Having a pet bird can bring much joy. They can be extremely intelligent, interactive and entertaining pets. However, it is important to consider carefully a number of things before deciding that a bird would make a suitable pet for you.
A small bird like a budgerigar may live 5 to 15 years. A large bird like a sulphur-crested cockatoo can live 80 years or even longer. Caring for a bird can be a long term commitment.
Generally the larger the bird the longer they live, the more space they need, the louder they are, and more care they require. Make sure you research the type of bird you are planning to adopt and all its requirements and behavioural traits.
Most bird species in the wild form a monogamous pair bond with a mate. If you do not have another bird, more often than not, your bird will bond strongly to one family member to the exclusion of all others. Failure to spend enough time with an imprinted bird may lead it to screech for attention, pick out feathers or show other neurotic behaviour.
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:
Also research your preferred specie of bird’s dietary and housing requirements. Some birds such as lorikeets eat pollen, nectar and fruit, whilst others live mainly on seeding grasses. Then there are some yet again which require insects or meat in their diet
A failure to consider these aspects prior to bringing a bird home may lead to unhappy owners and an unwanted bird. If however, you put effort into selecting a species that will be compatible with your level of time and commitment, then owning a bird can be a highly enriching experience.
Here are some requirements to consider and a few tips for successful bird keeping to help get you started:
- Housing: A well-designed and built aviary is the most satisfactory housing for birds, enabling them to live with freedom of movement and adequate opportunity for flight. Circumstances often dictate that birds are kept in cages, usually manufactured of metal with wire mesh screening. The minimum size of cage to house one bird will depend on the breed of bird. Queries regarding cage sizes should be referred to the RSPCA. The cage should be positioned in a well lit, sunny area where the birds will have frequent human contact, and in which it will be safe to be released for exercise if possible. A portable cage stand permits the birds to be repositioned for their comfort. Appropriate perches of varying size must be provided as well as well-secured food and water troughs. The food and water receptacles should not be positioned beneath bird perches and any accidental contamination of the food and water by bird droppings must be removed immediately.
- Activities: Ladders, bells, ropes, swings, mirrors, and suitable toys provide some stimulation for a caged bird, but avoid over-furnishing as this will crowd the cage and may result in injury.
- 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.
- Talking: Some birds that have constant close contact with their owner will learn to talk. These birds can start to talk at about six weeks of age, and if they have not succeeded by six months, they probably never will. Teaching a bird to talk starts by using the same word over and over. Once the bird has learnt one word, new words or complete phrases may be achieved.
- Feeding: The caged bird's basic diet should consist of the specially prepared seed mixtures. This diet should be supplemented with green foods and fruit. Cuttlefish bone should be available in every cage to provide many trace minerals required by birds. Fresh water is essential to a bird’s life and must be replenished frequently in hot weather or if it becomes fouled.
- Illness: Birds often display a ‘Preservation Instinct’ which means they can sometimes appear healthy despite being ill. Signs of illness and stress can be very subtle but as with most animals attitude is one of the first indicators of health. If you notice a change in your bird such as moodiness, aggression, and reluctance to socialise, this may be the first indicator that something is wrong. However there are many other signs that can let you know when a bird may not feel one hundred percent. Listed below are signs that can indicate stress or illness in a bird.
- Excessive sleeping or sluggishness, less preening, or permanently sitting on the
- bottom of cage instead of perch.
- Significant change in colour, form or consistency in droppings over a 24 hour
- Obsessive behaviour such as feather picking/skin mutilation or constant pacing back and forth.
- Discharge from eyes or nostrils.
- More frequent fluffed feathers, matting of feathers, or slowing down of moulting cycles. A few down feathers on the droppings is a good sign that your pet is moulting normally and your bird is healthy. Their absence in the cage may reflect a stress of some kind.
- Hunching, leaning, ruffled appearance, difficulty balancing, drooping tail and wings. Note: Young birds must learn how to fold and tuck in their wings and often let their wings droop before learning this. However, in older birds, wing drooping may indicate illness.
If you notice any of these changes in your pet bird please contact us for advice.