Choosing a New Bird

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So You Want To Buy a New Bird?

Selecting the right breed of bird to fit into your family is essential and it is helpful if you do your research.  There are certain traits that are common for certain types of birds, which you  should know about and consider before you take what could potentially become a small feathered demon into your home for the rest of your life.


Birds are pretty much the opposite of dogs.  Usually the bigger the dog, the shorter the lifespan.  In birds, it's the other way around.  Larger birds as a rule, tend to live longer.  The other main difference between a dog and a bird is that the bird may well outlive you.  Birds are often a rest of YOUR life pet, not just for the duration of theirs.  Yesterday alone at the clinic we did surgery on a 23 year old cockatiel, while a cockatoo in his 40s waited for a blood test, while a galah in his 50s sat in an incubator nursing a sore foot.  Your bird will get old with you.


Birds have different tones to their voices and different volumes.  You do need to recognise that some level of noise making is normal behaviour for a bird.  If the behaviour is within the bird's normal range of behaviours, it's not something that you are going to train out of them.  Some types of birds are known for talking, others aren't and while that phone ringing noise is fun at first - it can really penetrate a real phone conversation.  Check out the tones that a bird is capable of.  I may love the look of a sun conure, love most of their traits, but I can't handle the pitch of their screams.  Meanwhile, I can comfortably ignore a cockatoo's meltdown while other people can't.  It's as much about knowing yourself as it is about the knowing the bird.


Some birds thrive on physical contact and will do anything to be cuddled and pet.  Others will do anything to avoid it.  Some of that is personality but in most cases it's a breed trait.  Cockatoos in particular are known for their cuddliness.  It's worth noting though, that just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  Behavioural problems will follow an over-bonded bird.  That cuddliness might predispose them to conditions such as separation anxiety.

Dusty or not?

Certain birds generate a lot of dust.  In particular the cockatoo family and birds like African Greys.  Are you prepared to have an air filter running 24/7?  Would you be better with a bird like an eclectus that doesn't produce dust?  Are you aware that the birds that don't produce dust, produce an oil which often interacts with chemicals such as hand sanitisers and hair shampoos?  You may have to give up using your favourite hand cream...


The days of simply throwing seed in a bowl are long gone.  We know more these days.  A bird's diet can take a sizeable amount of time to prepare and an ongoing never-ending financial investment.  You may find that the cost increases over time too.


They're messy.  Lorikeets poop sideways. Galahs throw their food on the floor and eat it on the ground.  Eclectus parrots regurgitate over everything.  Pomegranate is hard to get out of ceiling white paint!  Know your bird's spacial requirements.  Can you get the fresh branches that they need regularly?  Can you afford to keep replacing caging when the cage rusts? when the bird pops the welding? when the wheels fall off?

Health Care

Do you have an avian vet close by?  What about after hours veterinary care?  (That's often hard to find for birds.)  Maybe you need to have a certain level of knowledge and equipment on hand so you can handle an emergency yourself.  Can you financially afford this?  Know that there is a difference between a dog/cat vet and a bird vet.

The starter bird myth

I don't believe in starter birds.  The bird you learn on?  The whole get a budgie or a cockatiel, they're easy?  If you can handle them, then you can get that expensive big bird you want.  This way of thinking, is grossly unfair to the bird.  What happens to the starter bird when you get the better bird?  Not to mention, the average budgie and cockatiel in no way prepares you for a larger bird that can snap a padlock in half, remove a window frame, run off with your hair dryer...  Nor do they deserve to be so underestimated.  A budgie has held the world record for the largest vocabulary!  Get the bird you want, from the beginning.

Shop or adopt?

Do you need to buy a bird?  Maybe contact a bird rescue and see what birds are available?  Many bird rescues have foster arrangements so you can see if the bird you choose is even right for you?  And just as importantly if you are right for them?  Personality conflicts with a bird can happen.  With the lifespan of the average bird being so long, bird re-homing is an ever-growing issue.

Do your research!

We've got it easy these days.  Jump on facebook.  There are groups devoted to specific types of birds.  You can ask people who have the bird you are considering exactly what it is like to live with the type of bird that you are thinking about getting.

If you get a bird, have a plan.

What happens when you die?  Is there someone who can look after your bird.  Don't get me wrong, I love living with birds but I am very aware that having them as a pet carries a much longer term commitment than any other animal on the planet.


  1. Louise Andrews on January 19, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    All the above is very true, but that being taken into consideration, having your “dream” bird also gives so much back to the guardian. I love my flock and the dynamic is perfect but we will increase our flock further in future. Having a special love from feathered friends their is nothing that compares to it.

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