Anyone interested in purchasing a bird has a number of options. Some people head to their local pet store or a bird specialty shop and choose from the birds available. Others may glean the classifieds or contact a bird rescue organization, hopeful to adopt a bird in need. An individual might even be fortunate enough to live in a region where bird breeders are plentiful. There is another option, and that is to buy the bird online. Buying birds online is becoming increasingly popular. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.
Buying a bird online affords a prospective owner a wider choice of birds than may be available locally, especially in colder climates where bird breeders are generally fewer in number. Your pet shop may only have adult birds, or may only carry more common species such as Canaries, Budgies, and Cockatiels. You may have done your research and decided that an African Grey parrot is the right species for you only to find that your pet store owner raises Amazon parrots and Cockatoos.
Perhaps your rescue shelter has the species of bird you want, but you are unsure if you can handle a bird with a damaged past.
You may live in an area that doesn't have a bird specialty shop. Or perhaps you have your heart set on getting a bird immediately and do not want to wait for the birds your pet shop owner expects in a few months. If you already have birds, and perhaps breed a particular species, you may be interested in a specific gender and variation that cannot be obtained in your area. In any of these situations, buying birds online makes sense.
An online search of aviaries and bird breeders will quickly produce a list of possible sources from all over the country. Buying a bird online means that you can have the species and age you want without a long wait.
Buying birds online is not without risks. The biggest drawback to this option is that you will not see the bird you are buying, nor the facility where the bird was raised. It is difficult to look at a website or talk to a breeder over the phone and determine the health of a given bird or the quality of its living conditions. Unless you arrange to drive to the facility yourself, you will be buying this bird to some degree on good faith.
Another drawback to buying birds online is that it may be necessary to ship the bird. There is always a concern of harsh weather, loss, or some other mishap that could endanger your bird before it even arrives home. Whenever possible, make arrangements to pick up your bird in person or talk with the breeder and see if he or she would be willing to meet you at a predetermined midpoint.
Tips for Buying Birds Online:
Using common sense and taking a few precautions will help ensure that the process of buying a bird online goes smoothly for both the prospective owner and the bird. Here are a few tips:
- Make a list of questions to ask breeders. If you've done your research, you should know a lot about birds in general and the specific species you're interested in. Find out how long the breeder has been involved with birds. Ask what she or he feeds their birds. How are the birds housed? At what age are the birds weaned? Does the breeder belong to any bird clubs? Does your bird come with a health guarantee? The breeder should impress you as a knowledgeable person with solid experience who cares about the birds he or she raises. The breeder should also show interest in you, asking questions to determine if you are a suitable bird owner. If the breeder lacks knowledge or shows little interest in you as a potential owner, look elsewhere.
- Asks breeders for references. Any breeder should be able to provide you with the names and phone numbers of three or four customers who have bought birds from them within the last three years. It is also a good idea to ask the breeder for the name and number of the avian veterinarian who treats his or her birds. Take the time to call these people and ask about their experiences with the breeder you are considering.
- Before sending any money, ask for a contract or agreement that details the transaction you are entering. In addition to the financial terms, the contract should protect you in the event that the bird you receive is determined to be sick or defective. You will want the opportunity to take your bird to an avian veterinarian within 48 hours of its arrival to determine the health of the animal.
- When buying a baby bird online or from any other source, be certain to ask if the bird is completely weaned. Unless you are experienced at hand feeding birds, you should never accept a bird that is not completely weaned. Avoid any breeder who tries to sell you a partially weaned bird. This is a money saving strategy on the part of breeders who are primarily interested in a profit.
- When shipping a bird, be sure to find the most direct flight and pay attention to the forecast. It is not advisable to ship animals during excessive heat or cold. Review all shipping details with the breeder and airline. And then review the details again. Find out if the airline offers any special services for shipping animals. Some airlines offer counter to counter service for an additional fee.
- Make sure the bird is shipped inside a secure carrier that the bird cannot open. Ask the breeder to leave some pellets and grapes inside the carrier for your bird.
- Telephone the breeder to let them know your bird has arrived safely.
- No matter how badly you want to hold your bird, do not open the carrier until you have the bird home. The last thing you want is for your precious baby to escape inside the airport terminal or the parking lot.
Buying birds online can be the best way to acquire the specific bird you want, especially when local availability is less than ideal. While there are some risks involved, these can be reduced with careful planning and use of common sense.