Home > Bird Safety > Owning Pet Birds

Owning Pet Birds

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 21 Jun 2016 | comments*Discuss
Pet Birds Choosing A Pet Bird Before

With their beautiful plumage, enchanting song and cheeky personalities, birds can make wonderful pets. However, to keep them happy and healthy, it is important that a pet owner understands their behaviour and their needs - and makes sure that the right things in terms of housing, diet, toys, training and socialisation are provided.

If you are thinking of getting a pet bird, here are a few things to consider:

What Kind of Commitment Can I Give?

While a bird may not be as demanding as a dog (depending on the species! Some parrots may be even more of a challenge than a canine friend), they still require time, maintenance and social interaction on a daily basis. If you have limited free time, then finches or canaries (kept in pairs) or other independent species would be better than a parrot species, which would need socialisation and company to thrive. In addition, some of the larger parrot species can live to 50 years or more so you have to commit to caring for the bird over its entire lifespan.

What About Cost?

Many new owners spend all they afford on a new pet bird and then are horrified when faced with the costs of the cage and other equipment, as well as ongoing costs of food, toys and veterinary care. Especially with the larger parrots and exotic species, pet ownership can get very expensive. However, it is not worth scrimping in the essential areas, such as cage and diet, as the problems caused will prove more costly in the long run.

How Much Noise Will it Make?

The intensive nature of modern living means that noise pollution is taken very seriously and any pet which causes a lot of disturbance may create serious trouble for its owner. Many of the parrot species are extremely noisy and it is impossible to prevent natural behaviours such as screeching. In addition, think about yourself and how you can cope with the level of noise on a daily basis.

What About The Housing Arrangements?

Do you have enough space in your home? The cage should always be as large as possible. The bird needs to be able to spread both wings out, up and turn around without touching the sides of the cage. For larger birds, such as parrots, height is probably more important than width as they like climbing exercise, although the cage does still need to be wide enough to allow stretching and playing. For smaller birds, the length of the cage is more important as they get their exercise from flying within the cage, which is generally a sideways movement.

Make sure that you provide a variety of perches of different diameters to prevent foot problems and ideally some natural branches as well. Check that the door has a bird-proof latch and that all the welds are smooth. Check also that the bar spacing is appropriate for the size of your pet bird - if your bird gets its head, wings, feet or beak wedged between them and panics, it can be fatal.

What do I Feed it?

Birds need a varied diet to thrive. Thus, the dry seed sold in pet stores should only form the basis of your bird's diet - you need to supplement with fresh green seeds, flowers, fruit, vegetables, etc. Many birds also require a calcium supplement (in cuttlebones or calcium bells) and a mineral and vitamin supplement added to the water can also be beneficial. Make sure that the dry seed mix you buy is appropriate for your particular bird - they have been developed with the specific dietary needs of different species in mind and should not be carelessly fed (eg. giving a Cockatoo mix to a Cockatiel).

Is it Going to be Really Messy and Destructive?

All birds can be messy, although the extent varies with the species. Even with a large cage, food will often be scattered and spilled around the area. Some birds (such as cockatiels and doves) produce lots of feather dust - something to keep in mind if any family member is prone to allergies. Many of the parrot species are also very destructive, delighting in using their beaks to chew and tear things apart, so you will have to supervise and bird-proof your home for any times when your pet is outside its cage.

Will it Have The Right Personality?

What do you want from a pet bird? If you want a pet bird that will learn to be "cuddly" with its owners, then birds that do not like being handled much (eg. finches and canaries) would not be a suitable pet whereas something like a cockatoo might be better. However, a sociable bird also means that you will need to commit to more daily interaction, as they can become very demanding and exhibit neurotic behaviour if neglected. If you are keen to teach tricks and want your pet to mimic speech, then a parrot-species would be ideal, although remember that the ability to talk varies between individuals, even within a species known for its talking ability.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi, i own a indian ringneck, somebody told me that i have to pay some year tax for keeping in my house. Is that true? What do you think?
Bibimary27 - 21-Jun-16 @ 8:59 PM
looking for more options regarding pet birds
Mahboob - 6-Mar-14 @ 11:25 AM
i would love a pet bird but i was always told that to keep any bird in a cage was crule and unforgivable
none - 7-Dec-13 @ 11:28 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • SaferPets
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Redyakyak - Your Question:Our neighbor uses our fence which is on our property to keep her dogs on her property. Surely as a dog owner she has…
    16 March 2018
  • Redyakyak
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    Our neighbor uses our fence which is on our property to keep her dogs on her property. Surely as a dog owner she has to have her own fence on…
    15 March 2018
  • SaferPets
    Re: Treating Poisoning
    annoyed - Your Question:Last night we returned home to find that our dog had eaten the onions that had been cooked with the roast. After…
    13 March 2018
  • annoyed
    Re: Treating Poisoning
    Last night we returned home to find that our dog had eaten the onions that had been cooked with the roast. After looking at advice on several…
    12 March 2018
  • FayeK
    Re: Animal Welfare
    @DM - that's terrible. Poor thing. Can't you offer to take the dog out for a walk, or something :( Try to give it a life.
    2 March 2018
  • Tweetie
    Re: Introducing a Puppy to Other Dogs
    My friend has an 8 week old puppy & wants to come to my home to introduce her to my 2 yr. old vaccinated dog. Is this wise?
    26 February 2018
  • Annoyed
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    I have just been quite violently verbally abused by a man with 7 dogs loose. He us extremely arrogant not bothering to put any on a lead. My…
    23 February 2018
  • JaneH
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    @Suzie - You don't say why the police are holding your dog. If the police are investigating an incident, they can hold your dog until they make…
    19 February 2018
  • Suzie
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    How do I go about getting her back I'm heartbroken
    16 February 2018
  • Chf
    Re: Dog Laws in the UK
    I can't take my dog in the cumnaty centre grounds but can wait in the bicycle speed and the sing no dogs allowed is a joke you can't see it…
    30 January 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SaferPets website. Please read our Disclaimer.