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Bringing Home a Pet Bird

August 07, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

Keeping birds is the ultimate pet because they can actually answer you when you speak!

Now that breeders take so much time to rear healthy, tame baby birds, this type of singing, talking pet is a pleasure to have around the house, although you’ll need to be diligent about the mess! Here are a few tips before bringing home a pet bird.

  • Do your homework! Get a picture bird book of breeds and species to zero in a few different species you’re interested in. Some birds are louder than others; some birds are messier than others; some birds have more talking abilities; some birds are extremely expensive while others are very common and affordable, and some birds are more aggressive and less social but more beautiful. Think about what you’re looking for in a pet as many types of birds require a lot of social interaction to remain healthy.
  • Once you’ve decided on a species, look for breeders or ads in the paper and go and visit many different birds. Breeders are also a wealth of information on the species they are breeding and can give you an indication of the behaviors of the bird you are considering.
  • Look for a healthy bird! Healthy birds have bright, smooth feathers, clear, bright eyes, and a muscular chest area. They also exhibit playful activity and may even whistle at you or perch on your finger depending upon how socialized they are. You want to choose a socialized bird, so pick one that doesn’t bite at you aggressively or jump away at the first sight of hands. Of course, you can tame baby birds easily not to act this way, but you can rarely change an adult birds reactions to humans…he is what he is. Stay away from unhealthy birds that exhibit feather picking, crusty eyes or beaks or odd inactivity. Any bird sitting on the bottom of the cage is seriously ill!
  • You should have your new bird checked out by an avian veterinarian. Call around to find out which vets will treat birds, as it is a specialty.

  • The size of the cage has to do with the size of the mature bird. The bigger the better!  You should figure that the bird must be able to spread his wings and fly across the cage as well as hop up and down from perches and fit several different toys and perches inside.
  • Be sure the cage is securely hung or safe on its stand so it cannot be knocked over by other pets or children.  The bar size should be indicated by the bird size, as overly large bar spacing will promote escape or injured wings.
  • The cage should be specifically made for pet birds and not recycled or repainted for a new bird because birds chew on these bars and can ingest or inhale paint chips, rust and other toxins that will kill your bird.
  • Keep food and water dishes anchored to the cage so your bird cannot dump them, which he would love to do!
  • Always keep a bath tub separate from the water dish because birds love to play in these and can contaminate them. All food, water dishes, and bath tubs should be rinsed out daily to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Add many types and sizes of perches. Natural sticks with the bark still on them (you can find these outside) are a great choice because birds love to chew these and the different widths and sizes stimulate healthy feet and leg muscles.  Stay away from sandpaper perch covers as they tend to cause foot sores. Cover the bottom of your cage with newspaper which is the easiest way to roll up the mess and throw it away. Birds can be quite messy and newspaper facilitates easy cleaning. Just be sure you use enough sheets that it can be easily rolled up even if it gets a little wet from bath-tubbing birds!
  • You’ll need to thoroughly clean the cage, toys, perches, and dishes by disinfecting them with a weak bleach solution of one ounce of bleach mixed with one quart or liter of water. Any plastic toys and dishes can be run through the dishwasher while the wooden ones can simply be replaced.
  • Where to put the cage? Any place in the middle of the hubbub of your house. Birds are very social and want to be in the middle of all the talking and playing. Don’t shut them away in a room with no one in it. And don’t put them near a stove in the kitchen. Accidents can happen, plus cooking fumes from non-stick cookware can harm your bird. Room temperature is usually comfortable for a bird; just keep them out of drafts.

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