January has been the annual ASPCA Adopt a Rescued Bird month since 2002. The number of distressed, abandoned exotic birds is staggering, and birds get far less attention than dogs or cats do.
While we’d love it if more exotic birds found forever homes we do urge you to think long and hard before taking on the commitment of a bird adoption. You won’t do the bird any favors by taking them in on impulse. Let’s talk about some of the issues surrounding exotic birds as pets before you start looking for your new bird on Petfinder.
Why are there so many displaced birds?
People often have unrealistic expectations about adopting birds. They think that birds will be easy and cheap. Just pop them in the cage, feed them some seed, and listen to them sing!
It’s not that simple. While birds make loving companions they aren’t really domesticated animals. They haven’t been bred for a life in captivity. They can be noisy, messy, and aggressive. Some people have compared exotic birds to two year olds that never grow up: intelligent, as animals go, but with very little impulse control. And birds live way longer than dogs or cats do. They live 30 to 50 years on average. If you don’t know what you are getting into you could become part of the problem in very short order, because you’ll find yourself surrendering a bird that’s driving you crazy.
Bird care resources.
If you’ve read all of that and still feel interested in adopting a bird then here are a few resources that you can use to learn about proper bird care.
- Avian Welfare: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Adopting a Bird
- Phoenix Landing Parrot Care
- Omar’s Exotic Bird Care Instructions
As you’ll soon read, birds need a lot of social interaction and a lot of time. They eat many of the same foods that humans do and require regular vet care, plenty of toys, a lot of spaces to play and plenty of patience and love.
Don’t buy from parrot mills!
If you decide to get a bird, please adopt! Almost any bird that you pick up in a pet store is going to come from a “parrot mill.” Most of these birds have been treated badly before they ever get to you. They can have extreme behavior problems. And buying them only adds to the homeless bird problem.
Volunteering: an alternative to adopting.
So you don’t think a bird is right for you at this time, or you already have dogs or cats that would be dangerous for the bird, but you’d still like to celebrate Adopt a Rescued Bird month?
Why not take a little time to volunteer at a bird shelter? They could use the help, and you can get to know these delightful creatures without years of commitment that you might not be ready for. Here is a list of DC bird rescue groups.