While I firmly believe pets can be beneficial to a child as they grow and learn, a child should never be expected to be responsible for an animal entirely. A child cannot be responsible for an animal’s health and wellbeing. If the parent of the child does not want a pet, the family should not get a pet.
Owners that surrender their birds list a lot of reasons for why they are no longer able to keep the bird, but it never ceases to amaze me when a bird is surrendered to us because their child did not do an adequate job of taking care of the bird.
Birds are messy, noisy, needy, sensitive, and intelligent creatures and they are far too complex to rely on a child to care for them. Their environment requires regular cleaning, they need constant companionship and attention, and they need specialized (read: expensive) vet care when they fall ill.
In the past, I was a very active member of several online parrot forums. Almost daily, there would be a child (usually age 13-17) posting for help because their parents would not take their obviously ill and dying bird to a vet for treatment. The birds suffered because a parent bought a pet for their child, and did not see the true value of its life. I am no longer a regular on these forums because I found that it is too heartbreaking to witness such cruelty on a near-daily basis.
While not all parents that purchase a pet for their child will deny it vet care like the extreme cases I referred to above, it often happens that the child’s pet receives improper care in other ways. Birds need spacious cages with a variety of perches and toys, and a regular supply of fresh foods, pellets, seeds, and nuts. Most owner surrenders we receive (whether owned by child or adult) are living in cages far too small, with no perch variety, and a minimal amount of toys, if any. Even if a child does adequate research on the needs of their bird, their parent often denies the request for a larger cage, more toys and perches, and pellets, due to the expense of all these items.
Parents should not get a pet for their child, but rather get a pet for the family and recognize their responsibility for the intelligent living creature and everything it needs to thrive in their home. If this is not possible, the family does not need to get a pet. Birds should not suffer due to the lack of adult responsibility.