A few reasons NOT to breed your birds this breeding season –
1. We commonly hear parents say they want to breed their finches or parakeets so their children “can experience the miracle of life.” These small bird species are inexpensive and can be easy to breed, but we discourage anyone from treating them as a science experiment. Birds are long-lived animals, and even tiny finches can feasibly live for fifteen years! This is a sizeable commitment.
2. Some people think baby birds are easy to re-home, but the fact of the matter is that they’re not. Breeders and pet stores get overrun with small birds, especially during this time of year. It is highly likely that you’ll find yourself responsible for those tiny “miracles” for years to come. Those tiny miracles will grow up and want to make tiny miracles of their own, and after some time you may have more birds than you can properly care for. An easy way to avoid this dilemma is simply to not breed your birds.
3. If you’re not yet convinced, keep in mind that adult birds, when breeding, need special dietary considerations. Their bodies require extra vitamins and minerals to make healthy baby birds, and when those baby birds finally arrive, they will have special dietary considerations as well. Unless you’re willing to provide the necessary supplements, babies may be weak, malnourished, deformed, or still-born; not exactly the “miracle of life” the kids were expecting…
4. Should the parents reject the babies for whatever reason, their care will fall to you. New-born baby birds need to be fed every few hours. Are you able to handle such a commitment? Consider also that hand-feeding a baby bird is risky business – one wrong move and you could quite literally drown the baby with formula, something that is known as aspiration. This happens either when the baby bird gulps down formula so quickly that he inhales it, or when an inexperienced hand-feeder injects the formula directly into the lungs, mistaking the trachea for the esophagus. Furthermore, the formula must be heated to within a very specific temperature bracket so as not to burn the crop of the bird if too hot, and to avoid souring inside the crop if too cold. The possible complications that may arise when hand-feeding a baby bird are innumerous. We simply cannot stress enough how this is best left up to a professional.
So instead of all this, if your children truly want to experience the majesty of nature and the wonder of life, take them outside! Children should be able to experience these things, but within the confines of a tiny bird cage is not the best place for it. Use binoculars to look for wild birds’ nests. If you are lucky enough to have nesting birds near your home you can check up on them every day. Keep a log book of when the eggs are laid, when they hatch, when the chicks begin to feather, etc. and your children will be able to see just how fast baby birds can grow!
If there are no nesting birds in your neighborhood, visit a local wildlife sanctuary. They always have young birds for rehabilitation and many of these places now offer live web cams that allow you to check in on the animals 24/7. Additionally, consider contacting your child’s school and suggesting an in-class project of breeding and raising baby birds. This way, one pair of breeding adult birds can be used to show hundreds or even thousands of children the breeding, egg laying and weaning process. Schools can easily partner with a local store for the birds and supplies, and some stores are willing to assist in finding loving homes for the babies in such an arrangement (Golden Cockatoo included!). So please, don’t make the mistake of breeding birds just for the experience. Birds are intelligent, loving animals that rarely benefit from such an undertaking. Instead, explore some of the alternatives suggested here, and -as always – if you have any questions or suggestions feel free to leave comments or contact the store directly.