Keeping pet birdspigeon-1406866

Birds make wonderful pets for all ages and living arrangements as they are generally small and portable.  There are many options, as there are many varieties and sizes of birds that can be kept as pets with cage size being your main consideration when choosing the right bird to suit your home.  

Commitment

As with any pet, keeping a bird requires a commitment to care for it during its life which could be 15-75 years (cockatoo’s could live up to 75 years of age or longer!). The commitment requires routine feeding, cage cleaning, general care and time spent with your bird handling to keep it tame.

What type of bird should I get?

There are many different breeds of birds to choose from, budgies, cockatiels, cockatoos and parrots are all very common but largely differ only in size. You need to consider the size of the bird you are going to accommodate as the cage must be large enough to allow the bird to extend and stretch its wings fully.

Smaller birds are more common for people with smaller living arrangements or you could have a large outdoor aviary with several birds and some species happily co-exists together. For a first time bird owner budgies and cockatiels are often a good choice as they are relatively easy to care for and train.

Should I get one bird or two?

Birds are naturally much happier in a pair as most species bond with one mate for life. Similar to other animals they often groom and preen each other. The cage requirements need to be larger if it is housing more than one bird.

If you do decide to get only one bird you should expect that the bird will bond very strongly to one person as if they are their mate and sometimes birds can be very protective or possessive over this person. Two of the same sex can happily bond together. If buying your birds from a pet shop you may notice that some have already paired up and it is best not to separate them, getting two birds that have already paired would avoid fights.

Housing

A large cage with several perches (natural branches from non-poisonous trees are best), fresh water and correct food should always be available. Most cages come with suitable food and water containers that sit in the cage off the ground, they are best not situated directly under a perch as their droppings will end up in their feed bowls. Lots of suitable toys should be available for caged birds to prevent boredom.

Feeding

It is important to realize that not all birds eat the same thing, some eat grubs, worms and other insects eg Magpies, others eat nectar from flowers and fruit eg Lorikeets and others eat seeds eg Budgies. It is sometimes necessary to feed your bird other food items to maintain a balanced diet, giving fresh fruit, vegetables and sprouted seed depending on your choice of bird.

General health care

Your bird’s health depends largely on the state of its cage therefore you will need to keep their cage clean, thoroughly cleaning it out weekly. The bottom of the cage can be lined with newspaper with a layer of shell grit over the top. The shell grit is for the birds to eat as they don’t have teeth this helps to grind up their food.

If they are given natural perches then they should keep their nails shorter but you may need to get them trimmed by a Vet if they get too long. Birds need to be wormed for intestinal worms, this is usually done by adding a worming solution to their water bowl as directed by the product you use.

Birds can get lice, but if their cage is kept clean then the chance of them getting this will be less. Daily bathing by spraying the birds with water or providing a bath encourages preening, reduces feather dust and keeps plumage in good condition. Air quality is an important factor. Dusty conditions, smoking and fumes from cooking utensils made from Teflon should be avoided.