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Bird care for newbies – The cage, the environment, and more

A bird´s arrival to our home involves a number of responsibilities, routines and tasks in which all family members should participate. In order for coexistence to be nice and the bird feeling truly at home, several factors must be considered:

The cage

Its main function is to provide a safe, friendly and comfortable space. It must have enough inner space for him to stretch his wings without touching the bars. The ideal scene is that he´d be capable of performing small flight routes, and not just jumping stick by stick. It´s much more important to consider the length and width of the cage than its height, as birds don´t fly vertically.

The cage should have several elements:

  • Various sticks or support areas with: a) adequate thickness to support the bird’s legs, b) a rough surface to facilitate the wearing out of the nails, and c) non-toxic material so that he can peck it. Recommended sticks: Bottlebrush Woodbird Cage Perch.

  • Food: provide clean and quality food, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Feeder: it´s common to locate it on the side of the support sticks to prevent water and food from getting contaminated with excretions. Hopper feeders are suitable for avoiding this situation: not only are they easy to fill, but they also protect the food from different climatic conditions, keeping it always dry.
  • Drinker: it´s important to replace the water daily to keep it clean, keeping insects away and avoiding larvae development due to water standstill.
  • Bath: birds love swimming and playing with water. Once he has enjoyed the bath, he must be taken away from the water so that it doesn´t get contaminated by excretions.
  • Game accessories: in order to provide a higher quality of life it´s important to stimulate him with games and entertainments such as mirrors, ladders, bells and swings.

  • Species: in many areas birds are bred legally; make sure it´s a reputable dealer and check the quality of the store before buying one.

In another article I´ll talk in more detail about the conditions a cage should have in order to fit appropriately into his animal nature, as well as the best accessories for each species. 

Environment

The environment surrounding the cage is a very important factor to help our new friend having a correct life:

  • The cage should be located in a lit-up area.
  • It shouldn´t be near the T.V. or sound equipment so that he can rest. Furthermore, loud and continuous sounds will create stress for him and that´s not good for his health.

  • It should be away from the kitchen because the smokes that come from this place are very harmful for his health. It´s also not good to smoke near the bird because he may get sick.
  • The cage´s location should be protected from airstreams, extreme temperatures and direct sunlight on the animal. What´s best for a bird is to be able to enjoy the natural light of the early morning, which causes the production of vitamin D (essential for his health).
  • The ideal humidity range for most bird´s species is between 40 to 50%. They don´t tolerate dry environments well, although in those cases humidifiers may be used.
     

Routine care

There are a number of routine actions which are critical for his health and safety:

Choosing a vet: you should pick a veterinarian who is a bird specialist with extensive experience in this field. A very important aspect to consider is the time availability to attend emergency cases outside office hours.

Interacting with the bird: approach to him 30 minutes daily using games, songs and water baths.

Trimming the nails: if you choose correct support sticks (rough ones that facilitate the wearing out) it won´t be necessary to constantly cut the nails.

parrots over thick support sticksImage / “Remiz”.


However, when these are very long it´s impossible for the animal to keep standing with some stability. It’s best to go to the vet for this, because if you cut him where you shouldn´t he´ll bleed, have a lot of pain and his life may be at risk.

Trimming the beak: similar to the nails, certain bird´s beaks grow too much or don´t wear out enough, creating problems to eat and to interact with his environment. Free-living birds have the conditions to wear out their beak naturally, but when in captivity it´s generally not the same. Solving this beak issue is essential for him to eat and interact with his surroundings. To avoid injuring the animal’s tongue or harming him in any way it´s better to seek for a professional.

Trimming the wings: also called the “flight cut”. This technique is used to reduce his ability to fly, hence allowing a semi-free life within the house.

parrots outside the cageParrots on semi-freedom outside of the cage


Trimming only one wing has been recommended before, but experience has shown that the animal ends up completely unbalanced and exposed to dangerous blows. The cut doesn´t cause the slightest damage to the animal as only mature feathers (keratinized structures) such as hairs and nails are getting cut off. When the bird´s feathers change he recovers his ability to fly, making a new trimming necessary. Still, you shouldn´t trust blindly this “anti-escape” system because although it´s true that the trimming of the wings decreases his ability to fly, it doesn´t totally disable him.

Trimming the wings also prevents accidents at home and crashing against the glass of a window or falling down in the kitchen and getting burned. It also favors the closeness with his owner because he´s more docile and manageable.

Due to differences in the shapes of their wings and body composition, not all birds need the same cut. Receiving advise from the vet is important because if you cut growing feathers by mistake (never to be done) the bird will bleed and feel a lot of pain.

 

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