For many families, the perceived ‘traditional’ pet options of cat, dog or hamster, are not actually the most sensible option. If you live in a flat, or unable for any reason to give a pet the amount of freedom and exercise it requires, then a pet bird may well be the answer.
There are some fantastically attractive breeds available, and many are rather sociable creatures, enjoying gentle interaction with the family, exuding grace and chirpiness. Despite the notion of ‘birdbrained’, they can also be rather intelligent. Most birds have an excellent capacity for learning, as well as a fairly social nature and as such are relatively easy to train if time and care are taken to develop a relationship. Birds do not need to be house trained, and have the advantage of not moulting. They also have a very clean outlook, with a regular grooming and preening regime to keep themselves clean, meaning no baths or regular grooming.
If you do decide that a bird is the right pet for you, there is more to it. Birds can be very long lived, and are a real commitment, so do your research into the breeds available, and think carefully. A reputable dealer should be able to give you the lowdown on characteristics to help you make the right decision, and you will also be comfortable in the knowledge that you are buying an ethically sourced, properly reared and socialised animal.
There are other issues to consider. Are you aware that Teflon and similar non stick kitchen ware can be lethal to pet birds? When heated, an odourless fume can kill
pet birds very rapidly, so you will need to replace with stainless steel or cart iron. Cigarette smoke, scented candles, air fresheners, oil burners and so on can be equally hazardous to your feathered pal’s sensitive respiratory system. In the same vein, a variety of houseplants can also be toxic to birds, so you will need to check their safety or dispose of them. Sequins, small, sparkly objects or jewellery are also rather dangerous. Many birds are very attracted to shiny items, so make sure they are kept somewhere secure, and it makes sense to remove jewellery or shiny buttons before handling your pet.
Cages should be as large as possible to give your bird a good base, and require daily cleaning. Birds do require some attention, particularly if you aiming to ‘tame’ the bird and make sure it is sociable around you family, so they can be quite a time consuming hobby. Mess is not unusual either, so do be prepared to sweep and vacuum debris, seed hulls and dust from the area around the cage.
Remember too that birds need to fly, so ensure you have a safe, enclosed space in your home for your feathered pet to take flight and stretch his wings.
Budgies can be an excellent introduction to bird keeping. They are inexpensive, small, and often have affectionate, sociable personalities. Although they can be very timid and averse to handling, generally budgies are happy, noisy little creatures with a fair lifespan of around 5 – 8 years, although they can live longer when well cared for. Budgerigars come in a variety of colours, from blues and greens to hues of violet, yellow or mixed, and are both beautiful to look at and amusing in their antics!
The canary is a popular pet choice the world over. They are in fact a variety of finch, well
known for a beautiful song (males) and bright, vibrant feathers. Canaries are great beginners birds, not requiring much human contact; likely preferring to perch and sing for you. These are likely to be a stunning bright yellow, but shades can vary into orange and green. Although your canary may not want to be handled much, they do thrive on company, so speak to your breeder about the possibility of taking a pair.
Cockatiels are small sized parrots, known for their highly affectionate, chatty nature. Some do talk, although they more commonly whistle, and usually like to be handled and petted. Commonly grey with their distinctive, orange ‘rouge’, cockatiels do in fact come in other, brighter colours if that is what you prefer. These birds have a long life expectancy, around 20 years, although some have been recorded as surviving into their 30’s, so are very much a long term commitment. They are a good idea as a responsible child’s pet, who will likely enjoy the attention a cockatiel requires.
Like the canary, the finch is a small, delicate bird which breeds in a variety of colours. They are, like Budgies, friendly, chattering little creatures, happiest kept in pairs or more, who require space to fly and some attention, but not too much handling.
are busy birds who need company, and will happily spend all their time perched in a
Lovebirds are pretty birds, with a sweet temperament and friendly personality. They pair preening and grooming each other. With their human families, they c