Inexpensive pet birds

Recycled Birds

by Nick Howes

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Getting free birds is no fly-by-night idea. It's very practical and low-risk. The only risk is the cost of newspaper classified advertising.

A friend and I discussed her breeding birds as a profitable sideline. The problem was seed money for birds. My interest was piqued by bird magazine ads that sought free birds. As an experiment, I placed a three-day ad in a local daily newspaper in a nearby town of largish size. The copy was pretty simple. It read, "Wanted. Free birds, including problem birds."

The results were surprising. One lady called and offered a rather wild gray parrot. My friend picked it up. She was very happy with her acquisition. She did some checking and found out that even wild, gray parrots are valued at about $400 to $500. If it was its usual sedate self, it was worth about $900. She became very attached to the bird, and by the time she found out that the way to calm gray parrots is simply to give them attention, it was already becoming its more valuable sedate self. The ad also resulted in acquiring a pair of cockatiels (together valued at about $40). The group gave her a fine head start on pursuing her business goals.

I ran ads in smaller rural weeklies and a small daily but got no response. Personally, I think it's a matter of timing, but you can draw your own conclusions.

Considering the value of the birds my friend acquired, the experiment was a success. They weren't precisely free because of the cost of the newspaper ads, especially the initial three-day ad that was rather high. Of course, that ad was the one that produced. This approach could be supplemented with index cards on laundromat and grocery store billboards. An ad in a base newspaper at a nearby military post might be useful since people deploying overseas wouldn't be able to take their birds with them.

I've referred specifically to birds, but this concept, it seems to me, can easily be applied to other types of items you might want. There are no guarantees, but you never know.

Nick Howes is a freelance magazine, newspaper, and online writer

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