Introducing a New Pet Bird

By Laurie Hess, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

Behavior, Care & Wellness, Pet Services

Does my pet bird need a friend?

Contrary to popular belief, pet birds not raised with other birds typically bond to their owners and are unlikely to want to live with another, new bird if they have bonded with their human companion.

"If you feel your bird is lonely or bored first consider providing more enrichment in the form of safe toys and entertainment."

If you feel your bird is lonely or bored, first consider providing more enrichment in the form of safe toys and entertainment (e.g., music, television, and varied food and toys). Most pet birds are bored because they sit in cages most of the day and do not have ’jobs’ (such as foraging for food, finding nest sites, or mates) that wild birds do. Offering a pet bird more to do and to interact with provides mental stimulation and can eliminate boredom and promote happiness. However, if you decide you want to introduce another bird into your household, be sure you are ready to take on the work of caring for more than one bird.

How do I introduce the birds?

All new birds should be checked by your veterinarian as soon as they are acquired, before exposing the original bird to a new one. Your veterinarian should perform a complete physical examination, including a record of the new bird’s current weight. Your veterinarian will recommend certain wellness tests to help screen your new pet for possible disease.

Ideally, the new bird should be quarantined in a separate, isolated room within the house for 30-45 days. A new bird may have a relatively unknown history and may be carrying a potentially contagious disease. Any evidence of ill health in the new bird should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian immediately.

"A new bird may be carrying a potentially contagious disease."

After the quarantine period, the two cages may be placed in the same room, a distance apart, so that the birds can get used to the sight and sound of each other. Gradually move the cages closer to each other. Eventually, after a period of days to weeks, under strict supervision, the two birds may be introduced together while you monitor them closely for any indication of bullying or fighting. Remember, the new bird is entering the original pet’s territory and may be seen as a threat. Certain challenges and interactions between the two birds may be necessary for the birds to work out their new relationship. You must intervene and separate them immediately if they fight and realize that some birds may never acclimate to each other.

Will they get along?

There is no way to be certain they will like each other, and some birds never accept new birds in their territories Some birds will never be friends and may only ever tolerate each other. If you are trying to introduce a new bird to an existing one, remember to go slow, do not push, and consult your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems.

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