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Caring for Pet Birds

Category Birds
Pet bird in a cage.
Having a healthy environment for your bird will keep it well and happy. This guide is about caring for pet birds.
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January 25, 2010

I don't see many tips or articles about birds on this website, and thought that it might be helpful to give some general guidelines about basic bird care. At one time, I was a first-time bird owner, and even the most basic information was something that would have been a blessing to me at that time.

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Tips For A Happy, Healthy Parrot (or pet bird)

  1. Birds are flock animals, they are very social. They need out-of-cage time every day. If they do not get the socialization that they need from their human flock, they tend to scream, feather-pluck, bite, and become fearful, and cage-bound.

  2. Birds need as large a cage as you can afford. Most birds stay in their cage most, if not all, of the day, and need as much room to move around in as possible.

  3. Birds need their cage environment to be as clean as you can keep it. Birds carry yeast in their bodies like people do, and can get yeast infections from a dirty cage. Another illness that birds are prone to is bacterial infections. Both of the illnesses can be greatly reduced or eliminated if the cage is kept clean.

  4. Birds need a nutritious diet; seeds are not recommended for the main diet anymore. It is like feeding your bird potato chips every day. Every article that I have ever read, recommended fresh fruits and vegetables as the main part of a bird's diet, however, most vets recommend 80% pelleted diet, with 20% supplemented fruits and vegetables. Seeds are for treats only.

  5. Birds also need access to clean, fresh water. Birds don't have a lot of moisture in their mouths, and often dip their food in water to provide moisture. Their water supply gets murky from the food dropped in it; it needs to be checked several times daily, and changed frequently if needed.

  6. Birds need toys to play with. They stay most of the day in their cage; they need to have something to do. In the wild, birds forage for their food. We have taken this activity away from them when we put them in a cage. If they can't find toys to chew on, they will start to feather-pluck, and self-mutilate.
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    Birds keep their beaks in condition by chewing on things, the bigger the bird, the bigger the chew-toys need to be. Macaws can easily chew through 2X4 pieces in a day. Plenty of chew toys will greatly improve your bird's disposition and health. And healthy birds mean lower vet bills. (My average for a vet visit to an avian vet is between $200 - $300, and I am owned by 6 birds. )

    Bird toys can be anything from baby toys, to scrap pieces of wood, (make sure not pressure-treated). Also, paper towel rolls, old paperback books, small limbs from fruit trees, a water bottle suspended from the top of their cage, with nuts or something along those lines inside. (birds love to forage for their food).

    Pine cones smeared lightly with peanut butter, and rolled in grains, (oatmeal, rice, barley, etc.), make very good foraging materials and toys all in one. Don't smear the peanut butter too thick, you don't want your bird to choke.

    You can drill holes in baby blocks and string them on a piece of wire, and hang from the top of the cage. (If you use rope or something that the bird can chew through easily, it won't last very long. Perches can be made from wooden dowels, or small pieces of bamboo, but expect these items to be chewed on as well, after all, it IS the bird's job to chew.

  7. Baths are good for the bird as well. A dirty bird might start to preen to get the dirt off his feathers, and wind up doing damage to his feathers, and possibly his skin, as a result of trying to get clean. If all else fails, a bird will attempt to bathe in his water bowl. Bathing is similar to exercise in terms of the way the bird's metabolism is stimulated, challenged, and subsequently relaxed. In a dry climate a bird should be very wet at least several times weekly.

A happy bird is a more healthy bird, and not only will it cost less to have a healthy bird, but you, as the bird owner, will not be all stressed out when your "FID" (feathered kid) is sick. It's not fun to try to get medicine past that fearsome beaky-boo, and down a Moluccan Cockatoo's throat. :)

By one.of.a.kind from Locust Fork, AL

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Comment Was this helpful? 6

June 18, 2010

My daughter made a lanyard for her phone using beads and chain. Recently, her Masked Indian Ringneck (MIR) parakeet was chewing on her lanyard and managed to get one of the beads off of the chain.

She kept hiding it under her tongue so we couldn't get it out; I finally managed to get her to open her beak large enough that I could blow hard and the bead flew out. Something that small could get caught in the bird's crop, and have to be surgically removed. We were very lucky with 'dita, that both of us were sitting on the couch with her when this incident happened.

By one.of.a.kind from AL

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June 1, 2010

When it comes to clipping wings and trimming nails and beaks on pet birds, my vet recommends that you bring the bird in and let the vet do the dirty deed. Birds can hold a grudge for a LONG time for one thing, but it is critical in some cases that it be done by an experienced avian veterinarian.
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Birds have sensitive beaks and, if trimmed wrong, it can affect their ability to eat, not to mention the pain if the beak has to heal. Their beaks have a generous blood supply so there is also the risk of severe blood loss. Toenails have a "quick", that is very sensitive, and if cut into, bleeding can be a huge problem. Also, if a blood feather is accidentally cut during wing-clipping, there is a possibility of tremendous blood loss. Incorrect wing-clipping can cause a bird to fall heavily when trying to glide down, causing possible broken bones. I have a Congo African Grey who is permanently crippled because of this.

I have seen the results of these errors since I have been volunteering at Avian Rescue. I have an Avian Vet who only charges $35 to do wings, nails, and beak. It is worth every penny to me to let the vet be the bad guy.

By one.of.a.kind from AL

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By 1 found this helpful
April 18, 2011

I recently received my Drs. Foster and Smith mail order catalog and was looking into purchasing a travel carrier for my birds. The weather is getting nice and it would be great for them to join me outside in their carriers while I work in the garden. However, the prices nearly gave me a stroke!

Then I had a brainstorm. I went to my local Petco and found a smaller Cockatiel cage that my African Grey Parrot would fit into. It cost $30, opposed to a $60 model with similar measurements. Now, she can join me on the deck as I work on my garden.

By JenniP from Lincoln, NE

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By 1 found this helpful
August 29, 2013

When running through a self cleaning cycle, the oven will get abnormally hot. Birds can be very sensitive to the fumes omitted during the self cleaning cycle.

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February 7, 20170 found this helpful

The calcium in crushed egg shells can be beneficial to your indoor pet birds and even the chickens themselves. This is a guide about eggshells for birds.

A pile of cracked eggshells on a white background.

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July 12, 20140 found this helpful

This is a guide about stocking an avian emergency kit. Birds like other pets may at times need emergency first aid, either to easily treat a manageable injury or illness or until you can get to the vet.

red first aid bag

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