November 14, 2016

Exotic & Pocket Pets General

Is a Bird Right for You? 4 Things to Consider Before Adding a Feathered Family Member

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

Birds are amazing animals.  They can soar high in the air making flying look effortless.  Their beautiful colors range from the baby blue of a parrotlet to the almost rainbow of colors of a macaw.  Some birds can even mimic sounds and sing to you.

Birds have a way of captivating people. Birds as pets, though, are more than just something pretty to admire.  They take a lot of time and commitment to ensure that they stay happy and healthy. So how do you know if a bird is right for your home? Consider these important factors before adopting that beautiful new bird.bird perching

1. Having a bird can be a life-long commitment

Unlike dogs and cats with life expectancies around 10-14 years on average (depending on the breed), some parrots and macaws can live to be 45-80 years old or older.  This means that some of the larger parrots may very well outlive you!

2. Birds can be noisy…very noisy!

Birds out in the wild communicate over long distances by screaming and screeching. This will also happen inside your home. Many birds, both small and large, will scream, chirp, yell, sing, or even mimic voices or sounds as a means to communicate.

This may be cute at times.  However, it may occur when you least want it to happen – like when you are on the phone, working on a big project for school, or sleeping!  If you live in an apartment or have neighbors close by they may also be bothered by the loud noise and complain.

3. Birds need human interaction and companionship

Although birds are very pretty, it is important to remember that they are more than just pretty faces. Birds, just like any other animal, need to have some type of interaction, handling, or contact. Not all birds (especially the smaller birds like finches) want to be handled and touched, but they still need to be around people to listen and interact. If birds do not receive the interaction and handling that they need, they can show signs of increased aggression problems, feather picking, and depression.

4. Birds still need veterinary and wellness care

It is important to remember that birds, too, need veterinary care and routine wellness care. Since many birds out in the wild are typically prey species (those that other animals hunt and eat), they are programmed to hide signs of illness to avoid looking weak.  Appearing weak or injured makes a bird an easier target for predators looking for a meal.  During routine physical examinations, your veterinarian can look for signs of health problems and monitor body conditioning. Many birds also need to have their nails trimmed to help them grip their perches easier and to prevent foot sores.

Having a bird as part of your family can be very rewarding and entertaining! Consider these points and assess your family’s lifestyle.  Hopefully, with this information,  you will be able to determine whether or not a feathered friend is right for your home.