Caring for Your Pet Bird

Filed Under: General Care, Birds

If you’re looking to care for a pet bird, there are so many kinds you can adopt—one to talk to you, one to play with you, one to sing to you—that there’s bound to be a perfect bird out there for you. Every species of bird has special demands and characteristics, but all birds require proper care.

You may have to seek out a veterinarian familiar enough with birds to provide you with all the answers to your questions, as well as an effective annual check up. A general practice vet may recommend a bird specialist.

Malnutrition is a major problem in pet birds. While we think of birds as mainly seed-eaters, in the wild these animals have a varied and balanced diet. In your home, a balanced bird diet should consist of 50% seed mixture, 45% nutritious vegetables, like broccoli or corn, and 5% foods high in protein (such as well-cooked meat) and fruits. Without the right diet, your bird will become inactive and his immune system will suffer.

Birds can be very picky about their food. If your pet bird will not voluntarily eat the foods he needs to maintain nutrition levels, there are several seed mixtures available that are vitamin and mineral enriched. Most of these are sprinkled with a supplement mixture, but birds won’t eat the seed husks, where the mixture may be most concentrated. Be sure to look for a mixture in which the seed husks have been removed. There are also supplements you can mix with your bird’s water.

Birds need calcium, too, so provide them with some calcium source: a cuttlebone or a mineral block can stay in the bird’s cage near their food.

If your bird’s diet includes gravel, be sure to take out the gravel portion of his food as soon as any signs of illness are apparent. Sick birds may eat too much gravel, which can only make their health problems worse.

Your bird’s cage will likely be the place he spends most of his time, so it needs to be in top shape. The feeding area should always be very clean. Fresh food should be in a separate bowl from the seed mixture, and should not be left inside the cage for more than two hours or it is likely to spoil. Always have fresh water in a clean container. Water and fresh food containers need to be washed every day; containers for dry food should be washed once a week.

Always keep your bird’s nail short to prevent accidents or breakages. Longer nails may become ensnared in nests or cage bars.

You should always exercise your bird outside of his cage, but for when he’s inside, place an extra perch or two in the cage to promote more exercise to prevent foot problems that may occur from standing in one place too long. Natural wood perches or clean branches are your best choices.

Bird-proof your surroundings before taking your bird outside the cage. Close your toilet seat and cover any open water source, such as an aquarium or fountain; you bird will be attracted to the open water and could easily drown. Similarly, don’t let your bird into the kitchen while a sink is full of water, or water or oil are boiling. Cover mirrors and windows to avoid crashes.

Unfortunately your bird will have to watch out for any larger animals in the house: dogs, cats, even ferrets can prey on your feathered pet. You should also be very aware of where your bird is in the house —possibly underfoot, or sitting on a couch cushion—to avoid harming him yourself.

Put away any cleaners or chemicals, and hide plants. Any older metal materials that may include lead should also be kept out of the way. Birds love to explore, touch and taste. They can be easily poisoned by old paint, household chemicals or poisonous plants.

Be sure to check with your veterinarian and find out the signs of illness for your particular bird, and keep a watchful eye on your new friend.

Topics: adoption

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