Pet birds are intelligent creatures highly sensitive to their surroundings. It’s important for bird owners to create a cheerful, low-stress and safe environment for their pets by selecting the proper cages and accessories. If you want to adopt a bird, it’s a great idea to research the types that fit into your lifestyle. Many folks source their birds from animal hospitals and shelters where they adopt injured individuals who can no longer survive in the wild. Whatever species you adopt, make sure to have it examined by your veterinarian to evaluate its health and provide any special measures it might need. You veterinarian will give you important advice on the bird’s diet and habitat — if you are unable to meet the bird’s needs, it’s best to look for a less demanding species. With proper care and attention, you can form a close and long-lived bond with your pet bird.
The Bird’s Cage
The first question to ask is how many birds you will want to share the same habitat. Scientists have determined that many bird species only thrive in pairs and can be depressed if they don’t have a friend or a mate. The bigger the species and the more individuals you keep, the greater the need for a large to very large cage or even dedicated rooms of the home. A small species, such as a parakeet or canary, requires less space, but it still should be generous and comfortable. Other factors include the location of the cage and the behavioral characteristics of the species.
Here are some tips for getting the proper cage for your bird(s):
Favor wider cages over tall ones — a good cage is at least twice as wide as the bird’s wingspan. Multiply this by two if you have a pair of birds.
A stainless steel cage with proper bar spacing is convenient, safe and easy to keep clean. The bar spacing should be such that the bird can’t stick its head or body through the openings.
Bedding materials can include aspen shavings, recycled paper products, corncob and special cage liners matched to fit the cage. Cage liners may be the cleanest solution as long as you replace them frequently — figure this into your monthly pet-care budget.
Bowls and dishes must include two water bowls — for bathing and drinking — plus one or more food bowls. You should be able to lock the bowls in place to help prevent messy spills. Replace the water daily and use filtered or bottled water if your tap water isn’t high quality.
Select a variety of perches in different sizes and shapes that are appropriate for the bird species. Use the vertical dimension of the cage to place the perches at different heights. The proper diameter perch should leave about a 1/4-inch gap when encircled by the bird’s foot. Good perch materials include wood, concrete and flexible braided rope. If your bird is a “chewer,” plan to replace the wood perch from time to time. Wood is easier to keep clean than is rope. If you get a concrete perch, place it in the lower portion of the cage.
Ensure the cage is suspended by a sturdy stand that isn’t likely to tip over. Alternatively, you can suspend the cage from a chain or rod attached to the ceiling.
Toys and Accessories
Many veterinarians recommend toys that can be used to hide food, as this creates a diverting and rewarding game for your bird and mimics somewhat the search for food in the wild. Chew toys are good for many species. In addition, birds find twisty toys and knots intriguing, and enjoy the physical exercise afforded by ladders, swings and ropes.
Place the cage in the home’s center of the action — perhaps the living room or the kitchen. Most birds, especially larger ones — parrots, macaws and the like — are social creatures and should be considered family members. Make sure the area is in a well-ventilated, but not drafty, location and that temperatures remain fairly constant and comfortable for the species. Don’t place the cage near a non-insulated window or one that allows in direct sunlight, as this may create temperature extremes for the bird. Consider getting a smaller sleeping cage for your bird and placing it in your bedroom. Place the bird in the sleeping cage at night and cover the cage. Your bird should quickly adjust to your sleep schedule.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.