If you are interested in buying a bird as a pet, there are several options available to you:
- Pet stores: Many pet stores carry birds, including larger chains like Petco and PetSmart.
- Bird breeders: You can find bird breeders online or through bird clubs or organizations. Be sure to do your research and find a reputable breeder who treats their birds well.
- Bird rescues: Consider adopting a bird from a rescue organization. There are many birds in need of homes and adopting can be a great way to give a bird a second chance at a happy life.
- Online marketplaces: There are also several online marketplaces where you can buy birds, such as BirdBreeders.com, BirdFarm.com, Ebay, Birdtrader.co.uk, etc. However, be cautious when buying birds online, and make sure you are purchasing from a reputable seller.
When buying a bird, the most important aspect is that the chosen specimen is healthy, therefore I suggest being there in person at the moment of purchase or adoption. A healthy bird is markedly different in appearance and behavior from its sick counterpart. Apart from resting time, a healthy bird is almost never at rest, it observes its surroundings and reacts to everything, it moves, "talks", eats, and preens its feathers. The sick bird is passive, with ruffled feathers, sits contentedly, is not interested in its environment, it does not respond to stimuli. Bird diseases are often spread virally, so it is not worth buying from breeding or trade where there are many sick birds because the others can also be carriers. Many first-time owners complain that the bird “looked fine” at the store, but a week later it passed away. In avian medicine, this phenomenon is called the masking phenomenon.
Understanding the masking phenomenon in birds
“A common misconception held by many bird owners and veterinarians is that birds are not very resistant to illness. To the novice it often appears that birds show signs of illness one day, are at the bottom of their cage the next, and dead the day after. This misconception has stemmed from two sources. First, many of the birds seen in practice are only a few generations descended from wild birds. As such, they retain many of the protective instincts inherited from their forebears.
Many avian species kept as companions are relatively low on the food chain. These protective instincts have been developed to avoid drawing the attention of predators. One such instinct is often known as the masking phenomenon. Predators are naturally drawn to prey that looks or behaves differently from others. Unusual coloring, weakness, or lameness can single out a bird and make it attractive to a predator. A natural instinct is therefore to avoid appearing different. A sick bird will make a determined effort to look healthy, even in the absence of predators. The classical “sick bird look” we usually associate with illness: fluffed feathers, closed eyes, and lethargy, only develops when the bird is incapable of masking these signs. Therefore, many of the patients presented to veterinarians are past the initial stages of their illness and are now decompensating rapidly. (Doneley et al., “Clinical Avian Medicine” Vol I, 2006).”
Online bird sale scams
When considering buying a bird, it's important to research the species you're interested in and ensure that you are prepared to provide for its specific needs. Make sure you have the appropriate cage, food, toys, and other supplies before bringing a bird home. Bird sale scams are unfortunately common in the world of online commerce. These scams typically involve a seller advertising a bird for sale on a website or social media platform, but then requesting payment upfront before the bird is delivered. Once the payment is made, the seller disappears, and the buyer is left without the promised bird or any means of getting their money back. It is not advised to purchase budgies online unlike larger birds due to their small size and fragility.
Cost of keeping birds
The cost of keeping birds as pets can vary widely depending on several factors such as the species of bird, their size, the type of housing and accessories you provide for them, and the type and quality of food you feed them. Some birds, such as parrots, can be quite expensive to keep due to their long lifespan, specialized diet requirements, and the need for regular veterinary care. These birds also require a significant amount of socialization and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy, which can require additional time and financial resources. Smaller birds like canaries or finches, on the other hand, tend to have lower maintenance costs. However, they still require regular access to fresh food and water, clean housing, and occasional veterinary check-ups. Overall, the cost of keeping birds as pets can range from relatively low to quite expensive, depending on the specific bird species and the level of care they need. I spent ~ 1.055 USD on medical bills for my two birds in 2022. One visit to the avian vet cost 26 USD (visiting with a dog/cat costs somewhat less surprisingly) here in Germany.
Quarantining new birds
The first thing I did when I adopted Hatchin in January 2022 took him for a check-up to make sure he wouldn’t transmit some diseases to my other bird who was healthy. As I had two cages, I kept him in a separate cage from Azuki in two different rooms. Any newly purchased or adopted bird should be quarantined for a month before introducing them to your other bird followed by an avian vet check-up. He had bacterial (e.coli) and fungal infection (avian gastric yeast) so antibiotics, probiotics, antifungals, lab testing, and regular checkups were needed to make sure he recovered. I adopted him from a lady I knew. His parents had been adopted from a rescue center so I knew that there was a possibility of them carrying some diseases. Adult birds are less likely to come down with illness than their young counterparts due to their developed immune system.
I disagree with the idea that budgies are low-maintenance and inexpensive birds. In case of illness, they must be taken to a vet, and medical bills for birds can reach the triple digits. Those who can’t afford to pay for their birds' medical care shouldn’t own birds. Keeping more than two-three birds is irresponsible unless you’re very well off and can cover their medical expenses should all of them become ill suddenly. Before taking in any type of animal ask yourself: “Am I able to afford its medical expenses if it becomes ill?”
Children can't take care of pets properly
Finally, I am personally against parents purchasing pets, especially birds, for their children. A bird is not a toy that can be gifted to an immature human. Children can’t take good care of themselves let alone take care of another living being. Children aren’t ready to take on the adequate responsibility of caring for an animal. They can’t recognize signs of illness in birds. I do understand however that pets can provide children with a lot of joy, companionship, and valuable life lessons. Children must be taught how to properly care for a bird, including feeding, grooming, and exercising them, as well as cleaning up after them. Parents should also be prepared to take on the majority of the responsibility for caring for the pet and provide adequate supervision to ensure the safety and well-being of both the child and the bird.