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What It Costs to Own a Bird

By: Dr. John Williams

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Penlights that double as lug wrenches, the latest buffalo meat and chocolate cream pie diet book - ever wonder why all these questionable items are grouped together in the checkout lane?

The answer is pretty simple: all of them fall under the heading "impulse purchasing" – things we buy on impulse, without taking the time to consider their usefulness. We are all susceptible. If you don't believe it, look in your garage or "junk drawer."

While most impulse purchases are harmless enough, some are anything but trivial. Consider an addition to the family - of the feathered variety. Often, well-intentioned people see a parrot or cockatoo that captures their heart and, without considering the ramifications, impulsively take the animal home.

The expense of owning a pet is probably the most overlooked consequence of any pet-owner relationship. Advances in pet care, especially in the development of pet foods and medical research, have caused ownership costs to increase over the last 10 years. Since it's not likely that this trend will reverse itself any time soon, potential "pet parents" should consider their finances before taking home a new pet.

All owners need to provide the basics of professional medical care, quality food and adequate shelter. The only other essential necessity for a responsible owner to provide is love - and that's free.

Listed below are approximate costs of basic care for birds. Costs can vary widely, depending on where you live and specifics associated with each individual pet.

The Cost of Owning Birds

As we evolve toward two-job couples living in apartments, birds are becoming increasingly popular pets. However, where the American family was once content with a canary or a parakeet, the trend over the last few years has been toward more exotic species, such as parrots and macaws. And, as tastes become more rarefied, so do prices. The pet bird, which once cost less than $10, can now set you back thousands.

Another fiscal consideration is the longevity of many larger birds: Life spans of greater than 50 years are common in some species. Owning such a bird is a lifelong commitment, with long-term financial considerations. Also, as owners age, they have to plan for the care of the pet in the event of the owner's death or incapacitation.

Depending on the type, quality, and age of the bird you choose, variations in costs will be extreme. Different regions of the country also have an effect on cost. What follows is just a rough guideline of what you can expect.

Bird - Annual Costs

Veterinary Care/Laboratory Tests - $100 to $200
Feeding (Parakeet/Canary) - $20 to $50
(Parrot/Macaw) - $100 to $250
Miscellaneous (Cage, supplies, etc.) - $50 to $500

Total: $170 to $950

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