Take Care When Selling Your Birds
by Ginger Wolnik

First published in Finch and Canary World,volume 1, number 3, 1995.

So many birds, so little time! Whether you raise birds for fun orprofit, or just need to find a new home for your pet, you have anobligation to find a responsible new owner.

It is important to screen potential buyers. Find out why they wantyour bird and what they already know about the needs of that species.Are they looking for a pet or a bird to breed? Ask if the bird is agift for someone else. As a rule, pets make poor surprise presents.What will happen if the recipient cannot keep the bird? They mightassume that you would take it back and give a full refund. If this isnot your policy, make sure they understand this!

Many children make wonderful bird owners and this interest can last alifetime. Just make sure a parent understands that they areultimately responsible.

If you advertise, realize that you could attract compulsive buyers.When people call me who have never owned a canary, I often mail theminformation and ask them to think about it. They must understand whatis involved. I lose some buyers, but those who call back know what toexpect.

I recommend providing buyers with written instructions on basic care.Also give the new owner at least a week's supply of the bird'susual food. Make sure they know where to get this food, or discussacceptable alternatives. Show new owners how the bird expects to findwater because some birds may not recognize different styles of tubesor drinkers as water sources.

Decide what your guarantee or refund policy is. Realize that you donot have to give any guarantees. After all, you are not a businessand cannot control how they treat the bird once it leaves your home.

Provide a written receipt with a band number or description of thebird. Let the buyer read the band number on the bird and see that itmatches the receipt. This protects you as the seller and makes a goodimpression that you care.

Giving a bird away may actually make it harder to find a good owner.Some people just like the idea of getting something for nothing.Charging at least a small amount will separate them from those peoplewho really want a bird. Don't give away a perfectly good bird tosomeone even if they convince you they would love to have one. Afterall, if someone cannot afford the bird, how will they be able toafford a proper sized cage and quality food?

Disclose minor defects such as a missing toe. Do not sell a bird withan illness or serious problem. Even if you explain the problem, yourisk ruining your reputation.

Sooner or later, you may encounter someone who you feel should nothave a bird. Even if you promised them your bird, you do not have togo through with a sale if you do not think they will be a responsibleowner. Be prepared for the buyer to get angry. There is probably noway to avoid ill feelings, but your self- esteem will be higher in thelong run if you stick to your standards. Tell a friend, preferably abird owner, about it and you will undoubtedly get support for yourdecision.

The usual result of these efforts is a prepared owner and a wellcared-for bird. I have gotten letters, even Christmas cards, fromcustomers telling me how satisfied they are with their new pet. Oneof the most rewarding aspects of bird breeding is learning that youhave a happy bird and a happy buyer!

Bird Seller's Checklist

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