Birds are unique creatures who require special care to remain happy and healthy for their often long lifespans. Follow our 10 bird-care tips, to ensure your feathered friend remains in peak condition for years to come.
#1: Research carefully before choosing an avian species
Whether you are interested in a chatty parrot or tiny goldfinch, research your future pet carefully. Each avian species has specific habitat, diet, handling, enrichment, and care requirements that can make a world of difference to their health and happiness. Plus, you need to decide if you want to make a lifelong commitment to a macaw, or would prefer a bird with a shorter lifespan, such as a zebra finch. Before welcoming a new bird into your home, ensure they are the best fit for your lifestyle.
#2: Ensure your bird’s cage provides ample space
Your bird should be housed in as large a cage as possible—at a bare minimum, three times their wingspan—and have plenty of room to hop around, play with toys, and make short flights. Once your bird has settled into their new home and is comfortable with you, you can allow them out into a safe, enclosed room for more exercise.
#3: Offer enrichment objects to entertain your bird
Sitting in a cage all day is boring. Provide plenty of toys and enrichment objects to keep your bird entertained, and to prevent them from forming bad habits. Depending on the species, your bird may enjoy cuttlebones, bell toys, mirrors, rope toys, dangling chimes, or climbing toys. Invest in a variety of items, and rotate them regularly, to prevent boredom. Don’t forget that all birds need a comfortable perch, and objects to maintain their beak health, so research your chosen bird’s particular requirements for the best, safest options.
#4: Feed a high quality diet to meet your bird’s nutritional needs
Proper nutrition is crucial for a healthy bird. Many commercial diets are available, typically consisting primarily of seeds, but some diets may include dried fruits or vegetables. Birds have different dietary needs that depend largely on whether they are a hookbill or softbill species. In addition to seeds and nuts, your bird may enjoy fruits, vegetables, and greens, but avoid avocado, chocolate, and natural caffeine sources. Your bird may also require protein and mineral supplements, or grit, for a well-balanced diet.
#5: Always have fresh water available
Birds can be messy, dropping feathers and feces in their food and water dishes. Dirty water can lead to a sick bird, so clean out your bird’s water dish daily. Tap water delivered through lead pipes can also be risky, because fresh, high quality, uncontaminated water is essential for a healthy bird. If you’re uncertain whether your water and its potential contaminants are detrimental to birds, have a water sample tested.
#6: Clean your bird’s cage daily
Cleaning your bird’s cage daily not only eliminates the potential for unpleasant odors, but also offers the opportunity to monitor your pet’s feces. A key illness indicator in birds is a change in the color, consistency, amount, or odor of their droppings. Catching problems quickly can mean the difference between successful treatment, and a poor prognosis. Birds are also prone to falling ill because of a dirty habitat, which can harbor bacterial and viral pathogens.
#7: Handle your bird with kindness
Birds are fragile creatures with hollow bones, and must be handled gently. Avoid grabbing your bird, or squeezing too tightly, as you can easily harm your bird accidentally, or damage feathers. Patience, treats, and kindness will go a long way toward a feathered friend who perches on your shoulder, and becomes a constant companion.
#8: Avoid using toxic chemicals around your bird
Birds are highly sensitive to a variety of cleaning products, fragrances, aerosol products, and other chemicals and fumes. For example, cooking food on a non-stick pan can release acidic fumes that can poison your bird. Aerosol freshener, spray disinfectant, and insect killer fumes also can be hazardous for your feathered friend, so exercise caution with these products, or, better yet, avoid using them in your home, to keep your bird safe from toxin exposure.
#9: Learn about common diseases that may affect your bird
Birds are masters at hiding illness, so read up on common diseases that may affect your chosen species. Diseases such as psittacosis are known for infecting parrot species, while other illnesses aren’t as discriminatory. By learning about common avian diseases and their signs, you can spot illness at the first hint of a problem, and help ensure your bird makes a full recovery.
#10: Develop a relationship with your Kennedy Heights veterinarian
Although you live with your bird, and know your pet best, a Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital veterinarian’s discerning eye can pick up on subtle changes in your feathered friend’s typical appearance. As a pet owner, you may be too close to see differences in your bird, but our highly trained team is well-versed in identifying the smallest change in your pet’s health status. By building a bond with our veterinary team, we will learn your bird’s personality quirks and normal behaviors, allowing us to pick up on subtle illness or disease cues. Plus, how many people do you know who love birds as much as you? Turn to our devoted avian veterinarian, to ensure your feathered friend remains happy and healthy for many years to come.
Like cats and dogs, birds require regular wellness care to stay in tip-top shape. Give us a call to schedule your pet’s preventive appointment.