With more than 9,500 species of birds inhabiting all continents, birds are a captivating species, and we love sharing our homes with them. While birds are different than cats and dogs, they are no more difficult to care for and can be wonderful companions. Even though birds are not technically domesticated, they can be taught acceptable behavior and grow accustomed to being handled.
Is a bird the right pet for your family?
Many bird species can make excellent pets, but do your research on the bird that will best suit your family. Take this short quiz on MyBird to determine which feathered friend would make the perfect addition to your flock. The Birds of a Certain Feather Guide will walk you through what questions you need to ask yourself before bringing home a new winged pet, such as:
- Do you have children?
- Do you have pets?
- Have you ever owned a bird?
- How long can you commit to taking care of a bird?
- How important is a bird’s speaking ability?
- Can you handle messy cages?
Meeting your pet bird’s needs
Once you’ve found the perfect match, it’s time to do some research on what your new pet will require. Here are four necessities every pet bird should be provided:
Socialization — Most pet birds are social, intelligent creatures and enjoy being located near family hangouts within the home. Depending on the species, you may need to be prepared to devote a significant amount of time to socializing with your bird. Parrots and other large species demand a large portion of your free time, requiring at least four to six hours of interaction outside their cage daily. If your lifestyle requires a pet that is a little more hands-off, choose a finch or canary instead. Finches prefer the company of their own kind over humans, and canaries would much rather stay within the comfort of their cages, instead of riding on your shoulder.
Toys — Provide toys within the cage to alleviate boredom for your bird, and encourage activity and beak wear. But, be sure to select toys with the safety of your bird in mind. Depending on your bird, certain items may be more easily destroyed than others. Some enrichment pieces include:
- Pine cones
- Rawhide chews
- Natural fiber rope
- Soft white pine
- Cardboard from toilet paper rolls
- Branches with leaves to pull through cage bars
Training — In addition to toys and handling, social birds enjoy training sessions. If you have a talkative bird, she can quickly learn new words or mimic different sounds. Intelligent birds can pick up on tricks, such as play dead, wave, or take a bow. Some birds may even outshine your dog in a game of fetch. Of course, be sure to choose an appropriate fetchable item for beaks, such as a button.
Your bird will spend a lot of time in her cage, so be sure to check all the boxes when it comes to creating her ideal home:
- The cage should have ample space for your bird to spread her wings. Select the largest cage possible that will fit into the available space within your home.
- Choose a sturdy, nontoxic cage that is easy to clean, since daily cleaning is required to keep your bird healthy.
- When placing perches, ensure they are not positioned above food or water bowls to prevent contamination from droppings.
- Replace perches when they become worn, damaged, or soiled.
- Rotate toys, change up perch location, and set up a foraging system to provide physical and mental stimulation for your feathered friend.
As with every pet, proper diet and nutrition is critical to maintaining your bird’s health. Nutritional requirements can vary between the different species. But, regardless of species, a diet of about 75 percent pellets and 25 percent carefully selected, healthy table food can meet a bird’s dietary needs. Speak to our veterinary team regarding the appropriate diet for your specific bird.
Most birds enjoy daily bathing, but some may need to be encouraged to keep their feathers in top condition by gently misting with plain water. Your bird may enjoy hopping into the shower with you, or she might prefer to use a dish as a bathtub instead.
In addition to checking feathers for soiling or damage, wing clipping may be desired to prevent your bird from flying. If you choose not to clip your bird’s wings, “bird-proof” the flying area to prevent injury or escape.
Also, keep an eye on nail growth. Nails can quickly become overgrown and uncomfortable to both the bird and owner, so routine trimmings are necessary. If you notice any abnormality in your pet’s feathers, nails, or beak, schedule an appointment with us to keep your bird looking and feeling her best.
Unsure of your bird’s feeding, socialization, or habitat needs? Call our office.