1) Do You Really Want a Bird?
While owning a pet bird is a rewarding experience, new bird owners often find themselves sacrificing quite a bit to ensure their pet’s health and happiness. Adjusting to bird ownership can be a difficult transition even in homes with no children. Adding kids to the mix can make the situation that much more stressful for all involved. Consider the less glamorous points of owning a bird and think about whether or not you have time to care for a pet before bringing one home.
2) Can You Handle the Mess?
Most parents stay busy enough just cleaning up after their kids. Are you sure that you can keep up with a cleaning schedule for a bird’s cage on top of all your other chores? Birds must live in sanitary conditions to avoid health problems, so there are cage cleaning duties that need to be performed on a daily basis. Aside from the cage itself, the area it is in will need to be swept or vacuumed daily to avoid the accumulation of discarded food and other debris. If your children are too young to lend a hand in caring for a bird, will you be able to do the job yourself? Evaluate your schedule and make sure that your family can keep your pet’s environment clean before jumping into the world of bird ownership.
3) Have You Budgeted for Veterinary Care?
Veterinary care for a sick bird can cost just as much or more than medical care for yourself and your family. Before you buy your child a pet bird, evaluate your budget and decide whether or not you’ll be able to afford annual vet check-ups and any emergencies that may arise. As any parent knows, accidents do happen, and you must be prepared for them. The same rule applies to the ownership of birds or any other pet.
4) Can You Deal With Being Bitten?
Even if you purchase a handfed baby from the most reputable bird breeder you can find, it is virtually guaranteed that at one point or another, you or your children will be bitten. While the vast majority of these bites will not be made in aggression, it’s almost impossible for a bird not to “bite” to a certain extent when being handled. Birds use their beaks as a “third hand” to help them grasp and climb, and this natural behavior can be easily misinterpreted by kids as a sign that the bird is not their friend. Before bringing a bird home, discuss handling and interacting with birds with your family, and, if possible, visit a reputable pet handler for a hands-on learning experience.
5) Are You Able to Choose a Kid-Friendly Species?
There are literally hundreds of different pet bird species available, each with their own beautiful colors and charming personality traits. Out of all these birds, however, very few are recommended for homes with young children. Do some research on various pet bird species and choose a bird that is compatible with your family, budget, and lifestyle. Consult with bird experienced handlers, veterinarians, bird rehabbers and other resources to learn more about birds that are good for first-time owners. The care that you take in choosing the right bird for your family will be rewarded with lasting companionship in the end.
**EDIT 6) And remember- ADOPT, don’t shop- So many birdies end up in rehomed situations or rescue facilities.