Most pet birds need stimulation and socialization. Birds enjoy companionship and must always be kept in pairs or small flocks. However, when a bird pet is alone, it is imperative that their cage is kept closely to family activity area so the bird is stimulated. However, your bird pet needs 8-10 hours of down time too so noise and light levels must be maintained to allow plentiful rest.
For some species, opportunities need to be provided for exercise in the form of supervised freedom from the cage or flying within the home. If the bird is permitted to fly, be aware of ceiling fans, large windows, hot pans on the stove, pet cats and open doors. Opportunities for supervised access to fresh air and direct sunlight is beneficial, as long as shade is available.
Toys are useful as mental diversions and tend to encourage physical exercise and beak wear; however, they must be selected with safety of the bird in mind. “Chewable” items include branches, pinecones, natural fiber rope, and raw hide chews.
Simple toys can keep your bird happily occupied. A piece of corn on the cob, a quarter of pomegranate and even the cardboard roller from toilet paper will keep a bird happily occupied.
The use of wide bowls rather than deep cups displays the food attractively and may encourage the bird to eat new items. Healthy birds can easily approach the food and water bowls; placing the food dishes away from the perches allows for birds to exercise a bit. Food placed too near perches often results in overeating. Food and water dishes should be kept above perches or away from them to prevent droppings in food and water.
Newspapers, paper towels or other plain cage liner paper is generally preferred over wood chips, chopped corn cobs, kitty litter, or sand so that the appearance and number of the droppings can be monitored on a daily basis. Birds should not be allowed direct contact with the substrate as it tends to grow bacteria and fungus
Proper diet is critical for overall health in every species. The easiest way to feed is to use commercial formulated diets especially made for pet birds. Homemade diets can be considered, but are time consuming and should be developed with the aid of a professional nutritionist. Bird feed should be a careful selection of healthy quality food as well as necessary vitamins.
A healthy bird can tolerate temperatures that are comfortable to its owner. Sudden changes in temperature may be a potential threat to a sick bird. Pet birds can adapt to a wide range of humidity levels, although birds native to subtropical climates may benefit from occasional increased humidity in the home (e.g., in the bathroom with a running shower, or frequent misting of the feathers with water).
Many people admire birds for their brilliant plumage, intelligence, and graceful aerial skills. Birds are often seen as low maintenance pets. Unfortunately, because of this, people end up keeping birds as “pets” in lonely, boring cages. Deprived of many of the things that are natural and important to them, such as flying with their flock mates, exploring, and choosing a mate, many caged birds become depressed or neurotic, pulling out feathers and mutilating themselves—sometimes severely, irreversibly, even to the point of death. Birds are sometimes abandoned after their guardians discover that bird behaviours, such as flock-calling, biting, chewing, and throwing food don’t fit in well with a human home environment.
Please, resist the temptation to buy a bird as a companion. If you already have a bird, please read on to learn more about these complex creatures and how you can make their lives as healthy, happy, and fulfilling as possible.
Like all living beings, birds are social creatures. Companionship is crucial for the well-being of birds. If you have a single bird, adopt a companion of the same or similar species. Are you aware that some birds can live to be a 100 ! That is only possible if your pet is happy and thriving with good companionship. Unless you buy a pair from the same flock, introduce the birds to each other slowly. Keep them in two separate cages allowing them to see each other. If they are friendly allow cage sharing for short durations initially. Until you’re absolutely sure that the birds have bonded, do not leave them alone together. Don’t assume that these two birds will definitely become friends—be prepared to house the birds separately if they do not bond.
Let your birds fly free for long periods of time every day—spending as much time out of the cage as possible. Convert your balcony or porch into an aviary or build a good-weather aviary in your back yard if possible. Or provide a bird-proof room or rooms, with no ceiling fans or other bird hazards. Large “flight cages” can allow your birds to exercise when you can’t be there to supervise them. Birds should get between eight and 12 hours of sleep a night, preferably from dusk on, in a dark, quiet room, a draped flight enclosure, or a covered cage.
Birds don’t eat just seeds, keep your bird’s diet varied and nutritious by offering a variety of fruits and vegetables along with grains, nuts, cooked beans, and seeds. Different species have different nutritional needs, so it’s important to research your bird’s diet and also observe what suits or what does not get eaten. Malnutrition accounts for more than 90 percent of the health problems of companion birds.
Birds need the proper combination of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to stay healthy. A good pellet-based diet can help, but feeding a variety of the proper foods should meet all your birds’ needs.
Keep food and water containers above perches, so they do not get soiled with droppings. Soiled containers must be cleaned immediately to avoid disease. Some birds dunk their food in water, food containers and water containers should ideally be washed/ rinsed twice a day to prevent bacterial growth. Vitamins should never be administered through the water.