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Neither A Buyer Nor A Seller Be
Please Don't Buy or Sell Unweaned Babies

Bird Purchasing Etiquette
by Joan Belanger

I now realize,  after experiencing 7 years of breeding and selling birds, I probably
tested the patience of more than one bird breeder. Most of the people I inquired
about purchasing birds from were very nice and polite and took the time to answer
my questions.

Not a one of them yelled at me or asked if I was nuts when I attempted to
purchase bargain birds. I blush when I think of how much of their time I took up
asking questions about what they raised or asked them to explain my inquiries
about "what's that?" So here goes..................

1. Have a least a general idea of what you're looking for - species, mutation,
sex, pairs or youngsters, age of birds, a pet, or cage birds.  

2. Be conscious of a breeder's time. Believe it or not most of them are very
busy people. In addition to bird care, speaking with potential customers,
participating in bird groups or clubs, many hold down full or part time paying
jobs. Ask the breeder if it's a good time for them to talk when you call.
They'll be more amiable to answering questions and taking the time with you
if they're not right in the middle of feeding, cleaning, eating themselves, or
maybe even taking a little time to relax with friends or family.

3. Don't ask for a tour of the breeder's aviary. It's not that a breeder has a
dirty bird area or is hiding poorly kept birds. Most breeders who stick with
raising birds have learned a lot about aviary management and attempt to practice
reasonable hygiene with our birds. We learn about nutrition and health requirements
and attempt to provide a wholesome and complete diet.

It is our job to protect our birds from unknown disease organisms and the
stress of having visitors interrupt rest times and breeding birds. Many breeder
birds get nervous when someone other than their customary keepers
go through their area. Some birds are so flighty they can injure themselves when
startled. Some birds may attack a mate, come off the nest, or destroy a clutch of
chicks. While birds have been bred in captivity for centuries, they are still not
considered a domestic animal. They are also most often a prey animal in the wild
and their first instinct when threatened or startled is flight or fight, with flight
usually being the chosen option. Many species that could be found in American
aviculture years in the past are no longer available. Breeders are protective of
their flocks.

4. Ask for price quotes. These may vary widely. Breeders with a solid reputation
can and will command a higher price often time. Breeders with show awards or
unusual mutations often ask higher prices. Breeders who give health guarantees
may charge more for their birds. Breeders who use veterinary services, use
available vaccines, test for species-specific health concerns may be pricier.
Some hobbyists just raise occasional offspring to sell or give away. Some
breeders will give a discount for group purchases. An inexpensive bird may be a
good bird and be in perfect health, but if your intention is breeding yourself
pick the best quality from a reputable breeder.

5. Ask about a health guarantee, but remember you are responsible as the
purchasing party to quarantine and test the birds after arrival at your home or
aviary, arrange for a vet exam within a specified time, and provide for
excellent care of your purchases once you have them home. The new bird is
especially vulnerable to stress reactions and illness during the transition time
from the breeding facility to it's new home.

Sometimes breeders supply no guarantee on their birds. They are not attempting
to escape responsibility for replacement or refund. Some of the larger or rarer
species may breed infrequently, and the offspring are spoken for well in advance
of their actual hatch date. Also once an exotic bird leaves the breeding
facility the breeder hasn't a clue if their directions for care, quarantine, or
shipping will go as they have outlined. Talk with the breeder if something does
go awry with your new purchase.

Some breeders will insist that if a new bird dies within a specified time that you
have the bird necropsied at your own expense to screen for possible illness or
genetic imperfections. Expect to provide proof of this; a copy of the report that
identifies the bird by color, species, and band number. Many breeders will
refund your purchase price or exchange a bird if the problem is genetic or could
be an illness they don't know they have in their own aviary.

Moving to new quarters is a stressor for the new bird as well as others you may
have. They need quiet time, a healthy diet, and time to adjust to their new owners
and environment. If you place the bird/birds directly into your own collection,
don't expect a breeder to refund your money if the new bird becomes ill or dies
or if some of your others do. It is your responsibility as the purchaser to
protect your existing birds as well as the newcomers from organisms that can
cause problems for either. What may be lethal to one species may not be in
another. Suggested quarantine time will vary from breeder to breeder. Remember
quarantine means no shared air space.

6. If a problem occurs speak with the breeder directly. Most of us want a
positive reputation and are willing to work with you if problems occur. It's
possible for a breeder to have a problem and not even know it. Be respectful and
deal with them directly to work it out.

7. Shipping is at the purchasers' expense. While using the USPS is inexpensive,
keep in mind that it is also illegal. Hefty fines, jail time, and confiscation
of the birds without return of them are possible. Ignorance of the law will not
relieve you of stiff penalties.

8. Ask about a down payment for the birds. Many times this is non-refundable.
The breeder then doesn't sell those birds to other interested parties, and if
you back out he/she is left with unsold birds. The breeder often takes
individual circumstances into account and sometimes your deposit will be
refunded in the case of the unforeseen . I've needed to back out on purchases
on occasion. Sometimes it was because I was being impulsive and made commitments
for birds I couldn't afford or family challenges came up that required the use
of bird purchase dollars. I now offer to make a down payment. It helps me to
think it through before I commit. Cancel once and you're usually forgiven,
cancel twice and you may be asked to pay the full price prior to delivery.

Each breeder handles their flock in the way they know how. We're all different.
Just try to respect each of us for the quality of birds we attempt to produce.
We have good days and crummy days. Our individual personalities may irritate or
uplift you. We know we're on display too and try to do our best to assist you in
making choices based on the information you tell us.

Submitted by Joan Belanger of Featherdust Farm

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