what is the price of a bird

I was at the local hardware store replenishing my stock of padlocks (Fid my macaw killed my last spare) when I heard the word “macaw”. Naturally I found myself eavesdropping on the conversation that the three men nearby were having.

They were discussing a nearby robbery. One of them had a friend who owned a Blue and Gold Macaw. Apparently this friend lived just down the road and had been robbed a few nights before. Masked men had come over the fence during the night, cut a hole in an aviary and stolen the bird. The whole thing had been captured on a surveillance camera but due to the masks, the men were unidentifiable. The owner of the bird was distraught and desperately trying to get the media to help him because the bird had the same value as a child to him.

The men at the hardware store moved on to discuss how much these birds are worth and how they’d seen one at a local pet store for thousands and thousands of dollars. The store apparently even had a green talking thing for thousands at one stage too. (I think they were referring to a male eclectus.) These birds are worth so much that stealing them makes sense. It would be great to own one but who wants to pay that???

I was cringing for a lot of reasons when I heard that. Firstly, it was just one more bit of evidence that told me someone is stealing birds in my area and that is something I need to be aware of for the safety of my own birds. Secondly, it reinforced what people generally think when it comes to the price of birds.

I have met a lot of bird people that say they want a particular type of bird but it’s too expensive. They’re usually talking about the purchase price. To most people that is the main expense of a bird. This makes me even more worried for the birds that get stolen because that purchase price is there for a reason. It isn’t high just because that bird might be rare, prettier or harder to breed/raise.

I can confidently say that every single bird in my flock has cost me more than their average retail purchase price in care/setup expenses within the first week. I say that knowing full well that there are birds in my flock that are worth thousands. I’ve actually found the average purchase price to be a really good indicator of how expensive a bird is to keep. Here the expensive ones seem to have larger housing requirements and they’re often more destructive. In my house, the more expensive the bird, the more the maintenance costs seem to be.

The main initial expense of a bird aside from purchase price is an appropriately sized cage or enclosure. Then there is the initial vet bill; which ideally should be more than a regular checkup. The initial vet visit includes disease screening tests and general tests that will set up a profile for your vet to compare to if your bird ever becomes ill. This doesn’t come cheap. Other expensive items will include toys, a travel carrier, species-specific dietary requirements, a playstand or whatever you’re going to fit the cage out with. Ongoing costs will include training materials, high quality diet, vet care, property replacement (birds are destructive), toys, cleaning appliances (I wear out vacuums quite quickly around here) and other incidentals. It all adds up. A single bird adds thousands to your annual household budget. In a bird’s lifetime it is realistically going to cost you on average somewhere between $20,000-$50,000 to look after that bird properly. That’s scary to think about.

Vegetable/pellet diet: $30 per week. $1560 per year. New toy/accessory: $15 per week. $780 per year. Vet bill: $5.75 per week. $300 per year. Cage (based on replacing a $450 cage every 3 years): $2.90 per week. $150 per year TOTAL: $53.65 per week. $2790 per year.

Bird lives 15 years? You’re looking at $41,850 and that’s before you consider what property a bird might damage, cleaning equipment, training costs, bandaids, etc. It can easily be a lot more, especially considering that 15 years is shorter than the average lifespan for most parrots. Even if your costs are half my estimates, you’re still above the $20,000 in a lifetime mark.

So you can see why, when people think the purchase price of a bird is expensive and the main hurdle to owning a bird – that is something I find particularly scary. It worries me that people save up to get past that hurdle (or steal) and then they aren’t financially equipped to look after the bird afterwards. I hear stories of people who need financial help to meet a bird’s basic needs daily. It is heartbreaking. There is something that we as bird owners can do about that though. Be honest about the expense of keeping birds when you talk to others about them.

People often remark on the cost of my birds to me (especially if they see my macaw as they’re known for their purchase price here), I always intentionally explain that the purchase price is nothing – it’s the cost of keeping the bird alive that gets me. I explain that Fid had to see a specialist vet once a week for 6 months when I first got him just to get him through a common serious illness. Even when he’s healthy, he’s like a toddler. He gets in to trouble and is accident-prone. Toddlers swallow marbles and can end up in hospital; likewise Fid had a good go at swallowing the screws that hold his food bowls in. He is quite capable of breaking any budget with absolutely no warning.

I also comment on the time birds require. I could not begin to imagine the issues I’d have with Fid if he were alone while I was at work all day. I can’t lock him up (he breaks padlocks); I can only slow him down (so multiple padlocks). He fits into my lifestyle where I’m around most of the time, but not everyone has that lifestyle. My other birds are significantly more independent, so some species are less time consuming. That said time is still a daily requirement for all of them.

When someone looks at your birds and gushingly says: “Oh I’ve always wanted one of those!” Feel free to say how awesome your bird is, but take the chance to spread that little bit of education of the real cost of a bird. It might prevent someone from landing in an unexpected situation. Besides, if you’re at a hardware store – you never know who is eavesdropping!

Costs for Bird Care, Food, and Housing

Housing, feeding, and general upkeep of a bird is typically less expensive than that of a dog or cat (depending on the breed). However, the price may increase significantly based on the bird’s lifespan (some birds live longer than people) and the medical requirements of your pet.

According to Kiplinger, these are the average costs you should budget for if youre considering a parakeet or other non-exotic small bird:

  • First-year cost: $295
  • Annual cost: $185 (plus unforeseen vet costs)
  • Total lifetime cost: $2,885 to $3,440 (the parakeet’s average lifespan is 15 to 18 years).
  • The purchase price of a parakeet, which varies from $12 to $65 for one, and the cage ($70) are additional first-year expenses. Following the first year, annual expenses consist of food ($75), toys and treats ($25), and regular veterinary examinations ($85). Although lifespans vary by species, parakeets, when provided with appropriate veterinary care, typically live for 15 to 18 years.

Although larger birds like macaws and parrots make much more fascinating pets than parakeets, the cost of purchasing, housing, feeding, and caring for them is higher. Although a macaw’s birdcage can be purchased for less than $200, it’s likely that it will need to be replaced fairly soon, so it’s probably wiser to set aside at least $300 specifically for that purchase.

Small Birds: Budgies, Canaries, and Finches

  • Budgies (Parakeets): $10 to $35. Because they are small, budgies are comparatively cheap to maintain and feed. However, a diet limited to seeds is insufficient; vets advise feeding pellets along with fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens.
  • Canaries: $25 to $150. Make sure your cage is the appropriate size for these energetic birds in addition to the cost of the canary. They require lots of toys and space to fly around because they get bored easily.
  • Finches: $10 to $100. The majority of finches would rather be with other finches than with a human companion. Ideally, theyre kept in small “flocks” when in captivity. Therefore, to maintain the mental well-being of your finch, you might want to get more than one if you’re planning to get one as a pet.
  • Parrotlets: $100 to $300. If given proper care, the average parrotlet can live for up to 20 years or more. Before getting a parrotlet, or any other variety of parrot, be prepared to commit to that level of care.

The men from the hardware store continued their conversation about the birds’ value, mentioning that they had seen one at a nearby pet store that was selling for thousands of dollars. At one point, the store reportedly even featured a green talking object for thousands of people. (I think they were referring to a male eclectus. Stealing these birds makes sense because of their immense value. Although having one would be fantastic, who wants to pay that?

I also comment on the time birds require. If Fid were left alone while I was at work all day, I could not even begin to imagine the problems I would have with him. I can only slow him down (so many padlocks), not lock him up because he breaks them. He matches my lifestyle, which is what I spend most of my time doing, but not everyone leads that kind of life. Some species require less time because my other birds are much more independent. Nevertheless, time remains a daily necessity for each of them.

I can declare with confidence that within the first week of owning my flock, the care and setup costs for each bird have exceeded their average retail purchase price. I say that with full knowledge that there are thousands-worth of birds in my flock. The average purchase price is actually a pretty good indicator of how costly a bird is to keep, in my experience. Here, the more costly ones frequently cause more damage and appear to have higher housing needs. In my experience, maintenance expenses seem to increase with the price of the bird.

Aside from the purchase price, a bird’s primary upfront cost is an appropriately sized cage or enclosure. The first vet bill comes next, and this should ideally cover more than just a routine examination. The general and disease screening tests performed during the first visit will create a profile that your veterinarian can refer to in the event that your bird gets sick. This doesn’t come cheap. Toys, a travel carrier, food requirements specific to the species, a playstand, or anything else you plan to stock the cage with will be additional pricey purchases. Training materials, a premium diet, veterinary care, property replacement (birds can be destructive), toys, cleaning supplies (I can’t get through a vacuum fast enough around here), and other incidentals are what will be ongoing expenses. It all adds up. A single bird adds thousands to your annual household budget. It will likely cost you between $20,000 and $50,000 on average to properly care for a bird during its lifetime. That’s scary to think about.

They were discussing a nearby robbery. A Blue and Gold Macaw was owned by a friend of one of them. It seems that this friend had been robbed a few nights prior and lived right down the street. During the night, masked individuals had climbed over the fence, broken through an aviary’s wall, and taken the bird. The entire incident was caught on camera, but the men’s masks made them unidentifiable. The bird’s owner, who valued the bird equally to a child, was inconsolable and frantically attempting to persuade the media to assist him.


What does a bird cost?

According to Kiplinger, these are the average costs you should budget for if you’re considering a parakeet or other non-exotic small bird: First-year cost: $295. Annual cost: $185 (plus unforeseen vet costs) Total lifetime cost (average lifespan of parakeet: 15 to 18 years): $2,885 to $3,440.

What is the cheapest bird to buy?

Lovebirds, budgerigars, finches, canaries, and cockatiels typically offer the most value, being both affordable and low-maintenance.

How much is a finch bird?

The prices of pet finches vary from place to place. A standard canary will usually set you back around $12, but this price tag can reach heights of up to $250 for a rare variety. Zebra and Bengalese finches are generally in the $5-35 price range. Some of the more unusual species can fetch up to $200.

How do you get a pet bird?

Finding a pet bird The best source for a large parrot is most often a reputable breeder or non-profit parrot rehoming organization. Local companion bird clubs, other non-profit organizations, and avian veterinarians are also good sources of recommendations.