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How Do I Evaluate a New Flock Member?

Thinking about bringing home a new bird? Don’t forget to ask these essential questions to ensure they’ll be a good fit.

Bringing a new bird into your home always comes with a lot of question marks. Will this bird get along with my existing flock? Do I need to worry about conflict or fighting? Is there a chance the other birds will leave them out? These questions can cause a lot of uncertainty and make it hard to decide if you should adopt a bird or not.

 

Fear not! The Budgie Academy has tips for evaluating whether your potential new addition could be a good fit in your home. Remember: all birds and flocks are unique, so this evaluation process isn’t set in stone. But by keeping these basic questions in mind, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.

 

1.) What cannot be changed?

Certain factors are set for life, so ask yourself whether you’ll be able to work with them.

When looking at a potential new bird, you first need to consider everything that can’t be changed once they enter the flock. This would include their species, age, biological sex, and any permanent injuries that may need accommodations. These are things that will stay with the bird forever, regardless of training—so be honest with yourself when considering whether any of them are deal-breakers.

For example, when Callie passed away, leaving FitC (an 8-year old female budgie) as the only budgie in the flock, I probably wouldn’t choose a juvenile male as a top choice when looking for another bird to adopt because he will likely pester and court her more than she is comfortable with. Instead, I chose to add two more adult, middle-aged females. 

2.) What is hard to change?

Some factors can be changed, but only with a great deal of time and work.

Next, ask yourself if this new bird has any traits that might be changeable, but doing so would be very difficult or unrealistic. Some things that are changeable now may become permanent down the road. For example, deeply ingrained, existing associations with people and objects (both positive and negative), severe medical conditions like muscular atrophy, or even just an inability to fly due to lack of opportunity in a previous home. Are you able to put in the training hours to change these factors? Would you be able to accommodate these traits if they became permanent?

 

3.) Examples from my own flock

Here’s a real-life example of a bird with a hard-to-change trait.

Let’s consider The Budgie Academy flock member Gandalf and his preference for men. I could work with him day and night, day in, day out. The negative association he has with women will change drastically as I work with him, allowing him to overcome his fear and aggression… but he will probably always be faster to interact with men, even if they’re total strangers than when we first started interacting. 

At the time of writing this article, we are two years into our relationship. He is amazing with me and no longer aggressive with new women coming to the home, but he is so excited when a new man walks in and begins to sing and talk to them immediately. 

If I were to take that personally and feel hurt every time he such fast interest for a complete stranger that I had to work for, he wouldn’t be a good fit for me or my flock. 

4.) What do you need to change?

Are there any factors that absolutely need to change? Can you step up to the plate?

Third, consider what things about this bird will need to change, but will require time and dedication. Will you be able to meet that bar? A great example would be a budgie coming in with no prior handling experience, or one that has been eating a bad diet. Both of these things can change, but it will require substantial effort. These kinds of factors must change as they are welfare considerations and the bird cannot simply stay as they are. Can you do what needs to be done?

 

5.) Don’t forget the small things.

After all the above considerations, it’s time to sweat the small stuff.

Lastly, consider other small things about the bird that may or may not matter. Will any small undesirables add up into a problem? Alternatively, is there something about this bird that will make them an especially good fit? For example, Eva came into The Budgie Academy flock with a lot of experience living with cockatiels. This was a plus for me, considering Gandalf (a cockatiel) lives here. It wasn’t a huge make-or-break item, just a small part of the consideration process.

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Wrapping up

Finished running through this list of questions, and everything looks good to go? Don’t forget: incoming birds need to be quarantined before you introduce them to the rest of your flock! Want to brush up on your quarantine basics? Check out our articles on why we quarantine and how to have a successful quarantine.

 

Don’t forget: The Budgie Academy is on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook! Join our social media flock so you don’t miss out when we post new content.

 

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