When it comes to choosing a pet, dogs and cats are by far the most popular choices in Canada. Almost sixty percent of households in Canada own at least one pet. Among the 7.5 million pets in Canada, dogs and cats represent almost seventy percent of the pet ownership pie.
While these figures certainly show that the most popular Canadian pets are of the furry, four-legged variety, there is a strong community of pet lovers who embrace a different kind of companion. Nine percent of Canadians own alternative pets, like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, and birds. Birds are beautiful and fascinating creatures, and they can make wonderful pets.
Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why birds make great pets.
Birds are Intelligent
Despite their small brains, birds are exceptionally smart animals. Studies have shown that some birds have intelligence equivalent to a seven-year-old child. They have superb problem-solving abilities, can count and do math, and can even use tools. Birds have a high concentration of neurons in their forebrain, meaning their cognitive abilities are somewhat supercharged. In fact, birds have more neurons per square inch than mammals, including primates.
Just remember… It is important to keep a bird mentally stimulated to avoid cage boredom. Without adequate outlets, behavioural problems may develop over time. Excessive squawking, destructive behaviour, aggression, and self-mutilation are all common problems associated with frustrated birds.
Birds are Low-Maintenance
Dogs need consistent exercise and training. Cats require daily upkeep with their litter box. In comparison, birds are relatively easy to care for. Birds do not need to be housebroken like puppies, and are generally at peace when left in their cage throughout the day.
In terms of clean up, many bird cages are designed to be low-maintenance and convenient to clean. Cleaning and maintaining a cage can sometimes be disruptive to a bird’s environment. With modern innovations in cage design, easy-to-access panels and slide-out trays allow cleanings to be completed faster while causing less stress.
Just remember… Bird cages still require daily maintenance; cages can get messy quickly. Many birds take to dumping bowls of seed, or spilling water dishes. This not only causes a mess inside the cage, but much of this will be found on the floor around the cage. And there will be feathers. Lots of feathers.
Birds are Social
Birds have a unique affectionate nature to them. When a trust bond is established, birds love to socialize, interact, and show genuine affection to their people. However, with any social pet behavioural problems may develop if there are not sufficient social outlets available.
Budgies, cockatiels, and cockatoos are among the most popular pet birds. They love to show off, perform tricks, and show their full personality through verbal and physical expression. Many birds can learn to speak, and are masters at mimicking a variety of sounds; everything from car horns, doorbells, phones, and even the human voice.
Just remember… Consistent positive interaction is essential to developing an authentic trust bond with your bird. If a bird does not trust you or their environment, their true personality will not come out. Just like a puppy needs regular positive interaction, birds are no different.
Birds Live a Long Time
As pet owners, we all know the sad reality of losing a dearly loved pet. Small mammals, like rabbits and guinea pigs, can live 4-10 years. The average dog has a life expectancy of 10-13 years. The average cat lives 12-18 years. Birds, however, can live for much longer. This is a big benefit to pet owners looking for long-term companions, as many species of bird may easily outlive everyone reading this article. Smaller birds, like budgies and cockatiels, can live up to 20 years. Larger birds, like parrots, can live for up to a century.
Just remember… If your bird has a long life expectancy, it is important to consider who will take care of your bird after you’re gone. While it is not the happiest subject matter to think about, it is in your pet’s best interest to ensure proper long-term care.
If you are curious to learn more about pet birds, or how to obtain a new feathery friend, speak with your local animal shelter, or any bird rescues/sanctuaries near you. Many bird rescues are often inundated with exotic birds in need of a new home.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.