Be Sure to Ask These Important Questions Before Adoption
Nearly two years after the devastating loss of my beloved cockatoo to cancer-induced epilepsy, I am finally ready to look at other birds. Naturally, I looked at sweet babies and smiled. But there are so many wonderful birds waiting in rescues for the right person to love them! After careful consideration, I decided to adopt my next bird. Sound like you? Read on...

You've researched several rescues, know their policies, and are ready to start the process. Many rescues have classes you can take prior to adoption (Take them--it's worth your time!), most require a home visit to be certain you don't have any obvious hazards--cats or bird-chasing dogs, scented candles, non-stick cookware, poisonous plants, etc., and many require references including one from a vet if you've had previous experience with other animals.

If you haven't started researching different species, you'll want to discuss this with your contact at the rescue. The following checklist assumes that you're ready to give your heart and a good home to your next avian companion and that you've narrowed the pool to one (or two) species and have found an available bird that might be the right one.
  • What is his name? Birds know their names. You'll want to use it as much as possible as you get to know this bird.
  • What was his life prior to coming to the rescue? If you have children or other animals in your home, be sure to find out about his previous interactions with that type of family member.
  • Is this bird a male or female? Has he been DNA sexed? Gender verified by prior egg-laying? Any history of egg-binding?
  • Can he be handled easily? Is he cage-aggressive?
  • Does he play with toys? If so, which ones are his favorites?
  • Does he play interactive games such as Jenga, Dominoes, peek-a-boo, etc?
  • Does he have experience with a harness? When taken outdoors, birds should always be on a harness or in a bird-safe carrier.
  • How does he travel best? Acrylic cage? Solid side cage?
  • What type of food does he eat? And, if on a poor diet, such as an all-seed diet for a cockatoo, have you tried switching him to pellets and fresh foods?
  • Does he like to be covered at night?
  • What is his medical history?
  • Has he been vetted since coming to the rescue?
  • Does he have any special needs?
  • Can he fly? Walk? See? Crack seeds and nuts?
  • Does he require any medications or other medical attention on a regular basis? Of course, all birds need to visit a vet for regular wellness exams, but this is asking beyond that--overgrown or scissor beak, diabetes, fatty liver disease, etc.
  • Does he have any bad habits? Plucking? Chasing toes? Screaming? Foul language? What steps have been taken to remedy this?
The answers to these questions are not necessarily disqualifications, but they should assist you in making the right decision for your family. My short-list includes a bird that is blind in one eye, one that has a history of fatty liver disease, and one that appears to have never learned to fly. I will meet the birds on my short list soon to see if any are right for our household! Click here for a downloadable and printable version of the checklist.

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