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How much does a bird cost, and what’s the most expensive bird?

Pets cost money. It’s a fact we all have to acknowledge before leaping into ownership, and it seems like the amount we’re required to spend goes up every year. Even for birds, there are charges beyond buying your little guy — cages, accessories, food, and vet visits — to name a few. Before you take the leap of bringing home a feathered friend, set a realistic bird budget, including putting some aside for incidentals. So, how much do birds cost? Here are the details. 

Two parrots sit affectionately with each other
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How much money does it cost to buy a bird?

In the case of some avian species, upfront fees can get really high. A hyacinth macaw, arguably the most beautiful but also the biggest, will set you back $10,000, and that’s not including his cage, which will almost certainly need to be custom-made. But most birds will go for way below that price tag. You can also look into local adoption and rescue opportunities, which cost little or nothing at all. Try to get a pet that’s a few years old, and you’ll still have him for decades to come since so many parrots live quite a long time.

What’s the cheapest pet bird to buy?

Budgies are a great starter bird, and they typically cost just a few dollars to bring home. Always research your breeder or pet store carefully since you want a hand-raised, healthy animal, but you should need to spend only $20 or so on this species (per bird, though pairs sometimes come together for a lower cost). Canaries and cockatiels come in at only under $100 in most cases. All these beautiful creatures have a lot less sticker shock but also cost less to keep overall and make great beginner birds. Stick with the littler animals if you don’t think you can shell out the big bucks.

Man with yellow bird on shoulder
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How much do birds that talk cost?

None of the smaller parrots or finches talk (or at least not well), so you’ll need to spend a lot more to bring home a friend to converse with. African grays, who speak the best out of all birds, should be $1,000 at minimum. (Note: If you find an animal that’s too cheap and it’s not a rescue, look quite closely to make sure it wasn’t obtained illegally.) Macaws, like the classic scarlet or blue and gold, will be about the same, though in this case, you’re paying for their vibrant colors as much as their speaking abilities. Premium breeders will charge on the high end, but it can be worth it since the birds will be better trained and better talkers (if you want a chatterbox).

As mentioned, in all these cases, the initial price will make up only a fraction of the bird’s lifetime care fees. You should plan to buy the cage, perches, toys, food, dishes, travel carrier, and cleaning supplies before you go bird shopping. After that, you’ll need to replenish food frequently and replace accessories as needed. Don’t forget vet expenses, either. Lastly, if you have a mated pair, you might wind up expanding your flock down the line. Be ready to care for babies if you should be so lucky. Altogether, for a parakeet or canary, you’ll want to budget about $2,000 to $3,000 over the course of their lifetime. A bigger parrot will make it closer to $500 to $1,000 per year, and they can reach age 50. Yes, that means you could spend $50,000 on a large parrot if he gets a long life. Keep that top of mind when thinking about whether to get a bird and make sure you have enough socked away for surprise costs like vet emergency visits.

Part of what makes birds so expensive is that they live many years, so the cost per year is multiplied by decades instead of the 10 or so you would get with a large dog. Thus, while the upfront price will be low in the case of budgies, they occasionally live 30 years and produce numerous offspring. On top of the financial impact, birds need a surprising amount of time and attention since they’re so smart and sociable. Be sure to keep all of these factors in mind when determining whether a gorgeous singer will fit into your budget and lifestyle.

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Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
Try out these 6 different kinds of best bird feeders to attract your feathered friends
House finch eats at nyger feeder

Bird feeders come in multiple shapes and sizes because birds do, too. Each feeder accommodates a different feeding style, and many are enticing to a particular species. Before setting up your feeders, think first about what kinds of flyers you want to attract — and which ones are likely to oblige. Then, once you have a good bird-watching list, scout out the right locations and the best feeders to attract them. You can put out all these for the widest array of visitors or focus on a few types and get the best setup for just those eaters. Here are the six best bird feeders and what feathered friends you'll probably see feeding at them.

What are the different types of bird feeders?
You probably have a bunch of different dishes in your home — plates, bowls, maybe a gravy boat. Our avian guests have the same needs. After all, some birds eat seeds, some animal fat, some flowers, and some nectar. Take a look through these top types and figure out which one — or ones — belong in your yard.
Hummingbird feeders
Putting up a hummingbird feeder all but ensures you'll add a splash of color to your life. This one will bring in gorgeous birds and look nice in the window. Of course, the drawback is that you need to clean it often by hand. Don't worry: A little soap and water will do the trick, and its glass construction means it will last a long time. Feeding hummingbirds saves your wallet, too, since you can make all the food yourself. Boil 1 part sugar and 4 parts water to create this concoction and refrigerate any left over right away. It'll take your neighborhood birds a minute to find their new restaurant, but once they've discovered it (and given a rave review to their friends), you'll never run out of visitors, provided you keep the food flowing. 
Hopper feeders
This is a classic bird feeder that adorns nearly every yard at one time or another. You'll get large birds — and probably large squirrels — as regulars at this one. Try hanging it from a strategic spot or mounting it on a pole to avoid squirrels, but that might be a losing battle. Instead, focus on attracting the birds you do like with the proper seed for them (don't forget to keep it full). We suspect you'll spot a menagerie here, especially jays and cardinals since it's welcoming to bigger animals. Unlike the hummingbird feeder, you won't bring this one indoors often, and should make sure it's reachable by hose or bucket for proper cleaning. 
Tube feeders
The smaller birds of the community will thank you for this tube feeder, as the little perches and openings go well with tiny feet and beaks. Watch for a mix of sparrows, chickadees, and titmice who enjoy having a spot of their own, and look at purchasing a blend that encourages them. However, a small feeder means you have to fill it regularly. It might take a few weeks, but you should get an idea of how often the birds start begging for a refill. Finding a spot can prove tricky because you never know when the guests of honor will alight on the other side. Place it between windows to best see every angle. 

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Myth or fact: throwing uncooked rice will hurt birds (you might guess wrong)
Sparrows eat rice out of a man's hand

Everyone knows of a few things that pets can't eat: cats and lilies, dogs and chocolate, birds and rice. Or wait, is that actually a problem? Is rice bad for birds? While you may have been to a wedding where the classic tradition was replaced with a bag of Feathered Friend, that might in fact not be necessary. After all, our happy singers eat other seeds and grains with no problems all the time. So can birds eat rice and how would you feed it to them? Here's what you need to know about offering a snack to your little birds.

Can birds eat uncooked rice?
The myth goes that you can't feed birds uncooked rice because it will absorb all the water in their stomachs and kill them. Depending on who you heard it from, you may even get the version where it causes them to explode by cooking inside their stomachs. One minute, they're eating a grain of white rice and the next it has blown up to many times its size and taking the bird with it. It sounds a little out there, and it should give you pause cause it's not true. Remember that when you make rice on the stove you boil it at 212 degrees; if a bird's stomach was that hot, it would have much bigger problems. Plus, keep in mind that seeds and other grains like corn and grasses are all bird food. In the wild, many birds eat rice as well and they certainly don't blow up because of it. 
Can birds eat cooked rice?
Yup, just as with uncooked rice, cooked rice is also fine for our backyard visitors. Some species like pigeons and doves will enjoy it a lot and it works well for them in winter especially (when they want easy-access, filling food). It doesn't really matter what type you go for as birds won't notice the difference between short vs long grain. The one thing you need to consider closely is that the meal should be totally unseasoned. That means no salt or other spices, not even herbs. Lastly, don't give the birds warm food since you won't want them eating something fresh out of the pot, but otherwise, they'll certainly enjoy sharing your meal when you have stir fry for dinner. 

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You caved and bought baby chicks. Now what?
Two chicks sit in the grass

Spring brings out the pet parent instinct in all of us — we see so many baby bunnies and chicks that it's natural to want to add one to the family. However, we recommend that potential pet parents think carefully before bringing home any new animal. Everyone in the household needs to be sure it's a good fit, including other creatures already living there. But if you truly couldn't help yourself and impulsively adopted a baby chicken or two, we're here to help you figure out how to care for them successfully.

How do I take care of chicks?
First, you need a pen and then a coop to keep the chicks in. You can buy a coop, or you can build one if you're handy. Make sure it's sturdy, warm (more on that in a minute), and protected from predators. We all know what happens when a fox gets into the chicken coop, and just the stress of dogs or cats could harm little chicks. Flooding when it rains can also cause problems, so you'll notice that most coops are elevated off the ground to keep out excess water as well as local predators.

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