How to Choose?

by Sierra
(TX)

I'm contemplating buying a new bird or pair of birds. In the past I have not done so well with pets because I never had time for them. My birds have all died and my dog ran away. I know, I know, shouldn't that discourage me from getting any more animals? It did, for awhile.

Recently, however, an opportunity opened up that will allow me to devote almost all of my time to whatever bird I decide to get. I dearly love animals, especially birds and dogs. My problem is, I don't know which kind of bird to choose. I have no dogs or cats in the house, I have a little brother who is seven years old. We have a four-bedroomed house with one bedroom (mine) that has a carpet floor. The other three are hardwood.

We also have two fireplaces, one in my room and one in the living room. The one in my room has a chimney. The other does not, as it is a gas fire. We never use either one. We have a large kitchen with a gas stove, a sink, and a broken dishwasher. The living room, my sister's room, my room, and my brother's room all have a ceiling fan.

Obviously, it might be a very dangerous house for a small bird. I love parakeets, but I don't want to own one if it's dangerous for the bird. What kind of larger bird would be okay to have in my house that, preferably, can talk well and isn't too aggressive, as I have a younger brother?

Comments for How to Choose?

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Jan 22, 2010
How to choose
by: Amy

Sierra - Congratulations on beginning home schooling. You will never regret that decision. Be disciplined and learn all you can! A parrot is a good companion - a friend for life!
Now, about choosing a parrot. It's true that you should read all you can about bird keeping. You should subscribe to Bird Talk Magazine, and read some general bird care books on parrots, like "Parrots for Dummies" and "A Parrot for Life". Once you choose a species, read some books on that particular type of bird. There are a lot of precautions to take before bringing a bird into your home. Ceiling fans are a danger, as will be the open fireplace you mentioned. There are also many things around the house that are highly toxic to birds. Familiarize yourself with them.
Moving one step up in size from having budgies, you might consider a handfed male cockatiel. They are wonderful, gentle birds, and they can learn a few words, and to whistle some familiar tunes. Another nice, slightly larger bird would be a conure. Species like the green cheeked are gentle and quiet also (well, most of them) and can learn a few words as well. They are delightful little birds!
You must keep in mind before selecting a pet, that they will need you to always do your best for them; the best foods(fresh fruits and veggies daily and good pellets like Roudybush or Harrison's, and a good seed mix without sunflower seeds or peanuts in it, for a treat), love & gentle handling (even if they nip), and having their cage kept very clean at all times. You have to use a bird safe cleaner for their cage, like Poop Off, and a disinfectant, like Pet Focus once it's clean. Your bird will also have to have a check up at the Avian Vet each year, which,in the northeast near me, costs well over $200. You have to budget for accidents or illnesses, which can both be very expensive.( I once had to have cultures repeated on a bird of mine that ran over $350.in total, and I once had to pay $225 for x-rays on my cockatiel who injured her leg during a night fright) If this sounds like a commitment you can handle, I wish you the best in selecting your new friend!

Jan 22, 2010
Loving my birds
by: Sierra

Tracy:

That's a good point you make. I know that if a bird does not show affection towards its owner, many times it is neglected. I am not that way. One of my birds, Vanilla, was ornery, grouchy, and just plain mean most of the time. She bit whenever she could and refused to be even hand-tamed. She bullied her cage-mate, Misty, to distraction. She was also one of my favorite birds. I got angry at her plenty of times, but I just reminded myself: caring for birds like that is good practice for raising teenagers. No matter what she did, she was still my baby. And none of my birds ever learned to talk, although Mango could have if he'd lived longer. :( Actually, Mango was the only one who actually let me train him. He lived the longest out of all my birds. I hope my new birds live longer.

Ps: This is sort of a chance to prove to my self and my parents that I AM responsible, and I'm not cruel. I still haven't forgiven myself for what happened to Sunny.

Jan 22, 2010
And no . . .
by: Sierra

And no, I do not think, or have I EVER thought, that birds are toys. They are very fragile, precious creatures that require a lot of attention and care. You have to remember that I was very young the first time I got a budgie. I didn't understand the preciousness of birds. Even then I knew that I had to be careful with them. I just didn't know how to handle the responsibility.

Jan 22, 2010
Thanks
by: Sierra

Linda:

Thanks very much for the advice. Trust me, I have done my homework. I've read many, many books on parrots of all kinds, what they need, what kinds of health problems they have, what kind of pellets they should eat and how much fruit to mix in with that diet. My problem with former pets was that I set my goals too high (I got my first pair of budgies when I was nine and expected to be responsible and mature enough to take care of them). I was unable to reach them, and so I eventually gave up. Public school, band, and extra-curricular activities took over my life, and I stopped trying, afraid to hurt anymore precious birds. I knew I wouldn't have time to take care of it.

The opportunity mentioned earlier was that I have recently started homeschooling. Public school became too stressful for me, and I withdrew exactly a week ago. Already, not only do I manage to get all schoolwork done, I also have time to clean the house, as well as having extra time to do everything I love (writing, drawing, reading, singing). I'm home almost all the time now, so I will have time to take care of him/her. Also, my parents and siblings are always willing to take care of my pets when I am unable to. They will willingly take them to the vet, because they loved all my budgies as much as I did. We can very easily afford necessary vet trips, whether for a check-up or an emergency. I have matured much since my last budgie (that was when I promised myself I would wait until I was absolutely sure I could take care of a bird before I got one again). I am absolutely sure.

My main concern is the fireplace in my room. I know it is definitely unsafe to let any small birds loose in a room where there is an open fireplace. What if I covered it with a sheet whenever my bird was out of the cage? I was actually going to cover it anyway because it lets in a draft, and I know that's bad for birds. And my family doesn't burn candles or use perfumes/air-fresheners anyway. We think they stink. :)

Jan 21, 2010
How to Choose?
by: Linda

Hi, and thanks for writing. BEFORE YOU EVEN CONTEMPLATE GETTING A PARROT OF ANY KIND, YOU WILL NEED TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK. You need to know that cages are very expensive, birds' food, toys, perches and vet bills are expensive. Everything about birds is expensive, and you will need to take your new bird to an Avian Vet in your area as soon as you get it home because birds moving around are usually sick from all the stress.

So, first, you need to start reading books about parrots, all kinds of parrots. You need to understand what it takes to take good care of a bird, and you need NOT buy your bird in a pet store as they are usually already sick if not dying before you bring them home.

You need to price cages, and cages need to be 2-3 times as large as what the retailer says is the minimum size. Birds need to be able to spread their wings and flap inside their cages without hitting anything. Larger cages are more expensive. High quality food like the Harrisons that Tracie mentioned costs quite a bit. You cannot feed your bird seeds only and expect it to live very long or be healthy while it is living.

You cannot use fireplaces around birds, and as Tracie said, room deoderizers, perfume, glue, most cleaning products in the home, hairspray, fingernail polish and remover. The list is actually much longer, and these are things you need to find out about BEFORE getting a bird.

Birds are NOT toys, and they are not to be just forgotten about when we are tired of cleaning up bird poop, feathers and lots and lots of dust. A commitment has to be made, and from what you said in your letter, I am afraid you may need to wait a while to get a parrot. You need to learn everything about them. They are messy, they are loud, did I say messy? They get sick and have to go to Avian Vet (expensive). They have to have a big cage, natural branch wood perches and decent, safe toys (not what you buy at WalMart). Whichever room you put a parrot in will be messy, smelly and cause a lot of dust and feathers everywhere. Cages and room have to be cleaned every single day whether you want to or NOT.

Maybe you should get a pet that takes batteries, and then it won't hurt if you neglect it.

Thanks for writing,
Linda

Jan 21, 2010
Deciding on a new bird
by: Tracie

Sierra, I so appreciate how you are thinking this through! There are so many factors we have to consider when we get a new bird, as you have seen.

1) How much noise can my family take, before everyone is so miserable that they want the bird gone?

2) Am I going to be able to care for this bird 10 years from now, 50 years from now, or however long this bird may live. What will I do with the bird if I go off to college? Many birds bond to their owner and it is like leaving your child with someone they hate for years, when you move away.

3) Do I have the money to pay for an avian vet if the bird becomes ill? Do I have a way to pay for the yearly vet visits and vaccinations?

4) Will family members take care of the bird by NOT spraying perfumes, room fresheners, burning candles, using Teflon irons and ovens, and many other dangerous things around this bird?

5) Will I love and care for this bird even if it never talks or wants to cuddle with me? If it just likes being around me will I still love this bird?

The above are just some of the things to consider. We have several pages of Parrot Profiles and also a Parrot Comparison Chart
that might help you decide on the best parrot for your home.

Please make sure you feed your parrot a healthy pellet diet like Harrison's with very little extra seed and snacks, so that your bird will have a long healthy life.

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