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Bird in College? Advice Please...

Should I wait until after college to get a bird


  • Total voters
    12

ohiobirdy

Checking out the neighborhood
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12/13/18
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Ann Arbor
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Olivia
Hello! My name is Olivia and I've been excited to get a bird for as long as I can remember. My father and grandfather were both bird-loving veterinarians so I have a cage at my disposal for no cost, and I've done my hours and hours of research on care and diet and all. Decided I'm looking for either a green-cheek or a quaker, unless I meet one of another type that I really fall in love with.
The place I'm moving into next year is pet-friendly and I've finally saved up enough money for the bird, toys, food, etc. It seems like everything may be falling into place!
Except I'm a college student. I'm doing my undergrad at the university of Michigan and at the time I would hypothetically get the bird next year, I'd be a senior. This makes my permanent location sort of uncertain. Now, I am a fairly introverted person. I spend a lot of time in my room studying so I the amount of attention I'd be able to give him would not be an issue. I'm more worried about traveling between Ann Arbor and Ohio to visit my parents and the toll that kind of stress could potentially put on my birdy friend. Should I bite the bullet and just wait for a permanent address? Tell me honestly, because I know birds can get very stressed from moving locations too much.
I thought if I bought a cheaper, but still large cage to keep permanently at my parents place, that maybe wouldn't be such a stress on him? I only go home about three times a year, and it usually is only for a few days. I'd really like some advice on this because I am so impatient to get my bird but I really want to do this right and not put my bird in an unfair situation.
Has anyone had experience owning a bird in college? Or known anyone who has?
Should I wait until after college?

P.S. My father owns the cutest eclectus named Pepe and I've been in charge of him while he goes out of town on many long-term occasions. I have done a lot of research and also worked at a veterinary clinic that frequently sees birds for 6+ years. I feel that I am very prepared for the bird. I know it's common for bird owners to discourage others from getting one because there are a lot of owners who do not do research and get more than they expected, I just want to make sure it's clear that this isn't the case with me.
Also! If anyone knows any breeders or sanctuaries with birds available for adoption in the Ann Arbor area, that information would also be great! If just to know for the future, if I do decide to wait.

edit: The drive to my parents' is about 3 hours
 

tka

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What worries me is that you haven't said what you want to do after college. I know it seems like a long time away, but with birds you have to think in terms of decades. You have to think what your life will be like in 5, 10 and 20 years - not what it will be like next year.

Depending on what you want to do in life, you may be looking at formal postgraduate education, vocational training or long and/or irregular hours at work. You may start on a very low wage and struggle to meet your own needs, let alone an avian companion's needs. You may decide that you want to move cities, states or even countries for experience. Depending on your job, you may be expected to move around a lot. You may be offered opportunities that will be tough to manage with a bird - for example, training or work placements. You may have work committments that extend into your evenings.

You may have to live in a houseshare with people who are not familiar with a bird's needs. You will probably have to find places to rent that are pet-friendly and large enough for your bird and their things.

Basically, the issue isn't that you're a college student. The issue is that, for many people, the years immediately after college can be both very exciting and very unstable - and as such, not a good environment for a bird.
 
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~Drini~

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I'm a first-year student at Columbia University and I've had birds since I was 10, so I already had them going into college. Given that I live in a dorm in NYC (where rent is outrageously expensive off-campus), I could not bring my birds with me. They are at home with my parents in Maryland. I have a camera set up on their cage so that I can monitor their food/water and make sure they are happy, healthy birds. I'm a freshman, and no doubt my workload will grow tremendously in the following years, but my birds would 100% be with me here in college if I lived anywhere bird-friendly. My dorm-living is the only reason they aren't with me -- otherwise I'm sure I could have handled it as my life is study-study-study too.

You're a junior, so you already know what your workload is like and how busy life can get. Life will still be very busy after you finish college, and there's no guarantee you'll have a permanent address even after then, so I don't know how much value it'd be to wait just a year. If you're set on getting a bird, there's not much reason to do it now vs. next year. My birds were fairly stressed the first time they traveled, but now they enjoy the ride every time. Every bird is an individual, but I don't think it should be a terribly long wait till any bird of yours becomes accustomed to traveling (and there are many measures you can take to reduce the stress).

I should add that if I had started college with no birds, I would definitely have waited until I was out and settled. I already have them and I'm dedicated to providing them with long, happy lives, but it's not an ideal situation. Having birds in college is definitely doable if you know how to prioritize your time and finances, but I wouldn't advise it.
 
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sunnysmom

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I think you sound like you will be a great bird owner but I would wait until after you graduate. You don't know where you'll be yet after graduation (quakers are illegal in some states), what your living situation will be and maybe you'll want to travel, etc. for a bit before starting a new job. But I think when you do get a bird, that bird will be lucky to have you. :)
 

greys4u

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Your heart bird is waiting for you but not right now, I know it hurts but there are so many things to consider, his schedule, finances, vet appts and the list goes on. What is your major? You have a heart of gold and I commend you for that.
 

webchirp

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One of our students brought me back a flash drive with quaker bites in it. She lived in the dorms and toted him back and forth. He was a happy camper.
 

Feather

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Birds are more adaptable than a lot of people give them credit for. If you're sure you can devote enough time, energy, and resources to one, then a bit of travel shouldn't stop you. Make it normal: don't just have the long car rides to your parents' house be the only travel. Take the parrot with you on any quick excursions - not anywhere you'd end up having to leave them in the car, of course. But make the car just another thing you do together and you'll be removing most if not all of the stress involved. My parrots all love car rides. I take them through bank & fast food drive thrus, to the park, any store that will allow them, to the beach, on hikes, etc...
 

ohiobirdy

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Olivia
Your heart bird is waiting for you but not right now, I know it hurts but there are so many things to consider, his schedule, finances, vet appts and the list goes on. What is your major? You have a heart of gold and I commend you for that.
Thank you this was so sweet! I am an art history major, so a lot of paper-writing. Vet appointments would not be an issue since my father would see him for free. You are definitely right in that this shouldn't be an impulsive decision, it just feels like I've been waiting so long! Plus I'm planning on graduate school so not sure when my home will be more permanent.
 

ohiobirdy

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Ann Arbor
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Olivia
I'm a first-year student at Columbia University and I've had birds since I was 10, so I already had them going into college. Given that I live in a dorm in NYC (where rent is outrageously expensive off-campus), I could not bring my birds with me. They are at home with my parents in Maryland. I have a camera set up on their cage so that I can monitor their food/water and make sure they are happy, healthy birds. I'm a freshman, and no doubt my workload will grow tremendously in the following years, but my birds would 100% be with me here in college if I lived anywhere bird-friendly. My dorm-living is the only reason they aren't with me -- otherwise I'm sure I could have handled it as my life is study-study-study too.

You're a junior, so you already know what your workload is like and how busy life can get. Life will still be very busy after you finish college, and there's no guarantee you'll have a permanent address even after then, so I don't know how much value it'd be to wait just a year. If you're set on getting a bird, there's not much reason to do it now vs. next year. My birds were fairly stressed the first time they traveled, but now they enjoy the ride every time. Every bird is an individual, but I don't think it should be a terribly long wait till any bird of yours becomes accustomed to traveling (and there are many measures you can take to reduce the stress).

I should add that if I had started college with no birds, I would definitely have waited until I was out and settled. I already have them and I'm dedicated to providing them with long, happy lives, but it's not an ideal situation. Having birds in college is definitely doable if you know how to prioritize your time and finances, but I wouldn't advise it.
Thank you for the input! Do you have any advice for getting a bird used to the car? Do you usually keep them in their carriers or let them on your lap/shoulder?
 

~Drini~

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It will probably be many more years until you're really "settled"... and even then, there's never going to be a "perfect" time to get a bird (or a dog, or have children, or anything really -- you can't predict life). If this is really in your heart and you've spent a lot of time thinking about it and you are willing to be 100% dedicated to this bird... I don't think it would be a terrible idea.

When it comes to traveling, I always keep mine in their carriers (somebody could accidentally open a window, something might make the driver slam the brakes and birdy could go flying, etc. so not a good idea to have them out and about in the car). As for getting the bird used to the car, I would start with baby steps. Have the bird spend time in the carrier at home. Put yummy food in there, toys, etc. and to have him/her begin associating the carrier with positive experiences. You could then go on a short drive or two before going on long ones to your parents' house. If birdy is still scared, you can cover the carrier with something so he/she isn't overwhelmed by what's going on outside. Make sure the carrier is secured in the car to limit any instability.

But honestly, I didn't do much before my birds traveled for the first time, and they adapted to it very quickly. They really do enjoy car rides, and love watching outside the window. I wouldn't stress all that much.
 

LSA

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If one of my students had come asking the same thing, this would be my answer. Talk to your parents!

Like has been said, you'll make a great parront, but it's a matter of timing. Just like you care for your father's Ecclectus, he'll be caring for your bird and may not want that. So talk to him.

Pet- friendly doesn't always mean bird- friendly. That's something I've learned over and over.

A specific member works full- time and dates and owns a GCC. Conures are very adaptable and prefer quality over quantity. Even so, if you're there, they want their cage open to come and go as they please. Are you ready for this? What about a future significant other? What if you "like" someone and the bird doesn't? What if you have children that you see as bundles of joy but the bird sees as demanding competitors? What if you decide to try post- grad rather than go to work? Right now things seem awfully unsettled. It may seem like it is, but is it really? Your mind can easily and quickly change.

I traveled all day each way with three birds. I kept the largest cages at home, the middle "boarding" cages at my mother's (destination) and traveled with the smallest transport cages. (I got tired of so much driving and just moved in to care for my mother.) The birds had each other for stability. When travelling, the birdcages were seatbelted in.

This all got mentioned because even when you think things are settled down, they're not. I can't imagine suggesting any pet to anyone in school but don't know you. Talk to your parents then wait.

Ann Arbor has sanctuaries, rescues, etc. Volunteer and see what bird ownership is really like. See if you are ready for the additional work. Talk to an employee about the on-going expense. Most of all, talk to your parents!

 
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