- There are a great variety of domesticated pet birds of all colors, shapes and sizes available today. The most common are parakeets, cockatiels, love birds and finches, but there are many more. All have unique needs in terms of basic care, housing, food and veterinary care. This brief guide is meant as an outline, but it is always best to research the specific bird type you are considering before adoption. Consults bird care books, websites and an avian veterinarian to learn more before
- It is possible for male and female birds of the same species to reproduce. Consult your veterinarian on best practices to avoid unwanted clutches (baby birds) if you have a male and female pair as pets.
- Lifespan – many pet birds can live a very long time. Be sure to do your research before choosing what bird to adopt.
Parakeets and finches – 5 to 9 years
Cockatiels and Love Birds – 10 to 15 years
Conures – 10 to 30 years, depending on the species
Parrots – 20 to 75 years, depending on the species
Many birds could outlive their owners. If you choose to get a pet bird with a long lifespan, be sure to know their life expectancy and have an appropriate plan for their care.
- Pet birds will need an enclosure or cage setup. Size will vary greatly and depend on the type and number of birds housed. Some birds do well in a moderately sized cage, while others, like finches, will require a “flight cage” that is longer and wider where they can easily move about, spread their wings and fly.
- It can be helpful to find a used cage at a yard sale or through a site like craigslist. Be sure to inspect and thoroughly clean any used cages before moving a bird in. Ensure all doors and hatches close properly so your bird does not escape.
- Consider where in the home you wish to place the cage. It is essential that all pet birds be housed in a well-ventilated location, but that is completely free of drafts. Most birds will always require an ambient temperature of between 66 and 75 degrees. Some birds can be kept at slightly cooler temperatures if they are slowly acclimated over time. However, no birds can be kept in a drafty room as it makes them highly susceptible to serious illness.
- Some owners cover their bird’s cage at night with a light blanket or cloth. Consult a bird care guide or your veterinarian for advice on the best way to do this.
Food and Water:
- Pet birds have unique dietary needs that may depend on their species. Most pet birds will require pelleted food specific to their species. Follow the instructions on the bag for proper daily feeding guidelines. Pelleted food is formulated to provide the bird with essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to stay healthy.
- Supplemental seed can be provided but should not be a bird’s only source of nutrition.
- Some birds will enjoy additional supplemental treats such as:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables *Be sure to consult a reliable resource to ensure you are offering fruits and vegetables that your bird can safely enjoy and in the appropriate amount. Some fruits and vegetables can be fed daily, while others should be an occasional treat only.
Water – Birds need ample fresh water that is changed daily. Birds can be messy eaters and they can occasionally poop in their water, so it will need to be changed regularly. During warmer months, birds may require additional water to stay hydrated.
- Cage or Enclosure
- Second small cage – For taking your bird to the vet. This can also be a safe place to keep your bird when you do a thorough cleaning of their main cage.
- Heavy Ceramic Bowl or Hopper Feeder – You may need multiple for food and water. Be sure to give plenty of safe water sources, especially in warm weather.
- Bird Bath – Many types are available. Consider your bird’s breed and size when choosing. Some birds may be comfortable taking a supervised bath in small shallow plastic bin in your bathroom sink. *Never leave a pet bird unattended in this scenario.
- Perches and Ladders – Consider the size of the bird you are adopting and choose the right size for their feet. A general rule is that a bird’s toes should not overlap around the bar.
- Toys – Foraging toys and chew toys are great and necessary enrichment for your pet. Birds need regular activity to stay mentally healthy. Toys made of wood, textured paper and cardboard, and some plastic are designed with different types of birds in mind. Avoid toys with metal bells as birds can take them apart, rendering them unsafe.
- Hidey Spots – Birds naturally hide within foliage outside so they should have a place to nurture this behavior.
- Preening/Snuggle Toy – If you have a single bird, sometimes they enjoy the pretend company of a friend that they can preen.
Grooming and Care:
- Many birds can take care of their grooming needs through their own natural daily habits.
- You can help by monitoring your bird’s personal routine and noticing if anything seems out of the ordinary or requires some extra attention.
- Birds will need to take a bath every so often. Consult your veterinarian or a reliable resource for the appropriate way to do this. *Never leave a bird unattended in the bathroom sink and remove a bird bath from their cage when they are done using it.
- Nail trimming – It is important that this is done regularly, according to your veterinarian’s advice, so as not to allow a bird’s nails to get too long and possibly interfere with their movement or food intake.
*Do not attempt this without consulting your veterinarian first. They can show you the proper tools and technique. You may prefer to bring your bird to the vet for regular nail trimmings to avoid any mistakes that may unintentionally cause harm.
- Beak trimming – This is a complicated process that should only be done by a veterinarian. Healthy birds usually do not require beak trimming. But, as always, consult your veterinarian for guidance on what your bird needs.
- Clipping Wings – Consult your veterinarian to determine what your bird may need. Be sure to ask the staff of the adoption agency if the bird you are interested in currently has its wings clipped.
- Birds have ears located at the sides of their heads around their eye level. They are covered in feathers for protection.
- With positive reinforcement, some birds can learn to talk or do fun tricks.
- Pet birds are not actually domesticated, and their behaviors, needs and expectations are very similar to that of their wild cousins!
- Most pet birds enjoy music and may dance, make noise and imitate the sounds they hear. This may be them trying to respond to sounds as if they were in the wild. You can try playing nature sounds as well to offer them an enriching experience.