Birds for Fun and (or?) Profit

Your Zebra Finches have been practicing the multiplication table. You bought the biggest cage, but now it’s bursting at the seams. When making one of your many trips to the pet shop to buy seed, you timidly ask the owner if he can use any Zebra finches. Sure, you are told. The store is always happy to buy Zebra Finches.


You rush home and pack every baby that is feeding on its own into a travelling cage. Only barely breaking a few speeding laws, you make the return trip to the store.

While unpacking the young Zebra Finches, the pet shop owner tells you that they are very popular birds. Don’t hesitate to bring more. A few minutes later you are walking out of the store, smiling as you count the cash.

Found Money?

Every bird lover after raising, and selling, the first few nests of young, starts to think about birds as a business. It is very easy to make a bird hobby self-supporting. There are many people who spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on their hobby. They afford this by raising and selling birds. You must ask yourself some serious questions before you try to do the same.

Bird breeding is extremely labor intensive. If you add up the hours it takes the owner of a large establishment to clean cages, wash dishes, supply food to the adults, perhaps hand feed babies, and deal with customers and suppliers, you will be shocked. If you are fascinated by birds, this is not seen as work. I am sure if you figured out dollars per hour, more money can be made washing dishes. Will you be able to do this all yourself? If you expect to go partners with your spouse or a friend, give it careful consideration. Business and marriage are the two leading causes of death in friendships. The combination nearly always is fatal.

Caring for the birds allows no vacations or sick days. Perhaps you will be able to work out some agreement with another local fancier. Maybe a teenager or retiree is looking for a part time job, and could be trained to run the whole aviary in a pinch. If you can’t find anyone, then the birds own you as much as you own them. Labor saving devices are of some help. One hundred birds might take fifty times as much effort to take care of as a single
bird. For you, will they be fifty times as much fun as one is?

What are your local laws? Some municipalities strictly limit the number of pets that can be owned. If your town has any laws like this, the judge will not want to hear that you are trying to help save the rain forest.

What will the neighbors say? The person next door that loves to listen to your macaw talking on the patio, might take you to court if you have a dozen macaws yelling at four in the morning. The incorrigibly irritable will blame you and your birds every time their car is dive bombed by a pigeon. You will be brought to task for any rodent sighted within a ten mile radius.

What sort of security precautions can you take? Birds are the target of vandals, petty thieves, and professional criminals. When setting up your breeding complex, security will be a prime concern. This may be as simple as keeping birds that don’t make much noise, or maintaining the birds in the basement. In a large complex with outdoor flights, a combination of fences, dogs, watchmen, and electronic devices will be needed.

This is not meant to scare anyone from raising birds. I have, on several occasions, supported myself through my hobby. It was a lot of work. You will find the bird breeding, aviculture, much more satisfying if you grow to a level that you can sustain. It is a real shame to establish an important collection, only to have it destroyed overnight by a burglary. Almost as bad is to be forced to sell off your birds because of the constant complaints
of irrational neighbors. Both have happened to me.

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