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Old 01-15-2005, 09:29 PM
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Choosing the Right Bird For You

by Nikki Moustaki

When you look into choosing the right bird for your lifestyle, first consider housing, noise level, temperament, time commitment, and price range. Consider, also, that a bird is a large responsibility, and that many birds are given up for adoption each year due to owners not doing the proper research before taking the plunge into bird ownership. Make a "wish list" of the kinds of birds that you want then consider the following:

First, consider where your bird is going to live. House your bird in the largest cage you can afford. If you live in an apartment, consider a smaller bird, such as a budgie, lovebird, parrotlet, ****atiel, grey-cheeked parrot, Poicephalus, mini macaw, or a small conure, such as a maroon-bellied or a green-cheeked. These birds do not need huge cages, but they do need a lot of free time out of the cage. A canary or a pair of finches is another good choice for the apartment dweller.

If you have a lot of space, you may consider larger birds: lories, larger conures, Eclectus, Amazons, macaws, or ****atoos. These birds need a lot of room and a play-gym as well. They tend to roam, and will appreciate space. If you own a home and have room to build an aviary, even better - you can house your birds in style! Don't ever crowd your bird - give him space to exercise and fly.

Noise Level
Good neighbors are hard to find, and even harder to keep if you have a parrot kicking up a racket all day. Smaller birds in small numbers tend to be the least disturbing - canaries, finches, budgies, Meyer's, Senegals, African greys, Pionus, lovebirds, rosellas, and ****atiels won't usually cause your neighbors to complain. Smaller macaws, like the Hahn's and the yellow-collar can be good choices as well - one bird usually won't make too much of a racket.

****atoos, macaws, Amazons, Quaker parakeets, and some conures, however, may cause your whole neighborhood to sign a petition for you to move! These birds can be noisy, and are not great for the apartment dweller. If you live in a home and are not disturbed by screeching, then consider a larger bird like a ****atoo or macaw. Indian ringnecks, Eclectus, lories, caiques, and Pionus are in the moderate noise range and are not known to be excessively loud, depending on the individual.

Want a sweet, cuddly baby? Then a ****atoo is the bird for you - ****atoos will literally act like they want to be surgically attached to your body. Macaws can be very affectionate as well, and so can conures, lovebirds, lories, Quakers, and some ****atiels. Amazons, budgies, and Poicephalus are moderately affectionate and will like some petting and close contact, while African greys, Eclectus, and rosellas will tolerate the occasional head scratch. Canaries and finches would rather not be touched at all.

Realize that, like with people, temperament varies. "It's hard to generalize with temperament. Each bird is an individual. You can't say that you're going to get a bird because you've heard that a certain species behaves a certain way," said Liz Johnson, director of the Shyne Foundation Inc., a free flight parrot sanctuary in Central Florida. "There has to be a rapport between you and the bird. The bird should pick you. I had no intention of buying a parrot when I saw my first parrot in the store, but I couldn't help myself. The people at the store said I shouldn't take that bird because they said he was vicious. Our special relationship has lasted 22 years."

Time Commitment
Having a bird takes time: cleaning, playtime, feeding, watering, shopping, and more cleaning. The smaller the bird, the less cleaning time you will do. Canaries and finches are content to spend all of their time in their homes, while parrots need a good deal of supervised playtime out of the cage. A pair of birds needs less attention from you than a single bird does.

Price Range
Do not consider price first when shopping for a bird - first consider the species that you would love to have. The bird might be the right price, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the right bird for your lifestyle. Larger and rare birds usually come with a higher price tag. A budgie usually sells for $10 to $15 while a similar sized bird, the parrotlet, can sell for $250 to $600, depending on color. Also keep in mind that birds often range in price according to state: you can buy a peach-faced lovebird in Florida for $15, while you might spend $60, for the same bird in New York.

The Most Frequently Rehomed Birds
"Many rescue organizations, including our own, have found that the bird most commonly given up for adoption is the ****atoo, particularly the Moluccan ****atoo," said Liz Johnson of the Shyne Foundation. "These birds are so charming when you first meet them, but they are so demanding of attention, noisy, and destructive, that people end up giving them up." The other most commonly given up bird is the yellow-naped Amazon, according to Johnson. "Some yellow-naped Amazons become aggressive as they get older, and will often attack their owners. Owning these particular birds can be a lifetime commitment but many people buy these birds on impulse before doing the proper research."

This article courtesy of our friends at
Information compiled by staff and PETsMART Inc. experts.

printed from's Frugality Corner newsletter

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