Choosing Your First Bird

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: April 29, 2013
Choosing Your First Bird

Best Starter Birds

By Valerie Trumps

Fledgling bird owners, so to speak, generally don’t have a clue as to what type of bird would be best for a novice. To help you choose the best beginner bird, get in touch with your inner avian by identifying the bird qualities you desire, the number of hours you are willing to put into your feathered friend, and the amount of money you want to spend.

To make sure your bird ownership experience is a pleasant one, consider these factors when choosing your type of bird.

My Bird, My Self

Most people tend to choose their pets according to the qualities inherent to the animal’s breed, which frequently mirrors the owner’s personality characteristics.

Matching your pet bird to your own temperament is paramount to being a happy avian parent. If you’d rather your pet be seen and not heard, a quiet, peaceful dove is a good choice. Chattier owners will probably enjoy the entertainment and trainability of a parakeet. Those who value relationships and interaction with their bird will do well with a green cheek conure or cockatiel. But if you’d prefer to not handle your feathered friend, finches and canaries fit the bill.

Beware, though, that these two breeds are exceedingly messy and require more cage cleaning than other breeds.

Needs of Breeds - Size Does Matter

The size of your pet bird should be determined by the space in your home. A large parrot will need a big cage and room to fly around in your house. While finches and canaries are small birds, they prefer to live in small flocks and are best kept in flight cages, which require a medium-sized area. Most other breeds can be kept singly, provided they receive enough attention and interaction from their owners.

What Goes in Must Come Out

Cleaning the birdcage is non-negotiable, but your choice of breed will determine how frequently it must be done. Canaries and finches must be kept in groups, multiplying their amount of daily deposits on the cage floor. Owning birds that can live singly will keep the mess in the cage to a minimum. The exception to this rule are lories, which must be fed fruit, nectar, and pollen to accommodate very specialized digestive systems. This type of diet greatly increases the liquidity of their droppings, making cage cleanings more frequently required than other species.

Don’t Break the Bank

Although a large exotic bird may be a tempting choice, it usually comes with a high price tag; they need more expensive bird cages and equipment than more standard breeds. While smaller birds are initially less expensive, they can possibly live for many years, extending the period of care they require from their owners. Being a responsible avian parent should include proper veterinary care, and avian specialists can be quite pricey.

Interaction Time

Most birds of the hookbill species need to spend some time every day outside of their cages, both to socially interact with you and to get some exercise. At least two hours daily is the minimum amount of time to keep your bird healthy and happy. If that time commitment is impossible or undesireable, more independent breeds like finches or canaries would be a better choice.

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