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Adopting A Rescue Bird: Helping Polly Adjust

January 1, 2024

January has officially gone to the birds: it’s Adopt A Rescued Bird Month! This is a wonderful cause, and one that we are happy to help support! In this article, a local Brookville, PA vet offers tips on adopting a rescued bird.

Think Before Adopting A Rescued Bird

Our feathered friends have many wonderful qualities: they’re adorable, small, playful, curious, and often absolutely hilarious.

However, adoption is a lifetime commitment, and should not be taken lightly. While we love seeing birds get second chances, adopting one is a big decision, and not one to take lightly. Your winged friend will need lots of attention. She also has specific household requirements, such as fresh, clean air. Longevity is another thing to consider. Birds can live over 50 years!

Do plenty of research, and make sure you’re committed to caring for Polly for the rest of her life. 

It’s unfortunately far too common for birds to end up in rescues or shelters. In fact, parrots are sometimes rehomed as many as seven times over the course of their lives. Some have been rescued from situations where they were neglected, while others have been put up for adoption after the death of their owners, or because of other unfortunate events. Some birds were surrendered by people who thought they wanted a bird, but later changed their minds. 

Preparing For Your Rescued Bird

Before bringing your feathered friend home, make sure that everything is ready for her. Polly will need a comfortable and safe cage. We’d recommend choosing your bird before going shopping. Different types of birds need different types of cages, so you need to get the right style. For instance, finches need more horizontal space, as they tend to fly across their cages instead of climbing up them. Parrots, on the other wing, like to climb. (Some also like to sing, dance, imitate car alarms, and hang upside down, but that’s another topic.) 

Get The Cage: We would advise getting the biggest cage you can afford. It’s a one-time expense, so go ahead and splurge! Before purchasing a cage, measure the spot you want to put it in, so you know how much room you have to work with. (Tip: it can be tempting to buy a secondhand cage to save money, but be careful: if the cage’s former resident was sick, it may not be safe.)

Choose The Spot: Location is also important. Avoid exposing your pet to harmful fumes or loud disturbances. However, be mindful not to isolate your feathered friend too much. Birds can become lonely when left alone for extended periods. Many of our winged friends prefer corners, as they feel less exposed that way. A corner of a living room or family room is often ideal. 

Make It Inviting: You’ll also want to make the cage comfy for Polly. Add lots of toys and a variety of perches to the cage to make it fun and comfy. Your pet may also appreciate having some plants or trees near the cage. This will make her feel at home. Just stick with non-toxic options. 

How To Make Your Home Safe For A Rescued Bird 

Birdproofing is a must! You’ll have to make your home safe for your winged buddy. Remove or secure anything that could be dangerous, like plastic bags, small or sharp objects, and candles. You’ll also need to address things like window coverings, fans, and toxic plants and foods. Ask your Brookville, PA vet for specific birdproofing tips.

Helping Your Rescue Bird Get Settled

Give Polly plenty of time to settle in when you bring her home. Don’t try to handle her right away. Talk to her, hang out with her, and give her treats and toys. You should schedule an avian veterinary appointment with your Brookville, PA animal clinic as soon as possible, but aside from that, let her adjust.

Adjusting to a new home can be challenging for any pet. Birds can be quite timid, and sometimes get very attached to their humans. This is something to be very aware of with rescues. Polly may feel sad and depressed after being separated from her former master, and will need time to acclimate. If your cute pet has had bad experiences in the past, it may take time for you to gain her trust. Your winged pal may also need extra time just to recuperate from the stress of being in a strange environment.

When bringing Polly home, place her in her cage and allow her a few days to adjust. Although birds need free time, it’s important for her to feel settled first. 

Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Don’t Be Pushy: never force attention on your winged friend. Just let her settle in.
  • Pull Up A Chair: Whenever you want to read, scroll on your phone, or watch TV, sit near Polly’s cage. This will help her feel safe.
  • Strike Up A Conversation: Use a quiet, gentle, and friendly tone of voice when talking to Polly. She might not understand what you’re saying, but she will notice your tone.
  • Offer Snacks: Food can be very helpful in bonding and building trust. That applies to all of our animal companions. It may take time to figure out what Polly prefers. You can offer various bird-safe fruits and vegetables, millet spray, treat sticks, or raw pasta. Just stick with things you know are safe. Consult your Brookville, PA vet for more details.
  • Don’t Scare Her: You might want to pet or cuddle your new bird, but it’s important that you let her feel secure before handling her. Don’t grab her or stick your hands into the cage, and avoid startling her with sudden movements or loud noises.
  • Patience Is A Virtue:  Birds get very attached to their owners, but that bond won’t form overnight. Polly will need time to learn to trust you.

Tips For Choosing the Right Bird

Birds vary wildly in terms of things like noise levels, life expectancy, and volume. Caring for a Macaw is very different from caring for a budgie! Some, like finches, are pretty quiet, while others, like the Moluccan Cockatoo, are very, very loud. (These guys can reach 129 decibels, which is louder than most concerts.)

We can’t overstate how important it is to do lots of research! Here are a few things to look into: 

  • Speech Capacity
  • Space Requirements
  • Size
  • Life Expectancy
  • Companionship Requirements
  • Volume
  • Trainability
  • Friendliness

Some birds are better suited to beginners than others. The budgie or parakeet is a small, playful, and absolutely adorable pet. They’re great pets for children, and don’t require as much space as some of our larger winged companions. Finches and canaries are also good choices. In addition to being small and delicate, finches bond more with one another than with their humans, making them a good companion for those who want to keep a low-maintenance pet. Lovebirds also make the list. As their name suggests, lovebirds are extremely social and do not do well alone. They are colorful and cuddly, and they are very cute. There are also plenty of other parrots, who vary widely in their needs and personalities. A bird like the African Grey Parrot will keep you laughing and on your toes for a long time. Just do plenty of research first: these birds are intelligent and need a lot of attention. If they get bored, they can get into quite a bit of mischief. Ask your Brookville, PA vet for specific advice. 

Conclusion: Adopting a bird can be very rewarding. Just be sure to do plenty of research before deciding to bring a rescued bird—or any pet—into your home.
Please feel free to contact us for any questions or concerns about your bird’s health or care. As your local Brookville, PA pet hospital, we’re here to help!