Looking for an outgoing, quirky, lifelong friend that is the life of the party but also a great listener? Then you should consider coming home to a pet bird! From their low-maintenance lifestyle to their intelligence, calling a bird your companion can chase away loneliness and mean a friend for life. This month’s ‘Pet Talk’ is all about the basic needs and care of birds for those who are interested in adding a feathery friend to their nest!
First things first; just like any other pet, it is important to select a breed of bird based on your lifestyle and living arrangements. Are you a first-time bird owner? Then you may want a low-maintenance and easy-to-care-for parakeet. If you live in an apartment and prefer not to receive multiple noise complaints, a green-cheeked conure may be the bird for you. If you want a true lifelong friend, some breeds of birds, such as the macaw, can live up to 80 years!
Make sure to take the time to do your research when choosing a breed to own. Also, consider your environment; while most healthy birds can tolerate temperatures that are comfortable for their owners, sudden changes in temperature and humidity can spell potential threats to your feathery friends. Birds also love fresh air and sunlight, but like any other animal, they need to be closely monitored while exposed in the outdoors.
Another extremely important necessity for any bird owner is a cage. If your bird will be confined most of the time, make sure to get the largest cage that your home can accommodate. The cage will definitely need to be wider and taller than your bird, to accommodate stretched wings and long tailfeathers, and should be made of a non-toxic material that resists being able to be dismantled by your bird and that is easy to clean. You will also want to make sure the cage contains multiple clean, easily replaceable perches that are the appropriate size based on breed to exercise your bird’s feet and keep them healthy.
Food and water dishes are a necessity, along with safe toys made specifically for birds to promote exercise, mental stimulation, and beak wear. Additionally, it is important to clean droppings from your bird’s cage at least once a week if you use a lining such as newspaper, and more often if there is no lining. If you choose to cover your bird’s cage at night, use a single-layer, lightweight, breathable fabric and only cover three sides to allow for proper ventilation.
One of the most important parts of your bird’s care, and the most misunderstood, is what type of food they need to be fed. While birdseed is great for your outdoor feeder, it won’t cut it for an everyday meal if you want your feathery friend to receive proper nutrition. We recommend a diet of bird pellets in order to provide a balanced diet. This can be supplemented with seed treats and bird-safe fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, bananas, corn, broccoli, and carrots. Avoid fruit seeds, houseplants, alcohol, and tobacco products, which are unhealthy and toxic to birds.
Proper grooming and veterinary care is where we can help. We have a special interest in birds unique to the region and can do anything from wing, beak, and nail trims to bone repair, surgery, and treating egg-bound birds. While birds make wonderful pets, it is important to realize that like other prey animals, they hide sickness well. If you notice that your bird is acting abnormally, such as sitting on the bottom of the cage, ruffling feathers consistently, trembling, or any of these symptoms, it is extremely important to bring them in to your veterinarian sooner rather than later. We are the experts here to help with your feathery friend – chirp at us today at 701.757.3500.