Bird keeping is a pretty diverse hobby, from breeding bantams for eggs to keeping cockatoos for companionship. Depending on your interest you may decide to build an aviary, or just have a cage in your living room. Of course just as important as your interests are the needs of your bird so you must select a species that is a good fit for your lifestyle.
Bird-keeping is sometimes referred to as "aviculture," a term defined by prominent aviculturist Dr. Jean Delacour as, "the worldwide hobby of keeping and breeding numerous species of wild birds in captivity to maintain their numerical nature in nature with a view of forestalling their extinction by supplying aviary raised stock." You will note that he refers to species of wild bird, and it is generally accepted that aviculture is restricted to caring for and breeding birds that are not fully domesticated, where those that care for and breed domesticated species of bird are "bird fanciers."
Most people who engage in this hobby will buy from a local breeder or pet store, however, more advanced hobbyists may decide to import a rarer species from overseas. If you take this route you must ensure that you comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
There are a number of different bird groups that you can chose from, each with its own characteristics and care requirements. Then within each group you will need to carefully select a species that suits you. For example, if you want a talking parrot not just any parrot will do as some species are in fact quite quiet. Some bird groups with species that make good pets:
There are a number of criteria to consider when selecting your bird, for example:
- Some pets will not do well in a cage, and require an aviary
- If you settle on an aviary bird then you must take into account that it will not become as bonded a companion as a bird you keep indoors
- If you are looking for a talking bird make sure you select a species with great mimic abilities such as the African Gray Parrot
- Birds vary greatly in expense so you need to take your budget into account
- Parrots and other birds may live to be as old as 80 so you need to make plans for your pet outliving you, or select one with a lifespan that suits your lifestyle
There are lots of other considerations and a lot to learn about bird keeping, but I hope that this article helped get you started.