Choosing to own a pet parrot is not a decision to be taken lightly. From a monetary point of view, the initial price of the bird will be a small fraction of the true cost of its care over the lifetime of your parrot. In addition, there are potential legal ramifications involved with owning certain species that are considered endangered.
What is the Cost of a Single Bird?
Here are average prices for a selection of the most popular pet bird species. All amounts are in U.S. dollars. I have used the site birdbreeders.com, as well as research into local pet stores for smaller birds, to determine these values.
- Quaker Parrot Price – Quaker parrots purchased from reputable breeders will cost you an average of $425.
Image credit betcsbirds
- Senegal Parrot Price – These parrots range from $500 to $1000 with an average being around $700.
- Budgies Price/Parakeets Price – The most common budgies cost between $15 and $25. Some exotic varieties such as the Bourke parakeet can sell for over $150.
- Indian Ringneck Price – These lovely birds, also called the ringneck Indian parakeet cost at least $300, and normally go for $400 to $500.
- Macaw Price – Blue and gold macaws will run about $1200 and scarlet macaws slightly higher at around $1700.
- African Grey Price – These super smart birds usually cost about $1500 with some upwards of $3000.
- Cockatiel Price – Expect to pay between $125 and $200 for your cockatiel with many available for about $150. Some mutations such as the Lutino cockatiel can command higher prices.
Additional Bird Prices (non-parrot)
- Canary Price – These beautifully voiced birds are often found for around $100 with some varieties costing closer to $200.
What Additional Costs Should I Expect?
Depending on the size of your parrot, and the size and quality of the cage you choose, this mandatory piece of equipment will cost you anywhere from several hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. Initial costs also include perches, toys and food and water bowls appropriate to your parrot.
Recurring costs mainly revolve around providing high-quality food for your bird. This will run to several hundred dollars a year if you plan on taking care of your parrot correctly with a mixture of high-quality manufactured and fresh foods. The Pet Education Website has a nice breakdown of initial costs for owning a small bird.
Toys and perches will also need to be replaced over the lifetime of your bird. Some parrots are very destructive and need to have chew toys replaced often. Other birds are not as demanding, but still, need replacements when items get worn or broken, turning the items dangerous. You may also need to buy new toys to enrich your bird’s life by offering it some variety. The cost of bird toys can be massively reduced if you make your own, see our guide here on how to do this.
Other costs such a visits to the avian veterinarian, a parrot travel cage to get there, and cleaning supplies need to be factored into your purchase. There is also the possibility of some damage to your home, especially by the larger birds who may chew up woodwork and other available items.
Laws Regarding Parrot Ownership
Parrots have become extremely popular in the pet trade. As with many human endeavors, this has caused problems for these spectacular animals. Intense harvesting of parrots in the wild has caused populations to plummet and in some cases has pushed species to the edge of extinction.
The United Nations Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) attempts to ban all trade in certain species of wild-caught parrots. The species most endangered are listed in CITES appendix I. Parrots included on the CITES list of at-risk populations are:
- African Grey
- Scarlet Macaw
- Blue-throated Macaw
- Palm cockatoo
- Red and blue lorikeet
- Many species of Amazon parrots
You should always avoid purchasing wild-caught specimens of any animal that is on the CITES list for at least two good reasons. First, you are involved in breaking an international treaty and could face legal consequences. Even more importantly, these birds are listed because their existence in the wild is truly threatened. As humans, we must act responsibly to protect these wild populations, even if it means we cannot own a pet that we find desirable.
There are also national and regional laws regarding parrot ownership and you need to consult your local laws before buying an exotic parrot. For example, the United States Endangered Species Act and local state laws need to be checked before buying a potentially wild-caught bird in the United States. This can be a complex undertaking. Assistance can be found at sites like the American Federation of Aviculture and The Parrot Society UK.
Here Are Some Additional Things to Think About
Avoid any parrot that is not obtained from a reputable breeder and always ensure that the bird has a closed band on its leg. This indicates that the band was put on very early in life. An open band could have been put on by an unscrupulous merchant, attempting to pass off a wild-caught bird as one that was bred in captivity.
When choosing among parrots that meet the above criteria, look for signs of a healthy bird. Signs that a bird may be ill include:
- Sitting on low perches or the floor of the cage
- Picking at feathers rather than preening
- Dull or sunken eyes
- Walking in circles
- Standing on two feet with its head tucked under a wing
If a bird exhibits any of these signs you should probably not purchase this bird. Though you may have to deal with health issues later in your pet’s life, you want to get off on a good foot with a parrot that does not show signs of illness.
You also need to consider if you have the proper lifestyle to mesh with parrot ownership. They are very long-lived and often loud creatures. Parrots require daily human interaction to avoid behavioral problems. If this does not sound like something you want to deal with, then you should move on to other pet choices. However, if you are able to cater to these requirements then owning a parrot can be a very enjoyable and fulfilling activity.