Sluggish or feeble birds may be sick. Taking a sick bird home to "save" it might lead to grief and financial loss.

Choose a vigilant bird

A healthy baby bird's eyes are brilliant, sparkly, and discharge-free. Runny, squinting, or discoloured eyes can indicate illness.

Look for clean eyes and feathers

Many sick birds have a runny, crusty, or inflamed cere. Avoid birds with clogged nares or nasal discharge.

Check nares and cere for infection

If you can monitor the birds you're interested in during feeding time, look for the ravenous eaters. Choose an eater. This indicates good health.

Buy a hungry bird

Interact with baby birds if possible. A well-adjusted infant won't dread human hands, so you can pet it. Offer the bird several perches and toys.

Pick a gregarious baby

Is the bird's enclosure clear of excrement and other bacteria-prone areas? Birds in clean enclosures are less likely to get sick. Buy a bird from a breeder who follows strict hygiene standards.

Check the bird's habitat

Bird lovers may find hatchlings attractive, but those without hand-feeding experience should buy only weaned babies.

Weaned, fully-feathered birds only

Since most diagnostics labs offer combination testing, sexed birds may also have been illness tested.

Are the babies healthy?

Many aviculturists swear by handfeeding to produce docile birds, but others say parent-raised youngsters make wonderful companions if properly socialised.

These birds handfed or parent raised?

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