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Birds as Pets

By: Lisa Klassen - Updated: 26 Oct 2016 | comments*Discuss
Birds Bird Care Pet Care Kids Pets

Beautiful bewitching birds with their lovely songs and varied vocalisations can bring so much pleasure to those who love them. Avian appreciators say that the esthetics of the bird world deeply enriches their lives and these intelligent, curious, charming creatures are considered one of the most amusing and highly entertaining companions to have in your home. As long as you are not a lover of silence, that is! Birds are good in homes with limited space to house a pet and with children who have more interest in visual stimulation than in hands on play.

Lifespan: 10-30 years, depending on the breed.

Level of Responsibility: Medium- High, depending on the breed.

Messiness Factor: Medium- High.

Estimated Yearly Cost: Low- Medium.

The Benefits

These winged wonders are generally very vocal, from bursts of song to actual human phrases. One of the greatest things to behold is the look of complete amazement on a child’s face upon first hearing a bird speak, something no other pet is capable of. This is probably why so many kids are immensely proud of their plumed pals. All species of bird are (contrary to the term ‘bird-brained’) quite intelligent beings and a parrot is considered one of the smartest creatures on the planet, equal to dolphins or gorillas in intelligence. Many breeds of bird are exceptionally affectionate, snuggling up to a person and proceeding to groom them with their beaks, something truly adorable to watch.

The Downsides

Most birds live a long time, so there is an extended pet care commitment here that not everyone can afford to take on. Birds are also very noisy, so be aware of your neighbours and their sensitivity to noise. Because birds are such messy eaters and go to the bathroom frequently, you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time cleaning up their cage area and food dishes. Birds don’t seem to be aware of how strong their beaks are and can accidentally hurt their human companions by nipping at fingers and ears. Larger birds like parrots have very strong beaks and have the potential to take a young child’s finger right off with that sharp maw. Birds are very sensitive to fumes, chemicals and cleaning agents and can easily sicken and die if exposed to them. Birds are also very social creatures and if you only get one, they may become exceptionally lonely. Most birds have a lengthy lifespan, so owners need to be capable of committing to an extended relationship with their birds. Also, the dust a bird generates can trigger people with allergies.

Newborns- Age 5

Birds can be an exciting addition to the lives of babies and toddlers as long as they are not housed in the child’s bedroom. Since birds are such messy eaters and go to the bathroom frequently, this would create an unhygienic atmosphere in an area where a baby or toddler would sleep as their immune systems are still fragile. But the beautiful plumage of a bird and the lovely sounds of their songs can really stimulate children’s language development skills and sense of esthetics, bringing them great visual and audio pleasure.

Age 5- 10

Friendly, gentle birds like budgies are excellent companions for kids as long as parents are careful to teach kids about the delicate structure of a bird’s body and how easily their fair feathered friends can be crushed by heavy handling. Larger birds make less ideal companions at this age as their strong beaks and talons can accidentally wound a child. All interactions between birds and children should be supervised during this stage, however.

Age 10 and up

A bird can be a very devoted buddy for a child during this time period, especially as kids have now developed their motor skills to a point where they can play with their pets alone. Many breeds of bird are so skilled at showing their love and appreciation of their owners that they are very strong confidence boosting companions to a kid, especially since a bird’s trust must be won and will not be given blindly to just anyone, like many dogs do.

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