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There are so many birds today that make wonderful pets. Larger birds, such red head parrots, macaws and many other species of tropical birds, have become popular house pets in recent years. But by far the most popular birds chosen as house pets are canaries, finches and budgies. These birds are easy to care for, beautiful, colorful and can be very pleasant to hear. When purchasing a bird for a house pet you will always want to make sure that the one you choose is sleek, bright eyed and alert.

The song canary is bred for singing and can be either a chopper or roller. A chopper will give you loud jazzy music while a roller will produce soft melodies for your pleasure. There are also canaries that are bred for their color. So be sure when purchasing a canary to ask for the type you will enjoy the most. Canaries have an average life span of nine years. If you are interested in finches, you will be getting a quiet bird which most people keep for their color. Of these beautiful birds, the Java sparrow is the most common. They are usually white or gray with a red bill. Another of the finches is white with splashes of color and called the society finch. These birds do better when kept with another of their species since they are social birds and will usually live about 2 1\2 years. Budgies are small parakeets that are popular for not only their brilliant color, but also for their mimicry and affectionate nature. Since budgies can be taught to talk they have become a much sought after house guest. Not only can these birds be easily trained when approached between 6 to 12 weeks old, they can live to be twelve years old.

When choosing a bird or birds as a house pet, you will want to get a cage that is large enough for them to fly around in. The cage will need to have two perches, as well as dishes for food and water. Check the cage to be sure it has a removable tray under the wire mesh floor. These can be lined with paper and are easier to clean. You will need enough space in your cage to place a bowl of water on the cage floor to supply a bird bath for your birds. If you are purchasing finches, you should have enough room in the center for a branching limb that will not interfere with the bird's ability to fly about. You will also want to add a mirror, ladder and bell for finches and budgies. This will give both you and your birds hours of amusement. With canaries, you won't need the toys since they show very little interest and tend to prefer interaction with their owners.

Never set your bird cage up in an area of direct sunlight since overheating will dehydrate your birds and could cause them to die. It is also important that the cage is in a draft free room where the temperature is kept around 70 degrees fahrenheit. The bird's cage and dishes should be cleaned daily. Be sure you supply them with ample food and water. If a bird does not have enough food and water they can die with 24 to 48 hours. If you are away from home for several days at a time you can purchase a weekend feeder from your pet store that will dispense the needed food and water over a period of time. Regular budgie food is the best meal to feed budgies and Java sparrows, but for society finches and other birds with smaller beaks you will need to get a smaller finch seed mixture. Since canaries require more fat in their diets they should always be fed canary seed. Twice a week your bird should be given bits of leafy green vegetables to supplement their diet. Birds can also benefit from occasional treats such as hard boiled eggs, peanut butter or fruits. Birds, like people, need a daily vitamin, which can be found in a powdered form and mixed with their seed or in a liquid form that can be added to their water. To help your bird digest their food, you should provide them with a scatter of ground oyster shells mixed with a little granite gravel. A cuttle bone, which can be purchased at any local pet store, should be attached to the side of the cage so your bird can keep its beak sharpened and trimmed.

If you plan to train your bird, be sure you always pick it up in its cage by grasping it by the body with the neck between your first and second fingers. When you do this you will need to move quickly and grasp the bird firmly without squeezing its body. Handling your bird will get it accustomed to being near you and make it easier to train. Be sure when you are removing a bird from its cage that all windows and doors are closed just in case the bird escapes. Leave the cage door open so the bird can return to its home and wait. If the bird does not return to its cage you should darken the room. This will usually have a calming affect on your pet and will often aid you in approaching it. If the bird does not calm after a few minutes in a darkened room you can try laying a light weight cloth over it before picking it up. After training, some birds can be allowed to leave their cages often and will return to them readily. With canaries, you never want to allow them out of their cage. These birds tend to be high strung and may panic. On the other hand, budgies need about 30 minutes of free flight every day to stay healthy.

Allow your bird to get accustomed to you before handling it too much. You can do this by putting your hand into the cage and scratching the bird's head. When it is used to this you can press your finger against its breast and try to get it to climb on your finger. When teaching a budgie to talk, continuously repeat a word or phrase you would like them to say. Make sure you stick with short phrases so it will be easier for the bird to repeat. You will get better results if you stay out of sight so the bird will not be distracted. It is also a good idea to darken the room. The most important thing is to be patient. Two or three 15 minute training sessions per day can have your bird talking in a few weeks. If you are pressed for time you can use a tape recorder to tape the first session and then simply play the tape for future sessions.

Since birds tend to be fragile creatures it is wise to find a veterinarian who treats birds when you first purchase yours. When a bird gets sick it takes only a short time for you to lose them if they are not properly treated immediately. Watch for major symptoms of illness such as ruffled feathers, sneezing, loss of appetite, partially closed eyes and abnormal droppings. If any of these are detected you should cover the bird's cage to keep it warm, leaving one side open, and take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. A bird should not be handled when it is ill.