We hear so much about adopting a dog or cat but rarely hear about adopting a bird. Birds are wonderful pets that provide comfort, companionship and entertainment.
In 2002, ASPCA declared that January would be dedicated to finding happy homes for the thousands of companion birds that are abandoned annually. These precious feathered friends will fly into your home and capture your heart.
There are countless breeds of birds to adopt. Do your research to learn which type would fit into your lifestyle for a long and rewarding relationship with your feathered friend. Some of the things to consider before adopting are cost, noise level, space and commitment.
Here’s a little bit about the five most popular pet bird breeds to get you started.
1. Parakeets / Budgies
Parakeets are the most popular pet of all pet birds, they offer the companionship of a feathered friend without the burden of a 50+ year commitment. If you have never before owned a bird, or have children who want a new feathered family member, the parakeet would be a good choice for you.
They require less space and maintenance than larger birds and these little, beautifully colored birds are quite intelligent and affectionate. Most are content to sing and whistle, but don’t be surprised if they learn to say a word or two. With time and patients they will love to be stroked, held and talked to. They will require around thirty minutes a day of interaction with you.
Parakeets are drawn to shiny things (a mirror is a must), things that make noise, and objects they can move around with their beaks or feet. Their average life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.
These Australian natives are colorful medium sized and members of the parrot family. Their advanced whistling and singing abilities are remarkable. They are capable of talking, but prefer to whistle and mimic sounds. I once had a cockatiel who would cat whistle every time I walked through the door, so they can also be a great ego booster.
Cockatiels can be very vocal when they wake up, before they go to sleep and if you have been out for a while and come home to them. They can get spoiled and learn now to control you with their excessive screaming. This behavior occurs because they are extremely social birds. Males tend to be a bit more vocal than females who are more likely to be fairly quiet.
A single bird will be more attached to their owner and will be more demanding of your attention. Getting two birds will help give them the socializing they require. Their average life expectancy is 15 to 20 years.
3. Finches and Canaries
Finches and Canaries are good choices for a family with children or older adults since they require less maintenance and prefer to stay in a cage. Canaries are famous for their singing while Finches are known for their extraordinary colors and markings. Be aware they are not usually finger-tamed and need the largest cage you can afford so they have plenty of room.
Most finches need to be in pairs (one male and one female) or large groups. Canaries, on the other hand, have a reputation of needing to be housed alone. The male canary sings only to attract a mate, so there will be less singing if a female is present. If you must keep a single male, make sure he has a large cage to fly around and several toys to entertain himself. These little birds thrive in small flocks and do not need much human interaction. They are perfect pets for those who love to watch birds, so long as you have the space.
Finches and canaries tend to be messy eaters, so it would be wise to place their cage in an area that can be easily cleaned up. They are charming, captivating, peaceful to watch and can live for up to 10 years.
Some say the Lovebirds are the most preferred pet bird. Many people believe lovebirds must be kept in pairs but this is not true. A single lovebird bonds to you rather than to another lovebird, making a better pet if you have a lot of time to spend with your new buddy. If you can’t commit to giving your bird a lot of time and affection and less interaction is what you want (or you are away from home a lot), then be sure to get two so your lovebird isn’t lonely.
Lovebirds will play endlessly and are quite the clowns. They’re a small parrot with the same intelligence and abilities of larger parrots. They need plenty of toys to keep them from getting bored and you’ll definitely want to be aware of their ability to escape cages to play around the house. And watch your buttons, they love to pull them off! They also love to snuggle and preen. Lovebirds can learn to mimic sounds and have been know to even speak on occasion.
These birds are fairly quiet companions, making them ideal for those who live in apartments or condominiums. Their life expectancy is up to 20 years.
5. African Greys
African Greys have been said to be the most intelligent of birds, but do your research and know what you’re getting into – these birds are not for everyone!
A home with small children isn’t a good fit for a grey. They require a large commitment of your time, effort, patience and attention (just like small children). For good mental health, they need at least 3 hours out of their cage daily and 45 minutes of physical interaction. These birds are very strong and they can bite with their strong pointed beak.
They require a lot of stimulating toys because they’re highly intelligence and need to avoid boredom. Having several toys so they can be switched and rotated regularly helps keep a grey’s mind occupied. If your African Grey does not interact with different people regularly, they will bond to one person and be shy around strangers.
Most greys don’t start speaking until they’re about 2 years old, but once they do they have the capacity to have a vocabulary of over 2,000 words. Do not choose an African Grey solely for their ability to speak since you have no guarantee of that happening! It has been said that they can mimic well, which is true, but they can actually learn to speak in sentences and answer questions.
Adequate space is required for a large cage to accommodate your bird. They are full of character and can sometimes feel more human than parrot. They are cautious birds, but once you win the trust of an African Grey it will become your best friend. Greys typically live 50-70 years!
Be a responsible pet owner and take your bird to your vet for proper care. Remember birds can live for quite a while, but dirty cages and poor nutrition can shorten their life span.
Visit your local shelter or visit Best Friends’ bird adoption or other reputable adoption gropus to find your new forever friend.