My first Bird



1. Do realize that although some birds, such as budgies (parakeets), may be relatively inexpensive when compared to a dog or cat, they still deserve routine veterinary care, proper food, housing and enrichment, as well as consistent socialization.

2. Don’t think of a bird as a “practice pet” for a child. Most companion birds have long lifespans, and they can also be more challenging to care for in terms of cage cleaning, basic training and interaction.

3. Do think of a pet bird as the family’s pet instead of the child’s pet. Parents must be willing and able to help out to ensure that the bird receives proper care, including veterinary visits as needed.

4. Don’t allow your child to forcibly interact with a bird that would prefer to be left alone.

5. Don’t allow your child to torment the bird by sticking his or her fingers in the cage or grabbing at the bird. This type of forced interaction is likely to make the bird phobic of hands and fingers, and your child might be bitten in the process.

6. Do supervise your child when he or she interacts with the bird. Demonstrate the proper way to get a bird to step up onto a hand or perch, and how to read a bird’s body language.

7. Don’t allow the bird to be taken outside on the child’s shoulder or hand unless the bird is accustomed to wearing a bird-safe

harness. Even birds that have had recent wing-feather trims can still fly, especially cockatiels. Place the bird in a bird-safe carrier instead.

8. Do encourage your child to feed the bird fresh vegetables and healthy treats.

9. Don’t expect a young child to remember to clean the bird’s food bowls, change the cage liner and replenish food daily.

10. Do foster your child’s interest in birds by reading bird-care books and magazines with them, taking them to aviaries and joining a

bird club.


This all makes more sense if you realize several things.

1. Children can terrify birds. Their high energy levels make them extremely active. They tend to move fast and talk — or shout — in shrill voices.

2. Second, children can be dangerous. Without proper training on acceptable behavior around animals, kids often inadvertently injure critters. Approached from the perspective of a 1/2-pound prey animal, that makes children pretty darn scary, and we all know the best defense is a good offense, right?


Tips To Help Kids & Parrots Interact

This does not, however, mean that things cannot be improved between your kids and your parrot.

1. Provide adult supervision and instruction; make sure that your kids know how to act around a bird. They need to learn to watch body language to recognize a bird’s comfort level. By learning to identify and respect a bird’s boundaries, they won’t make mistakes like trying to pet an uncomfortable bird.

2. Make your children the only source of the parrot’s favorite food treats. Have them offer a tiny treat (like a piece of a sunflower seed) every time they approach his cage. The parrot will learn to happily anticipate their approach. Have the kids hold treats on a spoon so they won’t flinch and startle the bird. Encourage the bird with smiles and praise when he takes the treats politely.

3. Your family’s reactions might accidentally be rewarding a parrot for his aggressive behaviors. Dynamic responses to the parrot’s actions will likely reinforce his hostility. Instead of excitement and theatrics, offer low energy levels, slow movements and quiet voices. The parrot will learn to take his cues from you.

4. You and your husband have great power to change the parrot’s behavior toward your children. Show your parrot that  you love and value your kids and they are valuable members of your flock. Make it clear that you are horrified that the parrot has misunderstood their importance in your lives. It is not his place, after all, to decide who should live in your home.

5. Help your kids to have fun interaction with the parrot. Trick training can be done from outside the cage, so everyone feels safer. Trick training is a win-win situation, with people and birds earning lots of reinforcement. Humans learn to communicate more clearly, birds earn lavish rewards, and everyone earns extravagant praise. What can be better than that?

6. Teach your parrot that aggression is no longer necessary. According to Dutch avian veterinarian Jan Hooimeijer, DVM, observation of wild parrots indicates that natural flock communication does not include violence. Companion parrots learn to bite humans because more natural communication channels are not open to them.

Careful observation of parrot body language teaches humans to recognize the precursors to aggression, and avoiding hostility by stepping around the problem is a much more effective approach to communication.

7. Although I am a tremendous fan of fully flighted parrots, I am not in favor of flying attacks. If your parrot is fly and attacking your children, perhaps a slight wing-feather trim will keep your children safer while you retrain our parrot. When he understands what types of behavior are acceptable, allow his wing feathers to re-grow.

With proper training and socialization, parrots need not behave like tyrants in their homes. When they are not given proper directions and taught limits on their behaviors, they do what is easiest to accomplish their goals, often resorting to aggression to fulfill their needs. Biting is, after all, so effective!

Clear communication and consistency in handling can offer more peaceful alternatives, and improve relationships with all the people in the environment. 


You should not get a pet bird for your child, if:

1)Your child is under the age of 12 and will be the bird’s sole care taker. Some children don’t understand the consequences of their actions, especially if they forget to give the pet bird food or water. Animal cruelty should not be practiced so that a child can learn responsibility the hard way.

2) Your child has no money to take the pet bird to an avian veterinarian if it gets sick. Parents who don’t allow pet birds that are sick to be taken to the vet because they don’t want to spend the money teach the child a number of bad lessons. If the parent or child is unable or unwilling to take to the pet bird to a vet, then don’t get the pet bird.

3) If the child is too busy with extracurricular activities to spend at least one to two hours hanging out with the pet bird.

4) If the child is not willing to check out websites or read magazines and books about a pet bird before adopting one.

5) If the child has trouble controlling his or her emotions. Prey animals do not respond well to physical outbursts and will fly or bite.

If your child has the time, patience and maturity level for a pet bird, there are nine species suggestions below. They were picked because of the low noise level, availability and cost, ease of care (comparatively speaking to the larger parrots), size, less challenging mental and emotional needs, and life expectancy (all shorter than 30 years). There are many great stories of responsible children keeping some of the bigger parrots, however, those parrots life expectancies are longer, so the child will have to keep the bird through the life changes that young adults go through.

 1) Canary: A canary can be kept by itself and it entertains with its song. A canary doesn’t come out of the cage, so it only needs food, water and cage cleaning, but doesn’t need one-on-one play time. A canary can live up to 15 years, so parents should be willing to take over the canary’s care if the child goes off to college.

2) Society finches: The society finch would make a great pet bird. You need to keep them in pairs, they are readily available at pet stores, and they are low noise volume and low mess. Buy them a roomy, horizontal-shaped cage so they can fly around. They need their food and water changed and their cage floor cleaned, but there is no one-on-one interaction. The society finch can live to up to seven years.

 3) Budgies: This is a wonderful pet parrot, native toAustralia. It is a smaller parrot, so is often referred to as the general term  “parakeet” by Americans. The budgerigar, or budgie, makes a great pet for older children. A younger child may accidentally injure the bird if he or she is not gentle. The budgie’s cage can fit in the kid’s bedroom. It can be a great best friend if the child takes the time to tame it and interact with it. Its volume level is low, although it can chatter quite a bit, and some even talk. It will need veterinarian care, so don’t adopt one if you are unwilling to take it to the vet. It needs daily food, water and cage changing. It needs some fresh vegetables intertwined around its cage bars. Toys are a must. It will need daily one-on-one time and should have a play gym to spend out-of-cage time on. If the child is not willing to tame the budgie and spend a lot of time with it, then I would stick with a finch or canary. An untamed budgie is not fun for the child or the budgie. The budgie can live up to 15 years, so you need to plan on taking care of the budgie if the child goes to college.  

4) Bourke’s parakeet: This is a beautiful and sweet parrot that comes fromAustralia. It is bigger than a budgie, but still small at around 7½ inches long. You need to get a hand-tame one as they can be flighty. The noise level is low. Daily feeding, water changes and cage cleanings are necessary. It needs a wider cage so it can move around, plus some interaction time, but probably not a lot of heavy one-on-one time. Bathe it daily and make sure to give it fresh vegetables. Life expectancy is up to 15 years, so you need to plan on taking care of the Bourke’s if the child goes to college.

5) Peach-faced lovebird: The peach-faced lovebird is a little more of a challenging small parrot. They are small at 6½ inches and have a life expectancy of 20 years. They come in many different color mutations. They are energetic and can get themselves in trouble, so the child needs to pay attention. They can learn some tricks and their noise level is lower than the larger parrots. They need daily feeding, water changing, cage cleaning, plus some good one-on-one time. They should have a play gym, lots of toys and perches. They can become a little territorial, so the kid owner needs to read up a little to know how to deal with these little challenges.





6) Cockatiel: The cockatiel makes a great pet bird. The female is typically more docile and cuddly; however, it may lay eggs. The male is more vocal. They have long tails, which make up a good portion of their 13 inches. Cockatiels need a roomy cage, plenty of toys and perches. They need daily feeding, water changing, cage cleaning, plus some good one-on-one time. Cockatiels can be dusty and should get a good misting spray bath about once a week. Get a hand-tame cockatiel for your child; otherwise they have to be tamed, which your child may not have the patience for. Cockatiels frighten easily, so an older child would be the best owner. ‘Tiels can live up to 30 years.

7) Pacific parrotlet: These spunky small parrots are also best for the older child. They are small, only about 5 inches. Parrotlets need daily feeding, water changing, cage cleaning, plus some good one-on-one time. They need lots of space in their cage, a play gym and lots of toys and perches. Parrotlets are a little more expensive as they are not as readily available as some of the others pet birds on this list. They can live up to 20 years. Parrotlets have a fearless personality, so the child owner needs to pay attention. Parrotlets can be aggressive and curious, and they like to eat a lot.

8) Diamond dove: The diamond dove is a smaller dove at 7½ inches. It can be tamed, but enjoys the company of other doves. It is pretty and easy going. It doesn’t require as much one-on-one time as some of the parrots, but it needs plenty of space and probably another dove. It needs lots of perches as well as high, flat surfaces to roost on. The life expectancy is 12 to 15 years.

9) Goldie’s lorikeet: This small lory is only about 7 ½ inches. It has a calm demeanor and is less high maintenance than other lories. They are curious and chatty, but have a lower noise level than bigger parrots. It does need nectar in its diet, so the child owner should read up on its dietary requirements before bringing one home. Goldie’s lorikeets are a little more costly and challenging to find.