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Deciding Whether to Get a Second Bird

June 3, 2008

I’ve been considering getting a second bird. I’ll be honest and admit that it’s as much to keep Stewie company while I’m gone as much as wanting another one for myself (that’s not the best reason to get another bird, but obviously I’d love it and do whatever it took to keep him happy even if they ended up not getting along).

But I’m torn; there isn’t a clear cut answer.

On the one hand, I hate that Stewie is alone so much.

On the other hand, if they needed separate out of cage time because they didn’t get along, I don’t think they’d get enough quality one on one time. Stewie is out of his cage whenever I’m home and I couldn’t imagine having to lock him up half of that time because he didn’t get along with the other bird. Other bird owners have advised me, however, that keeping two birds out together isn’t a big deal, even if they didn’t get along; they would just need to be supervised at all time. (I supervise Stewie when he’s out as it is.)

Squabbling Mitred Conures

photo of two wild Mitred Conures
by Gwen

With one bird, when I go on vacation, I can pack up his entire cage in my bf’s truck and bring it to my friends’ house when they birdsit. If I had two of them, I’d only be able to bring their travel cages. Plus, I think having someone take care of two birds seems like a lot more to ask than just the one. (Especially if they didn’t get along.)

Time is more of an issue than money, but part of the reason I feel like I don’t have enough time is that I know birds are flock animals and Stewie is alone while I work. Even if he didn’t get along great with a second bird, at least he’d have some company during the day (i.e. another flock member). I think that’s worth something.

And chances are he’d actually get along fine with another bird. I just like to be prepared for the worst case scenario. What I’d be aiming for, obviously, is for Stewie to have a great buddy.

Sunday and Jenday buddies

photo of Chomper and Petrie snuggling
by FlyChomperFly

Plus I think it would be healthy for Stewie to be less dependent on me for all of his emotional needs. He’s so clingy and his entire life seems to revolve around me letting him out of his cage. It’d be nice if he had a friend to occupy at least some of his emotional energy.

As you can tell, I’m pretty convinced that I’m going to go ahead with getting a second bird. The issue now is what, when, where and who.

Amazon and Quaker

photo of Amazon and Quaker preening
by Crosby Allison

I’ve been thinking mostly about something like a green cheek, but I’m also committed to adopting another rescue, and there aren’t many green cheeks up for adoption; so I’m considering various other small-ish/medium parrots that I find on Petfinder.

Last week I saw a Hahn’s Macaw and a Mitred Conure at one of the local animal welfare league locations.

Over the weekend I went to check them out. This was not a parrot rescue, just a regular animal shelter, and although they had the birds in decent enough cages at least for temporary purposes, and their cages were where all the people hung out so they weren’t lonely, they just didn’t look that great.

Besides being a little plucked, both birds were just kind of “dull” looking. Stewie was in perfect feather when I brought him home from the (different) shelter, and now he’s positively radiant, so the contrast is big. I’m not saying he was a perfect pet right off the bat – he wasn’t tame and it took a long time to get us to the point we’re currently at. I’m fully prepared to put in the effort required to make a new bird healthy and happy. That’s not the point… there’s a difference between taming and training an ornery bird and nursing a sickly one back to health.

Both parrots at the shelter had a big bowl of seeds, with nothing else. And the mitred conure had a water bowl directly underneath his favorite perch. As you can imagine, that water was nasty!

Two conures in foster care
by Crosby Allison

Afterwards we went for a stroll near the waterfront, and there was a Maryland-based parrot education organization on the pier showing off their birds and doing some fundraising. I held a senegal and a pionus – both birds I’m open to considering (although they are quite a bit bigger than a sun conure).

In the mean time, I’ve be put in an adoption/foster application at Phoenix Landing, the closest parrot rescue in my area. If you’re located in DC, Virginia, Maryland or North Carolina, check out Phoenix Landing’s adoptable parrot list on Petfinder.

Phoenix Landing logo

SweetPea

This is SweetPea, a ringneck up for adoption through Phoenix Landing. I’d love to adopt this guy – isn’t he adorable?

Wish me luck!

==============================================

Update: As you may have seen from more recent posts, I did end up getting a second bird — a two-year old, female White Capped Pionus — but Stewie is not getting along so great with her (yet). Right now they definitely need to have separate out of cage time. Just goes to show, it’s best to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

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17 comments

  1. I’m in DC, and check out Phoenix Landing on petfinder.org quite frequently. It can depress me at times, but also makes me glad there is an organization out there helping these poor little guys. Not nearly as depressing as the Petsmart near where I work in Tysons that has the saddest looking birds I’ve ever seen. It’s all I can do not to buy them all and take them home, except I imagine that would just encourage the pet store to get more.

    I have a blue-fronted amazon and a cockatiel. My tiel is really old and getting a little decrepit, so I’ve sometimes thought about what I’ll do when he passes on. My question for you, and perhaps you’ve thought about it, is how to handle introducing the new bird? One concern I’ve had is how to quarantine them? I live in a 1200 sq foot condo, not a lot of different places to keep birds where they won’t be near each other. I imagine when bringing a new bird in this is a big concern.

    I agree, I feel guilty when I get home at the end of the day and my birds let me know this is obviously the BIG highlight of their entire day.


  2. Hi Martin!

    I agree – I find pet stores that sell birds horribly demoralizing. I’m not sure whether they’re made to look lonely and pathetic on purpose (to spur people into pity purchases) or if they really don’t know any better. Most pet store parrots I’ve seen have ONE toy in their cage and don’t seem to get any attention.

    The quarantine issue you bring up is a huge one for me. My condo is half the size of yours! So there’s no way to separate their cages enough. My options are to board the new bird for an extended period of time at someone else’s house… not a great option. Or I can take a calculated risk, expose Stewie to the new bird and cross my fingers that I don’t regret it… also not a good option.

    Obviously I don’t have it all worked out yet! 😦


  3. Your post really resonates with me. We have a beloved 2 year old Senegal (they notoriously don’t get along with others), and the more I realize what a flock creature he is the more I think he should have companionship (even across a room in another cage). But all of your considerations re: out of cage time, and especially vacation (we love to take him – and his many supplies – with us, but 2 would really be too much!), make a lot of sense. I don’t think we will adopt another bird, but it’s so tempting, and I so hate him being alone…. even though he gets lots of morning time, and is with us all evening….


  4. Hi,

    I love your blog! Glad you are talking about it and sharing getting another bird. Also that you are rescueing! Keep up the great blog!

    Barb


  5. Over the weekend I attended a Phoenix Landing seminar, with about a dozen foster parrots in attendance. I developed a crush on a little Meyer’s parrot. Now I want a Meyer’s (also). lol


  6. I’ve had female GCC for 11 years and am waiting for my CBC to be weaned. I’m trying to stack the deck in my favour by sticking with very similar species and opposite genders, plus the new bird is young and hopefully unopinionated. My GCC shared a cage with a budgie some years ago too, so I’m hoping she’ll respond favourably.

    I’ve been putting some thought into the best way of introducing them. I plan to keep them in different parts of the house at first in an effort at a quarantine period. I’d like to handle introductions in a way that increases the odds that they will start off on a good note.


  7. Hi Pyrrhuraphile! I think your approach makes sense. Based on anecdotal stories, it seems that birds who get used to each other’s sounds before they have to share a room tend to adjust better. That’s just a guess though.

    I’m not the best example of how to introduce birds to each other since my two don’t get along 😦


  8. I read above that Senegals are notorious for not getting along with other birds? Would that also apply to Meyers Parrots? I have a little 5-year old Meyers (“Jill”) and while she is a passionately loving bird, I, too, feel badly about her being all alone when I’m gone. Today, I purchased a 6-year old Green Cheek Conure; I’m hoping that the age similarity helps them get along eventually. Anyway, the Meyers kept attacking the Conure; that Meyers had previously attacked other birds at a Bird Rescue place she lived at before I got her. In my favor, the Conure is a sweetheart; she loves being on my shoulder, loves head-scratches, the whole deal. I got the Meyers and Conure to actually sit on the same perch for a while, and later, I had one bird on each shoulder, giving them both ‘skritches’ at the same time. I do want them to get along, but also know it will take time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I love the smaller parrots; not ultra-noisy and not very messy. I realize the Meyers (an African parrot) might have problems with a Conure (a South American parrot), but I’m hoping they can at least tolerate each other. Thanks in advance for any response I get…


  9. Hi Dave – if they’ve only just met and you can already have them on the same perch (with supervision), I’d imagine they could eventually learn to get along. But you want to be careful… a Meyers could probably do a bit of damage to a GCC if she wanted to. GCCs are also known to be kind of bossy, so once she feels more comfortable, she might start provoking Jill.

    It’s still very early in the relationship, obviously, and I take it you didn’t quarantine the GCC, so Jill has had zero time to get used to the idea of a little sister. Just watch them carefully. Pay attention to both of them… but let Jill know that you still love her and that she hasn’t been replaced, give her a couple special privileges, etc.

    I still have to keep mine separated – they do not like each other AT ALL. So I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask about how to create one big happy flock.:(

    Congrats on your new baby! And good luck! 🙂


  10. Just stumbled across this posting – my advice is keep to just one bird

    I had two Amazons (Dominican Republic White Faced Cotorra)for eight years and they never got along while I was around as one of them had seriously bonded with me – I live in an area where I can allow them to free-fly and they are fine outside together but jealousy always creeps in when they get back and it’s seperate cages and lots of screeching which I found extremely stressful

    A friend has adopted one of them and life is beautiful now … and quiet

    All the very best!

    Les

    All the best


  11. I now have my GGC and CBC in my home. The CBC arrived in late Nov and I did a two week quarantine in separate parts of the house before letting the birds even see each other. I changed and washed between birds, and my partner took over primary care of the GCC during that time.

    We decided the new bird seemed healthy, (he comes from a closed aviary, guaranteed against the major parrot problems) so I started running around the rest of the house with him on my shoulder. Quite soon I was able to have both very near each other, and to carry one on each hand. We were careful not to force them on each other, and tried to keep them out of beaking range.

    My older bird was amazing through all this, she’s never shown any sign of jealously or aggression. Of course we made sure she got just as many treats and kisses as the new guy.

    We started allowing the birds to interact more closely, and the baby would try to get too close too fast, which resulted in a little beak on beak interaction. But our GCC can fly, so whenever the baby gets too pushy now, she just takes off. I can have them inches away from each other as long as the baby is occupied by scritches or treats. At this moment they are napping, one on each side of my neck. It’s so sweet.

    Last night we had a major incident. I was holding the CBC in my hands and giving him kisses on his wing, when the GCC, who was on my head, reached down and gave him kisses on his beak, and then gently groomed his face feathers!

    So I’d say things are coming along nicely. I can’t say the same will work for everybody, but I’m happy to answer more questions about my experiences. The plan is to just continue to let them go at their own pace, eventually we will put their cages side by side.


  12. SOO cool that I found this! I’m about to get a Meyers baby tomorrow. I have a Green Cheek baby. I so want them to at least accept each other!!!! My GC is so lonely while I work, I hope this will help. I didn’t want to get another conure as I don’t want to completely lose his affection.

    I too like the little parrots.

    The Meyers will be quarantined for a while. Because they are both babies, I hope they will be open to the idea. I plan introductions to be gradual.

    Hope this works!!!


    • Hi Diane, I should warn you that it’s been a year since I’ve had both birds and they still HATE each other. My sun conure goes out of his way to be aggressive toward my pionus (the second bird), and they can’t be allowed near each other. I hope your flock ends up getting along better than mine. Good luck!


      • I think my GC is going to be extremely jealous. But I guess I would rather have that than have him think I’m his mate. He’ll always be my baby though.

        I’ll keep you posted.


  13. I have a GCC (9 mos old) and I’m thinking about getting a Sun Conure. I wasn’t looking at the time but she is so sweet my kids and I have fallen in love with her. She is (8 mos old). I’m a stay at home mom and my GCC follows me all over the house. All he wants to do is snuggle and ride on my shoulder. Don’t get me wrong I Iike our me time but that can’t be healthy for him. Is he to young and attached to me to get another bird? I have been watching the Sun for about 2 months and she seems healthy. Am I opening a can of worms and how long do I need to quarantine her?


  14. I loved reading about this! I am exactly where you are, I am thinking about a second bird (a pionus in fact) and I already have a Quaker! My little guy has met only one other Quaker/bird before and he was more eager than the other to become friends. It was a one time visit and I don’t know anyone with a bird he can socialize with. For me neither time nor money is an issue in this decision but whether the two will get along together. I’m a scaredy cat too as I don’t think I could tell the difference between fighting and playful wrestling. I liked your point about the bird sitting too… It is a lot more to ask of someone to watch two birds vs one (unless your a bird person, I’d totally watch two birds). Anyways if you have any more updates I’d love to hear!!!


    • Hi Ryan! I would think you’d be safest getting your Quaker companion another Quaker friend. Quakers and Pis are such different birds it makes it more likely they won’t get along. After many years, my two still don’t get along and can get quite aggressive with each other. They are both very sweet with me, but would do serious physical harm to each other if they were ever given the opportunity, so they can’t hang out with each other at all. As you can imagine, that does complicate things when I need someone else to look after them. Good luck!



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