There are some 35 to 45 million pet birds in the United States. Modern bird owners are continuing a pet bird tradition that goes back at least 4,000 years to the ancient Egyptians, who are often credited with keeping the first pet birds. The ancient Chinese are known to have kept pheasants. From writings dating back almost 3,000 years, we know that both Persians and Indians kept parrots and other birds as pets, as did the ancient Greeks. Aristotle studied and wrote about his pet bird, Psittace. The name of Aristotle’s bird is the root of the scientific name for all parrots, Psittacine. The Alexandrine parakeet is named for Alexander the Great; tradition has it that one of Alexander’s generals granted him one of these birds as a gift following the invasion of northern India in 327 a.d.
As with any pet, it is important to do some research before you buy a bird. You want a bird that meets your expectations and can live comfortably and happily in your home. To make a good decision about a bird, you need to learn more about individual types of birds, their natural behaviors, and their requirements in terms of housing, diet, and care. This information will help you select the best bird for you and your family. It will also allow you to plan more carefully for the arrival of a new family member.
Recent advances in medicine for pet birds—and the change from wild-caught birds to those raised in captivity—have changed the emphasis from infectious diseases and emergency medicine to wellness care. The importance of nutrition and behavior in the health of caged birds has been acknowledged and plays a major role in pet bird wellness programs. Understanding the natural behavior of birds will help make the relationship between owner and bird more enjoyable for both.
Many of the most common causes of illness or death in birds are due to poor husbandry practices that result in nutritional deficiencies, trauma or poisoning due to household hazards, and unsanitary housing conditions. All of these can be prevented or minimized by providing proper care. Other causes of illness include parasites and bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that can be spread by exposure to sick birds or lack of good sanitation.