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Congratulations! After much consideration and research, you have decided a bird will suit both you and your lifestyle. I assure you, you will not be disappaointed! The "bird world" is exciting, colorful and emotionally fulfilling.

Now that you've decided which species of hookbill or waxbill you choose, the next question should be "Where do I GET a bird?" This article will deal with the two top favorites of acquiring your new family member. These choices are through 1) A bird breeder 2) Commercial pet shop.

A breeder is considered professional if 30 or more birds are sold per year. Any less and they are referred to as a hobbyist breeder. Fifteen years ago, the breeder simply bred birds, selling babies directly out of the nest, or relying on an experienced handfeeder for the weaning process. The handfeeder charged a separate fee for services rendered. Nowadays, it is more common for the breeder to include handfeeding before releasing possession to the new owner. There are both pros and cons to this method. A handfeeder can still be hired for their services, after checking out thir environment and workplace, and most certainly checking on supplied references. Only an experienced handfeeder should be considered! A private handfeeder will wean your baby until it is fully weaned, the duration of which depends on the species. No reputable breeder or handfeeder will releae a baby without it being FULLY weaned, regardless of the time involved.

Professional handfeeders generally do not take on more than they can handle. This means their services are usually on a more personal level, with more intense dedication. Much time is spent on socialization and human/bird bonding techniques. Ideally the baby is abundantly weaned and is raised with loving dedication, patience, and mutual respect.

If your bird is purchased from a professional breeder, they will be the one to handfeed and successfully wean. This is generally included in the buying price. This is good in terms of natural socialization i.e. interacting with other baby birds, a breeder may be more able to offer this important, but not absolutely necessary, service. Most professionals are already overworked and important undertakings. There simply may not be the time available to ensure abundant weaning, playtime and personal interaction, which are crucial for a companion pet bird. This is mostly due to a lack of time, but also one of interest at times. After-sale support should also be available and will be offered by reputable breeders and handfeeders. No matter how many years you may have in bird experience, there is always new information and knowledge being learned by all of us, all the while unselfishly passing on the information being learned.

We will now consider another alternative-the commercial pet shop. Keep in mind, a pet shop may not specialize in birds, including crucial after-sale support. If your bird turns ill, or is acting in a peculiar manner, or questions arise, you will need somewhere to turn, who is familiar with your bird and type, to fully anser these.

Pet shops are in business for one reason-PROFIT. When this is the motivator, I caution you-BUYER BEWARE! Below are listed 10 considerations you must ask to ensure both you and your bird's needs are met:

1) Check for proper licensing and operating permits necessary for your geopgraphical location.
2) Are their babies handfed or parent-raised
3) Take a good, close look, expecially keeping an eye out for cleanliness and disease-free animals
4) Is a health guarantee offered
5) Are well-health vet checks offered
6) Do they offer after-sale support
7) Upon request, can they provide references
8) Determine if it is a long-term business or fly-by-night
9) Are they experts in aviculture
10)How involved will you be in the weaning process

The best thing you can offer your new baby is taking the time and effort to continue learning all you can with issues like feeding, health, characteristics, etc., can be learned by one-on-one sessions with other bird owners, published literature, books and magazines, as well as joining your local avicultural organization. We learn nothing by ourselves-it must be passed along!

Having a companion pet bird owner will be one of the most enjoyable, satisfying relationships you will ever find yourself in. Happy birding!