By Tim Falk
Published: 09/16/2022, edited: 09/22/2023
September 17 is National Pet Bird Day 2022. It’s a day designed to raise awareness of the joys of having a pet bird and educate people about responsible bird care.
We’re also excited to announce that Pet Caregivers can now offer pet care services for pet birds through the Wag! app. So if you’re thinking of welcoming a feathered friend into your family, there’s no time like the present.
But before you do, it’s crucial that you understand what it takes to raise a happy and healthy pet bird. Here are 7 things you simply must know before getting a pet bird.
If you think raising a pet bird will be a walk in the park or that birds make good beginner pets, think again. Birds aren’t the sort of pets that can just be stuck in a cage and forgotten about, and caring for your feathered friend requires a whole lot of hard work.
Birds need lots of daily socialization for their mental wellbeing — some birds need multiple hours of human interaction a day. Regular handling gets them used to being around people. They also need to be fed a balanced diet, their cages require regular cleaning to prevent odors and health problems, and you’ll need to provide environmental enrichment to keep them occupied.
In other words, you need to be sure you’re willing to put in the time and effort required to raise a pet bird before getting a feathered family member.
Some pets — like large-breed dogs, for example — have a reputation for being messy. What you might not realize is that many pet bird species are also quite capable of making a mighty mess.
Food, droppings, feathers, and dirt can all accumulate in your bird’s cage, so you’ll need to clean it at least once a week to provide a hygienic living environment (and to get rid of unwanted smells).
The area around the cage can also gather plenty of food and feathers, so be prepared to reach for the vacuum regularly.
Want your home to be a sanctuary of peace and quiet? You might want to think twice about getting a pet bird. While larger varieties can let out deafening screeches, even the smallest of birds are capable of causing quite the cacophony.
From cheeps and chirps to coos, squawks, clicks, and even talking, bird noises come in many forms. And while many of those noises are pleasant, cute, and cheerful, their vocalizations aren’t always so easy on the ears.
So if you believe silence is golden, your home probably isn’t the right place for a pet bird.
Not much of a morning person? Prefer to wait until the day has well and truly begun before opening your eyes? Birds have a different view.
Birds tend to rise with the sun, and even if you cover their cage to block out the light, don’t expect your feathered friend to have a lengthy sleep-in. They’re also usually not shy about letting the world know they’re awake, so you’ll probably need to be a little flexible about your own sleeping patterns once you welcome a pet bird into your home.
Birds have much more complicated dietary requirements than many first-time pet parents realize. Feeding your bird a balanced diet doesn’t just mean sprinkling some bird seed or pellets in their cage each day — birds need a varied diet that includes fruits and vegetables too.
The ideal diet depends on the type of bird, so if you’re unsure how to meet their nutritional needs, ask an avian vet for advice.
Just like any other animal, birds have unique health concerns. One issue you should be aware of concerns birds’ sensitive respiratory systems, which put them at risk of harm from fumes and smoke.
Cigarette smoke, paint fumes, scented candles, household cleaning products, air fresheners, and even cookware fumes can be hazardous to your pet’s delicate respiratory system. That’s why it’s important to keep your pet well away from any products that give off fumes or other toxins, or better yet, avoid using them altogether.
If you need any help understanding which products aren’t suitable for use around pet birds, a specialist avian vet can provide the advice you need to keep your pet safe and healthy.
Finally, when choosing a pet bird, please keep in mind that some varieties of birds can live a very long time indeed. And when we say a long time, we’re talking about the fact that parrots and other larger birds can live for decades, even longer than 50 years in some cases.
So if you’re considering getting a pet bird, be aware that they’re going to be part of your life for many years to come.
As we mentioned, raising a bird isn't a commitment you should take lightly. Once you've decided the time is right to get your first pet bird, how do you go about choosing your new feathered friend?
One of the first things you'll probably want to know is which pet bird is the easiest to train. The answer to this question isn't straightforward. It all depends on the species you choose, as well as the bird's individual temperament and your approach to training and enrichment.
Budgies, parakeets, and cockatiels generally make great beginner pets and are relatively easy to train. Many parrot species, including macaws and parrotlets, are more difficult to care for and aren't suitable for most beginners.
When choosing a pet bird, you should also consider the other pets in your home. While some dogs can live with birds, your cat may be inclined to try and hunt your bird — it's in their nature, after all. Make time to train all your animals to ensure your furry and feathery friends get along.
You may be
wondering, "Is having a pet bird worth it?" Happily, the answer is a
resounding yes. While they do require a long-term commitment and plenty
of ongoing maintenance, pet birds make wonderful pets when paired with
loving and attentive pet parents.
So in honor of National Pet Bird Day, why not start the search for a new feathery family member?
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