My daughter had a pet parakeet, and then we adopted another. I enjoy sharing what we've learned about caring for these colorful pets.
Are You Considering a Pet Bird?
So you are thinking about adopting a pet bird. Besides deciding which type of bird to get, there are many other considerations:
- How much of a commitment is this?
- Where will the bird live?
- Who will take care of a bird?
- What type of cost is involved?
- Should you get one bird or a pair?
Use this guide for tips on how to adopt a bird and what to expect once it is home.
Life Span of Pet Birds
One thing to consider when picking a bird is its lifespan. Are you committed for ten years or 75? Smaller birds, like parakeets, may live to be about 10–15 years old, but some types of parrots may outlive you!
Picking a Bird
Pet birds are typically sold individually or in pairs. If you buy a single bird, it is more likely to bond with you. When you buy two birds together, they will probably bond with each other, and you could be ignored.
Meet Lemon and Marshmallow
For this reason, my daughter adopted a single small parakeet, named Lemon for her solid yellow color. She bonded with the bird and was successful in some training. After a year, though, she purchased a second parakeet, white in color and so named Marshmallow. The two birds adore each other, and though Lemon has less interest in my daughter, she appears to be a happier bird overall.
How to Identify a Healthy Bird at the Store
Once you have decided which type of bird to adopt, visit a pet store and observe the appearance and behavior of the birds. Healthy birds will be active and alert. Examine the bird's feathers to make sure they are vibrant and clean. The eyes should be bright and free of discharge. The beak should be free of discharge as well. Typically, the pet store allows a two-week return policy, so if the bird appears sickly or is just not a good fit, you can make the return.
Observe the Bird's Personality, Too
Take some time to see how the birds act. Is the bird quiet and inactive, or noisy and climbing all over the cage? Smaller breeds will be more active in general, but observing the birds for a while may give you a better idea of their disposition.
My daughter adopted Lemon because she was such a beautiful yellow bird with cute white cheeks. But, Lemon was not a playful bird, and we found that she ignored most of her bird toys. She was a "talkative" bird, though, and appeared healthy and happy. When we adopted the second bird, we looked for one that was more active. Marshmallow was definitely the "crazy" bird at the pet store. She flew all around and played in and out of all the toys. Now that she is part of the family, she has taught Lemon all her tricks and they have a big time together.
Where Will You Keep the Bird?
When you purchase a bird, you will need to buy a cage and have somewhere safe to keep it. It will need to be out of direct sunlight and away from any type of draft. If you have other pets, the birdcage needs to be placed in a secure spot where it will not be disturbed by curious cats or dogs.
We like to keep our birds in a central area of the house, between the kitchen and breakfast room. When selecting a spot, remember that birds are noisy, messy and smelly! Though we clean the cage regularly, there always seems to be a bird smell, as well as little feathers and seeds all over the place. Every morning, we change the newspaper-lined bottom of the cage and sweep away excess bird debris from the surrounding area with a small dustpan and brush.
Pet Bird Supplies
When you purchase a bird, the pet store staff will help you select the right cage and necessary bird supplies. The cost of a bird can range from $15 for a parakeet to hundreds of dollars for the larger parrots. Some basic supplies you will need are:
- Food bowls
- Mite/lice spray or container
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When you adopt a bird, you need to be aware of the time commitment involved and decide who will care for the bird. Most birds love attention and will not thrive if they are ignored. Finches and canaries are exceptions to this rule. They typically will not interact with you and do not like to be handled. These birds will be happy with other birds, so it is advisable to buy them in pairs or multiples.
To care for your pet bird, you will need to:
- Change food and water daily
- Keep cage clean
- Keep cage free of mites (sprays or hanging containers can be used)
- Give vitamins (can be sprinkled in food or water)
- Train bird if desired
- Cover at night
- Take to an exotic vet if it gets sick
- Give love and attention
Introducing a New Bird: How to Add a Second Bird to the Cage
If you already have a bird and are thinking of adopting a new one, here are some things to consider.
- If you plan to keep the birds together, you will probably need a larger cage.
- Male + female = baby birds.
- You may need a second set of food and water bowls, though some birds will share.
- You will go through more food.
- Another bird means more noise and mess!
When we brought Marshmallow home, we kept her in a smaller cage right next to Lemon's large cage so that they would get used to each other. Our plan was to give them a week and see how they did together. But, after three days, they were practically begging to get closer to each other. We let Marshmallow in, and they have been best buddies ever since.
At first, there was a toy that Lemon would not allow Marshmallow to chew on, but they have resolved that problem. Lemon clearly is the more dominant bird and demands several head scratches per day from Marshmallow.
Some birds are territorial and will not be as accepting as Lemon. You should keep them in separate cages side by side for a week and then try to introduce the new bird into the big cage. If there seem to be any problems, you can separate them at night until they get used to each other.
Bringing a Pet Bird Home
Once you bring your bird home, don't be surprised if it is very quiet and inactive the first couple of days. It will need a little time to get used to its new surroundings. You may consider covering a portion of the cage to give it a place to hide and feel secure.
It took Lemon three days to warm up and we were so happy and surprised to hear her loud chirp. She has a variety of noises that she makes, and she especially likes to sing to Katy Perry songs. It only took Marshmallow one day to get comfortable in her new home. Though her bird noises are similar, we can always tell who is "talking." They are a joy to have around.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
bookpaw on March 07, 2018:
my parakeet is doing good
bookpaw on February 20, 2018:
i have a bird she looks like lemon
Dianna Mendez on September 01, 2012:
Great tips for those who are thinking of getting a pet bird. We used to have a cockatil and it was such a good pet.
Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 31, 2012:
Hi, aviannovice. They are cuties and we love them. Keep up the good work with bird rescues!
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 31, 2012:
What a great story. Glad to hear that your birds are doing well together.