BIRDS


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Birds Make Good Pets!

Birds make great pets! Most of them enjoy close contact which makes them social and sometimes cuddly friends. Some birds just love to talk or sing to you. Many parrots love sharing meals with you, napping with you and even showering with you! They love interacting with their human companions. Birds are easy to take care of .they are hardy and make great companions!


Choosing and Caring for a Pet Bird

The negative aspects of bird ownership, if any, is far outweighed by the strong bond of affection that develops between a bird and its owner. Owning a pet bird can be a wonderful experience but birds are not the best pet for everyone. The life span of a bird can range from 8-80 years, depending on the species, making ownership a lifetime commitment. Birds have pleasant voices when singing or talking, but quickly become loud and obnoxious when angry or jealous. Once you are ready for the commitment of owning a bird, the next step is choosing the species that has the characteristics you desire and that fit within your lifestyle.


Nutrition In Pet Birds

It is critical to the health and longevity of our pet birds to provide a nutritionally complete diet. Birds can eat any wholesome food that humans eat including meats, pasta, rice, eggs, bread, cereals, fruits and vegetables. If seeds are fed, they should compose no more than 20% of the total diet with the remaining 80% being foods selected from all 4 food groups (meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables). It is important that all foods be washed to remove dirt and toxic substances. Allowing fresh foods to spoil in the cage can expose your bird to dangerous molds and bacteria. Moldy peanuts are a source of potent mycotoxins. These are toxic substances produced by certain molds that grow on peanuts stored in moist environments. If feeding peanuts, purchase only peanuts packaged for human consumption and store them in an air tight container. Although feeding a wide range of foods sounds good, it is hard to ensure that the bird will eat everything that is offered and in the appropriate amounts. Commercially pelleted diets contain all the essential vitamins, amino acids and minerals in the proper amount and balance. Since every bite is the same, you are assured that your bird is getting the best nutrition available. The initial cost of pelleted diets may be more than seed diets, but when waste from seed hulls, picky eating habits and spillage are considered, pelleted diets are the better deal. In addition, with pellets, no other supplements are necessary. The real economy and benefit to the pelleted diet is in the resulting health of You should preferably consult your avian veterinarian before instituting any dietary change. Its recommended that your bird undergoes a comprehensive physical examination so that it's overall condition and a baseline body weight can be obtained. Weekly rechecks are recommended to monitor body weight until your bird is completely converted to pellets and is maintaining a steady body weight. If you plan to convert your bird to a new diet, then you have to bear in mind that it might require close monitoring, patience and persistence.



Foods and Feeding

Foods available for birds include:
Bird feed mixes (specific for each type of bird); offering a mixture of both formulated foods and seed.
Formulated diets; pelleted or extruded.
Seed only diets.
Supplements (provided in addition to any of the diets).
Bird feed mixes (specific to each type of bird) consist of a mixture of seeds, formulated foods, some supplements, and usually additional vitamins. Bird mixes are generally regarded as suitable especially when provided with additional supplements.
Formulated diets provide a good nutritional base, containing all the necessary ingredients, so do not require the addition of vitamins. However many birds become bored with it due to the lack of variety. Supplements can be offered to help offset boredom.
Seed only diets offer much more variety but requires additional vitamin and calcium supplements. In the wild many birds eat seed as a major portion of their diet. Many birds need not only nutritional requirements met but also variety for psychological enrichment. All seeds contain protein and are roughly divided into either a cereal type seed such as millet, or an oil type seed such as sunflower seed. To provide a balanced diet, minerals, amino acid, vitamins and trace elements can be added as a supplement to seed or water.
There are pros and cons to feeding only a formulated diet, or to feeding only a seed diet. Supplements can be used to enrich all types of diets. Supplements include soaked and sprouted seed, fruits, vegetables and even some green plants (make sure they are non-toxic). All types of fruits are a good supplement such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes, oranges, bananas, mangoes, papayas, and even berries such as strawberries and blueberries. Vegetables are also good supplements such as carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, many garden vegetables, and even dandelions and chickweed. Do not feed avocado as it may be toxic to birds!
Additional proteins can be offered to some birds about every 1 1/2 weeks such as cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, and even canned dog food. Cuttlebone and calcium blocks will also provide necessary minerals for maintaining your birds health. Finely ground shells and other natural minerals can be added to regular grit.
Some seed eating birds need grit. This applies especially to birds such as pigeons and doves that eat their seed whole without shelling it first. It is an essential to aid in digestion to seeds eaten unshelled, as these birds use it in their crop to grind the seed. Grit also contains valuable minerals and trace elements, and though not necessary for digestion will aid some birds if offered in limited amounts. Birds that are not primarily seed eaters do not require grit or cuttlebone.


Grooming Your Pet Bird

Bathing - Frequent bathing, daily to weekly, stimulates normal preening behavior and helps to remove oil build up from handling and petting the bird. Misting is also an acceptable way of providing a bath. Take care to use only plain water while bathing your bird. Soiled feathers may be gently cleaned with a mild detergent solution (e.g., baby shampoo) followed by thorough warm water rinsing and drying.

Wing Trim - It prevents the bird from developing rapid and sustained flight. However, even a fully clipped bird can achieve flight in the right conditions. Several types of trims are both cosmetic and effective.

Nail Trim -Its ideal to trim a small amount frequently to prevent overgrowth. Nails should be trimmed any time they are sharp or when they start to curve past the plane of the toe tip. Always have styptic powder available to stop any bleeding in the event that the nail is cut too close to the quick.

Beak Trim - Most birds will keep the beak at a normal length, if provided with sufficient material to chew. Chewable items include: soft wood, sugar cane, chew bars, hard biscuits, nuts, cuttle bone, lava rock and mineral blocks. Some flaking and shelving of the beak is normal however excessive flaking, shelving or overgrowth may be a sign of internal disease.

Wing clip-It may be desired to prevent escape or injury, or for taming and training. Your veterinarian can advise you on wing clipping.

A regular visit to an avian veterinarian for a routine health examination is advised in order to detect potential problems early.


Cage Characteristics

The largest cage that can be accommodated in the home is recommended for birds that are expected to be confined most of the time. The cage must be strong enough to resist bending or dismantling by the bird, made of non-toxic material, and designed for safety and ease of cleaning. In most cases, the cage would need to be wider than it is tall to accommodate stretched wings; however, ample height should be provided for long-tailed birds
The cage should be positioned in a well lighted room with activity and at eye level for people. Natural sunlight is desirable but access to shade should always be available. There is no need to cover at night.

Toys - Toys are favorable diversions for birds that provide environmental stimulation. Toys should be chose carefully. Plastic toys are only safe for small birds, parakeets and perhaps less active cockatiels. Larger parrots will destroy them and can be injured by the chewed pieces. Various woods, leathers, rawhides and acrylic make good chew toys for all parrots. Bells are a favorite toy and reflective surfaces, like stainless steel mirrors, can be enjoyed by some birds.


Recognizing Signs of Illness

As a responsible pet owner, one should constantly monitor your bird for signs of illness. Birds are very efficient at covering signs of illness therefore any of the above signs may indicate a very serious problem. Familiarity with the your bird's healthy behavior, feeding habits and droppings may be the key to early detection and treatment of illness. A comprehensive pre/post purchase examination by an avian veterinarian is very important. The minimum "new bird" veterinary evaluation should include a complete visual and physical examination, complete red and white blood cell count, serum chemistry profile and gram stains of cloaca (vent area) and choana (sinus cavity). Depending on the examination findings and the species, further evaluation may be recommended such as tests for chlamydia and Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD).

Signs of a Sick Bird

  1. A change in the character of droppings (like discolored stool or urine)
  2. Marked change in the consumption of food or water.
  3. Marked change in attitude, personality, or behavior.
  4. Fluffed appearance.
  5. Scale or growths on face, beak or feet.
  6. Enlargement or swelling on the body.
  7. Discharge from mouth, nostrils, or eyes.

Avoid :
Sandpaper-covered perches.
Air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, insecticides, and toxic fumes from over-heated non-stick-coated utensils.
Mite boxes or mite sprays.
Easily dismantled toys such as balsa wood, small link chain items, toys with metal clips or skewers, or those with lead weights.
Access to toxic houseplants, ceiling fans, cats, dogs, young children.
Access to cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated pine chips as cage substrate.

Security :

Don't take your bird outside without a wing clip. Never leave your bird outside unattended. Remember that birds are the natural prey of cats, dogs and birds of prey.


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