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Research your choice

Before purchasing a bird it is essential your do some research to make sure you, your family and your new friend are both going to be happy.

Some people believe a bird is just a pet you keep in a cage and talk to once or twice as you walk by them. This practise is a common one, and I am sure the little guy being left alone for days on end is not very happy, nor healthy. Birds need your time, love, compassion, patience and attention. If you cannot provide these to the potential addition to your family, you may want to reconsider.

Too many birds are purchased and within a short period of time need to be re-homed or are taken in by a bird rescue facility. People don't understand a bird's needs and they soon realize their lives are not compatible and they cannot keep the newly purchased bird. This can be averted if people take the time to research and find as much information as they possibly can. Your research could take a week, or a month. Don't rush it. Be diligent. Ask questions, a lot of questions. Most breeders will be glad to answer any questions you have about a certain species of bird. Even if you don't plan on purchasing a bird from that breeder, they are usually more than happy to help. No breeder likes to see birds constantly moved around to different people. Pet stores may be able to help, but remember most sales representatives and cashiers are just that, they are there to sell the products, and may not know very much about the animals they carry.

When doing your research you don't just look at your current situation, but you also need to look into the future as well. There are many events that could change your situation and your ability to care for a bird. Some are predictable, others are not.

For example, if you plan on leaving for school in a few months and you know you can't take a bird with you, hold off until you are finished school. Don't expect others to take care of this bird for you, it can be time consuming and they may not want to invest that amount of their time.
We had a customer that wanted to purchase a quaker, but they had also purchased a house and were moving in three weeks. They came to see me and we made arrangements for them to pick up their bird a week after they moved into their new home. Most breeders will do this with a small deposit.

When researching your choice of bird, you will need to examine your accommodations, financial situation, and your family.

This is just a sample of some of the questions you will have to think about.

Do you have the room for a large cage and stand to house a macaw or a cockatoo, or do you just have enough room to have a small tabletop cage for a budgie or a cockatiel?
The amount of room you have will help to pick a bird you are able to house. If you don't have the room for a large cage you will have to move furniture around, or possibly remove some to make room. Even quakers and conures need a fair size cage so they are comfortable. If your birds are out of the cage for most of the day, a smaller cage can be used, but it still needs to be an appropriate size for the bird so he/she can exercise and move around.

Are you away from home for long periods of time for work, or travel?
If you have a career that requires you to be away from home for days at a time you will have to consider who will take care of your feathered friend while you are not there. It is best if you have a friend, neighbour or a family member that you can rely on to come to your home everyday and spend time with your bird. Your bird still needs fresh water and food as well as time out of the cage while you are away. If you do not have anyone you can trust, a bird sitting facility may be necessary. If so, do some research, get references and make sure they require health certificates before leaving your healthy, beloved friend with them.

How busy are you with regular everyday tasks?,
Think about your everyday life, are you so busy that you will not be able to take the time to spend with a bird. Birds need interaction, socializing and handling everyday to stay tame and happy. Birds that are left alone for long periods of time will revert back to their wild behaviour and it may take a long time to tame them again. The more people in your family that are able to attend to the bird, the better.

How much noise can you and your family handle?
Some birds can be very noisy, even little birds can let out a screech or scream that will ring your ears. Different birds have completely different sounds. Some birds, like lovebirds, have a high pitched chirp, others like quakers have a much lower squawk. Know what your limits are. You cannot turn them on and off when you want. Most birds are loudest during the day, and sometimes it can be annoying if you are bothered by noise and not prepared. If you can find a breeder that will let you spend time inside the aviary this will give you a clear idea of what to expect. Remember, they usually will have many birds so the noise will be much more than what you will have in your home. Also consider your family. Some young children are scared of the noise of a bird, or the bird itself. Consider how they will react to having a bird in the house. Also, if your husband or yourself work a night shift, it may be difficult to sleep during the day, as this is the time your bird will communicate the most.

How close are you to your neighbours, and will the noise from a bird disturb them?
Even if you are able to handle the noise from a bird, you will need to consider your neighbours. The vocals of a bird can travel a long distance and may disturb neighbours if they are within a close proximity. Two years ago I spent time with a breeder in their aviary which was attached to the back of their house. They bred Moluccan Cockatoos as well as other large birds. They told me a story of when the police were called by a neighbour. This neighbour was a fair distance away but the bird was extremely loud. They thought someone was being killed in the house. I heard the scream from this bird while I was there and it was so loud and realistic, I could understand the neighbour's concerns. This is definitely something you need to consider.

Do you or anyone in your home have allergies or asthma?
This is probably one of the most common issues I have come across. Unfortunately, we may not be aware of asthma or allergies until after the bird is home. Some birds produce feather dust and powder down that can trigger asthma and allergies quite quickly. Do some extensive research into feather dust and feather allergies, before choosing a bird. Powder down floats through the air and can get into each and every room with ease.
If it is imperative you keep the bird, you will need to clean the cage, dust, vacuum, and bathe your bird on a daily basis. This will help to minimize the dust in the house. A good air filter will also help minimize the dust in the air.

These are just some of the question that need to be answered before you purchase that new addition to your family. Please find out as much information as possible, you and your new friend will both be happier you did.