Assuming that you have already bought a bird, the responsibility that comes with it is the most crucial part of the process. You as the owner, have to provide for its basic needs so that it will be healthy and happy. Here you will learn practical tips as well as on how to properly care and handle your bird.
1.) Habitat and Environment
Birds need a clean, warm and mentally stimulating environment. As the owner you need to have knowledge of its habitat requirements and environmental conditions to ensure that your bird is healthy. In this section you will receive tons of information on the things you need to be aware of in order to create a great environment for your pet.
a.) Ideal Cage Size
An iron cage that is large for your bird type and rust-free is the best home. Never purchase a round cage. The basic rule of thumb is – the bigger the better!
The spacing between the bars of the cage should be no wider than ¾ of an inch. Of course, if the bars are too far apart, your bird might try to squeeze through them because they are naturally curious and they can get stuck. You don’t want that right?
b.) Cage Maintenance
Your birds cage could affect the health of your pet so it’s very important that you check it daily for any dirt, like the feces and spoiling food left in perches and cups to prevent health problems.
You should also change the cage paper every other day as well as check the metal parts & bars of your bird’s cage periodically for chipped paint and rust, because your bird will most likely chew or swallow the flaked pieces.
You should be able to clean the cage thoroughly at least once every month.
c.) Location of the Cage
After finding a cage you have to find the ideal place in your home as well. The cage should be placed in a fairly centered room, where there is interaction with people so that the bird will feel part of the flock.
The back of the cage should be located against a wall to provide security otherwise it will feel threatened and nervous if it is in direct traffic.
The cage should not be placed near the main entrance door of the house because it will feel threatened and nervous if it is in direct traffic and it would also feel disturbed and uncomfortable with new strangers.
d.) Recommended Supplies
Now that your cage is all set, you need to provide supplies to meet its needs. Here are the recommended supplies:
You will need at least 3 different perches such as wood dowel, natural branch type, a therapeutic perch or a cement perch. Having different types of perches will surely exercise the feet to prevent sores and foot related health issues.
Seeds and Pellet
You will need a good supply of packaged pellet diet, to be mixed with seed. Then you can slowly convert your bird’s diet to a majority of pellet and fresh food.
You should provide a good supplement such as cuttlebone, calcium treat or oyster shell. Avoid sugary treats like honey sticks and human junk food. Feed it treats like Nutriberries or Avi-Cakes.
You should purchase at least 3 different toys. It will allow you to interchange them in your grey’s cage to prevent boredom. Sometimes everyone needs to have fun!
e.) Grooming and Hygiene
Here are some things you need to know on how to maintain your bird’s hygiene and keep a healthy life.
Provide a misting bottle or a birdbath. All birds should be gently misted with a water bottle. Never spray the bird directly in its face.
To ensure that the oils from their skin glands, disease organisms or items such as lotions and hand creams do not transfer to your bird’s feathers, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before handling your bird.
Your bird may be ill if it seems to stop grooming and becomes dirty. Once you see this signs, contact your avian veterinarian immediately.
f.) Lighting and Temperature
Your average room temperature for your bird should not exceed 80 degrees. Avoid drafty areas that will get direct heat from sun for any portion of the day.
Cover the cage during nighttime; it blocks out any excess light and also creates a more secure sleeping place. Be careful when using fabrics as cover because your bird might rip it with its claws or beak and could likely eat it.
Never ever place the cage in the kitchen or somewhere near cooking fumes because birds are very sensitive, that even a small amount of smoke can be fatal.
2.) Diet and Feeding
Bird food preferences are mostly based on its natural habitat. Thankfully, today’s supplements have opened new and healthy options for pet owners. In this section you will be guided on how to properly feed your bird and learn the nutritional requirements they need.
a.) Nutritional Needs of Birds
Contrary to popular belief, birds do not live by seed alone! A seed only diet can be extremely dangerous because it can result in nutrient deficiency and diseases due to its limited nutrients, vitamins and minerals which could shorten life expectancy. Birds need a good quality pellet diet for it to be healthy. Like humans, birds need a balanced diet. You should be able to feed your bird with fresh vegetables especially green leafy ones as well as fruit and grain daily.
This section outlines the foods your pet will appreciate in order to meet the majority of its dietary needs.
b.) Types of Food
Birds love to eat seeds! However as mentioned earlier, you still need to offer a proper balance of fruits and vegetables because that will keep the bird’s metabolic system strong.
Vegetables are a rich source of natural fiber for the body. There are a few vegetables which is essential for birds, these vegetables not only provide fiber but also nutrition.
Just make sure they are properly washed before feeding to your pet.
Below is the list of highly recommended vegetables for many birds:
- Sweet Potato – can be served in the cooked and mashed form.
- Carrots – can be served in the boiled form
- Peppers – green, red, and yellow betters are high in vitamin C, which is essential for the bird’s immune system.
- Spinach, Broccoli and Cauliflower – can be consumed raw or cooked.
- Yellow and Butter nut squashes
- Green beans
- Peas – garden and snow
- Leaf lettuce (not head or iceberg lettuce)
Fruits are healthy and sweet, they are a natural source of sugars for birds. Below are list of fruits that are highly recommended by veterinarians.
Keep in mind that you need to get your vet’s approval before trying a new fruit.
- Dried dates
- Mango and Papaya (with skins removed)
About 5-10% of an birds diet should be bite-sized. Offer fruits and vegetables daily or every 2-3 days.
The only supplement necessary in feeding your bird is Calcium. As mentioned before, birds need Calcium.
Calcium is usually found in the form of a cuttlebone or Calcium treat that is attached inside your bird cage. You can also offer a powdered supplement such as packaged oyster shell which can be added directly to your pet’s food. Follow the instructions on the supplement package. Calcium is vital for muscle contraction, blood clotting, heart functions, bone growth and strength.
The bird should be exposed to UVB light for at least 3-4 hours a day, for optimal physiologic use of the calcium you are giving your bird.
Vitamin is definitely an important part of any diet because it fulfills body requirements but as a precaution most birds on a pelleted diet do not require additional vitamins therefore a regular medical consultation to your veterinary is highly advised to ensure that your bird is getting proper diet. Some birds are prone to vitamin A deficiencies but you should not provide vitamins without an expert’s prescription.
Fatty acids are part of a balanced diet combined with minerals, vitamins and calcium. Fatty acid intake serves as an effective skin and feather care agent. It also provides the ability to develop a better immune system so that it may survive possible common diseases among the bird family. It also plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart attacks as well as lowering the cholesterol level.
Vitamins and mineral supplement may be mixed with fruits and veggies at least once a week or as prescribed by the veterinarian.
Hydration is just as important for birds as it is for human beings especially during hot weather conditions, lack of water can lead to dehydration which can cause these birds to collapse. Your bird should be given access to clean, fresh and cool water. Do not use tap water because can cause the bird to be ill, as well as distilled water, instead use unflavored bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water. If in case, tap water is used, treat it with a de-chlorinating treatment. Inability to provide fresh water to pet birds can cause upset stomach with unbearable stomachache.
Whether the meal consists of raw or cooked food, vegetables or meat birds have a habit of drinking water after every meal which helps their digestion process.
All water given to birds for drinking, as well as water used for misting, soaking or bathing must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals.
c.) Toxic Foods to Avoid
Some foods are specifically toxic for many birds. Make sure that your bird never gets to eat one of the toxic items below and ensure that an avian veterinary checks your bird every now and then. These harmful foods is as important as selecting the right supplements and food items for your bird.
The following list of plants, fruits and beans are toxic for some birds:
- Beans: (Castor, Horse, Fava, Broad, Glory, Scarlet Runner, Mescal, Navy and Pregatory)
- Coffee (Senna)
- Coffee Bean (Rattle bush, Rattle Box & Coffee weed)
- Eucalyptus (Dried, Dyed Or Treated in floral arrangements)
- Grass: (Johnson, Sorghum, Sudan & Broom Corn)
- Marijuana (Hemp)
- Red Maple
- Umbrella Plant
- White Cedar, China
- Yellow Jasmine
Trimming Your birds Nails
Many birds have a very sharp, needle-like nails because they do a lot of climbing in the wild, and they also use these nails to dig into wood to keep them secure.
Unclipped nails can dig into the skin, leaving scratches or painful wounds to a person, only clipped to a point that the bird can perch securely and does not bother you when the bird is perched on your hand. Many people have their birds nails clipped to the point that it becomes dull and the bird can no longer grip a perch firmly. This can result to becoming more clumsy and nervous because it cannot move without slipping. This nervousness can develop into fear biting and panic attacks.
Another tip is only use a styptic powder on your bird’s nails, not the skin!
c.) Clipping Wings
We all know that birds are supposed to fly. Birds can be fairly clumsy and flying gives them confidence as well as agility, stamina, and muscle tone.
Consult a qualified veterinarian to show you the proper way in clipping a bird’s wings. A certain amount of flight feathers will be removed while leaving the smaller balancing feathers inside the wing closer to the body uncut.
It is also recommended that if your bird is a baby (only few months old), you should hold off on its first clipping until it is fully capable of flight and has developed confidence.