Is it Immoral to Have a Pet Bird?

Is owning a pet bird cruel? Obviously, birds were meant to fly and enjoy nature as much as anyone. But what about the ones born in captivity without survival skills?

Jan 21, 2024By Monika Dimitrovska
is it immoral to have a pet bird

Is it immoral to have a pet bird? We’ve become more self-aware over the years, so it’s natural to explore the ethical side of owning animals, especially birds since they usually end up in cages or trapped in our homes. So, if you struggle with the same question, don’t worry; you’re not alone.

Below, we’ll try to answer your question and share some helpful care tips, so let’s dive right in!

Is it Okay to Keep a Pet Bird?

pet bird parrot cage
Image credit: kaarton from Pixabay

We’ve all heard that keeping birds as pets is cruel. We’ve also heard that birds should be set free because they don’t belong in cages. Or in our homes. And it’s usually people who don’t own them saying these things and labeling actual owners as ignorant.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. Obviously, birds aren’t meant for cages. No living animal is unless it’s for their own good (injury or something of that nature).

However, we always forget to look at the bigger picture.

Yes, birds belong in nature, but what about the ones born in captivity that don’t have survival skills? Or the injured birds that can’t survive on their own? Should we just set them free and see what happens?

Of course not, because that would be irresponsible of us. And inhumane.

We forget that it’s our ancestors who bred and raised birds and other animals, like dogs and cats, and in doing so, they deprived them of their ability to survive on their own.

Now, it’s our responsibility to keep all these animals safe.

small wild bird
Image credit: Boris Smokrovic from Unsplash

Still, that doesn’t mean we should keep buying wild-caught birds or give pet shops our hard-earned money so they can continue breeding birds.

That will only continue the endless cycle of violence against birds and other animals, especially parrots since they’re one of the most popular pet birds. But there are things we can do.

Avoid Buying Wild-Caught Birds

Capturing healthy wild birds for pets is stressful and harms wild populations. So, you should only consider taking in a wild bird if it has a permanent injury preventing survival in the wild.

Did you know that the cruel practices of smuggling exotic birds for the pet trade involve confinement, drugging, and physical harm?

According to Humane Decisions, parrots, in particular, face a dire threat of extinction due to the ruthless methods employed by smugglers.

The Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) has provided some protection, but the battle against smuggling persists.

Lastly, before getting a bird, research the best pet birds so you don’t end up making the wrong choice.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

There’s a large number of captive-raised birds in need of homes. So, if you want a pet bird, consider adopting one accustomed to living in captivity. Also, if you’re interested in adopting a parrot, ensure they’re the right choice for you first.

macaw parrot wings
Image credit: Ilo from Pixabay

Why adopt? Well, birds suffer in breeding mills, where profit takes precedence over their well-being. Furthermore, cages, designed solely for profit, lack essential toys, causing stress and boredom.

According to One Green Planet, these conditions often result in neglect and mistreatment of birds, affecting their physical and mental health.

Help Sick or Injured Wild Birds

If you find a sick or injured wild bird, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or nature center for advice. On the flip side, if you find a baby bird, leave it as they usually don’t need a savior. Additionally, consider feeding wild birds whenever possible.

Don’t Release Pet Birds

Pet birds lack survival skills in the wild. Therefore, releasing them could lead to a tragic outcome as they’re not accustomed to finding food or avoiding predators.

Consider the Well-Being of Pet Birds

Recognize that pet birds, raised with humans, form strong bonds. So, releasing them causes separation, grief, and anxiety, similar to a young child being sent off alone.

Support Wildlife Rehabilitation

If you encounter birds in need, bring them to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Help in finding their owners or securing new homes, especially for “non-releasable” birds that can’t survive in the wild.

Why to NOT Keep Birds in Cages

blue parrot pet bird
Image credit: Myléne from Pixabay

Birds symbolize freedom, yet keeping them in cages raises ethical concerns. Here’s why confining these creatures may not be in their best interest.

Freedom Limitation

Cages take away a bird’s natural ability to fly, restricting their freedom and joy of soaring through the skies.

Social Isolation

In the wild, birds thrive on social interactions. Cages, however, isolate them from their natural companions, affecting their need for social bonds.

Mental Boredom

Captivity can lead to boredom and stress as birds lack mental stimulation and the diversity found in their natural environment.

Health Risks

Confinement poses health risks, such as obesity, feather plucking, and other common health issues in birds. Birds rarely have the exercise and space they need to thrive. If you already own a pet bird, here’s a list of care tips:

7 Tips on How to Care for a Bird Properly

colorful parrot pet bird
Image credit: Alf Holm from Pixabay

Owning a pet bird can bring immense joy and even help improve the mental and physical health of owners. However, this companionship comes with responsibilities.

Here’s how to care for a bird properly:

1. Spacious Living Quarters

Ensure your bird’s cage is sufficiently large, offering ample space for flying, jumping, and climbing. Adequate room is crucial for your bird’s physical and mental health.

2. Enriching Playtime

Provide a variety of toys, especially puzzle toys and chew toys. They’ll keep your bird mentally stimulated. Moreover, regularly inspect toys for damage or potential hazards to ensure a safe play environment.

3. Daily Freedom

Allow your bird out of the cage every day, tailoring the time to the bird’s needs.

Larger or more active parrots may require several hours, while smaller birds may need a minimum of a couple of hours. However, supervise them closely, especially if you let them roam freely in the house.

If you have the space and means, we would also suggest turning one of your rooms into a playground for your pet bird.

cockatiel flying pet bird
Image credit: Ilianna Brett from Unsplash

4. Hygiene Matters!

Change papers and spot clean daily, wipe down the cage and perches weekly with unscented soap and water, and perform a thorough cleaning and disinfecting at least once a month.

5. Human Interaction

While some species may not require much human interaction, doves and parrots need it. So, talk, whistle, play games, and create a bond with your feathered friend.

6. Monitor for Stress

Watch out for signs of anxiety or stress, like plucking or screaming, and consult with a professional if needed.

7. Nutritious Diet

Provide a balanced diet beyond a basic birdseed mix. Include formulated pellets, whole grains, and a variety of fruits and veggies to ensure your bird gets essential nutrients for optimal health.

Final Thoughts

green parrot pet bird
Image credit: Michael Clarke from Unsplash

So, is having a bird as a pet the right choice?

Well, it boils down to responsible care. If a bird receives proper attention in a suitable environment and the owner meets their needs, there’s no ethical issue.

Unfortunately, many pet birds face mistreatment due to a lack of awareness, especially species like parrots that demand more care.

So, unless you’re not willing to commit to taking good care of a bird, just don’t become a bird parent and explore birdwatching instead.

Monika Dimitrovska
By Monika Dimitrovska

Monika is a pet enthusiast and seasoned copywriter with a tech degree. She loves writing, but her heart belongs to her two mixed dogs, Buba and Bono, a mother-son duo. Bono’s siblings found loving homes, sparking Monika’s advocacy for neutering and deepening her curiosity about animal care.

But Monika’s pet family doesn’t end there. She also has two cockatiels and two rescue cats, proving her home is a haven for creatures big and small.