The saying goes that when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me. But assuming is exactly what many people do when they introduce a pet bird into their family. They assume they know what to feed their new pet, they assume they know how to give their bird all the mental stimulation it needs, and they assume that everything they’ve ever read or heard about looking after a pet bird is true.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of common myths and misconceptions out there about pet birds and what it takes to care for them. This can lead to people choosing the wrong pet or simply not giving their bird everything it needs for a healthy and happy life, so it’s important to sort fact from fiction when it comes to our feathered friends.
Let’s take a look at five of the most common myths about birds.
The top 5 myths about birds
Myth 1: All birds need to eat is seed
Birds eat bird seed and nothing else, right? Wrong. There’s a widely held belief that bird seed meets all of a bird’s nutritional requirements and is therefore the only thing you need to feed, but the truth is that our feathered friends actually have much more complex dietary needs.
High-quality commercial pellets have been specially formulated to satisfy all of your pet’s nutritional requirements, while cuttlefish bone and cooked eggshell can help them get the calcium they need. You can still give bird seed to your pet – just make sure it doesn’t make up the bulk of their diet.
Myth 2: All parrots can talk
A talking parrot is one of nature’s most remarkable creations, something that amazes and amuses in equal measure, and sharing a conversation with your pet parrot is wonderful fun. But just because some parrots can talk doesn’t mean that all parrots will talk.
Although most parrots have the ability to talk, each bird has its own unique personality and your pet may never become the chatterbox you want. Some species, for example African grey parrots, are more likely to mimic human speech than others, while you can also consider a bird that can already talk if chatting with your pet bird is high on your wish list.
Myth 3: Birds require very little regular care
Have you ever heard birds referred to as low-maintenance pets? While this may be true when compared to some other pets, for example a highly-strung long-haired Chihuahua, don’t assume that it means looking after a pet bird is a piece of cake. In reality, you need to be willing to put in a lot of hard work if you’re going to give a bird all the care, attention and love it needs to be happy and healthy.
You need to feed the right diet, give your pet plenty of chances to exercise, clean up after her, and also offer plenty of avenues for your pet to exercise her mind. But, most of all, you need to have the time and inclination to provide the interaction and TLC your pet needs each and every day.
Myth 4: You need to hand-raise your pet bird
Another common misconception is that in order to become wonderful and loving companions, pet birds, particularly parrots, need to be hand-raised from a young age. If they’re not, the argument is that they won’t form a strong enough bond with you and develop the trust any pet needs with their owner.
The truth of the matter is that while hand-raising a baby bird does help you and your pet form a strong bond, it’s certainly not essential. You can still develop a wonderful relationship with birds of all ages, even if you decide to adopt an adult bird that has been hand-raised and socialised by someone else.
Myth 5: Birds are dirty animals
This is another common misconception shared by people who have never owned a bird as a pet. In reality, our feathered friends are actually quite fastidious and always at pains to ensure they look their best. Birds don’t like being dirty and spend plenty of time each day preening themselves.
Sure, you will have to clean up after your bird regularly – just as you would after any pet – but that definitely doesn’t mean that birds are dirty creatures.