Birds as Pets

Getting Ready for a New Bird

Whether your knowledge of birds comes from Woody Woodpecker, Tweety or “Polly wanna cracker?”, they make great companions: Some will cuddle with you, others will play and, of course, many will chat. Just keep in mind that they are a serious commitment; many live as long as we do.


  • Cage – The largest appropriately constructed model you can afford with no sharp edges (hookbill birds with curved beaks, such as conures, cockatiels and parakeets need a cage with horizontal bars, as they are climbers by nature)
  • Cage papers black-and-white newspapers are great, as are brown paper bags
  • Grate for the bottom of cage; can be made from 1-inch mesh or purchased at pet store
  • Plastic paint scraper for cleaning cage without damaging it
  • Perch, preferably several, of differing shapes and thicknesses; branches of fruit trees are ideal (cherry branches, however, are toxic to birds)
  • Cleaning supplies for cage and perches
  • Food and water dishes that fit the cage openings
  • Food – seed mix or pellets
  • Toys – just a few in the cage at one time, including tree branches, popsicle sticks, toilet paper tubes, knotted pieces of string, crumpled white paper, rawhide dog bones for chewing
  • Treats – made from scratch or purchased at a pet store, including millet spray and sprouted seeds
  • Specially made bird carrier for trips and vet visits, or a heavy cardboard box with a lid and holes poked in it
  • Blanket for wrapping carrier in cold weather
  • A highly recommended avian veterinarian
  • Plant sprayer for cleaning bird or cage-door birdbath
  • Calcium – in block form or as a cuttlebone


  • An extra, inexpensive cage to be used when cleaning the regular cage
  • Books on keeping birds and on your specific breed
  • Gram scale for weighing your bird to make sure it’s in good health (a tiny drop in weight could indicate serious illness)
  • A fan to circulate fresh air for your bird, who needs temperate conditions
  • Nightlight so the bird can find its way to its dishes in the dark
  • Cage cover, especially if it gets cold in your home in the evenings
  • Dustbuster or other handheld vacuum for daily freshening of cage
  • Extra set of food and water dishes for when dishes are being washed
  • Bellbirds often enjoy having a bell in their cage, but choose a model without a removable clapper or other small, swallowable parts
  • Jungle gym – Make it yourself from dowels and boards or purchase at pet store
  • T-shaped stand on wheels for moving the bird around your home
  • Hair dryer with low setting for drying bird after baths
  • Vitamins to be added to food only, such as wheatgrass powder