Are You Ready for a Pet Bird?

When most people think of pets, they think of dogs and cats. They rarely think about pet birds. Pet birds can be very loving pets, but you have to make sure you care for them properly. If you do not, soon you have a very miserable experience brewing for both you and the bird.

Pet birds are not like goldfish. If you are looking for a pet that simply looks pretty in a cage, most pet birds will
Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½not work for you.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ In the wild cockatiels (like many birds) live in flocks. If you leave a cockatiel in a cage all day while you are at work, and then barely acknowledge its existence, you will have a very miserable bird. When you bring a pet bird into your family, you (and your family) are becoming its flock. Flock members provide companionship. Flock members do things together. When I get ready for work in the morning, my two cockatiels preen. When I sit down to eat, they eat. My two boys even wait for me to come home so they can eat with an audience. They call for me if I have been out of their sight for a long period of time (and I haven’t told them I will be back soon). I am part of their flock. People who visit my house often are also part of their flock. Every time they come through the door, Batty and Beaker are happy to see them. This is healthy bird socialization.

Neglecting your pet bird can have many negative effects. Your bird will be miserable, and it will begin to show you how miserable it is through behavior problems. One common problem is screaming. The bird will shrilly scream for your attention. If you came running every time it screams, it will see this a mission accomplished. They screamed, and you came running. Soon this will become their way of getting your attention. They will scream when you leave the room. They will scream through out the day. These aren’t normal bird vocalizations (which may include a scream here and there). These are loud, piercing, and a sign something has gone very wrong.

A while back I had a cockatiel named Kira (who has since died). I had a roommate who hated birds. Instead of being able to keep my bird in the living room where she would have adequate socialization, I had to keep her in my room. She spent all day locked in my room while I was at work. Once I was home she would have out of cage time. I would take her down stairs with me to watch TV and grade papers, but I would have to put her back up if my one roommate came home. She was improperly socialized. This led to a major screaming problem.

She screamed when I left for work. She would scream when she would hear my roommates in the hallway. Every time this roommate would complain, I would mention if we put her in the living room it would make things better. She still refused to compromise.

After Kira’s death, I considered getting a new bird. At the time I wasn’t ready. Plus I did not want to buy another one while I was living with roommates. I would have the same problems with socialization. I was moving out in a few months, so it would be something to consider then. When I finally adopted Batty and Beaker around two years later, I was on my own and I had learned some valuable lessons. I was going to be sure to socialize these two properly.

I already had my work cut out for me. Batty and Beaker came to me from a less than ideal situation. I had initially planned on only buying one. A breeder was selling them for $50 with a small cage. I figured it that was a pretty good deal. When I called the breeder, she told me she only had two left, and they were already pretty bonded. She only wanted $75 for both of them and the cage. I figured that it would be wrong to separate them, plus I was working two jobs. Keeping one alone all day long may start more behavior problems. I told her I would take them both.

When we went to pick them up, I was horrified by what I found. I found two neglected birds with no toys. They were not socialized at all, and the cage she had told me was plenty big (she had been keeping four of them in there at one point) was a small rabbit cage. It was barely big enough for them, a perch and food dishes. They had been abused and neglected. After a month or so they seemed to be making a great deal of progress. They were eating better. They actually were playing with their toys, and they seemed to like their new, much bigger cage. They bonded with me and my boyfriend. They wanted us to be around, but they are still very afraid of hands. This could discourage some people from trying to train or socialize them, but I was not going to give up.

During the day they have each other and their toys. I keep them in the back bedroom, so they have less noise to deal with. They love music, so sometimes I will leave the radio on for them. When I get home, I move their cage into the living room. I spend most of my time at home out in the living room and dining room/office area. If their cage is in the living room they can usually still see me. Once I have made dinner, I let them out of their cage. I stay in the front of the apartment with them, and I make sure they do not get into anything that could hurt them. At night they go back to the bedroom to sleep. They go to bed before I do, so I try to make it so they are not disturbed by my typing or the TV.

This arrangement seems to be working. During the day they are not totally alone. When I am home they are usually out in the midst of all the action. Even if I am not focusing all my attention on them, they are still part of our everyday lives. I am certain that this arrangement has helped eliminate behavior problems. Because Batty and Beaker are properly socialized, they do not scream for attention. They vocalize normally, but it is not because they are being ignored or neglected.

Yes, getting a pet bird may be a much bigger undertaking than you had planned on. If you are considering buying a bird, are you buying it for the right reasons? Are you ready to make a commitment to that pet. Are you ready to spend the time and effort you need to make them happy?

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