are not domesticated
animals. Domestic animals are animals that have been bred for hundreds of
years to live in the care of humans and are distinct from their wild
ancestors. Birds commonly kept as pets are no different than their wild
relatives - they are the native species of other countries.
Chlamydiosis (psittacosis) and avian tuberculosis
can be transmitted through the air from birds to humans. These diseases
can cause significant illness, especially for people with compromised
immune systems. Birds also continually shed "feather dust" - particles of
feathers, which may aggravate asthma in some people. Many homes with pet
birds have HEPA-type air filters in rooms with birds to control allergies
from bird dander.
Parrots, including lovebirds, parakeets, and cockatiels, are noisy and
messy, and can be destructive. Vocalizing (squawking, chirping, talking)
is an important part of any parrot's social communication. Birds eat
continually throughout the day, dropping and discarding bits of food
everywhere. Birds are instinctively programmed to chew and shred wood,
whether it is a perch, toy, picture frame, or furniture. Birds will also
chew electrical cords, paper, and curtains.
parrots have long life spans. Depending on species, they may live 20 to 50
years or more. Caring for a bird is often a life-long responsibility.
Parrots are extremely social animals, and have been compared to human
toddlers in the needs of their emotional and social lives but, unlike
children, they never grow up.
are active and inquisitive and must be provided with ample room to move
about and play. An indoor or sheltered outdoor aviary or a flight safe
room (windows covered, no cats/dogs, no ceiling fans, etc.) that will
allow the bird(s) to fly is good for exercise. Birds with clipped wings
can get exercise by climbing, swinging, and flapping, if provided with
ample space, toys, and climbing structures.
birds need a varied diet, not just seeds or pellets, but grains, beans,
fruits and vegetables too.
exposure and sleep are very important to birds. Birds need at least 4
hours exposure to UVA and UVB rays from sunlight or full-spectrum lighting
to provide them with vitamin D, which promotes vitamin A absorption,
critical for upper respiratory health. Birds must have a minimum of 10
hours of sleep each night.
are very sensitive to air quality. Unlike humans, a bird replaces nearly
all the air in its lungs with each breath. Because no residual air is left
in the lungs during the ventilation cycle of birds, they transfer more
oxygen and more pollutants during each breath. Birds should never be
exposed to tobacco smoke, chemical fumes (hairspray, cleaners, etc.), or
Teflon coated materials. Exposure to some toxic inhalants can cause
immediate death; chronic exposure to other toxic can lead to premature
need veterinary care from a veterinarian that specializes in birds. Proper
vet care for birds can be expensive. Your vet will probably recommend a
complete examination and diagnostic tests when you first acquire your
bird; in addition, she/he will probably recommend annual well-bird
examinations. Smaller birds require the same vet care and regular
*This text was prepared by Monica Engebretson, Grassroots Coordinator,
Animal Protection Institute. Please copy, distribute and utilize this
document in its entirety for the benefit of all companion birds in your
Animal Protection Institute