While different species of birds have different needs, there are a few general commonalities when caring for a pet bird. Today, our Boulder County veterinary team shares a few pointers on how to care for a pet bird.
Being a Responsible Bird Owner
Birds are remarkable creatures that are as diverse in their coloration as they are in their size, lifespan, and socialization needs. Being a good caregiver to a pet bird requires some thorough research before choosing an avian pet, then plenty of love and devotion once your new feathered family member comes home.
It is important to note that the lifespan of birds ranges from 8 years to an incredible 80 years or more! Choosing a breed that fits your lifestyle and your commitment to being a bird caregiver is therefore critical. If you have never owned a bird before, choosing a relatively easy bird to care for, such as a budgie, will provide you with an excellent opportunity to learn about what is involved in caring for an avian pet.
Parrots such as Macaws, African Greys, and other large, long-lived birds do best with experienced owners with ample time to spend caring for and socializing with them.
That said, if you are eager to begin caring for a pet bird of your own, here are a few basic tips:
Feeding Your Pet Bird
This is where your research should begin. Once you have chosen a species to care for you will need to learn the specific dietary needs of that species. Different birds have different nutritional requirements and will of course need differing amounts of food to stay healthy.
Pet birds typically do well on a mixture of high-quality breed-specific pellets, a small number of dried seeds, and a good variety of fresh green vegetables along with other fruits and veg. Speak to your avian vet to learn more about what you should feed your specific feathered friend.
Avoid feeding your bird dried seed alone, junk food, or candy since these could harm the health of your bird.
Caring For Your Bird at Home
Choose an appropriate cage that is as large as you can manage in your space. The more room your bird has to spread their wings and move about, the happier it will be. Speak to your breeder or vet to find out how large your bird's cage should be.
Equipe the cage with toys that are appropriate for your species, enough perches for them to rest comfortably (but not over their drinking water or food) but not too many since your bird will need room to move about.
Ensure that your pet bird always has access to fresh clean water, plenty of nutritious food, and a bath to splash in.
The cage should be placed in a sunny spot away from cold drafts. Birds should be able to enjoy the sunshine (although not direct sunlight) throughout the daytime hours, and about 10-12 hours of darkness every night. This may require a cage cover when it's time for your bird to go to sleep.
Whenever you plan to let your bird out of their cage for exercise be sure to close all windows and doors, turn off fans, and put away any foods that could be harmful to your pet.
Do not smoke around your bird, second hand smoke can harm your bird's long-term health.
The Importance of Socialization
Most species of birds are very social and will appreciate spending quality time with you.
Your bird should not be left alone in his or her cage for extended periods of time. Your pet bird, like a dog, needs to feel loved and included in the family. Keep the cage in a room where they can see what's going on and be around other people.
Whether the species you choose is able to learn words, it's important to speak to your pet bird and give it lots of attention.
Do some research on possible tricks that you could teach your bird to do, pet them gently and give them treats. You might even consider eating at the same time as your pet bird, near the cage, as a way of bonding.
Cleaning Your Bird's Cage & Toys
Remove and change your bird's cage liner daily.
Clean your bird's drinking bottle or bowl daily each time you refill it, and do the same with their food bowl, and their bath.
Each week while your bird is out of the cage enjoying exercise you can give the full cage a deep cleaning with warm water and dish soap.
Wash all of the toys, mirrors any other items your bird has access to. You may want to rotate between a different selection of toys each week to help keep your bird occupied and happy.
Be sure to clean the area outside of the bird's cage too.
Caring for Your Bird's Health
Much like a cat or a dog, your pet bird needs regular veterinary care to stay healthy and to treat any developing issues that could arise. Get to know the avian veterinarian in your area, and take your bird in for routine checkups regularly and to have their beak and nails cared for.
Your avian vet will be able to provide you with lots of advice on how best to care for your pet bird so that your feathered friend has their best shot at a long and healthy life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.