SIOUX CITY | Picking out the right pet bird isn’t about which one is the prettiest, it’s about which one fits in best with the lifestyle of the home.
There are many different types of birds, all with different levels of care required of them. Birds in general require a more mature caretaker, but some are even more advanced than others.
Matt Boos, manager of PetSmart and experienced bird owner, recommends that people reflect on the reason they want a bird before purchasing one.
“If they want something to interact with, I’d say they try a conure or a cockatiel,” Boos said. “If they’re looking for something as more of a visual, finches and parakeets are the better choice.”
This is because conures and cockatiels, like parrots and other larger birds, will bond with their owner and need interaction. Finches and parakeets, on the other hand, are content to interact with each other in their cage.
As far as cages go, the bigger the better, said Boos.
“The general rule of thumb is, you should get as big of a cage as you can fit and afford,” he said. “Sure, there’s a minimum size, but birds will do better with more space to fly.”
There is more flexibility in cage size if bird owners allow their birds to sit outside of the cages on perches during the day, however. Also, keep plenty of perches and toys in the cage to keep the bird’s interest while they are inside.
Something to keep in mind before getting a bird, or any pet, said Boos, is keeping them clean.
“No matter what bird you get, they’re messy,” he said.
The birds are messy not only from their waste, but also from bird dust, which is a residue from their feathers, comparable to dead skin, that collects on the cage.
Birds also require a weekly bath, either with a spray bottle or in a water bath, similar to the way outdoor birds routinely bathe themselves.
The biggest expense when purchasing a bird is the initial cost of the bird and the cage, said Boos. Smaller birds can cost around twenty dollars while some of the larger, fancier birds can run upwards of a thousand dollars or more.
A bird’s diet is fairly basic, with pellets for their main food and fruits, vegetables and seeds for treats. Contrary to popular belief, bird seed is not what birds should be eating all the time.
“They can have congenital heart disease from an all-seed diet because it’s high fat,” said Boos.
A proper home environment is important to maintaining the bird’s health, as well.
“You cannot put them up against a window,” said Boos. “A lot of these birds are from warmer climates so ambient room temperature is important.”
Also, birds cannot be around toxins from aerosol cans, Glade plug-ins, Teflon pans, scented air sprays, candles, or anything else that put a substance in the air.
“Be aware of the environment you put them in,” said Boos. “All of that stuff is probably bad for us, too, but we have protection against it. Their nostrils don’t have any protection.”