Doctor Hess: So people ask us all the time, "If I have a child, what kind of bird should I get?" The answer really isn't a simple one. It really depends on the age of the child and on the level of responsibility of that child. Regardless of what type of bird you get, if you're going to leave the care of your bird to a child, you must supervise that child.
Birds need fresh food and water and must be kept safe everyday. So if you have a little child, I'd say anywhere under eight, nine years of age, you probably don't want to leave the responsibility of that pet to that child completely. You probably want to have that child help you feed that bird and water that bird, and take care of the bird, and change the cage.
But you probably want to look for some type of smaller bird, perhaps a budgie or a parakeet, or a cockatiel that's small and a little more manageable. Some of the larger birds can be a little bit too much for a young child. They can be scary. They can bite. They make loud noises, and birds can be intimidated by children too. What would you say, Sarah?
Sarah: I think, like what you mentioned, one of the most important parts about having a bird with a child is making sure that if you're teaching a child about taking care of an animal and making sure that they're fed and watered that you're always supervising the activity. Children may mean well, but they may very easily forget to give food or water for several days, and to always supervise when they're handling.
With small birds, we don't want them to accidentally get injured. Or even if they bite the child, the child may not know how to react and we don't want anybody to get injured in that case.
Doctor Hess: Exactly. Keeping fingers out of the cage, preventing birds from being startled by children that run around and scream and yell, and just do kid things, these are things you have to think about before you bring a bird into your home. So, really if you're considering getting a bird go with your child. Pick out the bird together and pick something that you think your family can handle.