Who has a wild pet bird

In the golden cage - the bird as a pet

Over three million birds live as pets in Germany. Which species can be kept like this? And what does animal welfare say about it? An overview of birds as pets.

History of the pet birds

Pets seem to be universal: they have been around forever, in all ages and in most cultures. The Egyptian cult around cats is well known, but birds were often also kept at home. The ring-necked parakeet, for example, was smuggled into Europe by Alexander the Great over 2,300 years ago. Today he lives wild in Germany. The colorful canaries are estimated to have existed in Europe since the end of the 15th century, and many other ornamental birds were introduced in the 18th century as decorations for Baroque gardens. Today around 3.4 million birds live in Germany as pets with private individuals.

Permitted ornamental bird species

We all know budgies and canaries, certainly also zebra finches and beos. But more and more pet owners are not satisfied with these established species, but are specifically looking for exotic species such as large parrots. But is that even legal? There are two principles for keeping pets in Germany. The first relates to humans: Normally only pets may be kept that do not pose a threat to others. Aggressive or poisonous animals are therefore not permitted as pets. The second principle depends on the animals: It may only be kept as a pet that is suitable for keeping pets according to the Species Protection Ordinance and Nature Conservation Act. In Germany, this regulation is a matter for the federal states. So if you want to keep a species-protected bird at home, you have to obtain a permit from the responsible public order office. This permit is usually not issued for wild animals and exotic animals. You can find a list of the animals affected here. It is strictly forbidden to simply abduct an animal from the wild. Every pet must be purchased and approved by the authorities. For example, if you find an injured bird, you cannot make it your pet.

Pet birds and animal welfare

Keeping birds has only advantages: An ornamental bird doesn't do any work, hardly needs any space and learns to speak, flips and backwards in no time - that's the (exaggerated) cliché. The reality is different: Pet birds are demanding pets, make dirt, noise and are not even cuddly. First and foremost, it is important to keep birds species-appropriate. What is species-appropriate and what is not also depends on how domesticated the bird is. Budgies, for example, live in flocks in the wild, but the specimens that can be sold as pets have deviated from this behavior through breeding. You should definitely not keep them alone - like most other birds. In addition to regular cage cleaning and medical care, species-appropriate keeping also includes plenty of space in the aviary and several hours of free flight per day. But you have to expect that the ornamental bird will make dirt outside the cage and sometimes nibble on pieces of furniture. The purchase of a pet bird should therefore be carefully considered.

Although factory farming and zoos tend to be the focus of criticism from animal rights activists, pet trade is also criticized from time to time. It is questionable whether the keeping of normally free-flying birds can be species-appropriate at all. But even if you change your mind about your pet: Releasing the bird is not an option. Pets with stunted instincts do not survive in the wild.

Photo: © Nicki Mannix / flickr.com (CC license)