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Why Birds Make Terrible Pets

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Birds are terrible pets. They are not domesticated animals like dogs and cats, and thus have no place in a human household. They are either small and stupid or large and intelligent, and neither are suited to be appropriate animal companions.

Small birds make terrible pets, of course. They are not very intelligent and they lack the positive attributes of larger birds. I'm thinking here of finches, wrens and the like. These creatures exist to tweet and soil their cages. They are not affectionate, and they don't live very long. Small birds may be beautiful to look at, but who wants to admire a caged animal trying to escape at every opportunity? That's just sad; these animals are better admired in their natural state, outside, as nature intended.

Large birds are the worst. The number one negative trait that these creature have is a long, human-like lifespan. That means that, if you get one of these birds while they are young and you are an adult, chances are that the bird will outlive you. This means that the bird will outlive you, which is a terrible situation. The bird will either be foisted on an unwilling relative or friend, or set free. In my neighborhood, there are several tropical parrots that are living wild in the trees; these birds were set free when their owner died. They have an unpleasant, loud call that can be frequently heard at all hours of the day or night, and they chase off the more pleasant songbirds. Having a pet with such a long lifespan is, ultimately, an irresponsible act.

Some may say, but large birds are intelligent and some species can even mimic human speech and other sounds. Very rarely is this mimicking pleasant -- many of these birds habitually produce unpleasant sounds completely unaware of the different meaning attached to the sounds they are making ("oh, he likes to make a car alarm sound every now and then"). As for intelligence, it's true that these birds can be quite intelligent, but this only makes their captivity more offensive. Few things are more depressing than an intelligent, non-domesticated caged animal. Even if these animals are released from their cages from time to time, they are restrained in an alien environment for fear that they will fly away; it's as if they are being held in some sort of bird jail.

So for all of these reasons, birds make terrible pets. This brief article doesn't even contemplate how messy birds are, or how they are incompatible with dogs and (especially) cats, or their other unpleasant qualities. Birds are better left in the wild.

Diego's Story

Diego, an African Grey parrot, is about fifteen years old. He lives next door in a large cage. The way he communicates is that he makes an alarm noise signifying that he wants more food. We met Diego just recently because his owners are our new neighbors. The backstory is that he used to belong to the husband's father who passed away recently. Now, the new owner has inherited a pet for at least fifteen years. Their two Labrador poodles were kenneled when their owners went on a road trip, but Diego had to stay because of his large cage. As good neighbors, we agreed to feed him and keep him company at least 15 minutes twice per day for three days.

Diego does not like raisins and throws them on the ground. He also shreds as he eats his nuts so his consumption is not efficient.

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Cadillac Man on February 13, 2015:

I think the problem isn't that birds are bad pets, it's just that they have unique traits and responsibilities that are often unexpected for a novice. All pets have negative consequences, it's just a matter of what kind of crazy you prefer.

Myself, I find birds easier for my lifestyle than dogs. Although certain birds do need more attention than others, the same is true with dogs. The trick with any pet is to be patient, do your research, and make a choice based on the demeanor of the animal. All too often people buy a pet based on aesthetics alone and get more animal than they can handle.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on May 16, 2014:

I met a parrot that pulled out most of its feathers. I was told that it was depressed. The new owner was doing his best to shower the large parrot with attention. It had suffered from abandonment. How sad to think that it could live a lot time with depression. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Sarah Stull on May 16, 2014:

I agree wholeheartedly that parrots make terrible pets, but I must say I respectfully disagree about 'stupid.' Parrotlets are known for being able to solve more complex puzzles than cockatoos, for instance, and are highly intelligent and emotional. They're also the tiniest species bred in aviculture. Meanwhile, the humble budgie holds the greatest record for speech mimicry. I think the biggest disadvantage of a large parrot is the size and therefore the bite/noise/mess capacity. I don't find much difference in intelligence between my small birds and my large ones.

As to finches - they aren't smart exactly, but they are clever enough, and are perhaps more suited to household life than a parrot due to that fact. They can make lovely companions. I had a canary who came from a pet shop. He'd ride on your shoulder and sing to you, and made very little mess. I have an Internet friend who raises Zebra Finches as well, and these do wonderfully as tame pets. It depends on the bird, really.

On the whole, though, thank you for this article. People need to understand that parrots are not intended for captivity. They do suffer, and I've made it my personal mission to help stop this.

-Sarah (

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on May 11, 2013:

Thanks, Budgies Lover. Birds are not for everyone. I am just expressing a point of view, considering that there are so many unwanted released birds in my neighborhood. This doesn't mean that I won't feed my neighbor's birds or won't look at them at zoos or pet shops. Plus, even my neighbors (the owners) have been repeatedly pecked.

Budgies lover on May 05, 2013:

Budgies happen to be very intelligent and affectionate pets. They are not stupid and are very interesting to watch, and are very cute. I should know since I own six. Cockatiels are beautiful birds and are equally smart and affectionate. Lovebirds, are fun and affectionate too. Birds are easy to handle and are wonderful pets. No offense but you were a little harsh on little birds.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on March 30, 2013:

Arwen, thanks for your point of view. I saw some finches in my son's science class and I thought back to the days when my ex-boyfriend raised them and I even saw some baby birds. There is a part of me that was reminiscing those days. I know someone who did extensive research and decided that the only kind of animal for his mother in her 80's was a parrot that will probably outlive her.

Arwen on March 22, 2013:

I think your view is legitament. Birds are not some people. However, take in acount there are people that really do take the time to take care of these bird and have a bond with them. They make sure they have a big enough cage, toys, keep the cage clean, switch out the toys and perches, cook for them, give them fresh veggies and fruit, fresh water daily and make sure they come out of their cage daily. They now make flight harness for parrots so people can take their bird outside. Not all parrots are large. There are budgie, lovebirds cockatiels, conures, piounes, and poicephelus parrots. Even mini macaws. I doubt I would ever get a large bird like a Macaw (despite it's beauty) due to the fact it can outlive me and the extra cons that come with the larger parrots. At the end of the debate we need to admit Diego (for example) would not survive in Africa in the wild but he seems to be getting proper care. While I never kept a bird to just to look at (some people get aviaries or flight cages and have birds like finches). I see those glass aviaries with finches at the nursing home and those birds do not looked stressed. In fact I doubt they are thinking in a complex way that they are caged up. I see them sitting on nest, in nestboxes, sitting on branches, chirping, flying, carrying a piece of straw in their mouth. I have a green cheek conure who I get out everyday and I even leave her cage door open. She likes to sit on my shoulder when I surf the net. She sometimes likes to preen my hair. She also likes soft head scratches and little rubbing under her wings (I know it sounds strange). She is not domesticated like my dog but she is a social creature who needs daily interaction.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on March 15, 2013:

AJ, thank you for sharing your point of view. It is so important to hear from the other side, especially from a bird owner.

AJ on March 08, 2013:

You're article is flawed since the start not only do you say all small birds make bad pets and are not interactive which is completely wrong because you completely ignored the budgie the cockatiel the pious and the poicephelus parrots which is about 15 different bird right there that snake great small bird pets and although most macaws and larger parrots do have a long lifespan there are so many exeptions to that rule that you have ignored

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on February 16, 2013:

Thanks for your input as a bird owner. I have never heard of a budgerigar, and I will look it up. Thanks again.

Anonymous on February 16, 2013:

This is an interesting way to put it. I myself have a budgerigar, and it is very affectionate and kind towards everyone. One must consider this: Even though birds DO belong in the wild, our domesticated ones are FAR different from their original wild ancestors. For example, you cannot put a blue budgie back into its original habitat. It's blue coloring will attract predators. I agree that our ancestors have done wrong on capturing and domesticating these birds, but the deed has been done. I feel that it is our responsibility to care for these birds, because there is nowhere for them to go. Setting them free is cruelty, and will lead to death for the bird. Euthanising them seems simply impossible; there are way too many. Overall, I guess it depends on what type of owner you are. Birds can be beautiful and affectionate pets, or they can be as you described: depressed and unintelligent. It really is your choice.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on December 19, 2012:

Thanks for your opinion, Henry. This is just my opinion.

Henry on December 19, 2012:

I think you should be ashamed of yourself ! I have had numerous dogs and cats but my little Joey is the best!

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on December 02, 2012:

Graceomalley, I appreciate your experience with the birds, and I wished that more owners are like you. Despite not considering birds as pets myself, I think that they are wonderful birds to watch, and they are one of the more intelligent birds. Thanks for visiting.

graceomalley on December 02, 2012:

All the things you say about birds are true, and I wish more people understood birds before attempting to keep one. There is a very big big difference between a domesticated animal (cats and dogs) and a tame animal (a wild animal who becomes habituated to humans). Parrots at this point are tame - they are wild animals who can get used to humans and be very friendly, but who are not genetically disposed to be easy for people to live with. I have 3 who i love very much - they fly free most of the day inside my home. I'm disabled and rarely go out, so they are there to keep me company. I researched pets for a full year before deciding on an animal - i'm amazed that people will spend hundreds on an animal, and not know basic information about the animal.

In my opinion most people should not keep parrots, for all the reasons you mentioned. For a subset of the population, they are the best pets in the world.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on July 30, 2012:

Hi Jenb0128. I am glad that you rescued a bird. I have seen an unloved parrot that had pulled out all of its hair, and then became someone's rescued bird. Now the bird is in good hands

I know someone who bought an African Grey for his 83 year-old mother since he went through all of the animals, and this seemed to be the best companion for her. So, this may end up his pet and his grown children's pet.

Jennifer Bird from Michigan on July 30, 2012:

My rescued birdie is the best pet ever!

There are definitely irresponsible bird owners out there, but not all bird owners should be judged based on those individuals.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on January 30, 2012:

Thanks, Alocsin. However, there are still a lot of bird-lovers.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 29, 2012:

I'm going to think twice about a bird as a pet because of your hub. Voting this Up and Interesting.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on December 17, 2011:

Ehsan121, thanks for visiting and commenting. The idea of owning a parrot seems great at first. I know some people who love their birds or even rescuing birds who have pulled out their feathers. But everyone should think about the pros and cons before rushing into bird ownership.

ehsan121 from Karachi on December 17, 2011:

interesting hub. I also have a talkative parrot in my house.


formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on November 21, 2011:

Thank CarrieThomson for your comment. You make a good point. I would help a hurt bird get better and fly away.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on November 21, 2011:

Hi kids-toy-box. I am glad you like the pictures of Diego.

carriethomson from United Kingdom on November 21, 2011:

hi formosann girl!! i completely agree with you on this one!! birds should never be caged and domesticated unless you find one that is hurt and need your help and shelter!!


kids-toy-box on November 20, 2011:

Hi again Formosangirl- thanks for the new pics - Diego is cute but seems like he's quite the rascal!Judging from your last comment-I now understand the reason for this hub:)

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on November 20, 2011:

Hi sam-eg for your comments. You have a good point that some people love taking care of them. I used to date someone who loved to raise finches and watch them breed.

I wonder whether all of the parrots and toucans in my neighborhood are due to owners or their offsprings releasing them to the wild. However, I do not know why they stay in my neighborhood, but between the crows and these tropical birds, it is no longer a peaceful neighborhood. At least we don't have hawks.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on November 20, 2011:

Hi crazycatman. Thanks for commenting. I think it is irresponsible to buy a long living bird without discussing it with your family members. I saw a bird with this mental illness (because of its loneliness) and pulled out all of its feathers. Fortunately, he was able to find a new owner.

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on November 20, 2011:

Hi cheatlierepeat. Thanks for commenting. We were terrified to feed him, especially my daughter. We were told not to put our fingers in the cage. What kind of pet is this? At least my cat does not bite every stranger who comes to visit and feed her.

sam-eg from Happy Land on November 20, 2011:

Hi , you are so right birds should left in the wild, I love birds but I love to see them on a tree not a cage but as you have a good point of view you were a little harsh because some people love to have them as pet plus they do can take a good care of them, but nice and interesting Hub with a good insightful MSG

crazycatman from Dallas, TX on November 20, 2011:

Diego looks like a cute guy. I worked for a vet while in high school. We had a bird, Mr. Peepers, who would frequently board with us at the clinic. He was a favorite among the staff and often would say, "I Love You," and "I Love You Mr. Peepers." I enjoyed his company.

However, I agree that because of there long life span, an owner must take into consideration what will happen if the bird out lives them. I've heard that some people will set up a trust fund for the people who inherent their pet bird. I've also seen birds that can't handle having new owners and pull out there feathers acting as if they have a mental illness.

While I love the larger pet birds, especially those who say cute things, I don't feel a bird is a good pet. Least not for me.

Plus, I'm sure my three cats would just love to try to eat the poor guy!

cheatlierepeat from Canada on November 20, 2011:

They certainly would be for me. I'm terrified of birds! It seems that people who do have them as pets really enjoy them but I'm with you on this one :)

formosangirl (author) from Los Angeles on November 20, 2011:

Thanks, kids-toy-box, for your comments. I uploaded additional pictures of Diego, our neighbor's African Grey parrot.

kids-toy-box on November 20, 2011:

Interesting point of view but I have to disagree about birds making bad pets. My husband and I have two budgies- they are far from stupid -apart from their 12 word vocabulary they are also playful and engaging. I do however agree on the point they are not like cats and dogs-in the sense that you cannot pat them etc but our budgies do show some level of affection. We leave them out of their cage when they are indoors they love to sit on our shoulder.I think it is safer to say that birds are pets not suited to the majority of people as cats and dogs may be- rather than rate them as poor pets.

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