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One Bird, or Two?

I have heard many stories of birds getting along famously with dogs, cats, other birds and even a gerbil! I have also heard devastating stories of birds being left for “two minutes” together, or with other species, that resulted in a trip to the vet, or worse.

Birds of a Feather

The old saying holds true: birds of a feather DO flock together. If you look outside a window right now the probability of seeing a flock of wild geese, doves or finches is very high. Birds in the wild are extremely social. Together they find food, scout nesting locations, scan the environment for predators and huddle together to keep warm during cold nights. Wild parrots are no exception to this rule and most species can be found in flocks of hundreds, or even thousands.

Human beings are also very social creatures and thus we tend to project our lifestyle onto our pets. While it is certainly adorable to “let them play together”, in captivity there are several considerations to take into account before opening any cages:

Reasons To Keep ONE Bird

  1. If you are looking for a pet bird that will adore you, I recommend keeping your bird separate from others. Think about it this way: as human beings we prefer to spend time with other humans above all else. While we love our pets, it is innate human desire to have companionship with our own species. Birds are no different. Over time, your pet bird will come to prefer the company of another pet bird over humans in the household. This can lead to a very disappointed family.
  2. I have heard many horror stories of large birds biting off the toes of smaller birds, likely out of curiosity for those sausage-like appendages wiggling on the perch. In most of these cases, the owner claims the birds were “friends” before the incident and that she/he was “right there” when it happened. Personally, it is not a risk I am willing to take. If, despite this information, you really want two birds that will “play together”, I recommend getting two of the same species. While accidents can still occur, they are less common when the birds are equal size and communicate in the same language.
  3. Straight and simple: one bird produces less mess and fewer expenses than two.

Reasons to Keep TWO Birds

  1. Some owners love birds but are not comfortable handling them outside of the cage. In this case, keeping two birds (of the same species) in a large cage together is ideal. The birds are company for each other, and the owner can enjoy their antics without feeling pressured to interact with them directly.
  2. Some species, such as Linnies, come in an array of colours. If you truly cannot decide between blue and green, getting two birds would solve this dilemma.

Birds with Dogs and Cats

In my household, when the dog is loose all of the birds are secure in their cages. As a precaution, the dog is well trained with the command “leave it”, but is closely monitored regardless. Dogs have strong instinct to react to sudden movement. A tennis ball flying through the air and a bird started off its perch look very similar in the eyes of our canine companions. For cats, this is generally even more important as their senses are heightened and their reaction times are faster than dogs, by far.

Again, as always, there are exceptions to this rule. A well-respected breeder in the industry has the sweetest cat I have ever seen. Even with baby birds climbing all over her, she lays calmly and completely ignores them.