- Pets and Animals
Why Birds Make Good Pets
About six months ago I brought home my two cockatiels, Angus and Selchie, small members of the parrot family. Though people often think of brilliantly colored macaws when they hear “parrot,” many small birds are also parrots: parakeets (budgies), cockatiels and conures just to name a few. Small parrots pack lots of personality into their diminutive bodies, and make wonderful pets. If you are considering adding an animal companion to your household, here are some of the things that make a small parrot a great choice.
Birds are cheerful
A bird expresses joy like no other creature. Maybe the ability to fly is part of it. When Angus sings, he looks like he is so happy he can’t keep it to himself, like he must celebrate his life or burst, like being a bird is just so great the world has to hear about it. In the morning, Angus and Selchie patter about, checking the different feed bowls for the best breakfast. Just the sound of their little four toed feet is cheerful.
Birds are small
A tiny creature trusting humans enough to perch on a finger is charming. Budgies and cockatiels, two of the smallest parrots, tame quickly, usually needing only a week or two to go from completely unsocialized to accepting a person as part of the flock.
The small size of birds also means they don’t need as much space in your house, and their habits are quite economical with square footage. They need a cage to be their home base and safe place, but a bird can do with a cage smaller than a dog’s crate or a cat’s litterbox. Unlike the aforementioned items, a birdcage can hang from above, saving floor space. Birds make use of their cage top as an extra play area, something no dog ever thinks to do with his crate.
Birds sleep 12 hours a day, not counting naps
When one of my students explained her fogginess in class with, “My new puppy wakes me up at 4 am every single morning to let her out,” I pointed out that Angus and Selchie sleep from 7 to 7. It’s a point to be considered in a pet.
Birds are chummy
Members of the parrot family are very social. Their life is their flock. When they are tame, you are part of the flock. The bird’s interactions with each other are a big part of their charm, and their ongoing entertainment value, which is why I think having more than one bird is nice. Angus and Selchie groom each other, follow each other, quarrel with each other, and nod off for naps side by side.
Birds are not messy (compared to other pets)
Birds do scatter their food liberally, and drop you-know-what wherever they happen to be, but I still think they are the cleanest of pets. For one thing, bird droppings don’t smell. It may look like poo, but it doesn’t smell like poo. In contrast, if your puppy has an accident behind the drapes, that accident cannot be hidden. Carpets have a tough time recovering from dogs and cats in this regard, and I have heard about the territorial “spraying” wars cats can get into. I keep newspaper under the bird tree and of course on the cage bottom, and picking it up and throwing it out is easy.
Birds toss food everywhere, this is true. It is part of their symbiotic relationship with the plant kingdom. Plants feed birds, and in return birds scatter the plant’s seeds, along with every other part of the plant. Inside your house this does present more of an issue than in the woods, but both bird seed and bird pellets are dry, and vacuum up easily.
I look forward to many happy years with my little friends. I am enjoying them so much I may even get more.
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