A shocking statistic: 75 percent of all pet birds are neglected or abused and many die of neglect. It may seem cool to have a colorful, graceful pet tropical bird , but you may be surprised at the time and expense involved. I used to raise cockatiels. What I learned is that they require a lot of time, attention and care. Bird rescues in Florida are full of large birds abandoned when their owners discover just what is involved in owning them.
Birds are Social Creatures
A solitary bird will be lonely and resort to bad behaviors for attention. With parrots and cockatiels, solitary birds start to regard you as their “flock.” They will scream when you leave the room, because birds call to their flocks when they are out of sight. They will want to be held a lot and they sometimes will not want to go back into their cages.
Birds are Messy
Birds poop quite a bit, and deadly germs breed in bird droppings, so you need to change the paper daily and wipe up any stray droppings. I had a large aviary, and the care required to keep it clean was too much for one person who worked full-time. Birds drop feathers and down, especially when they molt in the spring. Kept indoors in climate control, they may molt all year.
Birds are Noisy
If you think you want a bird, listen to the wild birds; pay close attention. Notice how they are very vocal early in the morning and in early evening. Pet birds are like that too, and large parrots have harsh, annoying voices. Roosters are not the only birds that can wake you up at sunrise. My cockatiels did that on a regular basis.
Birds Need Special Food
It’s not as easy to feed a bird as pouring seeds into a tray every night. Tropical birds also need fruits, veggies and protein. Birds that are fed a steady diet of nothing but seeds fail to thrive and die earlier. Birds are picky eaters, so you must accustom them to a proper diet when they are young. Once they are adults, it is extremely difficult to introduce new foods to their diet, and you will have to use vitamin supplements.
Birds Need Exercise and Attention
The worst thing you can do to any bird, especially a large bird, is to put it into a cage and never allow it to come out and fly. Parrots and cockatiels, just like humans, will literally go insane if they are locked up and don’t get any human interaction. If you don’t have a couple of hours a day to spend holding and playing with your bird, get a cat instead. Neglected birds develop bad habits like biting, screaming and feather plucking.
A Few More Facts
Birds are sensitive to many toxins found in most homes, such as the fumes from cooking in non-stick pans, foam carpet cleaner or even candle fumes. They need special aviary veterinary care, which can run $200 or more per visit. Tropical birds can also sometimes transmit serious illnesses, such as Psittacosis, to their owners.
If you wanted a pet bird and have now changed your mind, good for you. Just because you have the money and tropical birds are beautiful and cool to own doesn’t mean everyone is cut out to be a bird owner.
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