Things You Can Do to make Your Birds Healthy?
Parrots are interesting creatures. They hide signs of illness, contract diseases we can’t even test for and baffle us with their dietary requirements.
Here are some easy ways to keep your bird happy and healthy.
Know your bird!
Know his daily habits, including
- eating (how much and how often),
- molting schedule,
- general disposition,
- dropping frequency,
- and appearance.
Newspaper, paper towels, or wax paper are preferable cage lining compared to corn cob-type bedding.
Any subtle change in your birds’ daily habits should cause concern.
Don’t feel silly about taking your bird to the vet because she is singing less, eating less, sleeping more, etc.
Weigh your bird regularly!
A gram scale is an invaluable tool for keeping track of your bird’s health.
Because birds instinctively hide illness, a drop in weight can be your early warning sign that something is wrong.
Young birds (a year or less) should be weighed daily.
Baby birds will generally lose a significant amount of weight in between weaning and fledging, which is normal.
However, you should still check with the bird’s vet to determine if the amount of loss is normal.
For older birds (over a year or so), a 10% weight loss indicates a problem.
Don’t allow your bird to wander around, even supervised.
Birds are similar to toddlers – they will put anything that is moving and fits in their mouths.
Even supervised, birds can ingest things from your carpet, get stepped on, chew on paint or power cords, or worse.
Keep birds in large cages and aviaries, on play gyms and perches, or on your body.
Be careful not to let birds chew on jewelry that could contain harmful metals like lead or zinc.
Always be aware when you have a bird out — always monitor doors/windows to prevent accidental escape.
Feed a nutritious diet.
Variety is key. I prefer to use pellets that do not contain any preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.
Fresh foods should also be provided, especially vegetables. Veggies high in Vitamin A and Calcium should always be offered.
Avoid salt, sugar, and human foods that are unhealthy. Know what foods are toxic to birds (avocado, chocolate, caffeine, etc).
Seed is usually considered ok for about 1/3 or less of the diet, but it should never be a bird’s total diet.
Be careful with supplements. Always take avian vetenerian consultation before using or administeing them.
Make sure your pet bird takes enough sleep.
Most birds are equatorial, meaning that in their wild environment, they would be getting 12 hr of light and 12 hr of the dark.
In your home, they should still be getting 9-12 hours of sleep.
Lack of sleep can cause behavior problems such as screaming and aggression.
A cage placed in a silent room during the night is the best way to make sure your pet bird gets the desired rest it needs.
Provide your bird’s social and intellectual needs.
Most people think that keeping a single bird who is bonded to people is the best way to keep birds.
Did you know that in the wild, exotic birds are often with each other 24 hours a day? Can you provide this kind of social interaction for your bird? Probably not.
For the well-being of your bird, consider keeping bonded pairs of birds, but do not allow them to breed; there are enough birds in need of loving homes already, we don’t need more.
Birds who have other birds around are usually happier and better adjusted to life in captivity than those who depend upon humans for their social needs.
Be sure to also provide a variety of toys to keep your parrot occupied during the day.
Keep your birds safe in your home.
Wing clipping, once considered a “necessary evil” of keeping birds in homes, is now being re-evaluated.
A bird should be allowed to fledge safely so that she develops confidence, balance, and muscle strength.
Birds were designed for flight, but you must take necessary precautions with a flighted bird.
Ceiling fans, windows, mirrors, open doors, other pets, pots of boiling water are dangers that a fully-flighted bird can encounter.
Many birds are lost when their caretaker absent-mindedly leaves her house with her bird still on her shoulder.
If you choose to keep birds in your home, please consider building or purchasing a large aviary.
Birds should not be allowed outdoors unless in a secure cage, aviary, carrier, or harness.
Get regular veterinary care from an avian vet.
It is expensive, but that cost should be factored into the total cost of the bird plus all supplies when deciding to adopt a bird.
If you cannot afford vet care, you cannot afford a bird.
Quarantine all new birds.
Your new bird should be taken immediately to the vet, and he or she will tell you how long to quarantine.
The average time is 30-90 days. Birds can carry illnesses that may not show up immediately on blood tests.
Also, make sure your existing birds are healthy to avoid giving the new bird any infections or diseases.
Nearly all bird diseases are airborne. Be sure to wash thoroughly, and change shoes and clothes after handling other birds before handling your own birds.
Keep your bird warm.
Most birds are fine as long as the temperature is constant and doesn’t fluctuate too drastically.
Remember that birds cannot put on another sweater or blanket if they get cold.
Most birds are comfortable at temperatures humans are -70-80 degrees.
You can purchase a heat-emitter that can attach to your birds’ cage.
A heating pad draped over one side of the cage may also help, just be sure nothing can be chewed on from inside the cage.
Sick birds will need more heat – your vet will tell you how warm to keep a sick bird.
In general, birds kept in captivity do not need to be kept in near-tropical conditions.
Just keep your birds away from cold drafts from windows/air conditioners.
Keep your bird’s environment clean and safe.
Inspect all toys, perches, play gyms, etc. regularly for loose parts, frays, sharp edges, etc.
Food and water dishes should be cleaned at least once a day, as well as the cage grate and cage/aviary bars.
Use a disinfectant such as Oxyfresh or Citricidal, since these are non-toxic and will kill bacteria and viruses when used properly.
Cage paper should be changed daily. Old food can also present problems and cause fungal infections.
Birds in the wild are not accustomed to exposure to their own droppings, which can be inhaled when dried and cause illness.
Make sure all toys are appropriate for your bird’s size. Birds larger than a cockatiel should not be given toys with key-ring type or dog chain type attachments on them. Larger birds can get their beaks caught in these.
Rope perches should be replaced frequently to prevent birds from injuring themselves on frays and loose strings.
Any natural tree branches used should not have pesticides or insects on them.
Be sure anything your bird has access to does not contain harmful metals like lead and zinc.
Keep your birds out of the kitchen.
Smoke, steam, strong odors, fumes from overheated non-stick cookware, open pots of water or oil, hot burners, etc, can all injure or kill your bird.
Don’t expose your bird to toxic fumes.
Don’t smoke around your bird. Birds have extremely delicate respiratory systems.
Avoid using the following items
- Candles (especially scented ones),
- incense sticks,
- non-stick cookware (which, when heated to high temperatures,
- will emit fumes that can kill your bird very quickly),
- room fresheners, perfumes,
- or any other strong substance that can be inhaled by your bird.
Whatever a bird breathes is circulated through the bird’s entire body.
Bathe your bird!
Daily or weekly showers are often relished by most parrots and will help to control dust and dander, as well as provide needed moisture to parrots who may be prone to feather picking.
Heavy powder down species may need drenching (to the skin) baths daily.
All birds have different preferences with bathing; some prefer spray bottles, others prefer a dish of water, others enjoy a good soaking in the shower with you.
Experiment and don’t give up until you find out what your bird enjoys.
There is so much information available now that we have no excuse not to understand all of what our birds need.
Be sure to check copyright dates on books and publications, as certain theories about parrots have changed throughout the years.
I prefer publications no more than two years old.
The internet is an excellent source of information, but take all advice with a grain of salt. Search out respected names and official sites.
Birds kept singly are completely dependent upon you for their physical and emotional needs.
You owe it to them to be as knowledgeable as possible regarding their care.
Don’t rely solely on your vet or on one bird book to tell you everything you need to know to keep your bird healthy.
Become a researcher and educate yourself. Your bird will love you for it.
Hi, I am Rex Graham, An Avid Bird lover and an Avian Expert; BirdsNews.com is here to help you learn and care about pet birds. and this blog is a journal of everything I’ve learned.