When I was young my favorite store to visit in the mall was the pet store.  The puppies were always fun to look at, but nothing caught my attention more than the birds.  I loved the colors of the various birds, the singing of the canaries and the fact that certain birds could talk.  I promised myself I would get a bird one day.  Fast forward 30 years and I now own an African Grey Parrot and a canary.

My first bird was a canary.  I brought the bird home and waited days for it to sing.  Two weeks went by and there was no singing.  Come to find out female Canaries rarely sing.  It was still beautiful to look at but it was disappointing that it didn't sing.  Canaries are very cheap to maintain.  $2 in seeds per month is all I need to spend.  Other than clipping her nails every couple months, she is maintenance free.  However, she does make quite a mess.  Birds molt and lose their feathers.  It is amazing to see how many feathers a three inch bird can lose, but during molting season, there are 10-15 feathers on the floor every day!

After the canary, I figured I was ready for a bigger bird.  I decided to adopt an African Grey Parrot.  African Greys aren't the prettiest birds to look at, but they are the best talking birds in the world.  Check out Einstein The African Grey Parrot on Youtube to see how intelligent they are.  With intelligence comes the necessity to provide a lot of intellectual stimulation.  Large birds are very similar to having a baby.  The African Grey requires a lot of interaction with toys and one on one contact.  Most large birds will self mutilate if they don't have enough stimulation, meaning they pluck their own feathers until they are bald!  The food my bird eats costs about $15 per month.  Most large birds will eat human food, but the owner has to be careful with the foods they give their pet.  Nails and wings have to be clipped fairly regularly.  Also, vet visits each year are a good idea with large birds.  Consider getting toys, supplies and food for your large bird online because you can save a lot of money.

My African Grey can pick up sounds very quickly.  The microwave beeping, the squeeky door closing, the garbage truck backing up, and various whistles are his favorite noises.  This can be annoying because high pitched noises are not fun to hear repeatedly.  Also, he has picked up some non-desireable cuss words that he has heard a few times.  Unfortunately the large birds don't forget what they learn!  As I mentioned, the canary makes a mess so it is not hard to imagine that a bird four times the size of the canary makes a big mess.  Large birds are "dusty".  Their skin is very dry and it flakes onto the floor.  They also molt and feathers fly everywhere when they flap their wings.  Needless to say the vaccuum has to be ready at all times!  Don't forget about bird poop.  Large birds poop often because of their fast metabolism, so if you want a large bird, you better be ready for constant poop cleanup.  Finally, large birds are very loud, so it is almost a necessity to own your own home if you have a large bird, or the neighbors may complain.

Those are all the negative things.  So why would anyone want to own a large bird?  They can be a better companion than any other pet.  They will sit on your arm or next to you on the couch and be your best friend.   No matter how many times a bird says something, it is always amazing.  My favorite sound in the world is hearing my bird say a new word.  It is also a joy to watch a large bird play with its toys or swing from their cages by their beaks.

To summarize, owning a small bird is similar to owning fish.  The joy is mainly derived from watching them and there is very little maintenance.  Owning a large bird can be as joyful as watching a baby grow up, but they require a lot of attention.  So before you go out and get any type of bird, make sure you do a lot of research, especially on the type of large bird you may be interested in.  Also, consider looking on craigslist for a bird to save hundreds of dollars.  Many people buy large birds for over a thousand dollars without realizing how much attention they need.  So they put them on craigslist for a small fraction of what they paid.