The most important thing to consider when buying any pet is that they are living, sentient beings who require nurturing, protection and love just like we do.
This goes double for understanding the things to know before buying small pet birds, as they are far more fragile than a boisterous dog and more demanding than a finicky cat.
Understanding the types of small birds and their needs involves a lot of research as well as soul-searching, in terms of exploring your motivations behind why you want them as pets in the first place.
They are not toys, decoration or a passing fancy – so read on to discover what you need to know before bringing them into your home.
Are You Ready for Small Pet Birds?
Let’s go over the pros and cons of owning birds, which involves the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly aspects.
Whether large or small, birds can be very noisy, with sounds ranging from chirping, cooing and tweeting to screeching, cackling and even screaming. While usually quieter at night, you shouldn’t expect them to be considerate of your sleeping requirements.
Birds are very sensitive to their environment, so you should expect that they are very responsive to what goes on around them and they will react verbally if scared or excited.
Birds have a habit of scattering feathers and seed everywhere or spitting out hulls and other refuse that might come from chomping on their snacks.
They also need to sharpen their beaks, which continue growing throughout their lives, on things like cuttlefish or wood and like all animals, they do poop a lot – which can end up on the floor and bars of their cages. The mess can end up on your floor and furniture too, so be prepared to do a lot of cleaning up after them.
Be prepared to shell out for their needs and requirements at the beginning and during the lifespan of your birds. This includes veterinarian bills, medicines, grooming costs, cages and stands, food and supplies, including toys and treats.
It goes without saying that the safety of your birds is highly important, but you need to also be prepared for protecting your own safety, not to mention your children, visitors and other pets.
Birds tend to bite probing fingers and if flying around the room, they could land on you and scratch sensitive skin with their talons. Even the smallest birds have the capacity to cause damage, so be wary when handling them.
Preparing A Safe Haven for Small Pet Birds
You’d be surprised to learn how your home could present real dangers to your birds, especially if you intend to allow them time out of their cages. Here’s a list of things you might need to take care of before bringing them home.
- Certain cookware like Teflon-coated or non-stick pots and pans can give off toxic fumes that are fatal to birds.
- Scented candles, air fresheners and essential oils can affect their sensitive respiratory systems.
- Smoking is bad for you and your pets, so you’ll need to smoke outside and wash your hands before handling your birds.
- Some houseplants are toxic for birds, so put them out of reach if you don’t want them to be poisoned.
- Watch out for your jewelry and small things like buttons and sequins – birds are attracted to shiny objects.
- Other pets, especially cats, need to be controlled around your pet birds so they don’t end up being attacked or eaten.
Apart from finding the perfect spot where your birds can enjoy indirect sunlight and alternatively, a quiet place at night, small birds are excitable and need to be away from screaming children and loud noises, like loud music and the T.V. Other environmental requirements include:
- The Cage: Even small birds need a good-sized cage where they can fly around and some need ladders and perches.
- The Stand: Should be tall and sturdy enough to keep them up and away from cats, dogs and small children.
- The Location: Birds can be smelly too so keep them out of the kitchen, like a corner of the living room or a quiet space.
Types of Small Birds and Their Requirements
Consider these birds along with small parrots if you need some ideas:
Also keep in mind that not all veterinarians treat birds, so you’ll need to make sure you find an avian vet within reasonable distance from your home. If you have small children, make sure their interactions with your birds are supervised, as they usually don’t fully appreciate how delicate a bird can be, so small parrots might be better.
Apart from taking care of their health and safety, care and commitment can include:
Cleaning Pet Birds
Pretty much on a daily basis, you’ll need to clean out their cages and sweep up scattered feathers, seed and other refuse. Line the bottom of their cages with newspaper or non-toxic materials, change out their water and food every day and make sure their cage is clean from top to bottom, including their bowls or feeding receptacles.
Some birds enjoy a light spray of water to help take care of their personal bathing requirements, so check with the pet store or an expert to see how you can help your small birds take care of themselves, especially when it comes to keeping mites at bay.
Feeding Small Pet Birds
Different birds require different types of food, so do some research to make sure you have everything they need, which includes vitamins that can be sprinkled into their water. Some birds like to nibble on cuttlefish, certain vegetables and fruit as well as seed bells made with natural and non-toxic ingredients.
Time and Attention
While it’s important to get your birds accustomed to handling and socializing, consistency is the key. Make sure you have at least an hour every day to spend with them, as they can get fussy when ignored or exposed to too many new people. Canaries and Finches are not as likely to enjoy being handled, so having more than one bird is important too.
All birds like to have a stimulating environment, due to their high level of intelligence and curiosity. Make sure they have enough toys and interaction with other birds as well as yourself. Isolated or ignored birds can exhibit destructive behavior, such as plucking out their feathers. Also, remember to cover them at night to signify a time to rest.
Some birds will enjoy time outside of their cages every day, unless they’re less sociable or prefer the safety of their cages. You’ll also need to make sure you’re up early to uncover them and start their day, as they are just like humans when it comes to getting fed and groomed.
Small pet birds are a great choice if you have the time and lifestyle to incorporate them into your schedule. After making sure that you source your birds from a reputable seller and considering that they can live up to 40 or more years, you should be committed to their care just like you would be for a child.
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A lover of animals, peace and quiet, and reading. When Fern is not working she will be engrossed in a Fiction book or drooling over the idea of going out for dinner.
Fern is strangely fond of Vampire movies.