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Sandra August 27, 2023

Exploring the Choice of One Bird or Growing a Flock

Someone asked me, 
"Why do you only have one parrot?"
There's more to this question than "because I do!" :) Our original plan was to have our M&M's, Mango and Mia, but things went differently than planned! If you're unfamiliar with our story about Mango and what happened to our plans, you can find the video on our Youtube channel, "Where is Mango," and check out episode 1 of The Parrot Podcast!

Whether you're a seasoned bird enthusiast or a first-time pet owner, the question of having just one bird or growing a feathered flock is a decision that requires careful consideration. While some individuals opt for a solitary bird for personal preferences and practical reasons, it's important to acknowledge that birds are inherently social creatures that can thrive in the company of their kind. 

The Solo Bird

Many bird owners choose to have just one avian companion, and their reasons are as varied as the species. For some, a single bird is easier to manage, especially for individuals with limited space or busy schedules. A single bird requires a bit less space, maintenance, and attention, making it a suitable option for those with constraints (as long as you've done your research and know what you're getting into with even one bird!).

Additionally, some birds, like certain parrot species, can form incredibly strong bonds with their human caregivers, becoming a devoted and affectionate companions. Please keep in mind that socialization and training are essential as well because you don't want your bird to become a one-person bird, develop behavioural issues like aggression and biting, or view you as their mate (something that can never be fulfilled and is not suitable for your relationship) and set them up to be adaptable to change.

However, it's important to understand that even if a bird bonds closely with its human, it doesn't negate their innate social nature. In the wild, birds form flocks for protection, mating, and social interaction. A solo bird may experience loneliness and boredom without another bird's company, which could lead to behavioural issues or even health problems. Recognizing this, let's explore the benefits of expanding your feathered family.

The Joy of Flock Dynamics

Bringing a second bird into your home can positively affect your bird and your household. The social interaction between birds can prevent loneliness and provide mental stimulation. A second bird can also engage in mutual preening, playing, and vocalizations, creating a lively and enriching environment. This benefits the birds and provides a beautiful spectacle for their human companions - seeing a bonded pair of birds is the cutest thing!

Observing the interactions and dynamic behaviours within a flock can be a fascinating experience. Birds communicate through various calls and body language and learn from each other. Having multiple birds can also help alleviate the pressure of being your feathered friend's sole source of entertainment and companionship.

Considerations and Compatibility

Before rushing into adding a second bird, it's crucial to research the specific needs, personalities, and compatibilities of the species you're considering. Not all birds get along, and introducing a new bird can sometimes lead to aggression or stress. Gradual introductions, separate quarantine periods for new birds, and carefully monitoring their interactions are essential to ensure a harmonious flock.

You also won't know if the two birds will get along and bond or if they will struggle to do so. You have to understand that if they don't take to one another, it adds more work to get them to the point of tolerating one another and finding a harmonious balance within your home. Getting birds within the same species and size is always best and recommended. Getting two different species can mean getting the birds to be a good match for one another will be harder.

Moreover, the size of your living space, financial capacity, and the time you can dedicate to caring for multiple birds should all be considered. Expanding your aviary is not a decision to be made lightly, as it entails an increased responsibility and commitment to meeting the needs of each bird. Even though you may already have an extra cage, toys, healthy foods, etc, you need to expect that the time and money required for an additional bird will undoubtedly increase. The mess doubles, the training doubles, the food portions double, DOUBLE THE NOISE and so on.

Before bringing a new bird home, quarantine, disease testing, and a vet check-up is also essential. This can all be costly! And in the beginning (although I recommend this always), you need to have a separate cage for the second bird. You must be extra careful during quarantine, washing your hands after every interaction. Some even recommend changing your clothes; it's not as simple as keeping them separate in different cages. You also need the space to separate them at a reasonable distance during quarantine.

Whether you opt for one bird or choose to grow a flock, the happiness and well-being of your avian companion(s) should be the top priority. While some people may prefer having a one-on-one bond, it's important to acknowledge that birds are social animals that can significantly benefit from the company of their kind. If you're contemplating adding a second bird to your home, thorough research and preparation are key. Understanding the dynamics of your chosen species and their potential for harmonious coexistence will lead to a rewarding and enriching experience for you and your feathered friends!

The way I see it is we should never judge someone based on whether they have one bird or a flock but consider that there are so many birds out there who deserve and need a good home, and if that solo bird is getting the love, attention, stimulation, enrichment that they need to thrive than yay!