Although dogs are the most common pets, birds are also excellent companions. The domestication of birds dates back thousands of years to the ancient Romans. And in the Middle Ages, various animals were kept as pets, including birds.
Birds are intelligent, very social, and love interaction. They also like companionship. Caring for a pet bird is not unlike caring for any other pet animal. They need to be fed and have proper housing. Health and hygiene are essential. Specifics do exist however, so the following ten tips can help you care for your pet bird.
7. Do your homework
Doing your research before getting a bird as a pet is important. Birds have long lifespans (some more than 50 years), so not only do you need to commit to caring for them, but you also need to consider having a plan for their care if they outlive you.
Popular pet birds such as African grey parrots, Amazon parrots, Canaries, Cockatiels, Cockatoos, Finches, Lorikeets, Macaws, Parakeets, and all other parrots make great companions, but require specialized care depending on their species. Most parrot species are long-lived but get bored quickly and need constant interaction and mental stimulation, while canaries and finches are pretty low maintenance.
On the other hand, cockatiels are good pets for families who have children, cockatoos require a lot of attention and macaws need their beaks trimmed regularly.
6. Bird-proof your home
Many things that are common in your home can be unsafe for birds. The best thing to do is to ask your vet for advice before bird-proofing your home. Some things you want to make sure you keep out of reach from your feathered companion include medicines, sharp objects, small objects, and plastic bags. You also need to watch them around fans, mirrors, and windows.
Vapors and fumes are dangerous for birds. They can irritate the birds' delicate respiratory systems and cause ongoing health problems, even death. This includes aerosol products, air fresheners, candles, cleaning supplies, cooking fumes, oils, perfumes, and paint vapors. Cigarette smoke is the most dangerous of all. The smoke will settle in their air sacs, causing blood pressure to rise and, over time, damage their heart and lungs.
Houseplants can also be poisonous to birds. Unsafe plants include amaryllis flowers, lilies, and shamrocks. If you own any of these, place them somewhere you know your bird will never go. Safe plants for birds include the African violet or spider plants.
5. Give them a balanced diet
Birds need a balanced diet comprising of approximately 80% bird pellets, 20% fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds should be limited, if not avoided altogether. Birds need food rich in calcium and protein, while also low in fat. They also need plenty of clean, fresh water.
Good fruit and vegetable choices include:
- Bean sprouts
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
Avoid avocado, chocolate, fruit pits and seeds, garlic, onion, and peanuts. Also, watch out for high-fat, high-sodium, and high-sugar foods.
4. Provide proper housing and environment
Birds need a cage, and preferably a big one. It needs to be tall enough for them to stretch and stand comfortably in, and wide enough to stretch and flap their wings fully. The cage should be made of stainless steel, and can be lined with butcher paper, grocery bags, or newspaper. Lining with corn cobs and wood chips should be avoided. Ceramic and metal work best for food and water bowls, as plastic can be too slippery and messy. Keep their food and water bowls high so their food doesn't get contaminated.
You need to keep the cage away from air conditioners and heaters. A comfortable room temperature for birds is between 65 and 85 degrees. You should also keep their cage in a room the family often frequents so they feel like they are part of the family.
3. Hygiene is important
Birds need to bathe and groom themselves regularly to help with their skin and feather health. You can leave a shallow water dish in or near their cage for bathing. You can also assist them with bathing by giving them a shower underneath the sink faucet or spritzing them with fresh water from a spray bottle.
2. Birds need exercise
It's just as important for birds to exercise as it is for humans, and exercise can be a bonding experience for you and your bird. Here are some exercises you may want to try with your bird:
1. Proper veterinary care is essential
Not only is it imperative that your bird sees a veterinarian regularly, but it should be a board-certified avian vet to ensure your bird is getting the best care so it will live a long, happy, and healthy life. They can also recommend specific behavioral and nutritional needs for your bird based on its species.