I was in my mid-twenties and my
little flock had grown (from my first two zebra finches) to include a
canary and four other exotic finches. I was very involved with my seven
little friends – and found them fairly easy to care for. So when a local
pet store had a special “free cage with a parakeet” sale, it was pretty hard
to resist. I went to the store for bird seed and came back with a cute blue
budgie and dreams of taming him.
Within a couple of days, the budgie
stopped eating and then died. By the end of the week, almost all of my
birds were dead. There was no such thing as an avian vet where I lived
then, so I will never know what it was that killed them. But I learned a
very, very tough lesson about quarantine.
Please learn from my ignorance.
When adding birds to an existing
flock, assume that the new bird has an as-yet-undetected disease. Keep the
new bird away from the others, wash your hands after handling them, and so
on. Have the new bird checked by an avian veterinarian and tested for
disease. Don’t allow close contact with your other birds until you have the
test results back and you’ve had adequate time to observe the bird and
ensure that communicable disease will not be an issue.
The recommended length of the
quarantine recommended is different depending on who you talk to. Some say
that 30 days is adequate, others 90. I believe that where the bird comes
from is a factor to consider; I would be much more conservative with a bird
bought at a pet store or bird fair than one I obtained direct from a
breeder. Perhaps the best advice here is to recommend a strict quarantine
at the beginning and discuss this with your avian vet when you take your
bird for its first exam.