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Birds Info

 

Introduction

Birds are warm-blooded vertebrate animals that have wings, feathers, a beak, strong, hollow bones and no teeth. Most have powerful flight muscles. Choosing a bird as your pet can be very rewarding. Owning a pet bird can be a wonderful experience but birds are not the best pet for everyone. There are many different types of birds to choose from. It is very important to choose the right bird to fit into your lifestyle. Hand-raised babies make the best pets. Birds are intelligent, entertaining and active. Some are playful and affectionate. They will not be happy if placed in a secluded part of the house and ignored. Toys should be provided for entertainment. Select your toys with the bird’s safety in mind. Beware of toys with small parts that can come apart. Many different bird toys can be found at your local pet store. Toys should be rotated to keep the bird stimulated. Pressing seeds inside an orange or an apple can be entertaining and challenging for a bird. A bored bird is an unhappy bird. When deprived of attention or environmental stimulation they often become destructive to their surroundings and sometimes even to themselves. Most birds chew anything they can get their beaks on. This is a natural, healthy exercise for the bird. For this reason it is important to keep the house clear of dangerous items when your bird is flying free. Avoid anything made of lead such as stained glass, fishing weights, metal toys and even jewelry. Hide all electric cords and avoid poisonous houseplants. Some types of birds will overeat and chew excessively when they are not properly stimulated. Some can be trained to do simple tricks and to talk. Most birds have pleasant voices when talking or singing, but can quickly become loud and obnoxious when jealous or angry. Some types of birds are more demanding than others. Some are affectionate and will enjoy being held while others will prefer not to be. When trying to get your bird to perch on your hand, do not misunderstand an open beak aimed at your hand as an attempt to bite you. Birds almost always "test" a perch before stepping onto it, and will often touch its beak to your hand before stepping onto it. Be sure to research the different types of birds to find the one that fits into your lifestyle.

Care of Birds

Pet birds are housed in bird cages or aviaries, however it is very cruel to lock the bird up all day long. They are very intelligent and need to be let out daily. This is particularly true with larger parrots. While some types of smaller birds are less demanding of time outside the cage, it is imperative for most of the larger types to be let out several times daily. The largest cage or aviary that can be accommodated in the home should be provided. It should be wider than it is tall to allow the bird to easily stretch out its wings; ample height should be provided for long-tailed birds. The minimum width should be twice the bird's wingspan when wings are fully extended. Large parrots do best in large aviaries as opposed to cages. Be sure the bird cannot slip his head between the bars of the cage. The cage should be non-toxic and easy to clean. It should be strong enough to resist bending or dismantling by the bird. Cages should be placed at human eye level in a well-lit part of the home where there is lots of family activity. Natural sunlight is desirable but the bird should always have access to shade. Cage liners such as newspapers, paper bags or paper towels can be placed inside the cage for easier clean-up. Some use kitty litter, walnut shell, chopped corn cobs, wood chips or sand, however these are not preferred as they can promote growth of mold and fungus and can make it difficult to monitor the bird’s droppings. Whatever you choose to use should be placed under a wire barrier so the bird does not have direct access to it. At least one perch should be provided inside the cage. Some types of birds prefer more than one perch. The perch should be placed high enough that the bird’s tail does not hang down into its food for water or touch the floor of the cage. Food or water should not be placed directly below the perch as bird droppings will contaminate them. Generally, pet birds can tolerate temperatures that are comfortable to humans. Sudden changes in temperature may be a potential threat to the bird. Pet birds can adapt to a wide range of humidity levels. Birds that are native to subtropical climates may need increased humidity levels such as running hot water in the bathroom or frequent spraying of the feathers with a water bottle.

Bird Feeding

A bird’s diet is one of the most important aspects to keeping a healthy bird. Birds require a nutritionally balanced diet for a long and healthy life. Food should be placed in a wide bowl as opposed to a deep cup. Spreading out the food allows the bird to see it better, encouraging them to eat a wider variety. Since birds’ diets vary greatly from one species to another, research what types of foods are recommended for the type of bird you own. A good overall rule is no more than 50% of a bird’s diet should be seeds and nuts. Depending on your type of bird, some examples of other foods commonly fed to birds are a variety of other people foods such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, spaghetti, yogurt, lean cooked meats such as chicken, small amounts of cheese and boiled eggs. If a food is not healthy for humans, it will not be healthy for your bird. A powdered vitamin supplement can be added. A bird fed only seeds and nuts will be unhealthy. If you find your bird is only eating seeds and nuts and not the other foods you are offering him, try only offering seeds and nuts for an hour a day and leaving the other foods out the rest of the day. If your bird is hungry, he will try the other foods. Fresh water should be provided at all times. Water should be changed daily. Be sure to research what types of foods are best for your species of bird.

Exercise

Birds should be allowed out of their cages to fly around the house or to crawl around the outside of their cage. When allowing your bird out of its cage make sure all windows are closed. Screens are essential for windows and doors. Decals or curtains should be placed on windows to avoid the bird crashing into them. Keep all ceiling fans off while your bird is out. Avoid cooking on the stove or oven while your bird is out. Birds can drown in small amounts of water. Take caution with tall skinny glasses of liquids, or hot liquids such as a cup of tea. Toilet lids should be kept closed. Most birds like to play in water but water play should be supervised. Many even enjoy showers with their owners. Avoid hair spray and bath perfumes around your bird. Always stay close by when your bird is out of its cage.

Health

Be sure the bird you choose is a healthy one. A sick bird is no bargain no matter the price. In most cases by the time a birds shows symptoms of sickness the illness is quite advanced. Do not choose birds that make clicking sounds when they breathe or whose tails bob with each breath. A bird that appears tired, ruffled or droopy, or that hides his head under his wing is a sure sign of an unhealthy bird. Avoid birds that are sneezing, sitting on the bottom of the cage or that have discharge above the nostrils. Droppings stuck to a bird’s tail feathers is not a good sign of a healthy bird. A healthy bird will have lots of energy and will eat often. It will be bright-eyed with clean, shiny feathers. Birds should be taken to an avian veterinarian at least once a year for a wellness check-up and immediately after it is purchased for a good overall physical and anytime your bird shows any signs of sickness. Take caution when introducing new birds to the birds you already own. Many birds harbor contagious disease-causing organisms. Placing these new birds in an isolated room for a period of time is recommended. Keep in mind that birds are exquisitely sensitive to toxins, especially those in the air they breathe. Things that smell strong to humans can often kill birds.