Polly wants a cracker and a loving place to live: birds as pets




People get pets for myriad reasons, like companionship or unconditional love, and often because they want something to take care of that doesn’t talk back to them.

If that’s what you’re looking for, you might not want to get one of our beautiful feathered friends because some of them, like the African grey parrot, can learn thousands of words, so it may end up squawking back at you.

On the other hand, if you want an intelligent creature that might live up to 50 or even 100 years and doesn’t need to be walked outside every day, then maybe a bird would be the perfect companion for you and your family.

Keep in mind that, although birds can be caged, their habitats require much more than just food, water and cleanliness.

According to HealthyPets. mercola.com, exotic birds “like parrots, cockatoos, and macaws, require a great deal of daily attention and interaction with their owners.”

The good news is: Pet birds come in all sizes. On the small side are canaries, finches, cockatiels, lovebirds and parakeets. Then there are medium-size caiques, conures, lories and lorikeets; large African greys, Amazons, eclectus and hawk-headed parrots; and extra-large cockatoos and macaws.

Available space will obviously be a factor in your choice as well as whether you want to keep your bird caged or not. Many bird owners will only cage their feathered friends at night but leave them free during the day.

Another consideration is the noise factor as there’s a big difference between the sweet sing-song sounds of a canary or finch and the loud scream of a sun conure, which might cause problems with your neighbors.

The Healthy Pets site offers top reasons why birds can make great pets as well as some not-so-pretty facts to keep in mind.

For one, “Birds are extremely intelligent. . . . They make delightful, fascinating pets for owners dedicated to constantly enriching their bird’s environment.”

Also, birds are generally easier to care for than, let’s say, a dog or cat that has the run of the house. A bird can be put into its cage when needed, and housebreaking isn’t an issue, nor are daily walks. However, birds can be messy discarding bits of food, water and droppings that can reach beyond a cage, so daily cleanup might be warranted.

Birds are naturally clean critters, so when they are healthy and happy, they preen themselves and often enjoy mist-spray showers provided by their owners. However, they will need their beaks and nails trimmed.

Most birds love to learn and enjoy attention from their humans. And some, like parrots, can even pick up words and mimic sounds from around the house.

“You might be surprised one day, while entertaining guests, to have your pet start loudly swearing a blue streak from the next room. Or your mother might be over for dinner one evening, and your bird suddenly gives forth with a loud noise that sounds remarkably like a belch,” according to the Healthy Pets site.

It also says, “Many birds have the capacity to bond just as closely with their humans as dogs and cats. And in fact, birds are much more socially inclined than kitties. . . . This can be a bit of a double-edged sword if you’re not prepared to spend significant time interacting with, training and socializing your bird. Many exotics do best treated as members of the family in the fullest sense—allowed outside their cages for several hours each day, and included in most at-home family activities. . . .

“On the flip side, if you prefer to keep your pet in his cage most of the time . . . this can result in a very unhappy bird that becomes self-destructive.”

On the plus side, birds can be inexpensive to feed, depending on their size, of course. It’s best to give them a high-quality, species-specific diet of commercial pellets, fruits, veggies and sprouted grains.

Keep in mind that some birds can live for many years, sometimes up to 50 or 100, so, on one hand, it’s great to be able to have a pet for almost your whole lifetime; on the other hand, your bird might outlive you.

Birds can make marvelous and beautiful companions. They can be purchased through reputable dealers, but don’t forget to check local shelters and exotic bird sanctuaries seeking homes for abandoned birds.

There’s a fun quiz that potential bird owners can take to see if this might be a good fit for them at allpetbirds.com/best-pet-bird.

Top 5 most popular birds as pets
(from AllPetNews.com)

1. Parakeets (aka small parrots, budgies, budgerigars)

Great with kids and seniors.

Need little space and care is relatively simple.

Can live from 12 to 20 years.

2. Cockatiels

Medium size; can learn to talk and sing.

Can live from 15 to 30 years.

3. Sun Conures

Medium-size, loud birds.

Can live 50 years or more.

Large, strong beaks might pose problem for kids.

4. Parrotlets

About 5 inches long. Very smart and can learn commands.

Can live 20 or more years.

5. African Greys

Highly intelligent, large birds.

With proper care can live to be 50 to 100.

Love companionship; need toys and attention.