All birds are high maintenance pets. There is no such thing as a “starter bird”because The needs of each type of bird are different enough that one bird type cannot prepare you for another. Please do as much research and consulting as possible when considering a bird as a pet.
Finches & Canaries
Due to their size people tend to underestimate the needs of a finch or canary. Since they are not solitary birds, pairing needs to be done carefully as they will react certain ways when paired with, or close to, finches of other types and sexes. Cage size and shape will also have a serious impact on the behavior of your bird. These birds need a very strict diet and many things can be poisonous for each type of finch. Due to being different from large birds as far as structure and metabolism, they should NEVER have their wings clipped.
For health and safety reasons, every bird owner needs to be knowledgeable about the selection of cages and accessories, bird pairing, dietary needs, temperature compatibility, general behavior, stress or illness indications, grooming techniques for bathing, nail trimming, beak filing and so much more. There are plenty of informational websites out there, some with expert information and many with outdated, contradictory information. As a bird trainer I can supply you with everything you need to know to become a confident owner of happy, healthy small birds by simply pointing you in the right direction or taking you through small bird ownership step-by-step.
Small – Medium Parrots
Parakeets, Parrotlets, Cockatiels, Lovebirds, Pionus Parrots, Lories & Lorikeets, Caiques, and small Conures.
Parrots come in a variety of types and sizes, unfortunately that means there is also a variety of differences in behavior, intellect, and needs. Some of the greater variations include cage dimensions, food types, toy types, time in flight, time out of cage, human dependency, predictive behaviors and aptitudes for certain behaviors and speech. The most significant shared trait of these birds is their playfully destructive behavior in the name of curiosity. This inherent behavior can not be discouraged, but it can be prevented by keeping your parrot’s mind active with new toys and activities.
Small birds fall under the hourly rate of $20 while the hourly rate for Medium birds is $40 with a free behavioral analysis for all birds on top of your existing questions and concerns.
Teaching our birds how to be calm while being handled requires a lot of patience and trust building. Each interaction will determine how they will act during the next handling and will add to their understanding of responding to human actions so it is very important that it be done correctly and with as little negativity as possible. These learning experiences become ingrained and can result in constant daily fear, aggression, and stress disorders.
Introducing a bird to a home with other pets, or new animals to a home with a bird, requires a very specific process based on the individual instincts of all animals involved and should not be done without a professional.
Grooming & Vet Conditioning
Birds need regular grooming so they need to go through a process of positive conditioning in order to bathe regularly and be held in a way that is conducive to veterinary check-ups, nail trimming, beak filing, and feather trimming (when deemed necessary). Some birds can be trained to file their beaks naturally using toys and scratching tools.
I do not encourage wing clipping except in special cases where the safety of the bird is a concern. Flight feathers should never be clipped before a bird learns to use them.
This training incorporates controlling negative behaviors like cage chewing, furniture chewing, flapping, feather plucking, and squawking. Birds can not learn impulse control the way dogs and cats do, negative reinforcement WILL worsen the behavior and create more stress related habits. These behaviors can be the result of many different things and need to be assessed by a professional.
Conditioning a bird to act appropriately around children can be done when it comes to bite control (teaching the appropriate pressure for positive interaction), but for the safety of both parties the child needs to be taught about bird structure and handling. Birds do not follow the same social cues as mammals so they do not have the same intuition that dogs and cats do when it comes to the abnormal behavior of a young human. This disassociation means a child must be responsible enough to handle the bird how it is used to being handled by humans or the bird will sense something is wrong and feel threatened enough to react agressively.
The ability to mimic human speech is the main reason some people purchase parrots. It is also the main reason so many parrots are returned, released into the wild, or in need of rescue. While verbal communication contributes greatly to the bird-human relationship, it should never be the main reason for getting a pet bird. Several conditions need to be met before speech can be effectively communicated, and teaching a bird to speak is far more complex than simply repeating a word at it until the bird picks it up. Some parrots do not have an aptitude for speech while others have a natural talent for it. Aptitude for speech can be assessed to select the proper training techniques to develop a clear verbal understanding between you and your bird.
I am not licensed to give advice related to veterinary medicine. However, as a certified veterinary assistant I am permitted to determine if your bird needs to see a veterinarian, give advice on exercise or dietary needs, and I can provide beak filing, nail filing, or flight feather trimming services for a $10 fee.
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