Buying A Bird Considerations



You’ve decided your life is for the BIRDS.  GOOD FOR YOU!  So now let’s get down to the nitty gritty, or as we BIRDERS say…”Let’s look at the droppings.”

BIRDS aren’t like goldfish.  You can’t get a bird for fifty cents.  The cost can run from as little as twenty dollars all the way to many thousands of dollars.  For example:

img src=”images/parrot2.gif” align=”right” height=”300″ width=”100″ hspace=”5″ vspace=”0″ alt=”parrot”> Finches:  small birds [5-6″] live 5-8 years, and typically cost $10-$75

Parakeets:  live anywhere from 8 to 15 years, and usually reach 6-8 inches in length.  Cost is about $15.

Conures:  have a 10 to 35 year life span, and can grow up to 21 inches.  They range in cost from $150 to $400 and higher.

Lovebirds:  small BIRDS, only 5-7 inches, and live between 10-15 years.  They can cost between $75 and $150.

Amazons:  are brightly colored parrots with very long life spans, some exceeding 50 years.  They can reach 25 inches with exquisitely-colored tail feathers.  Amazons typically cost between $600 and $800.

COST will depend on the type BIRD as well as where/how the BIRD was purchased.  Remember that age, sex, health and overall condition will influence price.

Who can give you the BIRD, best?  While there are probably many good pet stores, they may not have top quality BIRDS available store personnel may not be thoroughly knowledgeable about all varieties of breeds; and they probably will not know the history of the particular BIRD in which you are interested.

The popular consensus, and PGAA’s™ recommendation, is to get a BIRD from a Breeder, especially if you plant to “show” the bird in competition.  The following is an excerpt from an article written by Kathy Johnson entitled “Caring For Your Bird”:

“Before you decide on a breeder, talk at length to him or her about your species, and birds in general.  Find out how long they’ve been breeding; who is their vet; what diet do they recommend for the babies they sell.  A good breeder will answer all your questions and not make you feel like you’re wasting your time.  A pushy-salesman breeder, or one who is short with you may not be the best choice.”  Please visit for guidance on bird selection and care.

So now you’re thinking; I got the breeder to give me the bird; how do I know I got a good bird?  Once again we defer to Kathy Johnson.  She says; “When you enter the breeder’s home or aviary, do not be surprised if you are asked to remove your shoes, wash your hands and arms, and perhaps even don an apron or coverall.  This is to keep diseases, which can often be carried on clothing, shoes and skin from being transmitted into the aviary.  Many breeders don’t allow visitors into their actual breeding rooms, to keep from upsetting birds in nesting boxes.  Don’t be offended if you aren’t allowed to the see the parents of your baby BIRD.  But look around–is the rest of the operation clean? Are there birds present?  If so, do they look healthy and well-cared for?  If these things don’t look right to you, you should probably consider going elsewhere to buy your bird.”


PGAA’s™ research, including Kathy’s articles, other Websites, books and discussion with OWNERS and BREEDERS, indicates that the following items should be checked when evaluating your BIRD:

Disposition Should be alert and aware
Eyes Clear and clean, not runny
Feathers Shiny with no bare spots.  Babies may appear a little unkempt, that’s normal.  But, their feathers should be fresh and soft
Toes Count them–make sure they’re all there
Nostrils No blockage.  Red or scaly appearance should be questioned
Vent (rectum) Clean with no accumulated droppings
Beak Check the published STANDARDS for the bird and make sure they match.  Beak appearance may change depending on the age of the bird
Breathing No wheezing, straining or whistling
Weight Should not be skinny.  Feel the bird.  A protruding breast bone (keel) means the bird is underweight and may be ill
Handle the Bird See if it likes you

Again Kathy Johnson’s advice:  “I always believe in letting the baby choose the owner.  If there is more than one baby in a clutch, play with them all (be sure to wear clean clothing to the breeders, and wash your hands first–many breeders are concerned about disease transmission.  Watch the babies carefully–often, one special one will be more attracted to you than the rest.  That would be the one to take, if it passes the visual health exam…”

And, last but not least — get a health guaranty.  Make sure you can return the bird if your Vet indicates it’s not healthy (the time frame for such return needs to be reasonable for both you and the breeder).  Be sure you get a complete Bill of Sale; one that includes a description of the bird, the date and amount of the sale, the date the bird was hatched, a band number (if available), sex of the bird (if known), and a statement as to whether or not the bird was imported or hatched domestically.  If the BIRD is an import make sure you have all the documentation.  Get care and diet instructions too.

Written by Ron Lueth, Pet Guardian Angels of America