BIRDS

Caring for Your Small Bird

How often should you feed your pet bird? What type of food is best? Does your pet bird have special grooming requirements? Taking good care of your bird is the responsibility you take on when you have a pet. It is important to learn about proper bird care before you bring home your feathered friend.

Housing “Small Bird”

You should purchase and set up your bird’s cage before you bring your bird home. Pet stores sell different types of cages that come in many shapes and sizes. Online pet supply stores also have a large selection from which to choose.

Cages should be large enough to allow your pet plenty of space to fly and climb around. Many types of birds, such as canaries and finches, prefer cages that are longer than they are tall so there is space to fly short distances. Others, such as budgies, prefer cages with tall walls that they can climb. Most cages are made of metal bars that are spaced close enough together so that your bird cannot escape or become stuck.

You want to find the perfect spot in your home for your bird’s cage. The kitchen is off-limits because some types of cooking pots and pans release dangerous fumes into the air when they are used. These fumes are usually harmless to humans, but can be deadly to birds. The kitchen is also a bad place because hot surfaces like the stove top are very unsafe for birds that escape or are allowed to fly free. The best place for a cage is a quiet corner away from strong sunlight or cold drafts. If you have other pets, make sure they cannot get to the bird. Some avian experts believe the flickering lights of televisions are bad for birds, so consider placing your bird’s cage in another room or shielding its cage from the TV.

A cage must be secure so a bird cannot escape. Most cages have a latch on the door to prevent escapes, but some birds may be smart enough to unlatch the door. Pet stores have special tools or clips that can be used to prevent your bird from escaping.

Birds need several things inside their cages. All birds need perches—branches or sticks-upon which they can stand and rest. There are several types of perches available to purchase, including plastic perches and ones made from natural materials. Make sure the perches are the right size for your bird’s feet. If they are too thin or too thick they will not be able to have a safe and secure grip. Because many trees and plants can be dangerous to birds, it is best not to use branches or sticks from outside. Make sure to position the perches so the bird can reach them easily, but still has enough space to fly around the cage.

Toys

Some small birds enjoy playing with toys. Pet stores have toys that are specially designed to be safe and fun for your small bird. Not all small birds enjoy toys, so do your research before placing toys into the cage. Never put human toys or homemade toys into your bird’s cage. Different parts may be dangerous for the bird.

You will need to clean your bird’s cage every day. Most cages have a sliding tray at the bottom, which you can slide out to clean the food and droppings that land there. Many bird owners line the bottom of this floor with newspaper so it is easier to clean. Letting droppings and old food build up can make both you and your bird very sick, so cleanliness is important. Once a week you should clean the toys and perches inside the cage. Wiping them and rinsing them with hot water should help to clean up the dirt.

Food and Water “Small Bird”

All pet birds need fresh water to drink. Most small bird cages come with small food and water dishes that are just the right size for the birds. The birds’ water dish should be cleaned and refilled with fresh water at least once every day.

It is important for your pet bird to get all the nutrients it needs from its food. Many types of birds are given fruits, vegetables, and seeds in order to stay healthy. Most birds do well with vegetables like lettuce, spinach, or carrots. Occasionally, a treat of fresh fruit, like grapes, cherries, or tomatoes, can be given. All fruits and vegetables should be cleaned well and cut before being given to your bird. When you feed your bird fresh vegetables or fruit, remove uneaten food before it begins to spoil. Some fruits and vegetables are poisonous to birds, so check with a breeder, veterinarian, or pet store before feeding it to your pet.

Seed mixes made specifically for your species of bird can be bought at pet stores. Some bird owners like to feed their birds a pellet food designed especially for your species of bird. The pellet food, which can be purchased at pet stores, often has the nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and seeds.

Grooming ” Small Bird “

Birds do a lot of work to make sure their feathers stay in good shape. This behavior is called preening. When a bird preens its feathers, it is trying to distribute oil to the different parts of the feathers. It also makes sure that the different parts of the feathers are pointing in the right directions. Often, two birds will help each other preen the feathers that are hard to reach.

New feathers replace older ones throughout a bird’s life in a process called molting. When a bird molts, a new feather grows in to take the place of an old feather. A bird will molt a few feathers at a time, so that it always has enough mature feathers to be able to fly. If you see your bird molting, do not pull out the old feathers. The feathers will fall out when they are read pulling them too early can hurt your bird.

Small birds do not need a lot of help from their owners when it comes to grooming their feathers. Their preening and the natural process of molting takes care of it for the most part. If your bird likes it, however, you can offer it a simple bath every now and then. Bathing helps to clean the feathers and also keeps feather dust under control. Not all birds like or need baths, however, so check with a veterinarian or breeder before giving your bird a bath.

To give your bird a bath you can simply place a shallow bowl of plain water in the birds’ cage. If your bird is interested, it will splash around for a while. When it is done, remove the water. Some bird species prefer to be gently misted with a water bottle. For these species, spray a fine mist several inches above your bird. Always clean and dry off the bottom of the cage after baths. You should also make sure that there are no drafts or cold breezes during and after the bath.

Beaks

Birds’ beaks are made of a hard material called keratin. Birds use their beaks to help them grasp things when they are moving and to crack seeds and other foods. A bird’s beak is always growing, so it needs hard things to “chew” on so that the beak is gradually worn down as it grows. When a bird does not have enough hard material to wear down its beak, the beak will become overgrown and a veterinarian must step in to trim the beak. Picking at cuttlebone a hard substance that many people give to their pet birds—is a great way for your pet to keep its beak in shape. Cuttlebone and the devices that hold them in the cage are sold in most pet stores.

Signs of Illness ” Small Bird ”

Like all pets, birds cans sometimes get sick. Watching your bird and noticing any changes in habits or behaviors can help you identify when it is sick. A sick bird will often sit still with its feathers puffed out. It will not move around much and may lose interest in eating. A change in the color of your bird’s droppings might mean it has a digestive problem. If your bird has trouble breathing, or its nostrils are crusty or wetter than usual, there might be a respiratory illness.

If you think your bird might be sick, call a veterinarian right away. Certain vets specialize in treating birds. These are called avian vets. Make sure you consult an avian vet for your pet. To find a good avian vet, ask the place where you bought your bird, get recommendations from other bird owners, or look online.

Caring for your bird is a big responsibility, but it brings great rewards. As you spend more time watching, playing with, and caring for your bird, you will see that it has its own unique personality. A happy and healthy bird will bring many years of feathered fun for you.

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