Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ASK DR SAGIR

Adopting a Pet

Bird is the word
Birds are more popular than ever as the pet of choice for people in Bangladesh. However, no one should keep a bird unsuitable for captive living when there are so many types that readily adapt to human companionship. There are literally hundreds of species of birds that thrive as pets and contribute greatly to a mutually beneficial relationship if matched with the right owner.
Researchers have recently confirmed what bird-owners have long known — that certain birds, parrots especially, are among the smartest creatures on Earth. Yet no bird is truly domesticated. Pet birds are among the rarest of wild animals that can potentially become loving members of a human family.

What to consider when choosing a pet bird
Expectations
What is your motivation for buying a bird? How is it going to improve your life, and how committed are you to taking good care of the bird? If you possess the time, energy and love to give to a fascinating companion, then you are probably a good candidate for bird ownership. Many birds require far more attention and care than some prospective owners realise. Moreover, some bird species are extremely long-lived, so do your research beforehand.

Living conditions
If you live in an apartment, with other people, with children or with other pets (including other birds), you need to carefully consider if you can care for a pet that needs so much attention. Are you prepared to handle the mess that many birds make? Do you travel often? Some birds may not be compatible with your style of living.

Personality
Some birds are quiet and unobtrusive but others are loud and boisterous. Most birds require lots of love and patience and some birds are dominating. Get a bird that is not going to clash with your essential nature.

Page 1801

Source
Try to buy directly from a breeder, or at least from a pet shop that specialises in birds. Look carefully at how the birds are housed and handled, and be wary of dirty places and handlers. Inspect the bird physically, and look for one that has clear eyes and nostrils, nice shiny feathers, an alert expression, no noticeable defects and is not overly aggressive or seemingly desperate to flee.
Always insist on a guarantee that you can take the bird to your veterinarian for a complete health checkup and return it for a full refund if it is diseased or otherwise seriously flawed. Try to buy a very young hand-fed bird, preferably a just-weaned youngster. Do not take on the responsibility of hand-feeding yourself, unless you are very experienced. An inexperienced hand-feeder can easily kill the bird. Be wary of taking on an older bird, and don’t buy a bird you suspect was wild-caught or imported.

Financial investment
You need to consider not just the initial purchase, but also the on-going cost of proper pet care cage, toys, food, vet bills, etc. All of this can add up to a considerable continuing expense.

Common pet birds
Finches
The beautiful, tiny finch from Australia, Africa and other exotic locales are usually not particularly affectionate toward humans, but they can thrive in a home setting either in pairs or as a multicolored aviary colony, and should never be kept alone in tiny cages. Perfect for first-timers, children and would-be breeders.
Lovebirds
These adorable, colourful little parrots from Africa are extremely affectionate and playful with each other. They are somewhat harder to tame unless a single bird is acquired very young and handled regularly. Great species for beginning breeders.

Mynahs
Natives of Southeast Asia and Indonesia, Mynahs can be sensational talkers, capable of mimicking voices and sounds.

Pigeons
Pigeons are kept as entertaining and faithfully dependable “pets” by legions of admirers across the country. Pigeons don’t possess the engaging companion quality of the parrot-type birds, and are usually kept in colonies in outside aviaries. A single pigeon should never be kept caged indoors.

Pionus parrots
The unassuming Pionus parrots of South America are quickly gaining popularity as pets in Bangladesh. They are medium-sized, with gentle dispositions and are relatively quiet. Five species are commonly available. The Blue-headed is perhaps the most common, followed by the Maximilians, White-capped, Dusky and Bronze-winged. They can be a good first pet for a supervised or well-disciplined child.

Psitticula parakeets
This group of very artfully coloured, medium-small parrots from India, Southeast Asia and Africa is fast gaining popularity among breeders. Although these birds typically require a disciplining owner and constant handling, they can become very trusting companions.
It is important to note the growing concern for the welfare of “lonely birds”. Almost all pet-quality birds are species that are “flock birds,” living in large social groups in the wild. It can be cruel to keep them as solitary avian members of a family. So if you want to be a bird-keeper, please make plans to have more than one.
Unfortunately, birds are like most pets; they cannot choose their human companions. Humans choose them. The least we can do is choose very carefully. Whatever you do, read as much as you can about the type of bird that you are thinking of acquiring. Talk to people who own, or better yet, breed and raise your kind of bird.