are options:
- Recommended Breeders / Breeders by Bird Species & Location
- Pet Shops Caution: Bird Stores / Advantages & Disadvantages
- Bird Shows / Scheduled Events
- Please consider: The Dangers of Bird Marts
If you already have birds, please consider the following website: “Why quarantine?
- Advantages: Usually cheaper, often come with cage and accessories, less incidence of disease since these birds USUALLY are not in contact with many other birds.
- Disadvantages: Bird may come with emotional problems, may be older and less adaptable to a new environment. Bad habits may have been established. Little may be known of the bird’s background especially if it was passed around a lot.
- Advantages: Usually cheaper than from bird / pet stores. The incidence of diseases are lower than with stores, PROVIDED you choose a breeder who maintains a closed aviary, tests and quarantines new birds, and adheres to good breeding practices. An excellent route for obtaining healthy babies. Breeders are usually very happy to provide advice and guidance on how to properly care for the bird, and are (or should be) a source for continued support.
- Disadvantage: Less convenient than going to a store. Often entails driving a distance (since many breeders are sporadic and often live outside the urban areas). Then there is the aspect of accurately differentiating ‘good’ from ‘bad’ breeders.
- Please check out the Recommended Breeder page – please note that there are MANY excellent breeders out there — just because they are not listed on the AvianWeb, doesn’t mean they are bad — just unknown to me.
- Advantages: Easier accessible than breeders or bird owners, will accept credit card payments (although with breeders, oftentimes you can also pay with credit cards, via the safe and convenient “PayPal” [paypal.com] option.)
- Disadvantage: Generally more expensive. The incidence of bird diseases is much higher. Like my vet said: “Stores get birds from all different sources and cannot properly quarantine them from each other.” Pet store personnel are not necessarily knowledgeable about bird care, and may give ridiculously wrong advise (and believe me, I know!). Stores that specialize in birds usually hire staff that are more knowledgeable and give more accurate advice.
Regarding stores: A few years ago, my vet told me the following, as we were speaking about one of our local pet stores that sold me a bird suffering from PDD: “They (referring to bird stores) CAN’T quarantine new birds (and obviously won’t spend money on testing) due to the high turnover in stores. I don’t think that there is ANY bird store in existence that was in operation longer than say 2 or 5 of years that DIDN’T have a disease problem at one time or another.”
Even if you don’t buy a bird there. If you get your supplies at a store selling birds at a time when there IS a Psittacosis (airborne bacteria) or Beak and Feather (airborne virus) outbreak – although unknown at the time – you will take the pathogens home on your clothes or on your birds’ food supplies. All of a sudden you find yourself in the nightmare of having to deal with a Beak and Feather disease outbreak and wonder where it is coming from.