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Purchasing Your First Bird

Congratulations on your decision to purchase a bird! After you’ve done the research on which species would be most suitable for your lifestyle, financial situation, and personality, you now have to decide where to buy your new feathered friend. This is an important factor in the purchase, so if you haven’t given this much thought here are a few useful tips on locations and what exactly to look for at each one.

If you’re looking for a small bird such as a parakeet, zebra finch or canary, then a local pet store would probably do just fine. It is important to be aware of the conditions of the shops because certain visible clues may give away information to the physical well-being of the birds.

Listed below are some conditions to either look for or beware of.

Pet Store – Appearance is everything. Look for active birds that have fresh food and water available in a clean cage. Birds can be messy, but if the conditions look unusually messy it’s most likely due to a negligent shopkeeper. Look in the corners of the cage and also check to see if there is an accumulation of feces on the perches. Obviously, this is not good. Quality doesn’t necessarily stop at the appearance of the cage. Check for fresh fruit and vegetables added into the regular diet of seeds or pellets.

If the birds seem weak or sickly, find another shop; also be sure to mention the noticeable signs to the shopkeeper for the well-being of the animals. Some visible signs of unhealthy birds include puffy eyes, mucus around the cere (what you would consider its nostrils), or puffed out, unkempt looking body feathers. This isn’t always a common occurrence, these are more so the making of a worst case scenario. There are many small, privately owned pet shops that offer a great selection of very healthy, vibrant, and fairly inexpensive animals.

Hobbyist – A hobbyist is a person that usually keeps a few pairs of birds as pets and enjoys having some young chicks from time to time. A lot of times these chicks are sold to pet stores, friends or family. Sometimes the babies will be left to be raised by the parent birds. Partial parenting can be initiated and then continued with hand feedings – this works especially well with cockatiels. Careful consideration has to go into sterilizing procedures as well as basic instructions on feeding the babies. Ask questions about handling, feeding and socializing. Knowledge is power. Be informed to keep from being sold a sick animal.

Breeders – If the facility is used for breeding, there should be a number of rigidly enforced rules when it comes to what takes place inside. Most breeders consider themselves a business and have specially trained assistants to hand feed their babies. If you’re not sure of where to find such a facility, then you can contact the Better Business Bureau; they’ll also have records of any complaints filed. This type of business should be absolutely spotless, due to the incubation process. Some places may even that ask that you leave your shoes at the door and sanitize your hands before touching any of the babies. In this type of facility babies should be handfed and given the opportunity to place and socialize. Mass feedings let these birds grow up without the experience of human touch, which could be a problem factor in the future.

This bird will be a companion for 5 to 60 years. Make sure that you are educated in what you are looking for and also educated in the proper care procedures. The joy of having a bird will be well worth the time and effort taken to find good advice and information.

Whether you buy from a hobbyist, a breeder or a pet store you should always ask for a health guarantee. A credible business will willingly give you one within a time limit. They should also be able to offer lifetime support of your questions and concerns; some will even offer wing or nail clippings, depending on the staff’s experience.

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