Information on Proper Pet Bird Care:
Your bird's diet is one of the most important considerations of its
overall care. Adequate feeding plans may be developed from a wide variety
of commonly available foods, or formulated diets specially prepared
for birds by commercial companies may be offered. Ask your avian veterinarian
for recommendations on feeding your bird.
A healthy bird can tolerate temperatures that are comfortable to its
owner, but sudden changes in temperature may be a potential threat.
Pet birds can adapt to a wide range of humidity levels, although birds
native to subtropical climates may benefit from localized increased
humidity in the home (e.g., in bathroom with running shower or frequent
spraying of the feathers with water).
Light and Fresh Air
Opportunities for supervised access to fresh air and direct sunlight
(not filtered through glass) appear to be beneficial, as long as shade
is available and precautions are taken to prevent escape.
The largest cage that can be accommodated in the home is recommended
for birds that are expected to be confined most of the time. The cage
must be strong enough to resist bending or dismantling by the bird,
made of non-toxic material, and designed for safety and ease of cleaning.
In most cases, the cage would need to be wider than it is tall to accommodate
stretched wings; however, ample height should be provided for long-tailed
birds. Too large a cage can also cause stress for a bird.
Optimum perches are clean, easily replaceable, appropriately-sized,
natural wood branches from pesticide-free and non-toxic trees (e.g.,
Northern hardwoods, citrus, eucalyptus, Australian pine).
A single, well-placed perch may be adequate for agile climbers like
psittacines because they tend to prefer the highest perch, even if more
are provided. Two perches, one on each end of the cage, should be available
for species such as finches, which prefer flying or jumping to climbing.
A perch should be placed to prevent droppings from contaminating the
bird's food or water and to prevent the bird's tail from contacting
food, water or the floor of the cage.
Perch Diameters should vary. Uniform perches can put pressure on the
bird's feet and lead to disease.
Food and Water Bowls
The use of wide bowls rather than deep cups displays food attractively
and may encourage the bird to eat new items. Healthy psittacines with
normal ambulatory skills can easily approach the food and water bowls;
therefore, it is not necessary in these cases to place bowls directly
beside the perch. Birds often overeat or chew on food dishes out of
A daily cleaning of the cage floor and bowls prevents problems with
food spoilage and alerts the owner to potential signs of illness. A
weekly, thorough cleaning of the cage is suggested.
Newspapers, paper towels, or other plain cage liner paper may be preferred
over wood chips, chopped corn cobs, kitty litter, or sand as cage substrate,
so that the appearance and number of the droppings can be monitored
on a daily basis. Substrate should ideally be below a wire barrier so
the bird does not have direct access.
Many birds benefit from the availability of a retreat inside the cage
for a sense of privacy (e.g., paper bag, towel, nest box).
In appropriate species, opportunities may be provided for exercise in
the form of supervised freedom from the cage.
Pet birds are intelligent, active animals whose psychological needs
should be addressed. Locate the cage near family activity in the home.
Toys provide diversion, as do a variety of foods. Seeds pushed into
an apple or orange presents a bird with entertainment, challenge, and
food all at the same time. use your own imagination, keeping within
safe perameters, and provide entertainment for your pet birds.
Toys are useful as mental diversions and tend to encourage physical
exercise and beak wear; however, they must be selected with safety of
the bird in mind. "Chewable" items include branches, pine
cones, rawhide dog chews, natural fiber rope, and soft white pine.
Minimal body care is required for the healthy, well-fed pet bird. Confined,
indoor pet birds that resist a varied diet require more attention in
the care of the beak, nails, feet and feathers.
During the molting of feathers, additional fat, protein and vitamins
may be required in the diet. As a new feather develops, the bird may
pick at the pin feather cover to open it. This should not be interpreted
as "feather picking" or the presence of mites. Pure water
is the most appropriate feather spray.
Keep feathers dry and free of oily substances. Soiled feathers may be
gently cleaned with a mild detergent solution (e.g., baby shampoo) followed
by thorough warm water rinsing and drying.
Wing clip may be desired to prevent escape or injury, or for taming
and training. Your veterinarian can advise you on wing clipping.
It may be wise to remove open leg bands to prevent injury. If a closed
band must remain on the leg for identification purposes, check under
the band occasionally for signs of dirt accumulation, swelling, or constriction
of the leg.
A regular visit to an avian veterinarian for a routine health examination
is advised in order to detect potential problems early.
Things to Avoid
* Sandpaper-covered perches.
* Air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, insecticides, and toxic fumes
from over-heated Teflon-coated utensils.
* Mite boxes or mite sprays.
* Easily dismantled toys such as balsa wood, small link chain items,
toys with metal clips or skewers, or those with lead weights.
* Access to toxic houseplants, ceiling fans, cats, dogs, young children.
* Access to cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated pine chips as cage substrate.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON BIRD CARE PLEASE VISIT: Association
of Avian Veterinarians
to Health Info