What should a 1st time bird owner know before they buy?

To start with, begin understanding the scope for your choice of pet birds. Here is a list of more than 500 species you can choose from each having its own nuances.

I stress making this distinction because so many people talk about things like “make sure you don’t get a bird larger than a conure or a parakeet”

If you break down that statement it’s really nonsensical because conures range from 64 grams (green cheeks) to 280 g (pategonians) the size of a timneh african grey.

All conures are parakeets but not all parakeets are conures. There’s actually close to 400 species of parakeets. Most people refer to budgies as parakeets but I want to be clear in directing you to a possible relationship with a new bird.

Indian ringneck parakeets can be great talkers. Grass parakeets like Blue-winged parakeets, Elegant parakeets, Orange-bellied parakeets, Rock parakeets, Scarlet-chested parakeets and Turquoise parakeets are quiet little chirpers but not known for their ability to talk. There’s also the The Bourke’s parakeet having it’s own sub species

You’ll want to understand how unique a bird’s respiratory system is. Why you can’t burn candles in your home, it not just the smoke and oxygen depletion, birds don;t know what “hot” is.

You can’t use nonstick cookware like teflon which has PTFE’s.

An heated Teflon pan has the ability to kill a bird in minutes. Teflon is also found in waffle irons, hair dryers, humidifiers and dozens of other household items.

You’ll want to learn about bird nutrition. Even a small bird, a 25 gram budgie has 2000 to 4000 feathers. Feathers require amino acids for growth and amino acids come from protein.

The internet is awash with the many recipes captive bird keepers provide for their birds. Vegetables (chop) and perhaps some rice and/or beans.

My experience after interacting with tens of thousands of bird companions over the last 15 years is that malnutrition is one of the most preventable maladies found in pet birds but unfortunately is quite prevalent.

Don’t take my word for it. I’m sure anyone reading this will agree that Harrison’s bird food is one of the finest bird food pellets made today. So I quote:

‘Finally, the poor health resulting from feeding seeds and tablefood, still being promoted by well meaning but misinformed bird owners, is and always has been the most dangerous preventable cause of suffering in birds”.

Dr. Gregory Harrison, founder — Harrison’s bird food.

It’s best to have your birds on a well-rounded commercial bird food diet. If the majority of the diet is seeds you can add supplements like Prime from HARI (Hagen Avicultural Research Institute) which will introduce the necessary proteins, amino acids and other vitamins required for raising a healthy bird.

Adding fresh fruits and veggies will round things out quite nicely

What makes birds truly unique pets is that the are a “three dimensional” animal. They can fly. This is a two edged sword. A nervous flighted bird can easily fly into a window or mirror sustaining injury or death.

Ironically as it sounds teaching your bird how to fly and more importantly where the land in the house is essential for a flighted pet bird.

If you start with a larger bird say an African grey, be aware of their potential for destruction. They don’t know the difference between your $250 dining room chair and the $99 play stand you bought for them.


Our friend Kim just got a Timneh African grey as her first bird. We spoke about it for weeks. Finally she turned to me and said “look” I’ve been running a daycare for 25 years. Who better to care for a 3 year old whether covered in flesh or feathers?”

Amen to that — Zoe the new grey has been a hit with Kim and the family for the past few months.

We introduced Peaches to Zoe a couple of weeks ago. Both birds stayed in their cages but it was fun to watch the expressions and actions of the two parrot species

Moving on -

Birds are amoral they don’t know the difference between right and wrong so telling them “no” or “bad bird” has absolutely zero impact on the parrot.

All behavior must be treated with positive recognition. The only time I veer off of that is occasionally when I get Peaches out of her cage in the morning she may try to bite me. Then I ignore her. She loses her morning facetime with me.

Her attitude usually changes when I come back in 10 minutes. She’s more than happy to get her morning scritches.

People will cry out with warnings about how messy birds are. I don’t disagree with that but there are ways to keep the mess in check. That said, if you aren’t up to tidy up around a bird’s cage almost every day the mess can accumulate pretty rapidly.

Don’t be scared off if you don’t have an avian vet in your area. Perhaps you can find an exotic vet. Avian vet’s have to learn almost the entire range of 10000 species of birds. Some vets choose not to spend their time learning about chickens and waterfowl.

We have been using an exotic vet here in Chicago for 15 years and although not a certified avian vet he performs (and teaches) surgery on geckos and snakes. He also collaborates with other avian veterinarians like Dr. Ted Lafeber on commercial foods to help sick birds and reptiles as well.

Besides Peaches our Senegal parrot which is a very quiet parrot weighing in about a 110 grams (a fat cockatiel is about 110 grams), we have 4 budgies that keep themselves entertained day in and day out

We started with a single budgie we named Bacon. It was clear that he had been an escapee from somewhere, quite wild and very unhappy. Fast forward and he now has three companions two females and a male all rescued (Bacon was pulled from a tree across the street from our shop).

Aside from cleaning up after the breakfast club (4 budgies named Bacon, Eggs, Toast and Jam) and they really like millet, they keep each other great company and breathe an enormous level of life into the house.

They’re really fun to watch. The share a mllet spray every other day — I Keep a compact canister vacuum under their cage shelf and spend 2 minutes vacuuming almost every week day

The plan this fall is that we are going to clip all four of their wings and get them to socialize outside of the cage. Stay tuned

Pay your due diligence to understand the personalities of species that you are considering. Our Senegal predictably is a one-person bird, mine. She hates Catherine (my wife below with the magenta hair) and all other humans as much as I try to socialize her but we will continue to press on with human interactions.

Thus if you live alone, a Senegal this a great parrot to have. If there are other family members you may consider an eclectus who tends to be more social with multiple family members as an example

If you would like additional guidance just look at my profile so you know where you can find me. I’m always willing to help on a more granular level.

Lastly, you mentioned the word “buy”. We strongly encourage Adoption. All 5 of our Birds are rescues. They all literally found us. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Knowing more before you began reading this, I’m certain you now have a clear path to follow in your quest to find the perfect pet bird

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