Owning a pet bird can be an immensely rewarding, but challenging experience. Depending on the species, caring for your bird can feel like a full-time job, but they also provide a special type of company that no other pet can replicate. At 2nd Street Animal Hospital, we love all kinds of animals, which is one reason why we offer exotic pet veterinary services — but birds have a special place in our hearts.

As it is with most things in the world, the more you learn about something, the more you can appreciate it. Do you have a pet bird, such as a parakeet, parrot, or cockatoo? There’s a lot more to your little buddy than meets the eye. Let’s look at some fun facts about pet birds!

Birds Are Literally Dinosaurs

No, birds aren’t related to dinosaurs, they literally are dinosaurs. How crazy is that? That’s right, the catastrophic events from millions of years ago didn’t kill everything on the planet. A certain branch of dinosaurs survived the blast, and they went on to become the birds we know of today. The common scientific consensus is that birds evolved from the Saurischian branch of dinosaurs, who had already begun to develop bird-like features, such as feathers and wings.

So no, Dr. Grant’s little spiel at the beginning of Jurassic Park isn’t just movie mumbo-jumbo; birds are quite literally the direct descendants of dinosaurs. With that in mind, a lot of their unique characteristics make more sense. Birds lay eggs, have distinctly reptilian feet, and many of them have long lifespans (more on that below). If you’re a dinosaur aficionado, there’s no better pet than a bird for you.

Some Parrots Live Way Longer Than Humans

If you’ve recently bought a pet parrot, we hope you did your research, because they may just end up outliving you. If you have grieved a dog or cat who reached the end of their days at 15 years or so, you may be relieved to know that your parrot is in no danger of passing away any time soon. Little parakeets live up to 18-20 years, but if you have a medium- or large-sized parrot, that lifespan gets way longer. Large parrots such as Macaws can live up to 100 years! That’s around the same lifespan — or even longer — than a human.

This is pretty astounding, given that most animals of similar size have much shorter lifespans. While a lot of common birds such as finches live far shorter lives (five years or so), it’s not uncommon for popular exotic bird pets to truck on for decades.

Cockatoos Are Lords of the Dance

Ever seen one of those dancing bird videos? If not, you’re in for a treat — go ahead and type “dancing cockatoo” into a Youtube search and look at the results. Indeed, there are countless results of pet cockatoos hopping or “dancing” to the beat of the music.

Their performance isn’t just a funny coincidence — these birds have been shown to change their tempo based on rhythm, showing an innate ability to sync with music. The behavior is deliberate, and it’s something that makes birds unique among most other animal species. Even primates such as monkeys, chimps, and gorillas haven’t shown these abilities, and they are our closest animal relatives.

It is speculated that birds, being highly vocal creatures, associate sounds with motor skills, which is why they’re able to move to the beat. Of course, it’s important to remember that not every bird can do this. The ability is most common in cockatoos, with some exceptions, such as certain parrots. Curiously, some elephants have also exhibited an understanding of musical rhythm, though they’re not quite ideal to have as pets. Next time you have a dance party, be sure to invite your cockatoo!

Regurgitation is the Love Language of Parakeets

If you’ve ever heard of the five universal love languages, it should come as no surprise that regurgitating isn’t one of them. When we vomit on people, it’s not exactly a welcome gesture, and is probably something that’s best saved as an emergency measure for getting out of a bad date.

So, with that being said, you may be less than thrilled when your parakeet regurgitates on you. But make no mistake — coming from your little budgie, this is actually a sign of love. A unique (and rather gross) quirk of parakeets is that they regurgitate seeds they’ve eaten to feed their young, or to bond with their mate. If they’re doing it to you, they probably have a deep affinity for you, and they’re just trying to show that in the only way they know how. How adorable!

Be sure to know, however, the difference between vomiting and regurgitation. Parakeets can vomit, and this is a gastrointestinal issue, not an intentional behavior.

Birds Are Creatures of Routine

Many bird owners find, in the long run, that it’s relatively easy to care for their pet. Birds, once you get used to them, don’t have a ton of high-maintenance needs, but they can be a nightmare if you don’t understand them. One key component you need to understand about your avian friend is that they love to live according to a schedule.

Birds, in general, have a keen sense of time-keeping. Roosters are famous for effectively being alarm clocks every morning, and many bird species have complex migration patterns that occur at the same time every year. It’s no surprise, then, that your pet parrot or cockatoo has their own routine.

While it’s best to search online for the particulars of your specific avian species, most birds like to get a good night’s sleep of twelve hours or so. They likely eat at the same time every day, and they can get crabby if you’re not there for them.

Common Household Scents May Be Killing Your Bird

Here is a sad fact, but an exceedingly important one — common household fumes could very well be hurting your pet bird. As it turns out, birds have complex, highly efficient respiratory systems, something that’s essential for flying. However, this makes them far more sensitive to fumes that are in the air, and innocuous scents, such as the aromas from scented candles, could be toxic to them.

Cleaning supplies, artificial scents, secondhand smoke, and even common cooking fumes can all be dangerous around your bird. At 2nd Street Animal Hospital, we’ve treated our fair share of parrots and budgies that were exposed to harmful fumes, and that’s why we encourage every exotic pet owner to do extensive research about their bird species. Things that are harmless to us can be fatal to them, and there’s nothing worse than losing a pet all because you didn’t know about their health needs.

Exotic Pet Vet Services in Philadelphia

The last thing you need to know about your pet bird is that, just like any other animal, they have health needs, and should see a veterinarian for regular checkups. While some birds can outlive you, it will only happen if you’re giving them the best care. And that’s why we’re here — at 2nd Street Animal Hospital, we treat just about every kind of pet under the sun, and our qualified team has extensive experience treating the needs of various pet birds.

Whether you’re just coming in for a routine checkup, or you need emergency veterinary services for your little avian friend, you can bet that your pet bird will be better off after a trip to our vet clinic. In addition to birds, we also treat exotic pets such as reptiles and rodents, and we also do traditional vet services for common pets such as cats and dogs. Ready to get started? Contact us today for a free quote.