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Useful Tips for Buying a Pet Bird

What exactly is a bird?

Birds are vertebrates that are physically distinguishable from other members of the class by the presence of feathers. These features not only maintain body temperature but also even out irregular body structure and contribute to streamlining shape necessary for flying. Instead of arms or forelegs a bird has wings. The bones are strong but light and some of them are hollow. They have air sacks that reach from the lungs and separate the large flying muscle from other parts of the body. These sacks are a kind of cooling systems to keep the muscles from overheating during flight. Birds like mammals are warm blooded and the normal temperature is about 41 degrees C. Variations in external temperature are compensated for by the plumage. If the bird is too warm it folds its feathers close to the body because when there is no air between the feathers there is no insulating effect, whilst when it gets cold, it fluffs up its feathers so that the air between them is heated by body warmth and the bird is covered with a nice layer of insulation Birds have no sweat glands hence they cannot perspire. If they want to cool down they open also their beaks and pant just like a dog which also lack sweat glands. Birds are visual creatures, orienting themselves primarily by sight. Their sense of hearing is also very acute, but their sense of smell is not very well developed.

Important tips for buying a bird

When you decide to buy a bird it is wise to at least look around and consult friends who already have birds. If you must pick out a bird by yourself, rely on your eyes and your instinct and watch for the signs listed below. Take your time when you go to a pet shop and look the birds over carefully.

Watch out carefully for the following signs.


  • Are the feathers smooth, clean and even?
  • Or are they scragged and dirty?
  • Are there bald spots, especially around the head and neck?

  • Are they clean, and are the horny scales smooth?
  • Or are they chapped looking with scales that stick out? Are there toes missing or partially missing? are the nails too long or crooked.

  • Is the bird lively? Does it hop around, fly, eat, drink, preen itself, and watch its surroundings with interest?
  • Or is it sitting still on its perch, feathers ruffled, eyes closed, breathing heavily, indifferent to what is going on around it?

  • Does the bird produce droppings regularly and without apparent effort? Are the feathers around the vent clean?
  • Or does it strain unsuccessfully, jerking its tail up and down? Are the feathers around the vent dirty and stuck together?

If you observe even one of the negative signs listed, leave the bird where it is, but bring the problem to the sales person's attention, so that the sick bird is properly attended to.

Know How for Buying Birds

Before you go out to purchase a bird you should familiarise yourself with the bird's anatomy and the vocabulary to describe them. It pays to let the sales person know that you are not totally ignorant about birds.

The Correct Cage And Accessories

Today one can find a great variety of cages on the market. However, all you should look for is a practical cage. Many features are ornamental which your bird will not appreciate at all. Keep in mind that the cage must be large enough and appropriate for your bird to be able to hop around properly and at least flap around in the cage since flying is impossible. It must have at least two perches measuring half an inch in diameter, made of hardwood or grooved plastic. Obviously there should be a food and water containers. These come in all shapes and sizes but they all serve their purpose. Nearly all birds love to take baths and often. Pet shops sell small "bath houses" and all you have to do is to open the cage door and snap the bath house to the cage. Obviously you must fill the bottom of the bath with clean water.

Care and Maintenance

You probably don't like to cat off dirty plates. Neither does your bird. Cleanliness is of the utmost importance in keeping birds healthy. Clean all containers regularly and - change the drinking water at least daily. The cage floor including the perches are to be cleaned weekly and replace the floor dressing. Observe the bird regularly for signs of unusual behaviour, illness etc. and seek advice.

A Bird's Diet

Mostly all finches eat primarily seeds, but they also need some fresh food like lettuce and fruit. Many commercial mixes designed specially for each breed are always available. If one keeps only a bird or two, it is advisable and convenient to buy some brand of these mixes. In addition to mixed seed offer greens to your bird like lettuce, dandelion and fresh fruit. Always wash and dry them thoroughly and offer only small quantities. Too much may cause diarrhoea. However, if green food is stopped, the digestive system will return to normal in a few days.

The Trip Home

When you have made your selection and bought a bird it will be handed to you in a cardboard box or a paper bag with air holes. Take care where to place it especially if it is in a paper bag as it may get crushed or escape. Also do not put it in a plastic bag as it might be suffocated.

Basic Rules for Acclimatizing the Bird

When you get home, everything should be ready for the new arrival. The cage must be completely equipped and food and water set out so that the bird can be released as quickly as possible from the confinement of its paper prison. Of course, you will previously have considered the most suitable place for the cage. Choose a quite, bright and most important, draft-free spot. When the bird is safely inside his new cage, close the cage door slowly and step back a few feet. Naturally you will be curious to see what the bird does, but hold back and allow him to get acquainted with the cage without you hovering over him at this difficult moment. Most pet birds have lived in domesticity for centuries and chances are that your bird will quickly adjust to his new life. If you check your bird daily, you will know right away when it gets sick. The patient can often be saved if the right treatment is initiated in time. But you are advised not to experiment with home remedies unless you have a lot of experience in handling sick birds. You will probably do more harm than good. Seek advice either from a veterinarian or the Bird Breeders' Association.

Donated by the Birds Breeders Association Club visit BBA club website

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