Buying/adopting a bird as a pet comes with many responsibilities, much more than a cat or a dog. There will be an array of things to consider when a bird is in your care. So let's get started...
You might already be acquiring a cage along with your new bird if you're adopting one, but if not, cages can get pretty expensive. Obviously, the larger the bird, the bigger the cage and the more money you will be spending. There are cages that can go up to $2,000 or more, so you may want to consider this when choosing the size of your bird. They need a nice amount of room to move around in if that's where they're going to spend their lives.
Cages will need to be cleaned at certain times, depending on how dirty they are getting. Most of the small cages can be cleaned by separating the cage from the bottom, but big cages are not so easy. The big ones do indeed have a tray to pull out from under the floor bars, which catches a lot of debris and feces. However, bird poop will still get on the bars, and that is unavoidable. So if the bird bites, you will have to remove them sometimes to be able to clean the bars as well.
Smaller cages are easy and just need their trays cleaned mostly, and some people will lay down a paper sheet so all they have to do is lay down a clean one. Make sure that whatever paper you are using is safe for birds to have in their mouths, because they WILL be shredding it. They love to taste things and also destroy things, creating quite a mess. But they are so cute, so we will deal with it.
You must pay attention to a bird's physical condition at all times. Make sure their beak is not cracked for any reason or deformed in any way. Their beak is extremely important for a variety of things, including eating and grabbing onto things.
As with other pets, their nails must be trimmed to avoid difficulties in perching or getting their nails caught on something. To be safe, you should only cut the tips off. If the nail is cut too short, it will bleed and the bird can actually bleed to death from this. You should always have a styptic powder on hand, like Kwik Stop, which can also be used on other pets. If you are unsure how to cut a bird's nails, ask your Vet to show you, or someone you know who is more experienced with birds.
The decision to have your bird's wings clipped is up to you. If you don't want them accidentally escaping and flying away, this is probably a good idea. You also don't want them flying into things like windows or ceiling fans. But if everything is safe around you and you keep a good eye on them at all times, it might not even be an issue.
Birds love to take baths or be sprayed with water, so you can set a shallow dish of water out that's big enough for them to splash in or spray them with warm water. Usually it's the large birds, like parrots, that enjoy a spray or mist. Some birds enjoy this daily, while others prefer bathing on a weekly basis. Observe their behavior and you will know how often to do it. They might get cold though, so keep your house warm or, if they are not scared of it, you can use a hair dryer to dry them. Make sure it's on the lowest heat and you move it around so the heat is not concentrated, because some birds have been burned like that.
Different birds like different foods, but two things they all have in common are seeds and fruit. But it's always a good idea to give them a variety of foods, including vegetables, so they are not bored with the same things. Pet stores will have a pellet or seed mix that is formulated to provide what your bird needs in their diet. That should be their main diet, then vegetables, then fruits and seeds.
Birds can have most fruits and vegetables and seed sticks from the store to chew on, but there are some foods they should never have. When in doubt, make sure to look it up to be safe. Some of the foods on the danger list include chocolate, fruit pits, onions, avocado, and mushrooms. Write them down if you must and keep the paper around so that you and your family know what not to give them.
Lastly, always make sure they have fresh water and the snacks you give them do not stay in the cage for too long and become contaminated or spoiled. And always wash their dishes daily with hot soapy water as well.
Birds love to chew on things and tear them apart, causing a lot of damage. It's a good idea to get them toys to focus on instead of other things you might value, if they roam the house frequently. This also prevents boredom and they can actually have fun with toys.
Large birds love ropes to swing on, big branches, or stands to perch and swing on. Small birds like little toys you can buy at the store like swings and ladders. They all love things that hang, so they can climb onto them and swing or just hang there.
Always be interactive with you bird. You can play with hand fed ones, kiss them and pet them too. If you plan on getting a parrot, some may bite, but you can still try different things to amuse them. African greys are the best talkers, so you can teach them how to say a word by repeating it over and over. It won't take long as they are extremely smart and inquisitive. Other birds like the cockatoo can talk too, but not as well, and with a much smaller vocabulary. They are both very good with mimicking sounds.
Cons Of Owning A Bird
Birds are great pets to have around, they're very amusing, and also provide you with a long time companion who is great company. But there are some negatives to be considered before adopting.
First, if you have bad allergies or asthma, it may not even be healthy for you to have a bird for a pet. Birds have feather dust that can go all over the place when they flap their wings or swing on toys. You may always have to take allergy medications, but asthma is worse, so you definitely have to take that into consideration.
Second, parrots can be particularly destructive to anything they can get their beaks on if you want them to spend time out of the cage. If you want to keep your nice furniture, rugs, etc., you must keep a constant eye on them to make sure they stay unaffected.
Third, parrots can be very loud when they want to be, or when they are frustrated at something and acting up. If you have close neighbors, you might get complaints on the noise. In that case, you may want to look at a smaller bird.
And finally, birds are very sensitive to chemicals, sprays, teflon coated anything (including cooking in teflon pans), smoke, etc. If you use hairspray and they are in close proximity, that could be a problem. If you are cleaning with chemicals, that too could be dangerous, so at the least make sure all the windows are open and you are using the least harsh cleaning product that you can. Also, you would have to smoke outside so they aren't affected by it.
All in all, birds are beautiful, smart, talkative, amusing pets to have. If you can deal with all the cleaning, specialty foods/snacks, potentially higher vet bills for bird specialists, and the noise they can create, and you can keep them safe, they are well worth it. Hand fed birds are especially loving and more well behaved, but they are more expensive as well. Good luck with your new bird love!