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Any bird that you bring home can (1) bring you a lot of joy or (2) can bring a lot of misery to you and the bird.  I am not a big fan of impulse buying as far as living animals are concerned.  Now that I have a large family of pets, I derive a LOT of pleasure from them, and I hope you will too  ...

If you have read Xena's story (and keep in mind -- she is only one of many), you may have an idea how heartbreaking it is to find out the bird you bought is sick and then to helplessly watch it die.  Besides the heartbreak, the financial hardship: it cost me a few thousand dollars in: price of purchasing ($750 + tax) and vet bills (well over $2,000), that I could have done without.

There never IS a guarantee that the bird you buy is healthy.  It may LOOK healthy, it may APPEAR healthy, all the vet tests may indicate that your bird IS healthy -- yet, the bird may not be.   There are many diseases that will only show after a certain incubation time, for other diseases are no tests at all (PDD), and at other times tests show a false negative for a disease which the bird in fact suffers from.   What you CAN do is to minimize the RISK of buying a sick bird and to minimize the RISK on you and your other pets if indeed the bird you buy is sick despite all best efforts taken by you.

1.    Buy only from recommended sources:   I myself am very careful now whom to purchase from.  There is no way I would buy 'great deals' birds from breeders for example.  I wonder, why are they trying to get rid of them?  And don't necessarily a truthful answer when you ask them.  I would never readily believe "I am retiring," "I am tired of the work" kind of explanations.   After all, would they tell really you, "Well, I am cutting my losses.  I just had a bunch of birds die and God knows what of, and these ones may also die and I would rather not own them when they do!" ? 

2.  Go and check out the sources. I am less apt to recommend bird stores.  Like Xena's vet said: "They can't properly quarantine all their birds!" Now saying this, I have heard of some  bird stores that do have high standards of care, and I hope that educated buyers will FORCE those that presently do not adhere to equally high health standards.  I am still trying to find good sources to recommend, so please check in periodically to find recommended retail sources.  Over time, I am sure, the database will become quite extensive.

Anyway, there are many good breeders out there and already recommended on this website -- go and visit when you are ready to buy or just want to inquire about the birds they have available.

2.    New birds need to be vet-checked:   Take your bird to a recommended vet for a vet check.  Make sure that you do not allow your bird to get in contact with any other bird at the vet's office -- do remember, SICK birds go to the vet, birds with highly contagious AIRBORNE diseases, such as Beak & Feather, Psittacosis, Polyoma, etc..  In fact, keep your bird in a COVERED carrier.  Place a towel on the treatment table before allowing your bird to be placed on that.  I have heard on several occasions: "I don't need to do that!  My vet disinfects right in front of me!" and having myself educated enough about the use and limitations of disinfectants, I am acutely aware of the fact that disinfectants have to be applied to a surface for at least 5 to 15 minutes before deactivating / killing disease-causing pathogens.   Also, try to make sure that you make an appointment at the vet's when it's not too busy -- maybe first thing in the morning?

3.    Quarantine:    Let's assume that your bird passes the vet check with flying colors.  Now you wonder ... Why should I quarantine?  Because test results can be incorrect and/or your bird carries a disease for which there is no current/reliable testing.   And besides protecting your existing stock, also to protect the new bird.  Even healthy birds have to build up resistance / immunity to the bacteria that are common in your household.  Every household has its own sets of bacteria to which its residents have grown immune.   Also, the stress of the change of environment will weaken a bird's immune system.    By keeping the new bird in its own non-threatening, calm area, away from the dust and dirt of the other birds, and by maintaining increased sanitation during quarantine, and by slowly introducing the bird into its permanent area, it will have time to get over the stress and get back its normally- functioning immune system.  Or -- on the other hand -- the stress of the move is LIKELY (no guarantee for it though) to bring out any diseases it carries, and through proper quarantine procedures you protected your other birds from potentially contracting the disease.    Recommended quarantine times vary from 6 weeks to 6 months.   If the bird for example came from a single-bird home with no outside  contact, six weeks may be sufficient.  If it came from a bird store with a high traffic of birds going in and out, without stringent quarantine procedures, six months or more  would be recommended.

Sibylle Faye

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