Is Having a Pet Bird a Good Idea? An Avian Vet Weighs the Pros and Cons
For those of us who have pet birds, the pros and cons are quite clear. But for those of us who are debating whether to bring a bird into our home, the decision can be daunting—you want it to be a successful transition, but there are so many what-ifs. Bird owners will tell you that it’s not always black and white, and at the end of the day, you need to make your decision based on your own experience. Here, we dive into the details a bit so you can make an educated decision about what’s best for your family and your potential new pet bird.
Should birds be released back into the wild?
Centuries ago, people captured wild birds and domesticated them. There were no exotic pet vets around at the time to inform them of the pros and cons, or to aid these avian pets when they became sick or injured, so there was a lot of trial and error. From that point on, the majority of (legal) birds sold today began to be bred in captivity. Therefore, some strongly feel that it is our job to protect these birds, by giving them a safe and happy life in our homes. Birds are intelligent animals. It is clear that they bond with their human counterparts, and they learn to rely on them as well. If someone releases their bird into the wild, they fly out into the unknown without the innate ability to recognize or decipher between friend or foe. Oftentimes, these found birds are brought to avian vets suffering from stress, injury, or anxiety.
Here are examples of 5 popular pet bird species that have clear upsides, as well as some downsides:
Pro: They tend to be very social and bond closely with their owners.
Con: They are known to easily get sick, and require medical attention. Read our Budgie Pet Care Guide to learn more about these parakeets.
Pro: They are affectionate birds who like to be held and pet.
Con: They require a lot of attention in order to maintain a healthy mental and physical state.
Pro: There are friendly birds who do not require constant attention.
Con: They can be quite messy and need a large cage to fly around in.
Pro: If they bond well with their owners, they can be very affectionate.
Con: If they do not bond well, they can become aggressive.
Pro: Loners by nature, canaries are content on their own, and are low maintenance.
Con: Canaries can be surprisingly messy and noisy, despite their small size.
How do I keep my pet bird safe and happy?
In trying to decide whether or not to bring a bird home, take some time to understand what caring for him or her will require. Here are some tips and considerations to keep in mind about what your feathered friend will need to stay healthy and happy.
Do I have enough space? Birds need an appropriately sized cage for their size and species. You may need to make a decision on the type of bird you choose based on the size of your home, and space you are able to allocate to their needs. Check with the breeder or your vet about the ideal cage size for your bird.
Can I handle the care and needs of a pet bird? Birds thrive when their owners are around and are social creatures with emotional needs. Ideally, your pet bird will have plenty of time outside of their cage, which means you’ll need to bird-proof the house and consider any damage they can cause, or any potential safety hazards. You will also want to clean their cage daily, engage with them, and provide a balanced diet. Provide your pet bird with species-appropriate toys to play with so they can be stimulated even when you’re not around as well. Finally, as with any pet, you want to be attuned to any physical and behavioral changes and take them to an avian veterinarian for emergencies and regular checkups.
Can I afford a pet bird? Birds can cost a lot depending on their breed, size, and colors. It’s not just the initial purchase, but the upkeep and care. If you do choose to purchase a bird, it is crucial that you do so from a known, legal, and compassionate breeder. You do not want to end up with a bird that may have been poached from the wild. For those who wish to have a pet bird, and don’t have a preference over which kind, we recommend that you look into adopting a rescue bird. If you’re willing to put in the hard work, both you and your bird will see the rewards. And don’t forget to take them to the vet!