Birds for Beginners – Getting your First Pet Bird
Not all birds are created equal! If you’re thinking about getting a pet bird, it is important to choose a bird that fits your personality and lifestyle. That way you can fully enjoy your pet bird and be able to give it the lifestyle that it needs. Many people hesitate about getting a bird because they’ve heard stories of very demanding birds like amazons and macaws, which essentially have the same needs as children. At the same time, however, it is also important not to jump into ownership without recognizing that quite a few of the popular birds have needs that extend beyond the basics of food, water, and a clean cage.
This article is a brief introduction to a few of the smaller popular birds. Large birds like african greys, amazons, cockatoos, and macaws do not make good birds for the novice bird owner. Here we will look at the personalities and unique characteristics of seven common small birds, listed in size order, smallest to largest.
Finches and canaries require similar care. They both require a cage that is a little larger than you would think, considering their small size. This is because neither of these birds is let out of the cage to fly around, like some of the larger and more social birds are. Finches are very colourful little birds that make a great pet for someone who would like a song bird. They are hardy and inexpensive. Finches are best kept in pairs.
Canaries have personalities similar to finches. They are a little bit louder and noisier, but on that note, they are well recognized for their beautiful songs. They are small and colourful, with yellow being the most common colour. Like finches, the biggest advantage to owning one of these songbirds is that it doesn’t require one-on-one care. It is perfectly able to amuse itself and does not need to build a relationship with a human.
Budgies are appropriate pets for children. They are much more interactive than finches and canaries, but require less maintenance and training than the larger birds. Budgies are colourful, sociable, outgoing, talkative, and inexpensive. Also, they are relatively not very loud. As with all pet birds, they are more social and talkative when only one bird is owned. For proper training of any type of bird, it is not recommended to have more than one, and they should be hand-raised. Pairs of birds tend to bond with each other rather than with the owner. One thing to keep in mind with female budgies is that they seem to be more prone than other birds to egg-binding (life-threatening medical condition).
Love birds are not an exception to the ‘one-bird’ rule. They are in fact very aggressive towards other birds, and are capable of killing each other and smaller birds. As pets, lovebirds are fairly outgoing but not very talkative. They are hardy birds that don’t require a very large cage.
Cockatiels are considered by some bird enthusiasts to be the ‘perfect pet bird’. This is due to their gentle nature and the ease of training them. Also, they still fall into the affordable price range. They are very colourful. Cockatiels are outgoing, but don’t talk well. Instead they communicate with a variety of whistles. At this point it should be noted that all birds should be housed in the biggest cage you can afford. Bigger birds do need bigger cages, but all birds benefit from the freedom of a large cage.
Conures are one of the most popular types of pet birds. This is because there is such a wide range of colours and personalities. Just as there are different birds for different people, there is almost always a conure that fits your needs. In general, they are very outgoing and easy talkers. They do tend to be fairly loud. As with some of the other medium-sized birds, they have more personality than the smaller birds like finches and canaries, but require less maintenance than the larger birds. Conures are easily trained to be very tame birds.
Quakers are considered a ‘big parrot in a small package’. Quakers are a common choice for people who love the personalities of large birds like macaws, but do not want to own one. They are popular pets for experienced bird owners and novice owners who are willing to put the extra effort into owning a more demanding, but equally rewarding, bird. Like larger birds, they are very outgoing, playful, and bossy. At the same time they are also smart and chatty. The quakers’ intelligence leads them to become escape artists and pack rats. They are unique in that they build their own nests, a habit which makes them fairly messy. A pet quaker needs lots of toys and nest material. A potential quaker owner must keep in mind that they will attempt to dominate other house pets, and are very territorial when on or in their cage, even towards the owner.
Large birds require a lot of maintenance for their physical and emotional needs, and are not suitable for novice bird owners. Therefore, novice owners and many experienced bird owners choose to build fulfilling relationships with smaller birds. The sociability and chattiness that you want in a bird will determine which bird is right for you. You also need to take into consideration the amount of time you have to spend training and building a relationship with your pet bird. As with breeds of dogs, it is important to do proper research into the needs of your future pet bird before choosing the bird that’s right for you.
By Ashley O’Driscoll – Pets.ca writer