Birds make delightful companions. Some are nature's answer to Barbra Streisand with sweet singing voices; others whistle; and some even talk. They come in various sizes and shapes and many vibrant colors. But before you run out to the neighborhood aviary or pet store, you need to ask yourself the following question: How much time will I need to care for and nurture this bird on a daily basis? With life spans that can last longer than many marriages, birds are often a very long-term commitment.
In fact, most birds do not require that much time. They are not as demanding as dogs, which require daily walks and some playtime outdoors. An hour a day is probably sufficient time for most bird species. However, some birds require more "play" time than others. Whatever bird you own needs daily care and you need to consider the following as a part of your routine:
Birds that require the least amount of time are canaries and finches. These birds are a good choice for first time owners with a busy schedule because they do not require a lot of time for socialization. They are normally kept in pairs and there is a minimum handling time out of their environment.
For owners with some previous experience in handling birds and more time to offer, an excellent choice would be budgies (parakeets), cockatiels and lovebirds. These species can be handled easily if hand raised. They are playful and eager to learn, and they need daily attention and some time out from their cages.
Finally, if you decide to own a bird from the parrot species (conures, cockatoo, macaws or Amazons) be ready to dedicate quality and quantity time for their care. If you have a demanding work schedule or if you enjoy traveling a lot, these may not be the right species for you. Parrots are very demanding birds; they need daily interaction for training and socialization. Without you, they will become bored. In the end, you will own a bird with a behavior problem like screaming, biting or feather picking.
Another issue to consider is the bird's life span and how this affects being able to provide care for years to come. Your bird may require a long-term commitment as some species may live 50 years. Will you be able to take care of all of your bird's needs as the both of you grow older?
Too many people launch into bird ownership without taking the time to research the right bird. The result, tragically, is an unhappy owner and an abandoned bird. Do some homework, and you can get it right the first time.