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10737 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
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Read a question and answer from our archives about birds here, and
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Conditions and Type of Pets buttons for more pet health info. Please note: if you believe your bird's situation is critical, we urge you to contact
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What are some basics I need to know to be sure I am taking good care of
my pet bird(s)?
FROM DR. SPIRA,
veterinarian with special interest in avian care, and decades of
WHILE BIRDS DIFFER BY BREED IN
TERMS OF SPECIFIC NEEDS, THERE ARE SOME BASICS THAT APPLY TO
TAKING GOOD CARE OF ALL PET BIRDS:
Be sure food and water are clean.
Pay attention especially to
parrots. They are very messy and tend to dunk their food in
their water bowl, which then needs to be changed frequently.
Droppings: In the wild, droppings
fall down from the tree to the ground, but in cages you have
take care to be sure that food and water bowls are not
placed under perches, so that droppings do not fall into
bottom of the cage every day,
making sure that you use fresh paper each time. Clean the
entire cage once a week.
cuttle bone to supply calcium to
small birds such as finches, canaries, parakeets. The cuttle
bones have a hard side and soft side. The hard side needs to
be facing the bird.
blocks to supply calcium are more appropriate for larger
birds such as parrots, who tend to ignore the smaller cuttle
Bird cages do not necessarily have to be covered at night.
If your bird is used to it, itís OK to cover half to three
quarters of the cage. Birds do need nighttime Ė both
darkness and quiet. If they are in a room with lights on,
they could benefit by having this partial covering at night.
They also need to have time with no TV or radio on so that
they, just like humans, can get much needed sleep. Some
birds, especially cockatiels, can freak out at night; a
night light, which is soft, low and non-glaring can be
comforting for them.
Beaks: While birds in domestic settings preen and groom their feathers, they cannot take care of wearing down their beaks the way living in the wild -- where they are much more active -- does. In a home environment, birds need things to chew on, such as wood toys and other playthings with rough surfaces. The cuttle bones and mineral blocks mentioned above for calcium help, but neither these nor chew toys completely takes care of wearing down beaks properly. Therefore, regular beak trimming by your qualified vet or other avian professional is also needed 2-3 times a year, depending on the type of bird and its activity level.
Overgrown beaks: These can be a sign of an internal disease. Usually it's the upper beak that is involved, and often your avian professional can treat the problem in a painless and healthful way with the proper trimming. A misshapen beak, for example, where the upper and lower beaks do not come together, or grow to the side rather than the front, can also be a symptom of an internal disorder, but again, can be a relatively easily treated problem. Such a beak may need shaping, filing and trimming by your veterinarian.
Nails: Like beaks, domestic birds' nails do not get the natural trimming that life in the wild provides. It is important to check your bird's feet and nails, making sure the nails are not hindering the bird's ability to perch, walk, etc. Regular trimming when you get your bird's beaks attended to is recommended, again 2-3 times a year depending upon the bird.
Bird baths: Baths for canaries are almost a must. Other birds like parrots
can be happy with a heavy shallow container to splash around
in. When itís warm, parrots also like to be misted.
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