Birds are beautiful, lively animals. You love their sweet songs and bright colors. You've even thought of getting one as a pet. But owning a bird is different than watching them from your window. These avian creatures have special needs and unique temperaments. You can't just put a bird out in your fenced yard or rely on them to roam your house independently.
Birds have long lifespans, so it's important to make sure that a bird is really the right pet for you. Here are a few signs they might not be.
You know how wild birds will knock food from your outside feeders and leave chaos behind? Birds are messy. Pet birds of all sizes are prone to scatter food and droppings from their cages. That can cause a big mess on the floor, which is why you often see bird cages sitting on rugs or floor protectors.
Even with a rug, though, bird owners have to clean up after their pets frequently. If you can't stand a mess, this isn't the right pet for you.
Bird songs that sound pretty from outside your window can be downright annoying inside. Larger birds like parrots and cockatiels are also known to squawk throughout the day (and sometimes at night).
Yes, you can throw a blanket over the cage to try and stop the noise. But do you really want a pet that has to live in the dark just to be bearable? Probably not.
Birds are wild animals by nature. Being in a cage all day can be stressful for them, and pet birds do get depressed. Your bird might bite, scratch, or peck you when that happens. Large birds, such as parrots, also tend to be destructive when depressed. Their strong beaks and sharp claws can do serious damage to the furniture, window screens, and wood trim in your house. It takes patience and knowledge to manage these mood swings.
Birds love attention. They do best with owners who are engaged and have time to care for them. If you're not home much, your bird will get distressed. That can lead to the destructive behaviors listed above. Lonely birds are also more likely to pull out their feathers and scratch themselves.
Having more than one pet bird won't solve this need for attention. The other ones will want your time too.
Birds aren't violent by nature. However, they do get frightened by loud noises and sudden movements. Babies and preschoolers can be scary to birds. When they feel threatened, these pets will bite and claw.
Getting bitten by a large bird can be painful, even for adults. Older children do fine with birds, so you only need to wait until your kids are old enough to respect a bird's space.
When we say that birds can live a long time, we mean a l-o-n-g time. Parrots can live anywhere from 60 to 70 years. Even smaller songbirds, such as finches, can live up to 20 years.
Getting a bird can be a lifelong commitment, and you should take it as seriously as buying an expensive car. Do your research before you commit.
People often know if they're allergic to dogs or cats. It's less common to know if you have a feather or feather dander allergy. If you can handle down bedding and down-filled jackets, you'll probably be fine. If you have sinus problems, ask your doctor if it's possible to do an allergy test before you buy a bird.
You already know that birds need a lot of attention. Frequent travelers usually aren't able to meet the care requirements for these pets. While you could board a dog or cat, you might not find an adequate facility for your bird.
Unless you know a reliable pet sitter who's willing to take on birds, this might not be the time for a new pet. (On the other hand, offering your services as a bird sitter could be a great way to find out if you really want one for your own.)
It's not that birds can't be affectionate. They do show love for their owners, especially as a bond develops over time. But even after time, birds just aren't snuggly like lap dogs or cats. If you're looking for a pet that wants to cuddle with you all day, a bird isn't the right choice. They might perch on your shoulder, but they probably won't spend a lot of time in your lap.
Getting a bird and keeping it healthy is an expensive undertaking. You'll need a cage or enclosure with perching areas, feeding dishes, and toys. You might need different ones as they grow.
Birds need to eat specially formulated foods and snacks. You'll also need to take your pet for vet care and pay for needed treatments, which can cost more for birds than other household pets. Don't get a bird unless you're ready to dish out some big dollars.
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