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Do Birds Make Good Christmas Gifts?

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Do Birds Make Good Christmas Gifts? Jan Tyler/Getty Images
Question: Do Birds Make Good Christmas Gifts?
I have a friend that is really obsessed with birds -- practically everything she owns has a picture of a colorful parrot on it. Since Christmas is coming up, I thought it would be a great idea to get her a real pet bird of her own as a gift. What should I know about giving pet birds as gifts, accessories that may need to go with the bird, etc? Should I buy a cage, toys, and food for the bird as well? I want to make sure that it is a big surprise for her on Christmas morning!
Answer: Waking up to a new pet bird on Christmas morning would certainly be a big surprise for just about anyone -- but it is an awful idea to give a live bird as a present to anyone for Christmas or any occasion. Not everyone is willing or able to take on the responsibilities of caring for a pet bird, even if they are bird lovers and collect items decorated with bird imagery. Because of this, it could be argued that giving anyone a living creature as a gift is just about the worst idea ever! The reasons are varied and plentiful, but just to drive the point home, let's outline a few of them below:

First of all, parrots and other pet birds can live for a very, very long time. Some types of Macaws and other large birds have even been reported to live for up to 100 years. This is an extremely long time for any person to commit to caring for a pet, especially if the pet is unwittingly thrust upon them by someone else! Put yourself in your loved one's shoes: would you be horribly excited if someone took it upon themselves to decide that you were going to spend the next few decades training, cleaning up after, and caring for a highly needy and emotional creature like a parrot? Probably not -- so think twice before putting others that you care about in that sort of situation.

While we're on the subject of caring for a pet bird, are you aware that bird's need their cages cleaned out daily, need to be handled and socialized with for several hours per day, and can resort to destructive behaviors if their mental and emotional needs aren't met? This is why it's so important to realize that pet birds are not for everybody -- they are exotic pets and not domesticated like cats or dogs. As such, they require specialized care and knowledgeable owners who are able to devote the time and effort necessary to provide them with the stimulation they need in order to thrive.

Even if your friend or loved one is willing to do what it takes to keep a pet bird happy and healthy, they are not always able to live up to the obligations that owning a bird can place on a person. For example, does the person you're planning to buy a pet bird for live in an apartment or another type of housing where there are neighbors close by? If so, then pets may not be appreciated by others who share the property, and depending on the rules, they may not even be allowed at all. These are all things that must be taken into consideration when a person decides to adopt an animal, and for that reason it's never a good idea to make that decision for somebody.

All in all, it is best to stay away from giving a pet bird to anyone as a gift, unless you are a parent who decided to get a pet bird for your child. Even then, you should make sure that you take plenty of time to research bird ownership and choose a species that will be compatible with your little one and your lifestyle. Taking the time to do some extra thinking now can save you and your loved ones tons of heartache and headaches later!
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