Caring For your pet bird

There are a huge variety of birds available as pets. Each variety has unique characteristics, colours, sizes, temperament and special needs so it’s important that you learn and gather as much information as possible. This will help you choose the right bird for your needs and also cater adequately for the bird’s needs too.

Some birds like handling but others don’t. All birds are enjoyable to watch, listen to and have around. Some birds are great talkers, others have a beautiful song and some bring endless fun antics to each day.

Learn all you can about the type of bird you are getting. Equipped with knowledge and understanding, you will have a better idea of what to expect. You'll then be able to provide the pet bird care it needs and the result will be maximum enjoyment with

Buying a bird is a serious commitment for at least five years but some birds can even live as long as you! Keep in mind the following helpful checklist when making your decision:

  • Feeding: The most important thing you as a pet owner can do for your bird is ensure they are eating a balanced diet.  With birds and the variety of species being kept as pets this concept needs to be adapted to each species but he underlying principle is balance. Fresh water is essential to a bird’s life and must be replenished frequently in hot weather or if it becomes fouled.  (plese refer to our Nutrition tab for more detailed information).

  • Housing: Suitable housing is another important consideration for your pet bird.  The width and length of the cage are important.  Birds tend to sit at the top where-ever they are, so a tall thin cage restricts the bird to a cramped area at the top as they tend to seldom use the lower portions of the cage.  Remember birds fly and hope side to side not vertically, so they need space for their normal movements.  The cage with the bigges floor area rather than volume is the better one to look at aquiring.  With smaller bird like finches, canaries and budgies make sure the width of the bars are suitable as larger cages with have wider gaps between the bars.

  • Perching: Natural branches are preferable rather than uniform sticks or plastic perches as they offer a variety of size and texture.  When deciding the size of perch, your birds toes should only go half way around the perch.  If their nails almost meet under the perch it should be considered to small.  Having a bit of variety in size is also good to stimulate more movement of the toes as they move around and to change pressure points on the underside of their feet. 

          IMPORTANT: Ensure any natural perches are from non toxic trees.  Fruit trees and eucalyptus are all considered safe.

  • Nesting: Many birds enjoy nesting.  Conures, lovebirds and lorikeets especially love climbing inside things so "cloth hammocks" and similar constructions are good for them to sleep and play in.  Finches also like sleeping in nests but usually they prefer more conventional wooden "box" nests.

  • Enrichment: Enrichment iss essentil for your birds health.  Toys of various varieties are available.  Small birds like budgies like small plastic toys and mirrors to play with.  Chew toys such as small branches off most fruit trees or eucalypts for parrots are appreciated.  Forraging toys are a great way to entertain your parrot.  There are various ones available to buy, but you can make your own. For example:  The simplest design is to hide a favoured treat inside some tissue paper in an old toilet roll.  Initially show them you are hiding the treat and help them find it but once they know that a treat is hidden inside you can start taping it up more and more so it takes longer to get through to the treat.                                                 

  • Health care routine: Dr Brett recommends an annual health check.  (see out annual health check tab to see whats involved)

  • Protection: At night the cage should be covered over to permit the bird to rest and to protect it from draughts. Should the cage be placed outside the house at any time, it must be in a position that is safe from predators - cats and wild birds – that could scare or directly injure the bird. Birds should not be left in the sun without shade and should be protected from overheating on hot days.

  • Cleaning: A tray on the floor of the cage will collect excreta and should be removed each day and thoroughly cleaned. The cage itself should be easy to scrub out, while water and food troughs and perches should be easily removable for cleaning purposes.

  • Handling: It is important to train your bird to be handled, especially to permit examination for signs of ill-health. Begin by letting them become accustomed to being handled in the cage. Soon they will become finger-tame, and then they may be able to be handled outside the cage. It will require a good deal of patience and gentleness when handling birds, especially canaries.

© 2018 by Southcoast Animal Hospital

35 Saltfleet Street, Port Noarlunga, SA 5167