Nita's Nest - Beginning With Birds Selection Pg.5
HOW MANY BIRDS
How many birds you start out with depends on the type of bird.  A single male canary will not be lonely;  he will be quite happy and content and will sing up a storm for you.  Finches are best kept in pairs or groups.  If you plan on having a bird that interacts with you, get one bird only, or be sure to house more than one separately.  You will be his pal and he'll want to come out to see you.  Remember that a bird, no matter how tame, will pick another bird over a person any time - if not now, then definitely when his hormones kick in at breeding time.

WHERE TO GET YOUR BIRD
Do some checking and shop around.  Whether you buy from a pet shop or breeder, use common sense.  Make sure the place is clean and doesn't smell.   See what condition the cages are in.  Are they clean?  Are they overcrowded?  If you visit a breeder, don't be surprised if they don't allow you into their birdroom.  I seldom allow visitors into my birdroom because it disrupts the breeding birds and I worry about someone bringing in disease.  So don't feel a breeder has something to hide, but rather look at the condition of the things that you can see.  If the house is filthy, chances are his birdroom is even worse.

Also of great importance is the attitude of the breeder or pet shop owner.  Do they answer your questions?  Do they talk you out of something they could make an extra dollar on if they feel it isn't in the best interest of you or the bird?

In the end, the condition of the bird is the most important thing. 
A HEALTHY BIRD
A healthy bird should have smooth, sleek plumage and alert, bright eyes.  Avoid birds that sit motionless for long periods of time with fluffed feathers.  Any bird with watery eyes or a nasal discharge should be avoided.  The vent area should be clean and dry.  The breastbone should be plump enough that you do not feel a sharp breastbone.

GUARANTEE
If possible, obtain a guarantee that allows you to bring the bird to a vet for a health check (at your expense) within a specified period of time, often 48 hours.  You should have the option of returning the bird in the event of a life-threatening problem, as verified by a written vet's report.  Although you may not opt to go through this expense, just the fact that you are offered this type of gurarantee speaks well of the establishment.
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Anita M. Golden
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