20 Things To Know Before Adopting A Bird
Thinking about getting a bird?
Allow me to warn you straight away…
Birds are one of the hardest animals to care for as pets.
They’re at least 10x harder to look after than dogs or cats.
Birds are definitely not pets to be adopted out of impulse after watching a cute video, they’re lots of work and effort, and they’ll take up a large portion of your life.
Choosing to own birds can be one of the most life-changing decisions you can make.
Below you’ll find 20 things you should know before getting a bird.
This article doesn’t aim to deter you from adopting a bird, but I want to show you the HONEST reality of bird ownership.
- 1) Birds Are Time Consuming
- 2) Birds Are HUGE Attention Seekers
- 3) Most Birds Are VERY Noisy
- 4) Adequate Bird Care Is Financially Expensive
- 5) Birds Like To Be Messy
- 6) They Will Destroy EVERYTHING!
- 7) Some Bird Species Are Dusty
- 8) Birds Require Lots Of Space
- 9) You Need Patience With Birds
- 10) Toxic Fumes & Scents
- 11) Life Will Revolve Around The Bird
- 12) Birds Are One Of The Most Rehomed Pets
- 13) Birds Are VERY Long Commitments
- 14) No More Sleeping In
- 15) All Birds Have Specific Dietary Needs
- 16) Birds Are Difficult To Understand
- 17) You Can’t Keep Other Pets (Mainly Cats & Dogs)
- 18) You’ll Need Assistance
- 19) Parrots Are Extremely Intelligent
- 20) Birds Can Fly
1) Birds Are Time Consuming
If you already struggle with time management and productivity, a bird likely isn’t the pet for you.
Providing proper care to a bird requires lots of time out of the day.
Finding time to do personal things will become a lot harder with birds around.
The best bird owners will have hours of free time during the day.
Just a few daily bird care chores include:
- Cleaning the cage of poop, food, and feathers.
- Changing their food and water
- Preparing vegetables and healthy foods every day
- Training sessions
- Giving them attention
- Taking them outside in the sun
- Making DIY toys
Really take the time to think about this…
Do you actually have the time to do all these things during the day?
Will school, work, or your social life get in the way of this?
2) Birds Are HUGE Attention Seekers
Most species of bird crave attention from their dedicated owners.
As soon as your attention is diverted elsewhere, the bird will be screaming for you to give them more attention.
Even if you have multiple birds, they’ll ALL want your attention at all times.
Now, this might sound cute at first, but picture this:
You won’t be able to go to the toilet without your birds screaming until you return.
Want to spend an hour getting some work done?
Good luck with that!
Need to take an important phone call?
You might need to lock yourself in the bathroom just to hear what the other person is saying.
Also, don’t think that you can give attention to just one bird in peace.
As soon as you start to give a little attention to one bird, the whole flock will swoop in.
Even with plenty of other bird companions, birds will always want the owner’s attention at all times.
It’s cute at first, but it can get annoying at times.
3) Most Birds Are VERY Noisy
Pigeons and doves are one of the quietest pet birds.
However, if you’re thinking about adopting a budgie, conure, cockatiel, or a larger bird, you better be prepared for the noise that comes with them.
Spoiler: They make a lot of noise.
Just listen to the screaming of this sun conure:
When it comes to noise, size matters not.
A small conure can almost scream as loud as larger birds.
Not only can most parrots scream very loud, but they also scream for long periods.
If you don’t think you can handle loud screaming throughout the day, a pet bird is definitely not for you.
4) Adequate Bird Care Is Financially Expensive
One thing you should definitely know before getting a bird is how expensive they are.
Don’t let anybody tell you that owning a bird is cheap, because that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Firstly, there are one-time payments that include:
- A large cage (Roughly 200$)
- Food and water bowls
- The bird itself (price can vary depending on the species and where you adopt them from)
Secondly, there are recurring payments that you need to make throughout the bird’s life.
Some recurring payments include:
- Food (pellets, seeds, vegetables, and treats)
- Avian vet costs (a single vet consultation is around 80$)
If the bird gets sick, you’ll need to pay for medicine, testing, and multiple consultations.
I spent 200$ on my cockatiels vet care just last month!
Without a flexible and reliable income, you won’t be able to afford the necessary expenses that come with owning a bird.
Don’t adopt a bird if you can’t afford it, otherwise, they’ll become a financial burden.
5) Birds Like To Be Messy
Birds are among the messiest pets you can own.
They poop everywhere, fling food around, and drop their feathers wherever they please.
No matter what bird you decide to adopt, you’ll be dealing with lots of mess.
Larger birds will make larger messes, their poops are bigger and they can fling food further away.
However, don’t let this convince you that smaller birds are mess-free pets.
All birds are messy and have almost 0 consideration for keeping your house tidy.
If you want your house to be as tidy as possible while living with birds, you’ll need a mess management plan.
That link takes you to my guide on keeping a tidy house with small messy birds.
When adopting a bird, you should know that you’re signing up for a lot more cleaning.
6) They WIll Destroy EVERYTHING!
Most birds, especially parrots, are naturally destructive.
Parrots have a natural instinct to shred and break whatever is in the area.
Smaller birds are usually happy shredding balsa wood, cardboard, or paper.
However, larger birds such as macaws and cockatoos like to target stronger materials, such as household objects.
Common targets for destruction include:
- Wooden chairs
- Table corners
- Other wooden furniture
Anything breakable in your house is usually targeted by large birds.
As a bird owner, it’ll be your job to provide adequate shredding outlets so they don’t target these household objects.
Smaller birds will shred smaller toys.
Larger birds will need tree branches and other strong materials to satisfy their destructive needs.
7) Some Bird Species Are Dusty
The dustiest bird species include the cockatiel, cockatoo, and the African grey parrot.
All birds have dust, but these are the dustiest birds.
Look at this cockatiel releasing its dandruff:
If you live with someone who has respiratory problems, a dusty bird could potentially worsen their condition.
There are people who have rehomed their birds because an older relative couldn’t handle the dust.
This is a serious consideration you must make before getting a bird.
Air purifiers are often used by bird owners to combat the amount of dust that lingers in the air.
8) Birds Require Lots Of Space
Having plenty of space in your house is essential if you plan to keep birds.
Not only do they need space to exercise, play, and fly around, but they’ll need space to store their large cage and wooden perches.
Flying is absolutely essential to a bird’s health, so they should have enough space to do it.
Without enough space, your birds will feel very cramped as they can barely fly around, which may cause stress.
Large bird rooms or outdoor aviaries are ideal for flight and play.
Don’t adopt a bird unless you have some open spaces.
9) You Need Patience With Birds
No bird will provide their owners with instant results or gratification.
When it comes to taming, training, bonding, and diet conversions, patience from the owner is essential.
Building a bond with any bird takes a lot of effort, care, and patience.
Solid relationships are built on trust, especially with birds.
Showing a bird that you understand them and that you’re willing to be patient with them will earn you some trust points.
However, trying to rush through the taming process by forcing interactions will probably make them hate you.
Whatever you plan on doing with a bird, give yourself plenty of time to reach that goal.
Patience goes a long way with birds.
10) Toxic Fumes & Scents
Before getting a bird, you should know all of the common household dangers.
Household dangers include toxic fumes and materials that can make birds sick.
Cigarette smoke is an obvious toxic fume, but a few other toxic fumes we humans use on a daily basis include:
- Hair spray
- Cleaning Products
- Cooking products (Non-stick cookware fumes can cause a birds death)
- Nail Polish
- Scented Candles
Birds can get very sick if they inhale any of these fumes.
If you’re going to adopt a bird, you’ll need to sacrifice the use of these scents inside the house.
For this reason, birds are usually not the best pets for smokers.
You must be willing to make these sacrifices if you plan on getting a bird.
11) Life Will Revolve Around The Bird
Now, this is something you NEED to know before getting a bird.
Not even I thought about this one too much before adopting my cockatiel.
When you’re a bird owner, everything you do in life will need to suit the bird.
When I say that, I don’t mean you need your bird’s permission, I mean you need to consider your bird before you do ANYTHING.
Let’s say, you got a new job or you need to work longer hours.
Who’s going to care for the bird while you’re away? What are you going to do if you have an 8-hour shift?
Looking for bird sitters is harder than you would think.
What if you want to go on vacation?
Can you take the bird? If not, who’s going to look after them for 2 weeks? What supplies do they need for that time?
Do you get the idea yet?
Anything big you want to do in life will need to revolve around your bird.
And leaving an intelligent bird at home in a cage all day is DEFINITELY not an option.
Before adopting a bird, make sure you have family members or friends who can care for them if you ever need to leave for a while.
12) Birds Are One Of The Most Rehomed Pets
Many sources have stated that birds are the most rehomed types of pets.
If this is true, it’s extremely sad.
Personally, I believe it.
I think I can also make an educated guess as to why so many birds get rehomed…
Birds are very complicated pets that need very dedicated and knowledgeable owners.
Bird ownership is definitely NOT for everyone.
However, there are many people who still get birds without knowing how to properly care for them or how they behave.
They see one cute internet video of a talking bird and suddenly they think they can handle a cockatoo or an African grey parrot.
The bird then gets rehomed when the owner realizes the true reality of bird ownership.
Rehoming is stressful for parrots.
This is why it’s important to thoroughly research the bird you plan to get before making that commitment.
13) Birds Are VERY long Commitments
Most species of parrots have very long lifespans.
This makes them a very long commitment, especially for those who adopt them at young ages.
Even parrots with relatively short lifespans, such as the cockatiel, can live for 20 – 25 years.
If you plan to adopt a macaw or a cockatoo as a baby, that bird will likely be with you for the rest of your life.
Both of these birds can live over 70 years if cared for properly.
Typically, the larger the bird, the longer they live.
When choosing a bird species to adopt, you must seriously take their lifespan into consideration.
40 years is about the average lifespan for most medium-sized parrots.
Could you dedicate 40+ years of your life to a parrot?
14) No More Sleeping In
Birds are not like dogs who are fine sleeping in a little past noon.
No, birds need to be up and active no later than 10 AM to ensure they get enough daylight hours.
However, they usually want to wake up much earlier than 10 AM.
That means no more sleeping in on the weekends.
12 hours of sleep is essential for all birds.
Good sleep schedules looks like this:
10 PM Bedtime = 10 AM Wake up
9 PM Bedtime = 9 AM Wake up
Forcing birds to stay covered past their wake-up time just because the owner wants to sleep in is neglectful to the birds.
If you plan on owning birds, you’ll need to become an early bird.
15) All Birds Have Specific Dietary Needs
Knowing how to care for one bird species does not mean you can care for them all.
Each species of bird will have its own specific dietary and nutritional needs.
This is something you need to know before getting any bird.
For example, you cannot provide a cockatiel diet to a macaw as they have different dietary needs.
Whichever bird you decide to adopt, you need to know their specific needs before adopting them.
16) Birds Are Difficult To Understand
Generally, birds will be difficult to understand until you’ve been around them long enough.
To understand a bird, you’ll need to know their subtle body language cues and you’ll need a lot of empathy.
Crested birds are much easier to understand than most other parrots.
The crest of a cockatiel and cockatoo is a great indicator of emotions.
However, birds without crests such as budgies, conures, lovebirds, and African greys, are much harder to understand.
Body language is quite subtle with these birds.
You don’t need to fully understand a bird’s body language before adoption, but you should know that they’ll be hard to understand at first.
Once you spend enough time around a certain species, you’ll start to understand them.
17) You Can’t Keep Other Pets (Mainly Cats & Dogs)
When you own birds, you can’t own any cats or dogs, or at least you shouldn’t.
I know, there are many people who keep dogs, cats, and birds together, but it’s unnecessarily risky.
One scratch or bite from a cat can be fatal, even to larger birds.
Of course, there are happy stories online where the cat loves the bird, or the dog plays with the bird.
But most times, things won’t work out like a “The Dodo” story.
Felines are literally natural predators to birds, it’s simply too much of a risk keeping both animals in the same house.
If you want to own cats and dogs, adopt them.
But don’t force a fragile bird to live with their natural predators.
Having these animals around can even cause the birds stress, which can lead to feather plucking.
Birds can do well with other bird species, but not with completely different animals.
18) You’ll Need Assistance
Bird care can be an interesting and fulfilling experience.
However, if you’re doing everything by yourself (cleaning, training, taming), you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed and stressed.
Before making the big commitment, you should know if other household members are willing to help out with the bird.
Maybe you have family members or roommates who would be willing to help.
The bird will also benefit from having multiple carers.
Birds who regularly socialize with different people become social butterflies, which is good for their mental health.
A bird who is bonded to just one owner can become aggressive when interacting with others.
19) Parrots Are Extremely Intelligent
Very few animals can compare their intelligence to a parrot.
Studies have even shown parrots to be as intelligent as 5-year-old human children.
However, the more intelligent the pet, the harder they are to keep happy.
Birds require lots of mental and physical stimulation, and providing this can often be a challenge, especially for new owners.
These are not the types of animals you can just keep in a cage with nothing to do.
They need lots of engaging toys, puzzles to solve, foraging opportunities, and companionship to thrive.
Before getting a parrot, you should be prepared to nurture their intelligence.
20) Birds Can Fly
This one might seem obvious to you, but it isn’t to some people.
It honestly blows my mind, but some people adopt flighted animals, and then plan to clip their wings.
In most cases, wing clipping is seriously bad for birds.
If you’re planning on adopting a bird, you should be prepared to let them fly.
Of course, there are rare situations where a wing clip is needed and recommended by an avian vet, but as mentioned, it’s rare and won’t apply to most bird owners.
You should have a clear open space ready for your bird to fly around in.
Flight is absolutely essential for a bird’s health.
Without enough flight exercise, birds can experience muscle atrophy.
If you don’t think you can handle a flying animal in your home, a bird is definitely not the pet for you.
Dogs, cats, lizards, snails, and fish all make great flightless pets.
Those were 20 very important things to know before adopting a pet bird.
The reason I made this article was not to discourage you from bird ownership.
Owning a bird is a fulfilling, life-changing experience.
I just want to make sure you know EXACTLY what you’re getting into before you make that promise to a bird.
Because by adopting them, you’re promising them a great life with you.
There are way too many people who make that promise out of impulse because they watched a funny cockatiel video on YouTube.
Internet videos rarely show the true reality of bird ownership.
Every bird, even small ones, are huge responsibilities that require dedication and sacrifices from an owner, and I wanted you to know that.
I hope this article has given you some clarity.