While it's true that many avian diseases and disorders are invisible to the naked eye, there are a few important points that buyers can keep in mind to help them choose the baby bird with the least possible chance of illness or disease.
Judging by AppearanceWhen you visit a breeder or pet shop, have a look at all of the baby birds that are available. While they are all likely to be absolutely adorable, before you buy it's imperative to look each of them over thoroughly, bearing the following points in mind:
- Choose a bird that is active and alert. Birds that appear sluggish or weak have the potential of being extremely ill. While it may seem tempting to "rescue" such a bird by taking it home, these situations all too often lead to heartbreak and great financial loss if the bird is indeed sick. Set yourself up for success by only purchasing a baby that is lively and animated.
- Look for bright, shiny eyes and clean feathers. A healthy baby bird will have bright, sparkling eyes that are wide open and free of any discharge. Eyes that are runny, squinty, or discolored can be an indication of disease of infection. Check the bird's plumage to make sure that it is bright and clean. Dull, dirty, or scruffy looking feathers can be a sign of abnormal preening behaviors.
- Check the bird's nares and cere for signs of infection. Many birds with respiratory problems will exhibit a runny, crusty, or inflamed cere as a symptom. Avoid birds who show any sign of obstructed nares or any discharge whatsoever coming from the nasal area.
- Only buy a bird that is weaned and fully feathered. While hatchlings can be nearly irresistible to bird lovers, it is highly recommended that those without handfeeding experience purchase only babies which have been fully weaned. While handfeeding may seem like a simple process, it is tedious work and can easily be done incorrectly by inexperienced owners. Many times, botched feedings cause irreversible harm and even death to baby birds that are sold too early. Save yourself the trouble by choosing a baby that is old enough to eat independently. Your relationship with the bird will not suffer for it in the least.
- Buy a hungry bird. If it's possible for you to observe the birds that you're interested in during feeding time, you should watch closely to see which ones are the most voracious eaters. Choose a bird that displays a large appetite. This is an indication of good general health and well being.
- Choose an outgoing baby. If possible, interact with the baby birds that are available for you to choose from. A well adjusted baby will not fear human hands, and you should have no problem stroking and gently petting the bird. Place the bird on different perches and offer the bird a few different toys. A bird that is curious and inquisitive rather than frightened should make a happy and emotionally sound pet.
- Observe the bird's living conditions. Is the bird's enclosure clean and free of feces or other potential havens for bacteria? Birds that are kept in hygienic enclosures are far less likely to harbor illness or infection. Make sure that you buy a bird from a breeder who upholds only the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitation.
Photos (c) 2006 Alyson Burgess licensed to About.com, Inc.