HAWAIIAN HUMANE SOCIETY
Not only are Skittles' wings clipped regularly at the veterinarian, but Skittles is probably too scared to fly away, said owner Audrey Kakehi. Skittles' photo is included in the "Pets In Paradise" calendar.
Be ready to fly with a winged companion
If you prefer feathers to fur, choosing a winged companion compatible with your lifestyle requires careful consideration. Popularity and easy availability should take second place to identifying the species that will provide the best companionship and fewest potential problems.
Toys Bring Joy to Animals
Help the Humane Society ensure that every December pet adoption includes a new toy. Encourage friends and family to stop by and donate a new pet toy that's specifically made for cats, dogs, rabbits or birds.
While they are beautiful, musical and entertaining, birds come with physical, behavioral and social needs that some people find hard to meet. Domesticated species such as canaries, finches, cockatiels, parakeets and lovebirds are easier to care for than larger parrots, macaws and cockatoos. Larger birds do not have as long a history of selective breeding and are still essentially wild animals with different needs from their domesticated cousins.
One reason for temperamental behavior can be the bird's inbred social characteristics. Each species displays different behavioral tendencies. For example, parrots squawk for attention. While normal in the wild, repeated loud vocalizations can quickly become an annoyance to you or your neighbors.
Although it can be difficult to unteach basic instincts, one way to minimize loud squawking is to reward the bird when he is quiet by giving him attention or a fruit treat.
Keep in mind that your pet will want to join in the chatter of outdoor birds early in the morning or just as the sun is going down. To prevent this, reduce exposure to these sights and sounds by covering the cage. Varying your bird's diet and plenty of mental stimulation can also decrease screeching. Many birds enjoy interaction with people, but strong attachment can cause passionate shrieking when they do not get the attention they desire. Some species are more likely than others to focus their affection on a single member of the household.
Size should also be high on the list of things to consider. Large birds need more space to live in and explore. A covered, outdoor aviary would be ideal for those who have the room, but space might be a problem for an apartment dweller thinking of sharing a bedroom with a cockatoo or parrot. Even smaller species should have plenty of space in their cages to jump and flap their wings.
A bird's capacity for destructive behavior must also be weighed. All birds nibble on their cages, toys and perches because nibbling is a way of exploring their surroundings in nature. But when the nibbling is on your furniture or precious photos, this innocent behavior becomes a problem. Naturally, larger birds can be more destructive.
While birds don't require daily walks, they still need active attention. Time out of their cage with you is very important for these social creatures. Birds can also be messy housemates. If your family members are averse to droppings (the bigger the bird, the messier the droppings) or seed hulls scattered around the cage, a bird might not be the right pet for you. Also, someone in the household must be prepared not only to provide your feathered friend with a constant supply of fresh water and plenty of seed, but to clean the cage regularly.
If you like to keep the windows open or ceiling fan on, it is essential to clip the bird's wings periodically to ensure they don't escape or get hurt. If this is something you are not comfortable doing, you must be prepared for the expense. A cockatiel might need its wings clipped every two months at a cost of approximately $30 per veterinarian visit.
In addition to these practical considerations, owning a bird is lifelong commitment. Many bird species have life spans measured in decades -- much longer than dogs and cats. Large birds such as macaws can live as long as people. For all these reasons, these loving, winged creatures are only recommended as pets for people who completely understand what is involved and are ready for the responsibility.
The Hawaiian Humane Society frequently has birds available for adoption. Call or visit to find out if any are available.
runs the first and third Fridays of the month. The Hawaiian Humane Society is a nonprofit agency dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals. It is at 2700 Waialae Ave.