10 questions to ask before you adopt a bird


Catherine Gwyer is a volunteer with Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Surrey, BC. Through Sunday, Jan. 29, she is answering your questions in our Ask the Experts forum. Below is her answer to her first reader question.

Meet Charlie at Surrey, BC-based Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary.

What questions should I ask about a bird I’m thinking of adopting?

Before considering adopting any bird, I recommend that you do some
research about the specialized care and diet requirements of parrots and
other birds. The smallest of species can live 10-15 years while larger
species such as Macaws can live 80+ years.

All birds require fresh fruit, vegetables and grains daily. They also
need to live in a clean cage and an environment that is free from smoke and
harsh chemical odors. Some species, such as Lorikeets or African Greys,
have specific dietary needs that have to be considered as well.
Understanding the basics of bird care will help you determine if a
parrot is the right pet for you.

If there is a bird club or rescue in your city that you can visit and
talk to bird owners, it’s a great way to learn firsthand information
about the commitment it takes to have a companion bird in your life. [You can search on Petfinder for bird rescue groups near you.]

When you finally start your search for the perfect feathered companion,
take your time and interact with the birds. See which one is responsive
to you. Many people who have parrots will tell you that their bird chose
them, not the other way around.

After the jump: 10 questions every aspiring bird-adopter should ask.

A few questions that I would ask are:

1. Is the bird currently on a seed or pellet diet?
Pellets are preferred for most species as they offer complete nutrition.
However, this is something you can work toward switching to once your
bird is home and settled.

2. What are his or her favorite fruit and vegetables?

3. What is the bird’s current sleeping schedule? Does she get covered at night or does she have a night cage? Parrots need
10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to help ensure good health.

4. What is his daily schedule? How many hours out of the cage does he get? Does he have favorite toys?

5. How does the bird like to bathe?

6. Does she have any known medical issues? Most rescues
will have the bird checked by an avian veterinarian prior to making it available for adoption and will be very honest if a particular bird
has special needs.

7. What does the adoption fee include? Some rescues will include a cage with the bird, some do not.

8. What size enclosure/cage does she need? Ask what is the recommended cage size for the species if you haven’t learned that through your research.

9. Why was the bird surrendered? Although this shouldn’t play too much into your final decision, you might want to know.

10. Can you recommend a good avian vet? If you don’t
already have an avian vet, ask the shelter to recommend one in your
city. It’s better to be prepared than to have to find one in an

Tell us: Have you ever considered adopting a bird?

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