How to Buy a Bird
Before purchasing birds, it is a good idea to visit some bird gardens, zoos, and private aviaries to look at their healthy specimens. Compare the different types and observe their behavior closely.
The choice of the dealer is most important when buying birds. Check up on as many different sources as possible, as pet stores vary tremendously in the quality and selection of birds on offer. Do try to take much time as possible over this. It is often better to wait a little longer for the birds of your choice, rather than to buy inferior stock. It may also be possible to brain birds from experienced fanciers who wish to sell their surplus stock. There are some basic points to search for when trying to select healthy birds:
- 1. Make sure the bird is not sitting huddled up with feathers puffed out.
- 2. Ensure that the eyes are clear and open, showing no signs of a watery discharge.
- 3. Check the vent to make sure it is clean and unspoiled. It should not appear damp.
- 4. Make sure that the legs and feet are undamaged and the toenails are intact.
- 5. Examine the nostrils to see that they’re clear and free from discharge.
- 6. Feel the breast bone of larger birds to see that there is a fair amount of flesh on the breast.
Do not worry unduly about the appearance of the plumage. Molting birds soften and look quite scruffy, as do those that are feather plucked or have had wings clipped by dealers or exporters. Feathers soon grow again and a bath often makes the bird look much better. The only point to remember when purchasing a molt-in bird is that its general health may be a little under par and extra nourishment may be required
When trying to choose a true pair of birds of a species where no sexual differences are visible or described, it is avis-able to purchase several birds and allow them to pair up. This usually results in at least one true pair and the surplus may then be sold or exchanged.
This is usually a good sign, although some healthy birds resolutely perch on both feet. A bird that is seen to be busily preening its feathers is generally a fit bird, interested in its appearance and reasonable health. If a bird is at the feeding dish, look for signs of a healthy appetite. Avoid a bird that appears to be gorging itself on grit. Too much grit indicates poor or sluggish digestion. In general, choose a bird that appears fairly lively and interested in its surroundings.
Keep new birds in separate cages in the bird room or shelter for a short period before releasing them into an outside aviary. Remember to acclimatize birds that are to live outside. They should not be transferred from an indoor site to an immediate drop in temperature, although this need not be a problem if the weather is warm or if the bird has come from another outside location.
When choosing birds it is important to select only those which can live together in harmony. Incompatible birds fight over favorite perching spots, nesting sites, and feeding dishes. Unhappy birds refuse to breed and, in extreme cases, severe injuries, such as damaged toes or the loss of an eye can be caused, particularly amongst the parrot-like species.
It must be emphasized Ed that these groups are a guide only — always remember that there are individual birds who may have aggressive tendencies. Watch out for bullies and isolate individuals where necessary. It is often better to sell such a bird, rather than to wait and hope it may change its ways. Sometimes, however, the addition of another dominant type may alter the situation.
It is a good idea for the novice bird keeper to start his collection with seed-eaters, possibly moving on to the more difficult soft hill species at a later stage. The most easily managed species of seedeaters are the Zebra Finch, Bengalese, and many of the small waxbills. Australian Grass finches, while relatively easy to care for, may need extra warmth. Budgerigars, cockatiels, and small arrangements, such as Bourke’s Parakeet, are very simple to care for.
Where parrot-like birds are concerned, very few species may be kept together. Try to house any of the lovebird species in a mixed collection. They may look small and beautiful, but their sharp, curved beaks can be lethal. They should only be kept in pairs in individual housing. The Fischer’s Lovebird is the only species that may safely be kept in a colony of its breed. Never put lovebirds in with finches for they will certainly attack. The same warning applies to all the small species of parrot, such as parakeet conjures and all the nectar-feeding parrakeets.
The size of the aviary has a considerable influence on the success of mixing various species. Birds are always less tolerant of one another in a small enclose-sure than in a larger area, as they are territorial creatures who like to claim the largest spot for themselves.
Smaller birds are content with a smaller area for their preservation than larger species. Breeding pairs must be allotted more space than single species. If there is very little space available, consider keeping only single cock birds of individual species. In this way, it is possible to house a colorful collection of attractive birds without the risk of fighting. Sonic birds prefer densely planted aviaries, which provide the best cover forest building and privacy for the more timid birds. If keeping birds such as the Chinese Painted Quail and other ground species, take care not to tread on their eggs or young.
Providing several roosting spots, nest-in sites and feeding dishes prevents arguments between birds. Too few roost-in spots or nesting sites in the accommodation means fighting can break out even amongst the most placid birds. Nest boxes and arid baskets should be placed as far apart as possible and evenly distributed around the quarters.
When introducing new birds of any kind to a mixed collection, it is useful to provide an extra place for the new birds to feed, so that they do not interfere with the usual feeding routine.
It is quite easy to keep birds of similar size and habits together. If a smaller type is introduced to the collection it is likely to be bullied, likewise, if a larger type is brought in it often tries to dominate thirst.
In their natural state, birds operate a pecking order: the stronger dominate and rule the weaker. This order is often observed in a captive collection and when a newcomer is introduced it is certainly noticed. Such encounters are best-kept toad a minimum and should be watched closely. In a few days, the normal order should be restored. Large omnivorous birds and insect-eating species should only be kept together when they are of similar size, strength, and habit.
See more: Pet Parrots