Bird Basics – How to get (or not get) a bird as a companion
By Richard Horvitz
Many people have written so much about these little companions, yet I find that most of the information is either self-serving, or the content is overly rosy by not going into the potential negatives of bird ownership. After reading this brief article, you should have a realistic feel for what bird ownership is all about.
First and foremost, the term “bird brain” and the ongoing battles of Tweety and Sylvester are the stuff of fairy tales. That is, birds have been documented with the intelligence greater than or equal to dolphins.
Furthermore, although there are risks associated with socializing birds with other animals such as dogs and cats, they generally play together and get along famously. In fact, I have heard the same story over and over – someone has a bird, the bird learns the dog’s name, says “come here, Fido,” the dog runs over, then the bird says “go away” the dog runs away, and this is repeated until the bird has had its fun. Needless to say, although one needs to exercise common sense and use their instincts, one can easily introduce a bird into a home filled with dogs, cats, and other animals.
OK, so what do you need to know before getting a bird? First, what is more important, a talking bird or an affectionate bird? Colorful or not? How much time can you spend on a daily basis with your new companion? A good retail establishment or breeder should ask the above qualifying questions before even showing you any birds. Your answers and lifestyle will dictate which bird is proper for you.
For example, if you are enamored by one of the cockatoos (Umbrella, Moluccan, Sulfur Crested) then you need to have at least three hours per day dedicated to hands-on time with your cockatoo.
Also, if you are considering starting a human family, it is best to wait until you are finished building your family before bringing a cockatoo into your life. Otherwise, you will have problems, be they excessive vocalizations, self-mutilation, and/or aggressive behavior. However, if you do have the time cockatoos can be great companions.
One critical fact is that parrots can live upwards of 70 years. Therefore, it is important that a potential caretaker understand that a parrot may be a lifetime companion and that the decision to get a parrot should be well thought out. It is very difficult to place an older parrot in a new home so for the parrots’ sake, please do your research.
Equally important to understand is that parrots are prey, as opposed to being predators (such as dogs, cats, and raptors). As such, they tend to hide when they are sick from you; in the wild, the birds who show any signs of weakness are the first ones to be attacked. How does this affect you as a bird owner? Well, you need to establish certain routines with your little companion. When they do not act the same as they usually do a big red flag should go off, and you need to take your bird to the vet immediately. Parrots are very hardy, yet if their illness is not caught early then they tend to go downhill quickly.
These intelligent, curious, happy creatures are sure to win your heart. They can be and will be the best pet you’ve ever had as long as you understand the requirements of ownership and the implications of certain behavior.
For more information, you can contact Richard at The Golden Cockatoo in Deerfield Beach or visit www.goldencockatoo.com