Finding the Right Seller
Finding the right bird to share your life with is a complex process. One crucial step that is often overlooked is finding the right seller. Finding the right person to buy from will help insure that the bird you bring home is healthy and that you have a support system in place to facilitate a wonderful relationship between you and your new feathered companion. So what should you look for in someone selling birds?
GOOD REPUTATION AND TIES TO THE COMMUNITY
Someone who consistently sells high quality pet birds will have a reputation for doing so. It shouldn’t be hard to find other people who have purchased from them who can vouch for the health and temperament of their birds, as well aswhether or not the seller was there to support them if issues arose after the sale, which leads to the next point;
WILLING AND ABLE TO OFFER SUPPORT AFTER THE SALE
Birds are living creatures; each one of them is as unique as the family that adopts it. Because of this, no two experiences will be alike, and even the “perfect” home and the “perfect” bird might need some help learning to understand each other, or a little insight into how to handle specific unforeseen situations. A seller who cares about their birds will be willing and eager to help support the new family and assist them in being the best possible home for the bird. This does not mean the seller will be your personal servant, replace google, or be available for questions every moment of every day, but that they are there to answer questions when they can and encourage the new owners to contact them when they need to. It is good to find a seller who cares enough about their birds to take a bird back if the family is no longer able to keep it. However, this does NOT mean that the buyer, who took on the responsibility of living with that bird, should get a refund, or that the seller should “buy the bird back,” but that the seller is willing to offer a safe place for the bird to return to until a new family can be found.
CLEAN ENCLOSURES AND HEALTHY BIRDS
One of the most obvious things to look for is clean cages. Birds are birds and they poop, shred things, and throw food, so they will not be in spotless cages at all times, but it should be clear that the cages are cleaned often and the birds are not living in filth. Cleanliness is key to a healthy bird. Look also at the birds themselves for signs of illness. Eyes and nares (nostrils) should look clean and free of discharge, birds should be alert and active (but be reasonable, even birds need naps), and keel bones should not feel too pronounced or be sunken in between bulges of flesh in the front. A reputable seller will be able to explain to you the signs of health or illness in the species they are selling.
It is obvious that an unhealthy bird should not be sold. Any time you see an unhealthy animal in any sort of sales setting, a member of management should be alerted right away. Birds are experts as hiding illness and injury, and an ethical seller will want to take action right away. Most reputable sellers also offer a health guarantee. This is usually a limited guarantee that requires the buyer to take the bird to an avian vet within the first day or two, and offers a refund if the bird is found to be ill at that time. It is critical to understand that taking your new bird to the vet is your responsibility, and while many great sellers offer a health guarantee, it won’t do you any good unless you actually take your bird to see a qualified avian veterinarian. Some sellers do not have a paper contract stating this. If they do not, ask a member of management what would happen if the bird got sick right away, and see how they respond.
Not every person working at every breeder, rescue, or pet store is going to be able to answer every question about every animal available, but it is reasonable to expect them to either know, or find someone who knows the answers to routine questions on matters such as lifespan, noise level, activity level, time commitment, financial costs for care, diet, training, proper toys, etc. Asking this kind of question can help you and the seller become acquainted, and help the seller get to know your expectations and desires. This gives them the opportunity to be sure the bird you are buying is the right fit for your family, as well as make suggestions toward a more pleasant adoption process. If the seller suggests you try a different species than the one you are considering, don’t get offended. If you have chosen an ethical, reputable establishment where the pet and the customer come first, then the staff may believe based on experience that a different species is more suited to your family. It doesn’t mean they think you “can’t handle” a certain more expensive bird, or that they are trying to “up sell” you to a more expensive bird. Every species and every bird within a species is unique, and a person who has experience with certain species may see details that are not initially clear to a buyer. Never feel pressured to change your mind, but asking “Why?” is always wise when this kind of suggestion is made.
GOOD WEANING PRACTICES
Ask the seller about their weaning, fledging, and socializing practices. Babies should not be weaned early to sell, and should be socialized both with other birds and with people. Wing clipping is a hotly debated topic, but research shows that the process of learning to fly is critical to the mental, emotional, and social development of a baby bird. Even if a bird is clipped before you meet them, inquire about whether or not the bird was allowed to learn to fly before clipping.
WHAT IF I “DON’T BELIEVE IN” BREEDERS, PET STORES, ADOPTION HOUSES, ETC?
There are many people out there declaring “I would never……” and filling in the blank with things like “Buy from a breeder” or “buy from a pet store” or “take in a bird that already has history and might never bond with me.” These types of statements are over generalized and assume that all people or birds in these categories are alike. Instead of painting all sellers with broad strokes, it is important to single out the true issues that we do or do not agree with. Not every breeder is in it “for the money,” not every pet store buys their birds from parrot mills, and not every rescue bird will be a biter or screamer for the rest of his life. When searching for a companion parrot, get to know all the potential sellers in your area. Get to know their philosophies, practices, and personalities. Do your own research and compare it to what they have to say. Be an educated adopter BEFORE you go looking for your new family member. Give each seller a chance to rise to a level of excellence. If you cannot find a seller that does that in your area, widen the net. The internet, in fact, is a great resource. Use the same questions you would in person, find out their reputation, and locate a seller who truly loves their birds and knows their stuff whether they are next door or hundreds of miles away. Never feel like your options are limited to your neighborhood when searching for your feathered soul mate; they are worth the effort!