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More Bird Care Tips

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Bird cage size and location

The size of a bird’s cage depends on the size of the bird, with the exception of finches, canaries, budgies (parakeets), and parrotlets. Because these species tend to have a high activity level the required a large cage despite their small size. Working the birds flight muscles will keep the birds active, strong and healthy. When choosing the size of cage for larger parrots there are many things to consider: room for the bird to stretch their wings and move around without hitting everything, room for toys, perches, food dishes, etc. For your birds safety, the bigger the cage the better. Wider is also better then tall and narrow because birds fly from side to side.

The size of the bar spacing on the cage is another important factor. The spacing should be small enough where your pet bird will not get their head, wings or body caught between the bar and end up injuring itself.

You should provide perches of difference widths, textures and diameters to help keep the birds feet in good condition. It is best to place the perches at different heights, and be sure that they are not over food bowls.

You will be cleaning the cage regularly so take into consideration the size, shape and material that the cage is made off. Simple shape cages are easier to clean and care for. Cages made of stainless steel or powder coated metal are good quality and last longer than acrylic or plastic. Wide doors not only make it easier to change toys and getting the bird out but also give you easy access to clean inside the cage. Cages with trays that can be pulled out are great because you can layer newspaper on the bottom of the tray, removing the dirty newspaper daily and cleaning the tray itself weekly.

Don’t under estimate your new bird, some of them are smart enough to pick the latch and let themselves out of their own cage. Make sure your new cage has a latch that you bird will not pick open.

Microchipping your bird will help you recover your pet in the case your bird does get loose or is stolen. Animal Lovers Pet Shop offers microchipping service every third Sunday of the month.

Cage placement is important. Your bird needs to be in a place where activities are so that they feel as if they are part of the flock. However, they also need a place in the cage where they can have their privacy.  Avoid placing the cage directly in front of a window. This creates an environment in which if faced with a predator (larger bird) your bird will become stressed which might even cause feather plucking.  The cage should also be placed at or below eye level and away from drafts.  For your birds safety do not place the cage next to or near the kitchen. Not only are the fumes dangerous, but the chances of your bird flying into a kitchen and getting seriously hurt are greater.

Toys

Many people do not realize how intelligent birds really are and how bored they can become when they are not being stimulated mentally or physically. Toys are important for birds. They provide exercise, mental stimulation and relief from boredom. Without this stimulation birds could develop serious health and psychological problems. Cage time for a bird is unavoidable, so be sure to have a variety of toys in the cage. Remember these basic rules.

Birds in the wild experience a wide variety of colors, textures and sounds. Mimicking this variety with different toys will help keep your bird healthy and happy. Toy made out of various textures will keep them interested and stimulate their mouth and feet. Birds love to chew and shred, it’s not just fun but great exercise and keeps their beaks in good condition. Since birds have a wide spectrum of colors choose toys that are brightly colored. Also remember to pick toys that are different shapes and appropriate sizes, these will be both visually and physically stimulating to your bird. Toys that have bells or make different sounds are appealing to your bird because they like noise. To birds quiet is a danger.

In the wild a bird does not have someone bringing them their food. Birds are very active and busy spending time flying around searching and foraging for food. They get exercise from spending time digging, scratching and chewing to uncover nuts or seeds. Hiding food can encourage your bird to forge. Food and forging toys can be randomly placed in different locations. It is best to start out simply and make it more complex over time. This will keep your bird interested and challenged. Birds prefer forging than being brought the food in the same dish day after day.

Remember when choosing toys to pick the appropriate size toy for the type of bird. Having a wrong size toy can be dangerous, for example a small bird could easily get tangled up, or even end up under one of these toys. So for their safety, choose the right size and check them often for any damage. They may end up hurting your bird. To make thing interesting, rotate the toys often, this will keep your bird from becoming bored with the same thing each day.

Grooming

The number one reason to keep your birds wings clipped is for their safety. Any loud noise or sudden movement can scare your bird. This could cause your bird to fly into windows or walls and seriously hurt itself. No matter how cautious you think you are, it only takes one time for a bird to fly out an open door or window never to be seen again. We recommend for birds to be groomed every six to eight weeks.

Nails should be trimmed at the same time that the wings are clipped. Long nails can easily get caught in toys, sweaters, cages and hurt your bird. Cockatiels and larger should also have their beak trimmed periodically.

A full bath not just misting is recommended for each bird. Most birds will bath in their water dish or you can provide them a bird bath. Some people take their birds into the shower with them. We recommend bring your bird in for a bath: full shampoo and blow dry.

Social interaction

Parrots are flock animals; they need companionship and social interaction. Of course the best companionship for a bird is another bird. This does not mean that you cannot have a single bird. What you need to do is treat a single bird as if they are part of your flock, it is important to their emotional well-being. Parrots are very social in that they do many activities together such as eating, traveling, playing etc.

Try to make your bird part of your flock by including him/her in your routine activities. Interact with your bird as if he/she is an equal member of the family. Greet them as if you would greet another member of the family. Establish fun times, in which you play games, sing or talk with each other. If you are in another room and you bird calls out to you, acknowledged your bird by responding back to him/her.  Include your bird in on meal time. It is a great way to mimic flock behavior and encourage your bird to eat healthy food.

It is also important to spend some quality one on one time with your bird. You should spend at least a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes twice a day where you give your bird your full attention. You could do this first in the morning then again in the evening. There should be no distractions like the TV or computer, turn these off! You can spend this time playing games or training your bird.
A socialized bird develops self confidence, outgoing, playful, have independence skill and adjust well to change. It is not uncommon for birds that do not get the social interaction that is needed to develop bad behaviors such as neediness, screaming, plucking, mutilation and aggressiveness.

Vet/Health

As with any pet, your bird may get sick or need medical attention. A normal veterinarian may not be able to handle the medical issues that are related to birds, so you should find an avian vet for your bird. You can do this by asking at your local breeder, bird store, or friends that have birds for recommendations. It is best to do this before any kind of emergency happens. Keep in mind that it may cost you more than you anticipate so it would be best to put aside money for possible future medical costs.

To be prepared for an emergency, have on hand an emergency Avian First Aid Kit which includes: bottle of Styptic Powder, latex gloves, saline wash, peroxide, sterile gauze bandage, scissors, locking forceps, antiseptic wipes and towelettes,  gauze pads, cottons swabs, adhesive tape, hand wipe, and a card with your avian vets name, address and phone number.
You can put together your own or purchase one at our store. As part of the kit you should also have a carrier, heating pad and towel in case you need to transport you bird. Also educated yourself as much as possible, read as much as you can to learn about you bird.

There are some common emergencies that you may be able to deal with yourself. The following website covers some of these: http://www.avianenrichment.com/health_firstaid.htm

The signs of healthy bird are:

  • Clear, bright eyes
  • Clear cere
  • Clear vent
  • Clean, smooth laying feathers
  • Eats throughout the day
  • Normal droppings
  • A curious and active disposition

Sign of things to watch for:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased activity and grooming behavior
  • Change in droppings in excess of two days
  • Sitting at the bottom of cage
  • Discharge from nose or mouth; frequent sneezing
  • Feathers fluffed for prolonged periods of time
  • Sleeping more then usual

If you notice any of the signs described above, consult your Avian Veterinarian.

Even more information about raising your bird: Love Birds Ingredients to the Loving Love Bird