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Old 03-21-2018, 11:47 PM
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What Students Should Ask Before Getting a Bird.

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Being of school age isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself when it comes to taking on a parrot. Heck, I got my first cockatiel as a student in college. But I wasn't exactly a party animal. I was home enough to give him the attention that a bird requires. And believe me, they do require a lot.

Thing is, a lot of people decide that they want a bird without a full idea of what having one might mean. This might not be the case with you. Only you know your personal situation and the kind of time you would have for interaction with a parrot. I just want to make sure that you've asked yourself the right questions.

1) Do you have an average of 4 or more hours per day to spend with your bird outside of his or her cage? Parrots are highly intelligent animals, and as such require A LOT of interaction and mental stimulation to be happy. This can cut heavily into an active social life.

2) Do you have the necessary financial resources? Parrots can get extremely expensive. Not only in terms of the initial costs (the parrot, the cage which can cost hundreds of dollars, the play stand(s), the toys, the food and the initial visit to a certified avian vet), but also in terms of the ongoing costs? Such ongoing costs include (but are not necessarily limited to) routine yearly veterinary visits and the required lab tests and such, emergency veterinary visits (which can be insanely expensive), food, toys (remember that the best enjoyed parrot toys are the ones they'll be able to destroy... which means you'll have to replace them. Frequently), and replacement perches.

3) Do you have the time for required maintenance? Parrots should be showered at least 2 to 3 times a week, the paper at the bottom of their cages should be changed either daily or at least every other day, their cages need to be spot-cleaned daily and deep cleaned at least once or twice a month, and their play stands have to be cleaned as necessary as well.

4) Do you have the necessary patience (and time) for properly training and socializing your parrot? Parrots require a lot of work, patience and commitment to make them properly socialized and adapted to life in your home. Simply put, parrots are closer to their wild counterparts than dogs are to theirs. So getting them to fit comfortably within the framework of your household can tend to be a lot more work.

5) Are you flexible enough to be a good "parront"? One of the hardest truths to ingest when it comes to keeping parrots is that it's not about bending them to your will. In truth, it's closer to 60/40 or maybe 70/30 split, meaning that while your parrot will have to make massive adjustments in terms of how he/she would typically conduct themselves as determined by their hardwired instincts, it's not a one-way street. There are simply certain adjustments you'll be required to make as well. This is one of the biggest reasons that most people do NOT make good keepers for parrots. Most think it's not much different from keeping dogs or cats, but that is just not true. it's markedly different.

6) Is everyone else in your household fully onboard for having a parrot in the home? And all the potential downsides that can come with one? The most common example would be noise. Some parrots are just louder than others. There are tendencies that vary according to species, but some of the variances are on the individual level. Meaning one cockatiel, for example, might be quiet as a church mouse while another likes to test the limits of your eardrums at every given opportunity. There are training methods that can refocus somewhat their screams into more pleasant utterances, but you can't eliminate altogether the need of a bird to be heard. And to a certain extent, you may have to learn to live with a noisy bird. Is everyone else in your home willing to sign on for that? Are your neighbors?

7) Are you willing to bird-proof your home? This includes some of the obvious things like making sure all electrical wires and such are out of reach, or making sure there are never any open windows or doors when your parrot is out and about. But it also includes lesser known things. All non-stick coated pans (such as teflon), for instance, have to go. To be replaced by their ceramic or stainless steel equivalents. Why? Because teflon, heated beyond a certain point, releases a gas that is almost instantly fatal to birds. We're talking death within seconds or, at most, minutes... depending on the level of exposure.

Scented candles, oils, aerosol sprays and such are out as well, as the delicate respiratory systems of birds can easily be overcome by the particulates they release into the air.

8) And lastly, can you be sure that you won't be going away to school? Birds form strong bonds, and we have a responsibility to them when we take them in that we won't just basically walk away from them after making the tacit promise of a lifelong bond. And make no mistake, it really is like a promise. Your bird won't understand the necessity of going away to college or grad school or anything like that.

I promise I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, here. If you can honestly answer yes to all of these questions, then by all means, go for it. But just make sure you're being completely honest with yourself. Your future bird's wellbeing would depend on it.
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:11 AM
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Re: What Students Should Ask Before Getting a Bird.

This post is pure gold!! I wish I had been able to read this when I was in school and decided to get a bird. I just did not see into the future and didn't realize the commitment these guys need.

When I was around 12-13 my parents allowed me to get a Jenday Conure. These guys like 30 YEARS. As an animal lover I was overjoyed to have him in my life, he was my baby. For the first couple years everything was great.... and then I got to high school. I got a boyfriend. I was on the swim team and got my first job. (age 15)

Between my social life, extracurricular sports, dating, a job AND homework to do every night I was becoming neglectful of my parrot. Didn't get much more than a daily water and food change, a small cage and no out of cage time. I was just too busy.

Then college began to approach (age 17-18) and suddenly my conure was no longer a part of my life -- I had to give him up. I was going 1.5 hours away to college, had to live in a dorm with no pets allowed and on a swimming scholarship I was in no shape to keep continuing to care for my conure. My parents are not animal people and therefore, I had to rehome him. It was the best choice for him, but if I were to have read a post like this and asked myself all these questions, I know I was not committed to keeping him for his 30 year long life.

Two years into college I went to study abroad in Australia for 5 weeks. Over the course of those 10 years I spent swimming, I traveled to several different states and even Puerto Rico and Cancun. None of this could have been done while taking care of a pet of my own, and yet I never realized how much my life would change after getting him.

It wasn't until I was 25 and married, got a stable job and my life finally settled down and I was grounded in one city that I finally felt ready to bring another bid into my life. Now I am happy to say I have the time to give attention, financial resources, more knowledge of better care and hygiene, and the love in my heart for the life-long commitment. It pays to wait!!!
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Last edited by itzjbean; 03-22-2018 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:28 AM
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Re: What Students Should Ask Before Getting a Bird.

At 8 I got my first bird, a budgie, and loved her incredibly for the most amazing 3 years of best friend ship. But I did not have the full support and confidence of my parents, and she died because of this. I told my parents that "Tweety was sick and needed to see a vet" and they thought I just wanted to do something with the bird or something. Their young child's 20$ parakeet didn't need a vet, their daughter needed more attention, or something. She didn't get vet care and she died shortly after. I was inconsolable. They made me go to school, and *the school sent me home I was so distraught*.

They learned that my judgement with my birds' health was spot on and that my bond was not a joke(I had gotten a second budgie when Tweets was about 2ish) and they listened to me after that(until I became self sufficient), even bought Alex for me as an apology of sorts, but still Tweety died and will never be able to get those years of her life back.

Having family permission is not the same as family support, and the birds will be the ones to pay.

I wish Tweety had gotten the vet care she needed and lived, but I adore my Alex Bird, and keeping birds as a small child literally shaped my entire life and who I am as a person. So basically: This post is awesome and thank you for making it, and my advice to young people wanting birds is either have your own way to pay for vet care or make *sure* you have the financial and vehicular support of your family, *not just their permission*!


RIP Tweety, you are missed even to today.
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:43 AM
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Re: What Students Should Ask Before Getting a Bird.

I really like this thread, though I would argue this doesn't just apply to students and youth but to all parrot owners. You have no idea how many 6 month old birds I see being sold online because "Don't have enough time" maybe I'm weird but stuff doesn't change much in 3 months so they clearly didn't think about time needed or money required or heck, anything
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