First, make sure you read up *thoroughly* before you buy a bird; this is
something you should do with all pets, of course, but in my opinion it's
especially important with birds because they're so much more emotional and
intelligent than most pets.
On that note, when thinking of buying a bird, you ought to note that a bird
is not like a hamster, gerbil, or even a slightly more high-maintenance pet
like a rabbit or ferret; birds are much closer in terms of emotional
attachment (yours & the bird's!) to a dog... of course the type of care is
very different, and the personalities are very different, but it's on
*that* sort of leval. You know what I mean?
Anyway, here goes...
> Please bear with
> me because I've never had a bird for a pet - not even temporarily. The
> only experience I had was with a parakeet my aunt had, but that was a
> very long time ago when I was only about 6 or 7 years old and we didn't
> see her very often.
You might want to visit a few pet shops that will allow you to handle their
birds; get a feel for handling them, dealing with those beaks (they scare
some people!), just generally getting a feel for them.
> 1) What kind of bird(s) are fairly quiet and are not excessively messy?
> I am not naive enough to think that you can keep your house faultlessly
> clean with a pet in it, but I don't want to have to pay a fortune in
> cleaning fees when I move out. As far as the noise goes, I just want to
> make sure that I don't get any complaints from my neighbors while I'm at
> work. How much does the breed(s) you are recommending typically cost?
Mess is a relative term. Bird mess consists of droppings, and food flung
around. Also a certain amount of dust and dander from the feathers.
Parrots often chew excessively; those with small beaks rarely do much
damage (altho I wouldn't want to put important papers near them!), but
larger birds are more than capable of literally destroying furniture and
Here's a few species that are good for beginners, lower in price, and don't
have beaks large enough to do a great deal of damage:
Budgies: "Parakeets", more properly known as Budgerigars or just Budgies.
Range in price from around $10 thru $30 for hand-feds or the larger
"English" type. Rarely hand-fed, meaning you'll have to work on taming the
bird yourself, but this generally isn't difficult. They have entertaining,
active personalities; not usually very cuddly, but love their owners
anyway! Noise is soft chatter with the occasional louder whistle; nothing
that could possibly bother the neighbors, I don't think.
Cockatiels: Another very popular first bird. Hand-feds are tame & usually
very cuddly and sweet! They're not very active, but still like to play
with toys. The females are usually *very* quiet; the males, on the other
hand, like to whistle a great deal and this can get obnoxious on occasion;
still, I doubt it would bother the neighbors much. Price ranges from about
$40-$60 for a hand-fed bird from a breeder, to $60-$100 for the same from a
pet shop. The less common colors will be more. Cockatiels do have quite a
bit more dust on their feathers than most birds.
Lovebirds: A personal favorite of mine! Small & adorable. They're very
active and love to play, but are also very cuddly and love to snuggle with
you. If you're looking for a tame lovebird, look for a *hand-fed* bird
that has been handled a *lot*; any bird that isn't obviously friendly and
enjoys handling is *not* the bird to buy, as lovebirds are rather hard to
tame. Price ranges from $40-$70 for a lovingly hand-fed bird from a
breeder; on the high end or a little more from a pet shop. Lovebirds can
be loud; they have high-pitched, squeaky voices.
Parrotlets: Parrotlets are some of the smallest parrots in the world - the
two common species, Pacifics and Greenrumps, are under 5" long! They make
active, sweet pets that are often called "big parrots in a tiny body".
They have a lot of personality! Price ranges around $100-$150 for a
hand-fed bird from a breeder. Noise is negligible; basically tiny squeaks
Small Conures: Greencheeks and Maroon Bellies specifically. A bit smaller
than a***atiel, at about 10" long. Very pretty little birds. Active,
*very* cuddly and sweet, and playful! I've got my Greencheek, Zach,
cuddling under my hair at the moment. Hand-feds generally cost anywhere
from $100-$250, averaging around $150. Noise is almost always very low;
they *can* be loud (pairs tend to be quite obnoxious) but very rarely
> 2) How much does a cage cost? How big should it be?
Cages range in price a lot. Never skimp on the cage tho; cheap cages
usually mean cages that are poorly put together, even dangerous for the
bird. Large, appropriate budgie and lovebird cages will cost around
$35-$60. Cages for***atiels and small conures will cost around $50-$80.
> 3) Related to the messiness question above - am I going to have to put
> something underneath the cage and around my furniture? Like I said, I'm
> not naive enough to think that a pet will never make a mess or never
> have an accident, but on the other hand, I'm not eager to ruin my
> brand-new furniture, either. I also don't want to go dragging around
> drop cloths whenever I move the cage from one room to another
It's generally best to do something like that. Most of bird mess is easily
vacuumed or swept up, so depending on the cage location it may be easier
with something under the cage. On your furniture, it's generally not
necessary, unless you plan on letting the bird climb on your furniture, but
if you're worried about it getting dirty, it's usually just as easy to
confine the bird to areas that are easy to clean.
4) How often will the cage need to be cleaned? Will I have to remove the
> bird to clean the cage? If so, where do I put it while I'm cleaning the
The cage will need to be cleaned pretty often; some people clean theirs
every day, others every week. In any case it's an easy task; all good bird
cages come with trays which are easy to pull out, and it's simply a matter
of removing the old newspaper and replacing it with new. The bird can stay
in the cage while you're doing this, tho of course you could also place it
on your shoulder... pretty much anywhere.
> 5) How difficult is it to handle a bird? Like I mentioned earlier, my
> aunt had a parakeet, but I remember getting bit by it once or twice (of
> course, I was also a lot younger and less experienced with animals).
Look for a bird that has been "hand-fed"; this is a bird that was taken
from the nest early (usually 10 days thru 3 weeks) and then fed with a
syringe or spoon until weaning. This makes for a bird that is imprinted on
people and is quite tame... and easy to handle! Biting is generally not a
problem, altho it can be with some birds.
> 6) Can the bird be left alone for one or two days at a time? My job
> should not require me to travel very often, but if I need to travel or
> leave town for the weekend, will the bird be able to take care of
> itself if I leave it a clean cage, fresh water, and fresh food? If not,
> are there people/companies that can board it? How much would that cost?
If it's only a day or two, and only once in a while, the bird should be
fine; altho if you could get a friend to pop in once or twice just to make
sure everything's going good, and maybe handle the bird a bit, than that
would be great.
> The reason why I'm asking how much this stuff will cost is to
> make sure that I can fit this into my budget and to ensure that I don't
> get ripped off by an unscrupulous pet shop owner taking advantage of my
> lack of experience with birds.
Speaking of pet shops, you may be better of if you could find a local
breeder or two. Breeders are the ones that bred the birds, so they know
the bird's personlities, how it was raised, and other stuff like that. A
good breeder will not focus on selling the bird; they'll focus on finding
the bird a good home. Their prices will also almost always be lower
because they're "wholesale", so to speak. Try picking up the magazine
"BirdTalk" (almost all pet shops and magazine stands have it), they have a
list of breeders by state in the back. They also have a list of bird
clubs; if you could find a local bird club to join, that is one of the best
ways to meet bird people & find out a lot more on birds!
Anyway, hope some of all that helps - feel free to email if you have