Getting a bird with housemates?


New member
Aug 18, 2020
TLDR: getting a bird with housemates... can it work?

Hello all! I grew up with birds as a kid, mainly Budgie parakeets, and now 20 years later I'm considering getting another one.

I'm considering getting a Budgie, Parrotlet, or Conure, or maybe even a Lovebird or Dove. Here's the catch, I want to be a responsible bird owner and my living situation is a bit alternative, so I want to make sure I can be sure this will work before diving in.

I own and live in a 3 story house with 7 other adults, we have a bit of turnover with typically a 1-2 people moving out/in each year but most of us have lived here for several years. Here's the house layout so you can have some context- My room is large and in the basement with several windows (one very large that the cage could go next to) but has a low ceiling (no ceiling fan) and higher humidity around 60% RH (no mold). My room is across an open basement area from another bedroom, so no shared walls for noise considerations, but there are basement things in the open basement area outside my room (a furnace, ducts, bike storage, etc) that could maybe be a hassle to chase a bird around in. The common spaces are quite large with high ceilings and on the first floor, with no doors between the kitchen/dining/living areas. The windows all have screens, but the kitchen does have a ceiling fan which I recall was a bit of an issue with my last Budgie (who died when my parents sprayed for ants outside the house). There is no door between the first floor and second, so it would be possible for the bird to fly down the hall and up the stairs, but then the top floor is just a hallway with closed doors. I also own a lot of (tropical) houseplants in my room and in the living room and that's one of my passions that I don't want to give up. The other important consideration is that I am a light sleeper and I would need a bird that (with a sheet over the cage) will be quiet at night.

This would be my bird (not shared) but I would want my housemates to be comfortable having it around in the common areas with me, and I'd need the bird to be safe. I understand that I'd be committing to spending a lot of one-on-one time in my room with the bird at first, but the goal would be to socialize it so it's comfortable being in common spaces with me as I don't usually spend a lot of time in my room alone. So, I think recall training is going to be key here (can you train a bird to poop in a litter box setup??) and I'm looking for a species most likely to be happy chilling on my shoulder as I walk around, eat dinner or watch tv, etc. I'm currently working from home (my desk is not in my room but it seems like an opportunity to take something like this on!) but pre-covid I had a 9-6 desk job and am out of the house most of the day.

Thanks for reading all that... So I'm asking y'all with more experience, do you think this could work? Or do you think this would be a nightmare for any bird? How much time do you spend with your bird while doing other things or hanging out? Is this feasible for my lifestyle? Besides keeping the exterior doors closed, not burning candles when the bird is out, are there any other accommodations my housemates would need to make? Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated *especially* for anyone with similar experience, and I'm happy to answer any questions.

P.S. Fun fact, my mom is a (wild) birder and a zoologist who has worked with finches and other small songbirds for many years, so I grew up with a great appreciation for birds of all kinds. She actually raised a rescued crow and blue jay as a kid and has wild stories from those times.
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Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Welcome to you and thank you for asking/researching.

I would STRONGLY advise against it, as it is very difficult to control other adults-- especially when you aren't married to them, and even then LOL! Birds need a home that is forever-- or at least, mostly forever...much like an adopting a child. Even a parakeet (small as they are) has a very high cognitive capacity, plus, they cannot be caged all the time...then there are hormones etc...and with bigger birds, these come later.
"My bird" is a human construct (although someone has to take financial responsibility etc) . What happens if you aren't the "chosen one"...and what happens if you get noise complaints or have house-mates who end up accidentally poisoning your bird due to negligent chemical use (only takes one)? Birds can die from chemical use even if it isn't in the same room, or on the same floor.

Some issues will come down more to chemical use and scented products, vaping, smoking, candles, air fresheners, perfume,teflon/ptfe/pfoa/pfc use, cleaning products etc...Teflon/PTFE/PFOA/PFCS and certain cleaning chemicals can and DO go through floors and closed doors...then there is the behavioral side and the potential for screaming.

On top of that, it's very hard to teach multiple people how to respond appropriately to behaviors you are trying to ignore (especially really disruptive ones) a screaming bird could get attention (in the form of a raided hand, eye contact, or the spoken words,"no screaming"--no matter how you coach, people just want it to stop . All it would take was an error from 1/7 flat-mates and that would reinforce the behavior even a slot machine. One weak link is all it takes behaviorally...or chemically

Plus-- they bond FOR LIFE...
it may not be with you (but it could be)-- it could also be with the person who likes them least, but then what? And what if no one can handle the bird but that person? Every time they are re-homed, it leaves an emotional mark (which often results in behaviors that make life at a new home harder)--what if they move? That leaves a mark...What if you don't like the bird? What if it attaches to some random roommate who hates it? (yes-- that happens sometimes). The point is, you can't get them when you aren't in it forever. You have to think of them more as kids than pets.

Please wait until you are in a committed space before adopting.
I very much appreciate your asking, but as someone who had roommates in the recent past (e.g., within the past 10 years)...I just wouldn't even go there.

Time with a bird= roughly 4 hours of out-of-cage-time (depending on the species)...and they ARE flock animals, so many will scream if they hear people moving around but can't be with them.

Then, they need a solid sleep a kid...10-12 hours in a dark, quiet spot for most...12-14 for certain larger parrots.
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Well-known member
Dec 28, 2014
Greater Orlando area, Florida
JoJo, 'Special' GCC, Bongo, Cinnamon GCC(wife's)
Absolutely agree with noodles! It would be very unfair to the bird and everyone else! 90% probability, you would end up with a tormented bird!


Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
I’d say yiu need to wait. I know that’s hard...,
One if my parrots was given to me by a college student because having a parrot, class, a job, and a relationship, and room mates didn’t work out. This person was a really great, smart, caring and driven person with a huge love of parrots....

Also we have had at Least two threads where room mates hurt and or killed parrots in a shared household.... parrots like to get up with the sun and make the most noise very early in the morning.... room mates don’t like that. Yiu cabt always trust that the room mate or the room mates friends won’t do something terrible.......,,,,, it really does happen......

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