You have decided you want a bird. Congratulations! Oh, you have children and other pets? Okay, let me help you!
Transitioning a bird into a new home is one thing. There are so many new things, sights, smells and sounds. But adding children, especially younger ones, and other pets such as cats and dogs can pose a whole new stress on your new companion! When you bring any new living thing home, you want to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. So the best time to start, is when you pick up your fid.
You may have a cage set up and ready to go, which is fantastic. Remember, birds stress easy and pick up on your stress, excitement and other hyper-emotions. Sticking the bird directly into its cage for the trip home is like flying window seat on a flight when you are afraid of flying. Seeing all the things you are worried about increases your stress. Same goes for your bird. Keep him in a travel box or cage covered with a towel.
The feral parrot population in Florida is a good indicator that birds are very adaptable creatures! This means that in time, your new arrival will adjust, but you must be patient. When I brought my first cockatiel home, we had a dog and two cats. Naomi, the tiel, got to meet each one after a day to calm down, but here was the trick.
We kept Naomi in her cage, safe from curious claws and teeth. Under close supervision by two people, we brought in the other pets ONE at a time. First was the older cat, as he was the most mellow. He sniffed the cage and stared in awe and after five minutes was removed from the room. We gave her some time and brought in our younger cat. She sniffed the cage and pawed and was removed immediately. This told the cat the behavior was inappropriate and the bird that we had her back!
Then, we had waited a couple of hours. The dog was a puppy and he was hyper. We leashed him and brought him in to see. He enthusiastically sniffed the cage and circled it, whining. He then sat down and stared in awe at this strange new thing in the house. Close supervision was always practiced when the bird was out of her cage. I also have a three year old son who love “Omi”! In fact, Naomi bonded to him of all people. My son, however, was never allowed out of arm’s reach with her in case the cats or dog should get brave.
Keep the cage in a location frequently passed through, like the living room or a room down a hallway people often go through. Birds are social creatures and crave attention. Simply sticking the cage in a back room where no one visits is going to stall that taming of your new fid.
Allowing everyone to flock at once to the new arrival will only increase your bird’s stress. Stressed birds, especially budgies, can be prone to seizures. Anything that increases the heart rate dramatically is dangerous to your bird. So let him settle in slow.
After a couple of days, sit with your bird and talk to him. Let others talk to him. Let the cats sniff the cage. The more you try to prevent kids from going in and messing with the bird, the more prone they are to do it, so let them see and talk to him. After a few days pass, he will have settled right in with everyone.
Instincts never fade. Birds a prey animals. They will likely always be fearful of anything sneaky, or larger than them. A bird that is “fearless” should be watched carefully. He may be brave and think he’s top dog, but a scratch from fluffy or a bite from a pooch can be fatal, even if it doesn’t seem bad. Cats and dogs are predatory creatures and will likely always have an interest in the bird. Do not leave the bird unattended in the presence of these pets!
Enjoy your new fid! Patience and knowledge are key!