By Nancy Wilson, Canary & Finch Society fo Houston

Many people keep caged birds for companionship, a hobby and for some, even a small business.  It all started with one bird for most of us and we all did our homework before selecting, buying and bringing home our new winged companion.  Birds are not like having a dog or a cat and depending upon your choice of bird, a little investigation and preparedness can make for a smooth transition for both of you.

Do Your Homework: You’re taking the first step by reading this article! 

Determine what type of bird you are interested in. Small finches, canaries, cockatiels or parakeets require little space to own and are ideal for apartment dwellers. They can be relatively low maintenance pets. You can purchase extended seed dispensers & water containers if you travel and they should be fine for an overnight trip.  They are relatively quiet animals and few things are more calming than listening to a canary sing on a sunny patio in the morning. 

Larger birds such as parrots require much more time, space, special diets and should be considered from all possible angles before purchasing one. A parakeet or cockatiel average 5-15 years lifespan whereas a parrot is 25-50 (or more) and that’s quite a commitment!  

Purchase The Right Size of Cage: Birds have wings for a reason–they like to use them!  Take the time and investment in purchasing a cage where your bird can fly and move about. A standard rule of thumb for two parakeets is a cage measuring 40 x 30 x 20 inches. Pay attention to bar spacing; limiting ½ inch spacing for finches & canaries and you can use wider spacing for a cockatiel or small parrots. If you start with one bird, you may wish to purchase a mate for them in the near future and cramped quarters can lead to aggression and stress. Smaller birds like different swings, ladders; even multiple food dishes. Unlike parrots, they never get exercise outside of their cage, so make sure they have plenty of room to fly about on the inside. 

It’s a good idea to have a smaller cage on hand for transport or as a “hospital cage”. If a bird ever needs to be removed from a shared space due to injury or illness, you don’t want to run the risk of infecting other healthy birds. 

Sources for Further Information on Keeping Birds: Your local bird retail store can be a wealth of information, supplies and support. Join local and national bird clubs where you can meet like-minded individuals.  There are even birding shows where you can enter your birds for awards that meet the breed standards.  Facebook has several forums that include novice bird owners and experienced bird breeders from all over the world. 

Whatever your level of enthusiasm is for this newfound companion– with a little research and preparedness, you and your new bird can enjoy many years together!

For local bird needs, visit Houston PetTalk sponsor Adventures In Birds, 7414 Westview Dr, Houston, TX 77055.