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How To Find Your Bird A Good New Home

Copyright © 2005 by Margaret Madison
All Rights Reserved

A number of things contribute to the need to re-home a bird.  Although this article is geared towards re-homing a pet parrot, this article could really benefit anyone thinking of adding an avian companion to their life.  Parrots are long lived pets and cockatiels can live to be in their mid- and even upper-30s.  Much can change in an owner’s life during those decades.  In fact, lifestyle changes and illness are major factors in needing to re-home a pet bird.  Birds have also become popular pets and people may not think everything through before acquiring them.  Birds are readily available making them affordable for much of the general public and the subject of “impulse buys”.  They can be loud and messy and demanding of your time and attention.  They can be costly when providing proper veterinary care, perches, pellets, fresh foods, toys, seeds and treats.  They are highly intelligent and emotional creatures with special needs to keep them happy companions. 

Many of us could be faced with the need to re-home a bird or many birds.  Our needs may be finding a temporary new home while things in our lives settle back down or the needs could be to find a permanent new home for our avian companion.  Regardless, much of the same questions can apply to both temporary and permanent re-homing of the bird(s).  The decision to re-home is often a tough one to make and the whole process can be emotionally draining.  Sometimes the re-homing needs to be done right away.  In other situations you have a chance to re-home your bird in a less urgent manner. 

In the cases where you have to make the bird’s move immediately, you may be wise to involve a reputable rescue organization.  It is a good idea to acquaint yourself with local rescue groups before the need to re-home your bird arises.  Many rescue organizations are run by loving people with a genuine desire to place birds in the right homes.  If they are registered as a 501 c 3 non-profit, check the IRS reports to see how much of the funds are going to the birds and how much to salaries and other items.  If a large part of the money is being spent on items other than the birds, ask questions as to why. 

Beware of “hoarders” and people who take in more birds than they can properly care for and beware of people just looking for a free bird to sell.  Visit the rescue organization and meet their volunteers if possible beforehand to make sure this is the place that you want to help you.  You would need to surrender your bird to them completely and you would not normally receive any money in exchange for your bird.  You should also consider making a donation to help them care for your bird during the re-homing process.  Often a donation is required.

If a rescue organization is not an option to you, there are a couple of other choices.  You could place an ad to sell your pet.  There are also some local pet stores that deal with animals that may buy your pet at wholesale prices, or trade you for pet supplies and sell your pet retail in their store to make a profit.  Most of these retail outlets are interested in young birds that are newly weaned though as opposed to an older pet needing to be re-homed.  However, keep in mind that at a pet store your birds will be going to the first person with enough money to purchase them and not necessarily to a pre-screened home.  Pet stores are a business and they aren’t in business to turn away customers.

If you do have the time to find a new home for your bird and there is no urgency to immediately remove the bird from the home, then you can certainly re-home the bird yourself.  Re-homing does take time and commitment to do the job correctly.  Spread the word amongst family and friends, as well as to post ads in local newspapers or on bulletin boards in local businesses like pet supply stores and veterinarian offices.  There are many websites on which you can also advertise birds in need of new homes.  Use these resources in order to gather the most qualified candidates to care for your bird in need.  You can also decide if you want to ask an adoption fee or selling price for your bird and for any supplies you may be letting go with your pet.

How do you determine if person who wants your bird will be the best new home for your beloved pet?  How will you know they’ll treat your bird as well, if not better, than you have?  While some species are easier to live with than others, parrots in general are not suitable companions for most people.  That is why there are so many parrots that are in need of new loving homes.  It is also why it is so important that a new potential owner can convince you that they are aware of the obligations they will have to this new pet parrot.  To help you screen through the potential new owners, set up some interview questions.

Even if the potential new owners don’t have all the answers in the interview, give them a chance to investigate and research and get back to you with answers.  That shows you that they are resourceful and are making a serious effort to prepare themselves as best as possible for bird ownership.  It also helps ensure that they are thinking things through before acquiring the pet bird to begin with.  This also gives you the opportunity to help educate a potential new owner, so be sure that you know the appropriate answers to the questions you are asking them and be prepared to talk to them about it in detail and why that is important to the bird’s well-being. 

The interview questions suggested below are not a complete list by any means, although they do cover much of the basics on bird care and general knowledge.   Certainly add or subtract as you see fit for your bird and your own situation.  Their answers may even generate new questions in your mind.  Know what points are important to you and your bird’s welfare and make sure you cover them with any new potential owners to your satisfaction before passing your bird along to the next owner.  Try to get a feel for their current knowledge on bird care, how prepared they are for emergencies, their willingness to learn and what their current lifestyle might be like.  Ask them to explain any “yes or no” answers. 

Find out things like if they have ever had a bird before and if so what happened to that bird.  Do they have birds now?  If so, ask about how they plan to properly quarantine.  Why do they want this bird?  Is it a gift for their child?  Who will be the main person responsible for the bird’s daily care and needs?  Do they own their own home?  If so, then there is no issue with landlords and “no pet” rules.  If they rent, ask about roommates and potential conflicts with their bird and a roommate.   Does everyone in the home want a pet bird?  Will the bird have access to fresh air and sunshine?  Are there any smokers in the home?  Do they have or plan to have children and if so, how will they ensure that they still have time for the bird?  Does anyone in the home have allergies, asthma or other breathing difficulties? 

Are there other pets in the home and if so, how they will keep their bird safe?  If they do have other pets, ask for a veterinary reference.  That will tell you if they brought in a pet with suspicious injuries or if they keep their pet’s vaccines current and seek care when necessary.  Ask for a few personal references also.  Find out if these people go through a lot of pets frequently or if they keep their pets for the long haul.

How much do they know about caring for their bird?  Are they aware of how much sleep a bird should receive regularly?  Ask them for common clues that could indicate your bird might be sick.  What will they do with the bird when they need to take a vacation, travel for business or become hospitalized?  Do they know of any local avian vets?  Ask them to name several bird-toxic items, including plants, foods, etc…  Find out how often they feel they should clean the cage, perches, toys, food and water cups.  What do they plan to feed the bird?  What do they plan to use as treats for the bird?  Ask them to name a few fresh food items that their bird should be receiving regularly.  What do they plan to use to keep the bird’s cage clean?  How often do they plan to let the bird spend time out of its cage?  Do they know what a “blood feather” is?  Do they plan on trimming flight feathers or allowing the bird free flight and have them explain why.  Are they aware of the longevity of this bird species?  How might their lives change during this timeframe and how will they continue to make room for this bird in their life.

What size cage is the bird going to have and what shape is the cage, or if they plan on keeping the cage you may be providing them with the bird?  What types and sizes of perches will be provided?  How much time will the bird spend in its cage or alone on the average day?  What types of mental stimulation will this bird receive daily while alone or otherwise?  Do they regularly subscribe to any parrot magazine and if so, which ones?  How will they handle a fussy eater, or a bird that suddenly started biting often or screaming constantly?

What would they do if you wanted your bird back?  If your bird’s re-homing needs are only temporary, such as  during a change of housing arrangements, while you’re finishing school, until you find a job and get back on your feet, etc…, let the new potential owners know up front.

What would they do if they also found themselves in the position of needing to re-home that bird again ten years down the road?  Would you want them to notify you and give you an opportunity to get the bird back or to assist them in finding another good home?  Would they be willing to keep in touch with you to let you know the bird’s progress and to help assure you that this bird is integrating well into its new home?  Would they be willing to allow you future visits with your old friend and if so, how often?  Find all this out ahead of time if it is important to you and don’t be afraid to get something in writing at the time the bird exchanges hands, spelling out details to this arrangement.  Have both parties sign and date the agreement.

Once they pass the interview to your satisfaction, set up a time to let them meet your bird.  How do they handle your bird?  Are they wearing heavy perfume or cologne/aftershave?  Do they wear a lot of costume jewelry and do they allow the bird to play with it?  Do they seem afraid of your bird?  What do they do when the bird leaves a dropping on their clothes?  Does the bird seem OK with this person?  Keep in mind that not all birds take readily to strangers and it is possible that it will take time for a relationship between them to form.

Don’t underestimate the value of a home visit, even once you believe you’ve found the right family for your bird.  Look around for things like ashtrays, plug-in air fresheners, and poisonous plants.  Even if they’ve told you they don’t smoke, maybe they have regular visitors who do.  Look for any dangers or areas of concern.  Ask them to show you where they plan to keep the bird’s cage.  Is it near a drafty window or central air/heat duct?  If near a window, do the curtains have those toxic lead weights?  If they seem to care about cleanliness in their home, likely they’ll keep their bird’s home clean too.  Do their other animals appear well cared for?  Do they keep control of their children?

Follow your hunches and trust those instincts.  If at any time along the way the person doesn’t agree with your process of ensuring your bird has a proper new home, you probably don’t want this person to have your bird anyhow.  Birds deserve a patient and understanding owner that is willing to use all available resources to provide the best home possible for their new feathered companion.  Proper re-homing is an important job and your bird’s new life and future happiness depends on how well you do it.  Don’t let your bird down.

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This site was last updated 11/06/05