Hello! I am not currently a bird owner, but we are hoping to change that soon, and I could use some advice.
My 10 year old has her heart set on a pet bird and would actually be great with one. We’ve been visiting local rescues/stores and watching her learn to handle the birds has been a real joy. But I’m very concerned about down the road when she goes to college/moves out since I know many of the large parrots are “one person” birds. If we got a bird, I’d need it to be one that can be socialized with the rest of us and would accept a "new" owner when my daughter goes to college. I know even the smaller birds usually have someone they prefer, but they can often adapt if that person becomes unavailable. Basically, I’m thinking of this as a bird for me that she’ll be able to do most of the training and interacting with for a while. We’ve been doing a ton of research, but I always find first-hand knowledge is usually more accurate than books and articles, so I’d love input on the species we’re considering. (BTW, I kept birds myself about 15 years ago, so I do know what we’re signing up for, but I also feel my knowledge is pretty out of date.)
The current list is: budgie (English or American), lovebird, cockatiel, green check conure, or jenday conure
We had pionus, brown-headed parrot, and Meyers parrot on the list as well, but they’ve been crossed out based off of info we’ve gotten from the local breeders.
Cockatiel and conure are probably at the top of our list for the moment, mostly because of the interactions we’ve been having with them at the stores. I’ve owned cockatiels before and really they’re spot on what we want in personality, but I have big concerns around the night terrors (the bird would be sleeping in my kid’s room) and the dust since my kid already struggles with allergies/asthma.
Other pertinent facts – the youngest kid in our house is 7 years old, and while I’d describe our household as happy and lively, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s loud. Right now we’re all home all the time thanks to covid, but down the road, the bird would need to be able to stay home alone for 2-3 hours a couple days a week, and for two 8 hour days each month. We are leaning toward getting a rescue/re-home bird although we all think the hand fed babies are pretty darn cute. And we are open to multiple birds if the species prefers it/we find a bonded pair we’re interested in.
So any advice would be very welcome! I’d love to hear why those species might be a good or bad choice or suggestions for birds we haven’t even considered.
Have you considered Quakers? My first bird was a Quaker. She was a blast and easy to care for, affectionate and learned so many words and phrases it was amazing. She preferred me but would still cozy up to whoever would have her. She could get loud but not like most parrots, not like my Amazon, certainly not like a cockatoo! I'm thinking of getting another one but at 66 my Amazon is going to outlive me so... Think about a Quaker, they're adorable.Thank you! That sort of confirms some of my thoughts about budgies. I think my kid is drawn to them because they remind her of the wild birds that come to our feeders. And to her credit, she has managed to train several finches, chickadees, and hummingbirds to take food from her hand. But while I think she finds that a heady victory all its own, I don’t think she understands that it could never go past that. She of course would never want take a wild bird captive, but I don’t think she gets that even if we were to put one in a cage, it would never turn into a pet the way most parrots do.
My only concern and curious to know to be honest if you really have "enough" time to take care of so many in your family? The reason of my concern is birds are simply so vulnerable which require full attentive care as an one time distraction may cost their lives.Sorry for dropping the ball on getting back to ya’ll! We had a crisis in the extended family that needed our attention, and we had to let the bird research go for a time. BUT we’re back at it, and I wanted to drop in with an update. It was a wonderful surprise to read through all the conversation that’s been happening! First, rather than replying to everyone specifically, I’m hoping I can do a general one since several people have brought up similar points.
First, we are looking at an air filter at least for the room a bird would be sleeping in just because it sounds like they can help the bird itself as well as the people. So probably something we want even if we don’t go with cockatiels. HOWEVER, I’m just starting to look at them and wondered if there are any hidden issues with them like the non-stick in ironing boards. Are there specific bird safe brands I should be looking for?
Second, a couple people pointed out that our kids are very young to be bringing a bird into the house. That’s a very fair point, and a big part of why we started looking at rescues. I do think that my kids are the type who would be gentle and safe with a bird. I also understand that I am the one getting a bird really. When I say “for my daughter” I mean that she would like a bird in the house to play with and train. I fully expect to be doing the cage cleaning, bathing, socializing, and the real training. And while I do have my son feed our dog, he does it while I watch to see it’s done right and to make sure she doesn’t get forgotten or half-done.
But at the end of the day, I am their parent and inclined to think well of them. So we found a rescue that takes their business very seriously, and I feel confident that they will help us find a bird that is a good fit, and, if we’re wrong about the kids and/or our house set up, they will not allow us to take home any bird at all. Someone who is advocating for the birds and has decades of experience to help me see issues I might miss.
At the end of the day, even the most well intentioned kid is still a kid, and sooooo many birds seem to end up in rescues because a kid saw a movie or a cute bird at a pet shop, and the parents indulged their whim. I think that we’re proceeding with more caution and more care for the long term of the bird’s well being, but I’m really glad there are people like you advising caution and pointing out a potentially harmful situation for birds – thank you!
And third – it was funny to see ya’ll talking conure vs quaker, because my new question is: how about both? We went back to the rescue today since we try to get to it every couple weeks and just hang out for the afternoon playing with the birds. There were a lot of new birds including a bonded pair of a conure and a quaker. They’re six years old and have spent their entire life together, including sharing a cage. Both birds seemed stunningly sweet for their species. The conure seems to be acting as the quaker’s “body guard” and will bite if you ask the quaker to step up first. Once you’ve picked up the conure and he has checked you out, he doesn’t react to you picking up the quaker. After a couple of minutes of playing with them, both were prepared for snuggling, head scratches, and riding around on our shoulders. Out of curiosity, half an hour in, I had my daughter who had the quaker on her shoulder at that time walk to a different room. The conure called for his friend, who called back, and then both birds settled down happily with each of us in the separate areas.
Talking with the staff confirmed for me that both the birds are unusually well tempered and must be left together at this point. We had some questions that they are going to ask the previous owners for us, and the birds are new enough to the rescue that they need time to decompress and get medically evaluated before a hold can be placed on them. But unless their demeanors change a lot as they get settled in, I am very interested in them. The staff thought it was both a pretty rare opportunity to have both our top species and that the birds would be an excellent fit for us. We’re going up again tomorrow to have the rest of the family meet them and learn as much as we can about their history. After that, I will probably try to post to both the quaker and conure forums to see if anyone there has more thoughts (though the posts will probably end up fairly similar, and I know that’s frowned on…) In the meantime from you guys who are already following and helping us out – Thoughts? Concerns? Questions I should ask?
I know it's probably a little late for posting this and you probably already have a bird, but I would just like to say from my experience is that green cheeks are very much one person's bird unless the other person has treats. I have had two GCC's and they both were very much protective of me (my male GCC dive-bombed my dad and my older brother sometimes) and my female was very nippy at my other family members. They also form a very strong bond if you spend time with them and would probably be pretty upset if your daughter left for college (my GCC's would get very cranky at who was watching them if I left for a short trip that they couldn't go on) that being said I would not write GCC off as an easy bird to own, I got my male when I was eleven But I also was not planning on leaving him for college. I do hope that whatever bird you decide or decided to get has a happy life with youOh wow, what a stunning bird! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honest take on jendays. The one friend I used to help out had two cockatoos, and they were definitely beautiful birds I enjoyed admiring but never one I’d want in my house! Just because a bird is the right fit for one person doesn’t make it a good pet for everyone.
And I know what you mean about the bigger birds. Frankly, if I were looking for a bird just for me, without kids in the house, I’d definitely be looking at greys, Amazons, or Macaws. I’ve always enjoyed handling and babysitting those birds, and their body language is usually pretty clear and obvious. But as I said in the original post, my biggest fear is a one person bird bonding with any of the kids and then mourning them when they move out into the world. As you said, the bird shouldn’t have to be rehomed or be miserable just for behaving naturally.
I wouldn’t describe a caique as a “family bird”. Most can’t handle their clownish personalities, especially kids. They’re actually very difficult to control and definitely NOT beginner pets (not that any bird is).Have you looked at Caiques? they are super silly and fun, Family Birds