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How to Pick a Pet Bird

Learn how to choose a pet bird with the help of veterinarian Laurie Hess in this Howcast video.


Doctor Hess: So when you're choosing a pet bird, what you should not do is walk into a pet store, see that beautiful bird with all those phenomenal colors, and on impulse just take it home with you and buy it. Birds require a lot of care, a lot of preparation and a lot of thought before you spend that large amount of money, usually to get that bird.

It's not just what you're going to do on that day, it's the future preparations that you have. You have to think about things like, do you travel? Are you home enough for the bird? Are you out of your house all day? What are you going to do if you have to be out all day long? Who's going to take care of the bird? Or if you have to take a trip, who's going to take care of that bird?

Do you have the means to take care of this bird, everyday to provide it with fresh produce, healthy foods? Do you have the space to take care of that bird? There are so many things to consider when you're choosing a bird. People ask us for advice all the time about this. What other things do they consider when looking for a bird?

Sarah: I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is they've never had a bird before and they really want that big beautiful bird that talks really well. I think one of the biggest problems with those birds is they oftentimes have very serious behavioral problems, and these people often aren't equipped to actually deal with that.

While the birds are very smart, that's always their biggest downfall it seems, is that they need to be constantly occupied. I think people, if it's their first bird, it's probably a bad idea to get that African Grey or that Macaw or that bird that says hello to you as soon [as you] walk into the store.

Doctor Hess: That's right. So many birds end up in shelters because they develop behavior problems, things like biting and screaming and destructive behaviors because they're really not what the owner thought they were when they got them. It's not just about talking and looking beautiful.

These are very, very intelligent animals that in the wild live in flocks of thousands and thousands of birds, and we pluck them out or we raise them here in the United States now. We don't take them from the wild. But we put them individually or in pairs of cages, and we go out and work all day, and this is really not a normal environment for them.

They need a lot of stimulation, a lot of socialization, and unless you're prepared to do that, you really should think twice about getting a bird. Don't buy them on impulse. Ask for advice and learn about the bird before you go out and adopt or buy a parrot.

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