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First-time Bird Owner – What you should know

Being a first-time bird owner can be very exciting. Birds might not have a fluffy tail, bark or demand walks, but they do come with responsibilities too. Make sure you do proper research before walking into a bird store or ringing up a breeder. Just like dogs and cats, there are many different types and breeds of birds and you will need to know which bird will be best for you.

Many bird owners recommend that you start with a smaller bird breed. Smaller birds are easier to handle and they are less frightening when they peck at you. Historically, the best first pet birds have been Cockatiels and Budgies. These little birds tend to have fewer challenges with outstanding pet qualities. They are also knowledgeable and love company and learning. These little birds also have a little longer lifespan than other smaller birds. This, however, depends on their health, care and diet. Pet Cockatiels can live between 15 – 20 years and a Budgie can live up to 8 years or slightly longer. 

Having a smaller bird does not mean that the little guy has a more modest personality, they love to animate behaviour. Budgies and Cockatiels are relatively easy to teach whistles and tricks, and they are also cost-effective. 

It is essential to know that birds are flock animals and love to be in the company of other birds or their humans. They do not like to be left alone for long periods and enjoy being handled. Considering that the bird is tame, their willingness to interact makes them favourite pets.

Whether you plan on having a big bird or a small bird, they all need the same level of commitment in terms of cleaning, preparing food, socialising and training. 

You should count on:

  • Spending no less than 15 minutes twice a day interacting with your bird. A lot more is required if you want your bird to be tame and remain tame.
  • Changing the cage lining regularly.
  • Cleaning out and refilling food and water dishes daily.
  • Washing the cage once a week.
  • Having regular expenses, such as a recommended food for your species; appropriate toys that encourage behaviour enrichment; occasional grooming like nail, beak and feather trimming; and if necessary, a yearly veterinary check-up.

Remember, a bird is not a toy and should you decide to give your children one as a gift, they should take responsibility for the bird. Make it a shared responsibility and teach your child how to look after all the animals in the household. 

What your bird needs to have: 


Your bird will need two bird cages: one being for daily use where your bird will sleep, eat and play. The first cage needs to be big enough for your bird to spread its wings wide open and comfortably walk and jump about. The second cage can be smaller and will be used when you clean the bigger cage and for when you take your bird to the vet or travels. This cage will be more convenient to travel with, as it will be easier to buckle up ensuring your bird is safe and does not roll around in the car. 

Perches and ladder:

Make sure there are enough perches for your bird to jump around on. Ideally, wooden ones are better. The perch needs to be wide enough so that their toes don’t overlap. Add an appropriate size ladder for your bird to be able to climb on. 

Food and water dishes:

Water feeders that fit through the cage bars are great to have as they make less of a mess over seeds and when moving the cage around. However, some birds do not like drinking out of them and you will need to make sure your bird gets proper water intake. 

Stainless steel food and water bowls are also fantastic to have in your bird’s cage, they are easy to clean and don’t leave stains in them. Make sure that your bird gets fresh water and a balanced diet every day. Birds love bird seeds, fresh fruit and bird treats. By providing your bird with a properly balanced diet, you will be assisting in prolonging its health and lifespan. 

Bird Bath:

Birds like to clean but need a big enough bowl to do so. If your bird seems a bit lazy and doesn’t like grooming too much, consider getting a spray bottle and lightly mist your bird so that it can start to groom.

Cage Liners:

Cage liners help you to clean the cage a lot quicker. They are placed on the floor of the cage and needs regular changing.

Hiding place:

Cage birds are always on display, and like us, they also need a bit of alone time sometimes. A comfy place to rest and feel safe and secure in, like a bird box or nest box, will do the trick. 

Toys, Toys, Toys:

No animal should ever be without toys! This helps them to interact with you and provides them with pure fun. Getting the right toy could be a challenge, but luckily, most birds are not fussy. Toys made from wood or wood-like objects are essential to them: for showing off and for personal amusement. Toys made of wood, twisted paper, cardboard and plastic are designed with different types of birds in mind. Make sure you get the right one for your bird’s breed.

Once you have the right cage and toys for your new bird, take the time to read up about its breed and see if there are any other needs which that specific breed might need. Be prepared and know how to train and build a bond with your feathered friend.