Birds are exotic, smart, fun, social and even talk! Unfortunately, when people think about adding a new pet to the family, birds are usually not first on the list, meaning many birds each year wait to find a loving home. To help people understand the importance of finding feathered friends loving homes of their own and the responsibility it takes to care for them, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has named the month of January as Adopt-A-Rescued-Bird Month.
A major reason that birds are often forgotten is that shelters and other animal advocate organizations simply do not have the room to accommodate them in their facilities, forcing them to turn birds away. Because of this, many birds are euthanized when a suitable shelter can’t be found. Some helpful websites to check out for assistance with birds is http://www.avianwelfare.org/index.html, the home for the Aviation Welfare Coalition, adoptapet.com which has a specific section to finding birds in need of homes, and bestfriends.org.
Too often, people who buy birds are not prepared to take care of them properly. While the reasons for buying a bird vary, some people may think that birds are less messy, easier to care for, and less expensive. This is untrue, and often the opposite case. When a bird is brought home, new bird owners will soon find that a bird is messy in its cage, that there is food on the floor all the time and that the cage needs to be cleaned. A bird also needs to be let out of its cage every day so that it can spread its wings, the equal of walking a dog. The cost of veterinary care for a bird may be another surprise for first time bird owners. Also, it may be harder to find a vet that works with feathery pets.
If bird owners don’t understand basic bird behavior, this can cause the bird to develop behavior problems that will make it hard to be adopted if they are surrendered. Birds are social creatures that, in the wild, communicate by squawking or screaming during dawn and dusk, two times of the day that are definitely not the best to have a squawking bird in the home if unprepared. A bird owner may only make the problem worse if they go to the bird cage and give the bird treats or attention to stop them from continuing, since this will reinforce the behavior. To move in their cages, birds use their beaks to help them climb and play. It is important to know that just because a bird has its beak out of its cage, it doesn’t mean that it will bite or that it is aggressive. Birds are independent creatures, so a young bird will not be as willing to play as puppies or kittens.
Lastly, even though the lifespan of a bird probably isn't the first thing on a new pet parents mind when they bring a bird home, a plan needs to be worked out. Specific breeds of birds, particularly parrots, have a life span of up to 75 years. Will they still want to care for the bird after their children have gone to college? Will an assisted living facility allow senior citizens to bring their bird with them? These are all questions that need to be answered before a bird is brought into a home. By not taking into consideration the future, the outlook can be bleak for birds that are either left in a shelter or euthanized if they aren’t adopted.
Birds are loving, caring companions so contact a local bird adoption group to find a wonderful bird in need of a home instead of purchasing a bird from a pet store or breeder.