Buying and caring for native birds

You can only buy native birds from licensed pet shops, dealers or breeders. Learn how to care for your native bird pet by joining a bird group.

Gang-gang cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum)Native birds bred in captivity can be bought and sold as pets. You’ll need to get a licence from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to keep many protected birds as a pet.

Once you have your licence you can buy your bird from a licensed breeder, dealer or pet shop. This helps protect native animals in their natural environment.

There are 41 species of native bird that can be kept as pets without a licence. You need to buy these birds from a licensed breeder, dealer or pet shop.

You can join a bird group (avicultural society) to meet other bird keepers and get advice about how to care for your pet(s).

Choose a bird you want to keep from the NSW Native Animal Keepers’ Species List.

Which licence you get will depend on how many birds you want to keep and which species you want. Work out which licence you need.

Keeping native birds

Once you have a licence you can buy your pet bird from a licensed pet shop, breeder or dealer.

Licensed bird dealers must display a copy of their NPWS licence on their premises.

Some pet shops are licensed to sell birds in NSW. These currently include:

When you buy your native bird:

  • get a receipt and licence details from the person selling you the bird
  • keep receipts as proof you bought each bird legally
  • don’t buy the bird if the person does not want to give you a receipt or their licence information. If this happens, contact the Wildlife Team because the birds may have been illegally taken from the wild or stolen.

If you buy a bird from someone in another state you must already hold a NSW Native Animal Keeper Licence and you must get a licence to transport animals interstate.

You will need appropriate housing for your new pet bird(s). You’ll also need to know about the basic needs of birds:

  • access to food, water, fresh air and natural light
  • enough space to fly
  • protection from weather, predators, toxic substances and diseases
  • identification and treatment of injury or disease.

Aviaries, cages and enclosures must comply with the health and building regulations of your local council.

Anyone licensed to keep birds should become familiar with the Code of Practice for the Keeping and Trading of Birds. This code sets out standards for the housing, feeding, handling and transport of birds held in pet shops or private collections.

Beak and feather disease is a virus that affects parrots and their relatives. It is often fatal. Further information is available on beak and feather disease.

All bird keepers, except those who hold a Companion Animal Keeper Licence or those keeping one of the species of exempt birds, must, by law, keep a record of their animal(s).

Find out more about keeping records.

If you no longer want your pet bird(s) you can rehome it with someone who does. You can:

  • return it to the licensed pet shop you bought the animal from
  • sell it to another licensed bird keeper
  • give it to a care group who will contact OEH regarding rehoming
  • take it to a vet to have it euthanised.

You cannot release your native bird(s) into your backyard or the bush as this is an offence, is bad for the welfare of your animal and can impact native wildlife populations.

Sick or injured birds

If you find an injured, sick or orphaned native bird you are not allowed to keep it as a pet.

Specialist wildlife rehabilitation groups are licensed to care for these birds. You can join one of these groups and take the training required to care for sick or injured native animals so they can be returned to the wild.