The Ultimate Guide for Beginner Pet Bird Owners

Beginners Guide to Pet Birds

According to the latest American Pet Products Association survey, around 9.9 million households in the US own pet birds.

This figure only shows that the fascination for beautiful birds has never died out.

There are so many things to love about these flying creatures, from their striking, colorful plumage to their affectionate but clever personality.

pet birds

They can pass as a beautiful companion, whether you want a singing feathery friend or just a buddy you can talk to.

Table of Contents

So, the thought of owning one seems pretty exciting.

But there are so many things to consider other than what meets the eye regarding bird ownership.

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • The pros and cons of having a pet bird
  • Purchase cost and life expectancy of pet birds
  • Practical tips on how to care for a pet bird 
  • And the responsibility that comes along with bird ownership.

So, if you’re a new pet bird owner, you’ll surely benefit from this insightful beginner’s guide to pet bird ownership we’ve curated for you.

But first, let’s talk about why birds have the potential to be the most beautiful pet you can ever have.

Benefits of having pet birds

What Makes Pet Birds Great Pets

There are many reasons why birds are a good pet option. It includes but is not limited to the following:

1.Birds are Beautiful and Attractive

Fantastic birds like parrots flaunt fascinating feather designs coated with bright and striking colors and patterns, making them visually appealing.

Even simpler breeds like Conures look pleasing and are literal eye candies that can melt hearts.

2.They’re Intelligent and Trainable

Birds are intelligent, especially the African Grey Parrot, and trainable to talk if their owner has the time and patience.

They also love chatting and playing with their humans, and they can learn some tricks and play games enthusiastically.

So, these creatures are interactive and sometimes better than some dogs.

3.Pet Birds are also Long-living

Would you be shocked if we tell you that some birds can outlive you? 

Some breeds live up to 50 years while others can reach 80 years if healthy and fed properly.

Others can even live beyond 100 years. 

Given their size and lifestyle, it’s incredible how a bird can be with you in your whole life as a source of motivation and companionship.

We’ll dive deeper into this subject later on. 

4.Cheaper Veterinary Care Cost

As birds get older, they’ll need more regular veterinarian checkups and blood tests.

However, they don’t need vaccinations or other costly veterinary care services as long as they’re healthy.

So, they’re a less expensive pet option in general.

5.They Can Easily Adapt

Birds are also ideal first pets since they can quickly adapt to their new environment.

They are easy to integrate into families with children and teach kids the responsibility of pet ownership.

6.They Don’t Require Large Space

Many smaller species don’t require a lot of space to live. Therefore they’re suitable for those who live in tiny houses or apartments.

Furthermore, they don’t need to be walked like dogs and can be kept inside. 

If you’re a couch potato who’s got more extra time, pet birds are for you.

7.They’re Loyal, and They Love Being Cuddled

They build strong ties with their human “flock-mates” and look forward to spending time with them. 

Petting and cuddling many birds, especially the larger species, is a pleasurable experience for them.

Downsides of having pet birds

Downsides of Having Pet Birds

Every pet has its own drawback and even though birds have beautiful qualities, having them comes with responsibilities and compromises. 

These are the situations you’ll need to deal with if you have a bird.

1. Pet Birds Can Be Messy

Birds have a messy eating habits. 

They enjoy squandering some food and tossing some tidbits between their cage’s bar and the floor below.

This habit can be traced back to their life in the wild.

Creatures living underneath the trees can feed on bird’s mess, and most birds have retained this habit.

The larger the birds breed is, the more mess they can create.

To keep up with the steady flow of dirt that will build up around your pet’s cage, you will most likely need to sweep or vacuum every day. 

Using cage skirts can also help minimize the mess.

Cleaning up every day may not sound ideal to other people, though.

So, before getting a pet bird for yourself, you need to ask yourself if you can put up with their mess and if you have the time to clean it up.

2. Pet Birds Tend to be Noisy

If you want a pet bird, you’ll need to accept that it can be noisy.

Other birds can talk while others produce soothing and pleasant music with their vocalizations.

But they usually chirp, cackle, screech, coo, and create other variety of sounds, and you can’t make them quiet unless they want to be.

Some species like hookbills, for example, can make ear-splitting sounds.

Large birds can create the loudest vocalizations, yet even little birds can chatter continuously.

So, we advise you to choose the bird species carefully if you want one with a tolerable noise level.

3. Pet Birds Can also be Destructive

Bird’s beak keeps on growing throughout its life, and you’ll need to prevent this prominent feature from overgrowing.

Birds must chew to preserve their beaks and to exercise their jaw muscles.

That explains why every pet owner needs to be diligent in keeping an eye on their pets to protect their furniture and prove toys they can play with.

4. They need socialization time and effort

Solitary birds can become depressed when left alone like people. They’ll be happier if they have someone they can play with.

But their companion has to be their kind.

If your bird does not sing or move actively, that could be a sign of depression.

So, if you’re planning to have just one bird for the family, you’ll need to spend time in one-on-one bird handling sessions.

By playing and petting your bird, you can keep them tame and healthy.

5. They Can Get Easily Tempted to Shiny Objects

Glimmering, flashy objects naturally attract bird’s attention, and it might urge them to attack it even if it’s part of your clothing.

Therefore, you have to take your jewelry and clothing with sequins or other glistening objects before holding them to protect yourself and your pet.

You need to keep an eye on your buttons, too, especially if you have birds that like to gnaw. 

It’d be best to remove anything that can tempt them to chew something they shouldn’t and can harm their health.

It’s one of the best precautionary steps you can take to protect them.

 

Best Pet Bird Species for Beginners

There’s a gazillion of pet bird choices in the market, and they vary in color, size, and personality.

It’s worth noting that the larger the bird is, the more expensive they could become. 

If you’re a beginner looking for charming and lovable breeds that are easy to handle, here are some options for you.

Canary

1.Canaries

If you want a singing bird that’s not fond of talking and petting, this breed is the one for you.

The canaries are gifted with vocal talent, and they don’t like being handled much.

They come in various colors, including yellow, brown, green, and bright orange. 

These angelic vocalists can make your day brighter.

Finch

2.Finches

These lively tiny beings have large beaks, flat heads, and wings spanning around 3 inches.

Female pinches are usually brown or gray, while males possess more colorful plumage to attract mates.

They are social, so they’re best bought by pair or in multiple numbers so they could have someone to interact with.

The canaries are fast-moving, and they don’t like climbing. They prefer flying instead. 

So if you’re planning to have them, make sure their cage is large enough for them to fly in.

Crowded cages can result in fights between the birds. As a bird parent, you surely wouldn’t want it to happen.

Nevertheless, they would make perfect companions for you and pets for children.

Green parakeet

3.Budgies/ Parakeets

These long-tailed, seed-eating parrots feature colorful green and yellow colors with scalloped markings on their nape, back, and wings. 

Sweet little budgies, also known as parakeets, are also friendly in nature and affectionate.

On top of that, you can also train them to perform some tricks and talk, making them great pets with entertaining skills.

Yellow cockatiels

4.Cockatiels

Pet cockatiels are among the most popular household pet birds out there.

Male cockatiels like nipping, though, and they tend to be moody when not given much attention.

However, their female counterparts are more affectionate, which makes them the better option. 

They can live up to 30 years if taken care of properly.

Cute Lovebirds

5.Lovebirds (Peach-faced)

Unlike the previously mentioned birds, these lovebirds can live alone without any problem.

However, they’re more tricky to handle since some can be a little aggressive.

They love playing and doing some tricks, though, and they can live up to 20 years.

If you’re looking for a bird that can fit into your pocket, these tiny lovebirds with beautiful peach heads are the ones for you.

Standing at 5 to 6 inches, you won’t have a problem fitting this type of creature inside your pocket anywhere.

Tiny Parrotlet

6.Parrotlets

You’ve probably heard about these tiny, adorable, and low-maintenance versions of parrots already.

But in case you didn’t know, parrotlets are so entertaining, and they have an adorable personality, making them an ideal companion.

However, this bird species requires lots of time, love, and attention to keep them tame. 

monk parakeets

7.Quaker/ Monk Parakeets

These tiny, bright-green parrots with the greenish-yellow abdomen and greyish breast are long-living birds with the ability to vocalize.

Some monk parakeets can talk while others are into whistling.

They’re ideal for beginners as they’re affectionate if handled with care and respect.

However, you have to note that this species is illegal in some areas because it could threaten native agriculture.

If they’re legal in your area, they’ll surely make an affectionate pet.

Pionus parrots

8.Pionus Parrots 

This kind of parrot is underrated compared to other species since they’re not as flashy as others.

However, they’re a quiet bird species, low-maintenance, easy-to-handle, easy-going, and affectionate toward their owners, making them a lovable option.

Bright Blue Hyacinth Macaw

9.Hyacinth Macaws

Since these parrots are larger but friendly, they’re usually referred to as gentle giants.

They’re into cuddling and playing, and their bubbly and cheerful personality can surely make up for a bad day.

However, since they’re bigger, they’ll need larger cages.

Things to Consider Before Buying Pet Birds

Things to Consider Before Buying Pet Birds

Similar to other pets, birds have diet and socialization needs that must be fulfilled.

So, before purchasing a pet bird, it’d help if you’d consider the following things to assess if you’re ready to take on the challenge of bird ownership.

 

Your Preference in Pet Bird Size

Pet birds come in a wide range of colors and sizes. So, it’s not surprising if you’ll experience a dilemma in choosing the suitable species for you.

Considering your preference in size and looks will help you come up with a decision.

Larger ones usually have an expensive purchase price and maintenance cost since they eat more and require more extensive equipment.

Furthermore, they produce louder noises, and their beak can be more painful.

On the other hand, little birds are charming, affectionate, and communicative.

And even if they’re tiny creatures, they can be as delightful as the larger species.

Little birds are also less expensive and low-maintenance, making them ideal for beginners.

 

The Pet Bird’s Cost

Bird’s price depends on its species, your location, and whether you’re buying from a professional breeder or other sources like a pet store.

But the cost of bird ownership goes way beyond the purchase price.

You’ll need to spend a considerable amount of money on pellets and dietary supplies like seeds and fruits, cage, and cage cover.

If you want to provide a space for your large bird, you’ll need to bird-proof the room in your home too.

Let’s dig deeper into that to understand how you can prepare financially for this responsibility.

How to Care for Pet Birds

How to Care for Pet Birds

It takes a lot of time, effort, and a considerable amount of money to keep a bird healthy and alive. 

When you adopt a bird, you’re like adopting a new family member that you need to feed and care for.

Here’s what it takes to be a pet bird owner and how you should raise your feathery companion.

1. Pet Birds’ Specialized Diet

A pet bird’s diet is more than just a bowl of seed.

If you want to keep your bird healthy, you’ll need to provide a balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables daily.

This diet provides good nutrition because experiencing different tastes and textures can also stimulate their minds.

So, it also provides psychological benefits to your birdy.

Ideal Pet Bird Diet

An ideal diet for birds like budgies, cockatiels, and lovebirds is 50% quality pellets, 30% seed mix designed for their breed, 20% vegetable, and a few fruits.

On the other hand, canaries’ and finches’ diet includes  80% good quality crumbles, plus 10% seed mix and 10% vegetables (chopped into pieces) and fruits.

Safe Fruits and Vegetables for Birds
  • broccoli
  • beans
  • corn
  • carrot
  • capsicum
  • peas
  • pumpkin
  • kiwi
  • strawberry
  • blueberry
  • grapes
  • squash
  • tomato
  • zucchini
  • a little bit of apple
  • melon
  • stone fruits(stone must be removed)

Other fruits/ vegetables to avoid for the sake of their health include:

  • avocado
  • celery stalks
  • chocolate
  • iceberg lettuce
  • onion
  • garlic
  • rhubarb

2. Nail trimming

Bird’s nails are sharp, so bird owners often trim their nails down to make shoulder-perching less painful or scratchy.

However, birds file their nails naturally when they walk, play with toys, or perch on rough surfaces. 

So, trimming their nails is often unnecessary.

But if you’d like to do so, it’s best to consult your vet first to ensure you’re doing it appropriately and safely.

3. Parasite prevention

Pet birds are vulnerable to both external and internal parasites even if living indoors.

They could get it from the aviary you purchased them from or from the wildlife near your home.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to take precautionary measures and treat these parasites as soon as the bird arrives at your home. 

Internal parasites

These are the most common internal parasites that infect a bird:

  • roundworms
  • tapeworms
  • flukes
  • protozoa(coccidia, cryptosporidia and giardia)

 

The excellent news is birds usually don’t get it if you purchased your pet from a reputable breeder or mainly lived indoors.

Unlike dogs and cats, birds typically don’t require regular worming like dogs.

But if they have access to the outdoors, worming is crucial to ensure they’re parasite-free.

External parasites

Mites and lice are among the most common external parasites in birds. 

Mites

These microscopic parasites can cause itchiness and a scaly, crusty look to the bird’s face and feet.

Budgies and cockatiels are among their primary targets.

Some rare mites can also damage the air sac and cause breathing difficulties in birds.

Tip: To get rid of mites and lice, spray your birds with mite spray every six to eight weeks.

Lice

Now, these parasites are visible to the naked eye, unlike mites.

But if your pet is a host to these parasites, it would likely suffer from itchiness that can eventually lead to hair loss and skin problems.

4. Pet Birds’ Need for Socialization

Like cats and dogs, pet birds love it when you’re petting them or cuddling with them.

You need to know that since birds have a longer lifespan, sometimes longer than humans, they could develop complex social relationships over time.

As a result, they may prefer some members of your family more to others. 

So, it’s worth noting that each family member must participate in the bird’s care or socialization so it won’t play favorites.

Pet bird on a cage

Providing Housing for Pet Birds

Birds don’t have to be locked up in a cage all the time. But they certainly need a cage or enclosure that’ll serve as their home.

Yes, their cage should not be a means of constant restraint but a home where they can leave from time to time.

You may hesitate to free them if they’re untamed, though.

In that case, a spacious area in which aviary birds can forage, fly, and safely retreat is necessary.

how to find the right cage

How to Choose the Right Bird Cage

When it comes to picking the right cage for your bird, bigger is better in general. 

You can never have a cage that is too big, but you can indeed have one that is too little. 

The rule of thumb is to look for a large cage enough for your bird to completely extend its wings and fly for 3-4 wingbeats. 

It should be long and wide enough.

It’s worth noting that the cage bars should have appropriate spacing, too, so that the bird can’t escape and predators like snakes can’t enter.

When it comes to the cage’s material, it needs to be sturdy and solid, and bird-safe.

One of the best cages is stainless steel since they are unlikely to chip, non-toxic, and easy to clean. However, they can be costly.

If you want a more accessible option, powder-coated steel and powder-coated galvanized wire cages might be better for you.

Note: Your bird might ingest some heavy metal if there are rusts or chips on the cage.

Thus, you have to replace your cages if you see corrosion or peeling of the upper layer.

VIVOHOME 30 Inch Height Wrought Iron Bird Cage with Rolling Stand for Parrots Conure Lovebird Cockatiel
  • STURDY FRAME - This large birdcage is made of high-quality, low-carbon, rust-proof and waterproof steel, with guaranteed quality and durability; The steel frame is more stable, with 4 caster wheels at the bottom, so you can move it anywhere you like, saving you effort
  • CONSIDERATE DESIGN - This cage is covered with non-toxic hammer-pattern paint, giving birds a healthier and safer living environment; Designed with a base frame for ample space for extra toys and room to play; A drawer-type sandbox and mesh shelf are added for convenience and accessibility
  • EASY CLEANING - To clean the bottom of this birdcage, all you need to do is to slide out the bottom tray and wash it off; Additionally, all shelving can be easily removed for easy cleaning, so as to keep a clean and tidy environment as well as keep your pets safe
  • SAFETY & SECURITY - Our birdcage is made of low-carbon steel, which is rust-proof and water-resistant, and the latches are strong and durable; Steel wires are evenly spaced to ensure safety and meet ornamental value at the same time
  • ABUNDANT ACCESSORIES - In addition to high-quality steel cages, we also provide you with 2 white plastic food boxes, 2 long wooden sticks

Where to Place the Bird’s Cage

Since birds are sensitive to smoke and Teflon vapors, it’s best to place their cage in a well-ventilated area away from the kitchen. 

Birds also need some exposure to the sun to get Vitamin D and maintain strong bones.

So, if you can’t let them out of their home during daylight time, it’d be wise to place them near an open window.

This way, they can get their daily dose of Vitamin D.

However, kindly make sure that there’s enough shade where they can escape in case it gets too hot.

As mentioned earlier, pet birds can be pretty messy. 

So, it should be in a location where regular floor cleaning is simple and convenient.

What to put in their cage:

Food and water bowls

Cages usually come with food and a water bowl.

But if you want a bowl for different things such as pellets, seed, and fresh veggies, you can find some in your local stores too.

BWOGUE Bird Swing Toys with Bells Pet Parrot Cage Hammock Hanging Toy Perch for Budgie Love Birds Conures Small Parakeet Finches Cockatiels (5 Pack)
  • Package includes 5 packs of different types bird chewing hanging swing toys to meet your various needs for birds parrot having fun.
  • BEST QUALITY AND PRICE: Bird swing made by pet safe materials, durable, 100% safe.
  • MUlTI-FUNCTION TOY: Designed to soothe your bird's feet while affording chew and audio entertainment for your parrots.
  • All birds like to make noise and colorful toys,Give your pet birds a treat and have hours of fun watching them play, fits most cages, steel hook connects to cage easily.
  • Provides pet birds a fun elevated place to swing, chew, climb, suitable for small parakeets, cockatiels, conures, macaws, parrots, love birds, finches ect.

Mentally-stimulating toys

Since most birds will get bored if they’re alone, they need something that could entertain them.

That’s where accessories and toys could help.

Puzzles, swings, foraging, and hanging toys can keep them busy and entertained.

But you’ll need to rotate the toys regularly since they’ll get bored of having the same toys for a long time, just like children.

Plastic toys also need regular cleaning. If metal toys, bells, and other accessories have rusted, you’ll need to remove them too.

 

Perches

Birds are naturally inclined to climbing and sitting on braches or in perches. 

So, they’d surely be happy if they have a perch to climb on. 

The perch needs to be wide enough to meet your bird’s front and back toes underneath but not overlap too much.

This way, you can prevent its toes from curling around and digging into its foot’s underside.

Birds also like to chew and shred on perches.

So, try to add branches of different sizes that’ll serve as perches if possible to promote enrichment.

 

Birdbath

Birds like parrots need a bath to clean themselves too. 

It’d help if you’d put a large but shallow bowl of water so it can sit, stand and splash themselves comfortably.

It has to be somewhere in the cage where it won’t catch any excess food, and you’ll have to clean it every day too.

 

Cage cover

Since birds are sensitive to cold, having a cage cover is preferable if you live in colder areas.

A cage cover provides an added layer of protection and warmth during a cold night.

Health Hazards to Pet Birds

Health Hazards to Pet Birds

There are a couple of items in your home that may cause a health hazard to your pet bird.

So, if you want to create a safe environment for your bird, you’ll have to avoid the following items:

Things that cause health hazards to pet birds:

Nonstick cookwares

The Teflon coating in nonstick cookwares is fatal to birds because it gives off a toxic, odorless fume.

This fume can literally kill a bird within a couple of minutes when heated.

So, if you have a bird, you’ll need to get rid of your nonstick cookware, such as a nonstick pan or pot, and invest in safer ones made of stainless steel or other safe materials.

Tobacco smoke

Pet bird’s respiratory system is more sensitive than humans, so it’s not surprising that tobacco products’ effect on their health is more massive.

So, it’s best to go outside or at a safe distance away from your bird or open windows.

And before holding and petting your bird, we recommend washing hands if you’ve recently smoked.

Second-hand smoke can hit them severely, so even the lingering scent in clothing can endanger them.

Toxic houseplants

You may have to say goodbye to some beloved houseplants like lilies, philodendrons, amaryllis flowers, and shamrocks, too, if you’re welcoming a pet bird.

Those plants are toxic to birds, and their effect may range from mild illness to sudden death.

If those garden beauties are accessible to your bird, we recommend moving them to spaces your bird couldn’t reach.

In the future, it’d be best to opt for bird-safe plants like spider plants or African violet if you want to protect your pet.

Scented candles and air fresheners

Do you love using scented candles and air fresheners in your home? Many of us do.

But sadly, they can harm pet bird’s respiratory health too.

So, we recommend avoiding these items and consulting your vet about safe cleaning supplies for the sake of your pet bird’s health.

Purchasing Cost and Price of Caring for Pet Birds

Purchasing Cost and the Price of Caring for Pet Birds

Housing, feeding, and caring for a pet bird is generally cheaper than caring for a dog or cat (depending on the breed). 

However, a pet bird’s cost can skyrocket depending on the bird’s lifespan (some birds live as long as humans) and your pet’s healthcare needs.

Purchase Cost of Small-sized Pet Birds

Here’s a quick breakdown of the estimated price of each bird species:

1.Canaries: $25 – $150

2.Finches: $10 – $100

3.Budgies: $10 – $35

4.Parrotlets: $100 – $300

First-year cost: $259

The other first-year expenses include the following:

The cage: $70 or more

Food: $75

Toys and treats: $25

Vet consultations: $85

Annual cost: $185 {vet costs not included)

The overall lifetime cost for a bird-like parakeet with a 15 to 18-year lifespan: $2,885 to $3,440

Small birds aren’t so costly, but veterinary expenses can significantly rise if you don’t know how to care for your bird.

According to the American Pet Products Association(APPA), bird owners spent an average of $190 on surgery last year.

Purchase Cost of Medium-sized Birds

The cost of birds often goes with the size, so you can expect that the larger the species is, the more you’ll have to pay.

As for medium-sized birds, here’s an estimate of their purchasing cost.

1.Doves: $20 – $100

2.Cockatiels: $50 – $150

3.Conures: $150 – $500

4.Lories: $400 to $900

Large Bird’s Purchase Price

Larger species often call for a larger upfront price and heavier maintenance cost. Here’s an estimate of their purchasing cost.

1.African Greys: $600 to $2000

2.Cockatoos: $800 to $5,000 or more

3.Macaws: $900 to over $5,000

Larger birds like macaws and parrots make better pets than parakeets, but they’re also more costly to acquire, house, feed, and care for. 

While a macaw’s birdcages can be purchased for less than $200, there’s a likelihood that you’ll have to replace them soon.

So, it’s generally best to budget at least $300 for that cage alone.

To prevent the occurrence of such a crisis, we recommend taking your pet to a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about the species.

You can ask them about the most frequent diseases that affect birds and how to prevent or detect them early.

Female birds, for example, frequently deposit infertile eggs without mating, which might become soft and adhere to the bird.

This habit could potentially lead to a life-threatening situation.

Pet Birds' Life Expectancy

Pet Birds’ Life Expectancy

It’s crucial to understand that birds are a long-term commitment before purchasing a new feathery buddy. 

The expected longevity of many popular species surprises many people since some birds can outlive humans if taken care of properly.

So, make sure you’re ready to keep it for the rest of your life if you’re planning to adopt or purchase one for your family.

Here’s a sneak peek at the life expectancy of different bird species.

Budgies: Up to 18 years

Lovebird: Up to 10 years

Cockatiels: Up to 25 years

Conure: Up to 25 year

Galah: 40 years

Cockatoo: 60 years

Macaw: Up to 100 years

African Grey: 25-30 years

CONCLUSION

Pet birds can be a new bundle of joy for your family, but bird ownership comes with many sacrifices. 

So, before purchasing one for your family, make sure to assess how much time and money you’re willing to invest in these feathery creatures.

Similar to other pets, they have nutritional and veterinary needs that you need to provide for.

Nevertheless, they can be a great lifetime companion you can spend the rest of your life with.

READ NEXT: Best Pet Birds for Children

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