Saturday, May 28, 2011

Think When Considering Expanding the Flock

Considering a new flock member is an important decision, and will affect many different areas of our life and our existing flock:

1) Food and care costs (perches, toys, cages/environments, etc.)
2) Medical/vet bills
3) Time spent in care and cleaning
4) Time spent in interacting and relating to the birds both individually and as a flock
5) Adjustment to the changes to flock dynamics

It is impossible to predict the affect a new bird will have on the household and flock dynamics, but of this we can be sure: It will certainly have an effect!

When I see the budgie boys flying, preening and playing with one another, I never regret having found two perfect friends for Strider after rescuing him from a tree several years ago. However, it could have gone either way.
There is never a guarantee that birds will get along. One cannot even say "they probably will"! Unfortunately, we simply do not know and cannot predict.

Just a few of the factors that may affect the potential relationship between an existing and new flock member are:

1) Age
2) Gender
3) Species

4) Cage/environment size
5) Method of introduction
6) Unique personalities of each bird

These, along with simply the unknown and unquantifiable, combine to result in either birds that cannot be out together, ever, or birds that (over time) develop close and healthy relationships with one another. One thing is for sure, it cannot be rushed.

By looking at the above list, we can easily see that the success of someone else in integrating a new bird into their flock has little to no bearing on whether or not we will be able to do so. Just as one toddler may joyously greet his new little brother or sister, another may have quite a difficult transition.

Our utmost priority must be given to considering the affect on ourselves and our existing flock. These are the birds we have committed to care for, love, and provide forever-homes.

If we are already stretched to the limit with time, money and space, it may not be the right time to add a newbie to the mix.
If our personal lives are in an uproar or unsettled due to moving, job changes, financial pressures, relationship issues and the like, it may not be the best time to expand the flock.


While anticipating the best, plan on things not working and the birds needing separate spaces. One of the worst mistakes to make would be to bring a new bird into the flock and expect him to immediately share digs with an existing bird without planning for each to have their own area. It is simply not fair for either bird. Do not assume birds will, or should, get along and easily share space. Even if they do share space, that space needs to be very ample. The best of friends can get on one each others nerves when in close quarters!

Always quarantine! I have written several posts about the necessity of quarantine. Yet, I am always amazed when folks skip this step. Especially when they cite that they are 'anxious' for the birds to meet one another. I'm anxious to visit foreign countries, but am I so anxious that I do not take the time to check with my doctor and see if I need to be vaccinated against malaria, food borne illness, cholera or who knows what else? It is just common sense, wise and saves a lot of time, money, pain and heartache. Nothing like ruining a vacation with a great case of Montezuma's Revenge!

Finally, avoid the temptation to make an impulse decision because a bird is "just so cute", or "I've always wanted one of that species", or "they really needed to be rescued". Consider you and your flock's needs, and ask friends to help with the objective analysis. Certainly, there is always the emotional component to any decision, but that is easy for us to think about. The help of a close, honest and supportive friend is invaluable in assisting us with an objective, unbiased analysis.
If in the end you decide that flock expansion is in your future, take the time to prepare, research, and set up both quarantine and separate full-time living spaces. Create opportunities for the birds to be successful in their interactions with one another, and ensure that when both birds are with you, both birds experience good things.

Planning and preparation always increase the chances of success!

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