Can Anyone Give Me Some Advice on a Pet Bird?

Updated on July 02, 2010
M.. asks from Anchorage, AK
16 answers

Hi moms,

My daughter loves birds, so I have been toying with the idea of getting her a pet bird for her second birthday. I know nothing about birds, and have never owned one so I don't know if this is a good idea or not. I was thinking of a parakeet maybe. Does anyone have a pet bird that can tell me if this is an appropiate pet for a two year old? She understands "gentle hands" very well, so I am not worried about her hurting the bird. I am more worried about the bird hurting her. Do pet birds peck a lot? Is there a breed of bird that would be better than another breed? Are they hard to take care of? Are they prone to getting sick, or could they possibly make a child sick? Is this a terrible idea?

Thanks for any help anyone can give me!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the great advice ladies! After reading your responses I have decided that a bird is a bad idea. Maybe when she is older, but not now. Thanks again!

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answers from Denver on

Why not get a birdfeeder for outside where she can watch them? Or a hummingbird feeder? She can be 'responsible' about helping you fill it and it's not devastating if you forget a day or two.

Birds can also pass along a lung disease, personally I hate the things in the house. As others have said: they stink, they're messy, they're loud, ugh. I'd rather live with a crocodile in my tub than a bird in a cage. GL!

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answers from St. Louis on

I don't think pets are good presents for children, especially someone so young. If she is interested in birds it would probably be better to get her movies, books, stuffed animals, etc.... instead of a pet. If interaction is what you are looking for, it would be a better idea to take her to a zoo.

I have reaised birds - finches, parakeets and love birds. My FIL also had a parrot.
I can tell you that birds are very very messy and loud. If you are purchasing a parakeet, lovebird,cockatail(spelled it wrong I'm sure) or parrot from a pet store, more than likely it will be a very long time before your daughter can handle it. If you are looking for a bird she can touch, you will have to find a breeder that is hand raising them.
Before you purchase a bird, you should really think about this. A 2 year old gets bored - really fast. How long will it be before the newness wears off and the bird is forgotten about? Who is going to clean the cage EVERY day. Birds get sick very easily if they are not cared for properly.
I also recommend you educate yourself BEFORE you buy the bird. Go online and research how to properly care for the bird. You will be surprised that there is much more involved than just throwing some seed in a cup and refilling the water!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I don't know anything about birds, but my MIL has a Quaker Parrot that we all (except for my MIL) absolutely hate. Let me just say, that my guess is most of the problems we all have with the bird are a direct result of how my MIL chooses to treat the bird. Perhaps better habits from the owner would make it more tolerable. She places the bird on her shoulder all the time when she is at home and then walks all around the house with this thing. As birds will do, it poops whereever and whenever it wants to. She wears a towel on her shoulder under the bird, but the bird doesn't always hit it. Also, when in the cage the bird is LOUD. It squawks and carries on like crazy. Placing a cover over the cage only helps a little. The cage must be cleaned regularly or it becomes totally disgusting and my MIL (being 70) doesn't necessarily clean it as often as she should. The big downside for us to this particular breed is the lifespan. Guess who has been asked to take the thing when my MIL dies? Yep, she's already been told that's not going to happen :-)

Also, when I was a young child my parents did get us a bird. It was returned after about 3 months because my mother was tired of taking care of it and the 4 of us kids thought it was a boring pet so we were getting nothing out of it.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Little Rock on

A good starter bird is a parakeet. A bird that is caged often and not handled from the beginning will become biters and be aggressive. They are hard to take care of but they need daily attention and not just left in a cage to stare at. Also DO NOT feed them seed! Bird seed that sell in grocery stores and all your regular run of the mills stores is junk and will actually shorten the lifespan of the bird and can cause alot of health problems too. Use PELLETS! Zupreem is a great brand and birds really like it as its colorful like fruity pebbles and actually has a scent like it too. Bird like fruits and veggies too along with some occassional pasta. Do NOT get a cage that is labeled as being a certain breed cage as companies that label cages to FIT certain types of birds are simply just as a guideline. The bigger the cage the better and the less behavior issues you will have. Also small cages can cause damage to their wings and their tails as well. Birds need toys and they need their toys changed and moved often to also stop them from developing behaviorial issues. Anyways I could go on and on in this post so if you have any other questions feel free to message me! We had 3 large birds and used to go to bird shows all the time. We were forced to get rid of our birds when my first son was born as he was HIGHLY allergic to the dander of the birds and wasn't able to breathe. :-( Just know that they are a lifetime pet that needs care daily and not a novelty pet to be the greatest thing when you first get it only to be left and neglected after a few months of having it. I have seen this waaaay too many times as has my friend who runs a bird rescue :-(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albany on

As someone whose mom and aunt have had a bunch of parakeets and cockateils, I can tell you, I will NEVER get a pet bird for my child. They are messy and loud as someone else said. They CAN peck/nip hard so unless you go the route of breeder (expensive) where it is held since it's born, you are taking a chance in her getting hurt. Also, I have just come to have a personal issue with the things being caged up. They were created in a way they could fly and to keep them, we have to clip their wings and keep them in a cage. :( My mom's bird goes NUTS when he hears birds outside and she will get tired of it after a while and tell him to be quiet 1) like that works and 2) I don't know what she expects. He probably wants to be outside with THEM.

If she loves birds so much, make bird feeders with her. You can use bagels cut in half or pinecones. Spread peanut butter on it and sprinkle with bird seed. Then hang them up near a window she can see out of. She'll get a real kick out of watching the birds eat HER food she made them. :)



answers from Steubenville on

my son got chickens for his 4th b-day. so, no, its not nessasarily a bad idea. but please remember, you will be the one who has to take care of the birdie. your lil girl may become bored with the bird after 2 weeks, she mite love it for yrs. you just don't know. i think a parakeet would be the best choice, or a dove. not prone to pecking, pretty to listen to, and not real expensive. Also, something to think about, birds do not always live very long. Parrots yes, but parakeets, no. not hard to take care of, a cage, some toys, fresh food and water daily, to everyother day. and clean cage once a wk. not going to get you sick. good luck :)


answers from Chicago on

Most birds are not very friendly and won't even allow your daughter to hold them. They can be fun to watch, but that's about it. Some peck and can be mean, but a parakeet peck doesn't really hurt much. If you get anything bigger, though, they can do some damage. I have a friend who has a parakeet that will sit on your finger and shoulder and is very friendly. But I grew up with parakeets and they don't live very long and most don't like human contact. I don't think 2 is a good age for any pet really -- maybe fish. How about setting up a bird feeder where she can watch the birds? My kids all loved that.



answers from Huntsville on

I don't think a parakeet would be a good first bird for a 2 year old. They do bite and it HURTS if they get you good! I had 2 growing up, but I got the first when I was in 1st grade, and the other the next year. They both lived a long time; longest was 13 years I believe.

I also don't think I would trust a 2 year old to try to hold a parakeet. I had a hard time even in first grade & after that. They can move fast & wiggle, so it's hard to hold onto without wanting to squeeze!!

I agree that the finch would be a good one. She needs a bird that you don't have to interact with at this age. I'm sure she will be thrilled to get to watch one in a cage.



answers from Cleveland on

We just got our kids (3, 5, & 6) a few birds, but know they are not old enough to handle them... so we got them finches. They aren't as noisy as parakeets & they do much better in a cage only setting. The kids can't handle them, but do like watching them fly around & have even watched them hatch a few eggs & got to see the baby birds grow up & leave the nest. Which they found really neat.

Parakeets can be tamed, but it takes a lot of time to get them that way. Some can even learn to talk. I don't think at 2 it would be a good idea for her though. They do bite - not peek... and when they bite they hold on for a while. When I worked in a pet shop YEARS ago - I got bite by a parakeet that held on for almost 15 min... it broke the skin between my thumb & index finger, which did get infected. Cocateils are about the same as keets, but just a bit bigger & talk more them keets do. If you do want to get her one and what her to handle it - only get one... but you are going to have to set aside time almost everyday to spend w/ the bird.

Go to a local pet shop & talk to them - they will be able to help you pick the right bird for your daughter if you really do want to get her one.



answers from San Francisco on

When my son was two, he always wanted to pet our cat. The cat had no patience, however, for a two year old. So we found him a cat stuffed animal, which became his favorite of all times -- and he could pet it whenever he wanted. I really would not recommend a bird unless you really want a bird yourself; I assure you it will end up being your pet!



answers from San Francisco on

No, they are not prone to getting sick, but they aren't really much of a pet for a two year old. They won't peck her, really, but she can't do much more than look at a bird. I suggest a cat, something she can hold and pet.

I have about 20 birds, so I know about birds. If you do get a parakeet, please get two so it has company, and don't get a too small cage. Also, unless you raise them from a baby, they are almost never really "tame."



answers from Dallas on

I know this is a little late but I have to chime in. : ) My DD is the BIGGEST bird lover and if you're up for having one, I say you should definitely get her one and just make sure you find one hand-fed like a previous post mentioned. You can look online for hand-fed breeders and find a friendly bird that is tame and lets you or your DD hold them. We have a few birds, 2 lovebirds, one cockatiel and a green cheek conure. The lovebirds are both hand fed and still very loving and friendly, the conure is also hand fed and is the sweetest thing ever (they're very comical little birds and don't get loud at all) and then the cockatiel is not hand fed and will bite (he was given to us by a family member). If I could recommend a bird to you out of the choices we have it would be the conure. They make great first time birds, can easily entertain themselves with toys and don't make a lot of noise, in fact I forget we have a conure sometimes. : ) The lovebirds can get VERY chatty and have a high pitched chirp. We started out with the in the living room and had to move them to DD's room due to the noise.

Anyhow, birds are GREAT pets and as long as you are supervising your DD with the bird, she and the bird will be fine. However if you don't find one that is hand fed, more than likely you'll never be able to handle or hold it and then they don't make for very good pets, just something to look at. When we choose to buy one, we know to only go for the hand fed ones, that way all of my kids can handle the bird w/out being bitten. BTW, my kids are 9, 4 and 2....all of them have been able to hold our hand fed birds with no problems, the birds usually just like to sit on their shoulders anyways. Good luck and let me know if I can be of any help!



answers from Cincinnati on

Don't get your 2 yo a bird. They are very messy and you'll be the one cleaning their cages,etc. Instead, get season passes to someplace that allows you to "feed" birds. Some aquariums and zoos have a "feed the lorekeets" section where you purchase a small cup of nectar and the birds come and sit on your hand and your head and drink the nectar.



answers from Redding on

I've had birds all my life. I love them and have found them to be great companions.
My son was born into a house with birds. So, he was very used to them.
They were parakeets. We had two. One was far more friendly than the other. Pepper really didn't care for being held or sitting on your shoulder or anything. I had a big standing cage on a base with lots of toys and things for the birds to climb around on.
Parakeets will bite if they feel threatened and Pepper wasn't afraid to nip, even when I was just cleaning the cage.
My son was 2-1/2 and potty trained so one day when he went in the bathroom I didn't pay much attention, but he had carried his stool that he used for getting on the toilet, to the bird cage. He was being awfully quiet so I went to see what he was up to and dang if he didn't have his little hand in that cage with Pepper sitting on his finger. Neither one of them had made a single sound and I could not believe my eyes.
They were pals from that day forward.
The bird that never let anyone mess with him sat on my son's shoulder, on his head. I have pictures of my little guy laying on his tummy in his super hero underpants watching TV with that bird on him. You might think the bird would take off and fly away the first chance he got, but he didn't. And he never bit my son. The bird would screech his head off when anyone else tried to hold him and you wouldn't believe it if you hadn't witnessed it. But, I do have witnesses and pictures.
My son was so little, in fact, that he didn't say "Pepper", he said "Pecker".
And, we did get some funny looks when he told people about holding his Pecker.
When Pepper passed away, my sister bought my son another bird for his birthday. He named her Sparky. He finger trained that bird. He was so patient and knew the difference between a nip and a bite.
Birds really can bite hard. They can break the skin. But, it's a matter of building their trust. We are WAY bigger than birds and we can hurt them much more than they can hurt us.
Sparky lived a long time. She got a tumor on her wing and this might sound crazy, but I paid $150 to take her to a bird specialist who did surgery on a $15 parakeet. That bird slept with me, in my bed, under my shirt, while she recovered. She did great for a couple of years, but developed another tumor that wasn't operable. My son stayed in my bed with me and he was holding her when she passed away very early one morning.
We loved birds so much that my sister bought one for my nephew but he never had the patience for it. And he didn't like the chirping. He was like a bull in a china shop so the bird bit him even though my son was able to handle it. They gave the bird to my son after Sparky passed away.
My son renamed her Paloma and we still have her. She's 8 years old. I've had birds who've lived quite a long time. My Sunny was 15 when she passed away. She never talked, but she mimicked my whistling every morning and when I came home from being gone.
Birds really can make good pets. You need to keep their cages clean. Always make sure they have water and treats. I buy bird food and treats at the feed store. Some also enjoy a little lettuce or fruits to munch on.
You can buy really good books about parakeets and teach your daughter to be gentle.
Like I said, I've always had birds so it seems natural to have them. But keep in mind that they will bite. My son has trained other people's birds by putting a sock on his hand so if they get scared, it won't hurt him and they can bite without retaliation or yanking away. Once they know you aren't going to hurt them, even if they bite, it builds their trust.
I should have my son telling you all of this. He's even better with birds than I am.
They are a committment though. If you don't want a bird chirping in the morning when they hear the other birds wake up and get going, it might not be the best pet for you. I, personally, don't like not having a bird in the house. But, my grandfather always had birds, I've always had birds, my son will no doubt always have them.
He was in the 4th grade and wanted to take his bird for show and tell. His teacher was very much against it because she didn't like the idea of something being caged. My birds have "travel" cages even, and the teacher relented. My son brought the bird out for his classmates and talked about how to care for them. The teacher said she completely changed her mind about having a bird for a pet. It was obvious there was mutual affection.

So, this got super long, sorry, but you might want to get a book first before buying a bird. I don't think they are all that difficult to take care of. You want to make sure you have a nice big cage so they can flit around. If you let the bird out, you have to make sure it can never get outside because the poor little things can't survive on their own. I know plenty of people who love bigger birds, like parrots, but in my opinion, they are very messy and require a lot more focus and attention.

I don't think a bird is a bad pet as long as you know that you will be the one doing the care. Your daughter is too young to be responsible for that, but she can learn. And, they are much easier than having a cat box or a dog that needs to be able to run and poops in the yard, etc. Allergies could be an issue with any pet, but my kids never had any problems with birds.

I love birds so I am biased. They do have personalities. They love music and the sound of running water. Some like baths, some don't. Some are affectionate, some are timid. Obviously, being so small, they aren't like a cat that a yank on the tail won't harm them too much physically. I'd rather have a bird than a hamster anyday.
Another thing is that if you travel or go out of town, you just need to make sure there is plenty of food and water and birds will be just fine by themselves. They go to sleep when it gets dark and they wake up with the sun and the sounds of other birds.

I wish you the very best!



answers from Cincinnati on

I would not get my daughter a bird. They can hurt her. Why not a book on birds? If you want to spend a lot of money ($100) you can get a book that also has their songs. Wild Birds Unlimited gave a talk on it one day and it was great! Two years old is way too young for a pet. M. B.

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