Tips for pairing pet birds

Birds have intrigued people for many decades, so much so that people started to cage them for their beauty. Over the years, some birds have been domesticated, and have been bred to be companion animals. While some birds are social and need to be with other birds, there are those who don’t do well sharing a cage.

Birds of a feather

If you feel that your pet bird is lonely and you think he needs a mate, it is very important to first find out whether your bird is social or not. Speak to the breeder or your vet to find out if you should get a mate for your bird. If your bird is alone at home during the day, it might be a good idea to get him a feathered friend.

In most cases, birds of the same breed get along much easier if they are social birds, but this is not necessarily the case. Birds like budgies normally get along with one another, but there are cases where the birds’ personalities clash, and you might end up with enemies instead of friends. Some birds might actually see their owners as their flockmates, and might not be interested in other feathered friends.

And, just because your bird seems bored or depressed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he needs a friend. First, rule out any medical or behavioural issues that might be causing his unhappiness. Then, look at his environment and if he might need some mental stimulation. Consider teaching your bird new tricks and get him new and interesting toys. That might lift his spirit.

Pairing

Some birds get along better with other birds of the same gender. In many cases, birds of the opposite sex do well together, but it is not a given, and there are exceptions. So much depend on the birds’ individual personalities and their past experiences. Age differences can also determine whether they will get along or not.  Another rule of thumb is to keep birds of the same size together, like finches and budgies. Bigger birds might ‘bully’ the smaller birds and this is unfair to the smaller birds, as it can cause them unnecessary stress.

Cage size

This is very important. The size of the cage in which the birds will spend most of their day plays a huge role in the birds’ lives. Unless the aviary is big enough for multiple birds to fly in freely, the ideal is to have no more than two birds in a cage. The cage should be big enough for both birds to easily spread their wings without being in each other’s space. The bigger the cage, the better for both birds.

Even though the birds might be housed in a cage, it is highly advisable that they should spend most of their time outside the cage. A playpen or a perch for each bird would be ideal. Therefore, it is crucial that your birds are tame and won’t fly away at the first opportunity. Birds obtained from reputable breeders, who have been hand-reared and who are used to humans, should be the only option.

Cage neighbours

One way to see if your birds will make good friends is to place their cages next to each other. It is important that you keep an eye on them to see how they interact with each other, and that there is no fighting or conflict between them. But only do this with the go-ahead from your vet or the breeder. This can also be an alternative arrangement – to keep the two cages next to each other, so that the birds can interact with each other, yet have their own private space, feeding bowls and toys.

Potential mates

  1. Although canaries do well on their own, finches should not be on their own – they are flock birds. So, make sure you have a pair of finches of the opposite sex. Two males or two females will most probably fight.
  2. Canaries are normally placid birds and get along quite well with star and Bengalese finches, but not so much with zebra finches.
  3. It is possible to pair budgies, canaries and/or finches in one cage, but then the aviary must be at least 10m wide, otherwise you will have some serious problems in your cage. The more birds you have in a cage, the bigger it has to be.

Individuals

Just like people have different personalities, so do birds. Some breeds are loners and quiet, while others are loud and want to be the centre of attention. But that doesn’t mean that all birds of the same breed have the same character traits – they are also individuals and each bird needs to be treated according to his needs.

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