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9:50 AM   May 03, 2015
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Choosing a Pet Bird

Courtesy of Robert Gebbie,

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are more than 11 million pet birds in the United States. That’s a lot of macaws, African greys, and canaries! Before a customer decides to take home that talkative blue-and-gold or the sweet pair of lovebirds, he or she should be encouraged to consider these important factors:

Bird Size: As a rule, the bigger the bird is, the greater the commitment involved in caring for it. Large birds make outstanding pets, but they’re often noisier, messier and more demanding than smaller species. New bird owners should start with a small- to medium-size bird, like a parakeet or finch. Customers need to be realistic about how much bird they can handle!

Compatible Temperaments: Does your customer want a social bird that will be eager to come out of his cage and socialize, or would he or she prefer a pet that likes to be seen and heard--but not touched? The way a bird relates to humans will be an important factor in the quality of the ownership experience. Have your customers learn about the different species by talking to your or your in-store bird expert about the birds’ varying personalities. Then help them choose one that will be the most compatible.

Feeding and Maintenance Requirements: Some birds require specific diets or special care. Lories, for example, are admired around the world for their striking colors, but they have highly specialized digestive systems that require a diet of pollen, nectar and fruit. This causes them to produce liquid droppings, making it necessary to clean their cages more frequently than those of other species. Be sure your customers are willing to provide the bird with what it needs to thrive.

Budgets: Keeping a pet bird can be expensive, and much of the cost is related to the type of bird involved. Macaws, for instance, often have an initial purchase price of thousands of dollars--plus, they require larger cages and more toys that raise that price even higher.

Smaller birds also require a financial commitment: The day-to-day expenses, like food and toys, will add to the household budget. All of these factors should be considered when choosing a bird so that your customers end up with a pet whose upkeep they can afford.

Time: Some species, especially parrots, require daily exercise, interaction and time out of their cages. Does your customer have at least two hours to spare to socialize and supervise a bird? If not, have him or her consider a finch, canary or other lower-maintenance species.

A little research and careful thought can go a long way in making sure your customers’ relationships with their birds is destined to be a good one. By helping them to resist the urge to buy a bird on impulse and keeping these important tips in mind, your customers are sure to make the right decision about which species will be best for their families. <HOME>

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