Educational Articles

Birds + Care & Wellness

  • Hand-raised babies usually make better pets, as they have been completely socialized with humans. Hand-feeding is a job best left for the experienced bird breeder or aviculturist. If you’re considering hand-feeding a baby bird, you should contact your local bird breeder or veterinarian for help. A chick may be removed from the parents any time before weaning, but many suggest leaving the babies with the parents for up to 3 weeks. Precise temperature and humidity is essential for optimum growth of newly hatched birds. Generally, the temperature can be lowered by one degree every 2-3 days as feathering progresses. If you are raising a chick, always monitor your bird for signs of overheating or chilling. Poor growth or poor digestion (delayed crop emptying) may indicate poor health (including presence of gastrointestinal tract infections), improper consistency/mixing of hand feeding formula, improper temperature of formula, or improper environmental temperature and humidity. There are numerous commercially available hand-feeding formulas for baby birds. All food must be prepared fresh for every feeding. Food retained from one feeding to another is an ideal medium for the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast. Any food prepared or heated in a microwave oven must be mixed thoroughly to ensure that the food’s temperature is uniform. Food that is too hot may cause severe burns to the crop. Food that is too cold may be rejected by the babies or may slow down digestion. The frequency of feeding for young birds is greater than that of older birds. The best indication of a healthy, growing chick is a good, strong feeding response at every feeding, with the crop emptying between feedings, and the regular production of droppings (feces). Weight gain should be monitored and recorded at the same time each day using a scale that weighs in grams with 1-gram increments to detect subtle increases or decreases. As a bird gets older and develops a full complement of feathers, it should be encouraged to wean off formula and to eat more on its own. Birds should be offered a variety of foods, including formulated pelleted diets, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, at this time to encourage their exploration and experimentation. As this food introduction continues, hand-feeding may be withheld at certain times. All feeding utensils must be cleaned, disinfected, and dried thoroughly between feedings.

  • Birds are naturally mischievous and if not properly supervised, will get into many predicaments. It is crucial that you bird proof your home. The bird's cage is its house and the confines of your home represent the bird's environment.

  • In general, the bigger the cage, the better. A rectangular stainless-steel cage, is preferable and one that is longer than it is tall, but tall enough to ensure a bird has room to move up and down without hitting its tail on anything. All-metal cages are the most practical to keep clean. Bars on the cage must be close enough together to prevent the bird from getting its head or legs stuck between the bars. Perches that are easily cleaned or replaced and of varying diameters are best. Perches that are chewed up and splintered need to be replaced as birds destroy them. Soft, braided rope perches that are easy to grasp are another great option for pet birds. Large birds should be provided with stainless-steel dishes, as they are indestructible, easy to clean, and attach securely to the side of the cage. Pet birds need daily psychological stimulation and entertainment. There are numerous commercially available foraging and puzzle toys designed to engage and entertain birds for hours. For large birds, toys should not have snaps, clasps, bell clappers, open chain links, easily removable or broken parts, glass, or extraneous loose fibers that birds may chew or swallow or that could wrap around a toe or foot. Toys should be cleaned with warm, soapy water and rinsed thoroughly.

  • Bird cages must be big enough for birds to move around with ease and to not strike their wings or tail as they move from perch to perch and stretch or flap their wings. Bars on the cage must be close enough together to prevent the bird from escaping or getting its head caught. Natural wood branches of varying diameters make the best perches, as they more closely mimic birds’ perches in the wild. Wood perches may help wear birds’ nails down and provide birds with something to chew on. Sandpaper perches should be avoided. Natural hemp or braided cotton rope are softer on birds’ feet and are another great perch option. Food and water dishes should be made from sturdy, non-toxic materials that are easy to clean and disinfect every day. Enriching bird toys must be provided, such as ladders, rope, swings, mirrors, bells, hanging toys, hidden food items in the cage, or pieces of wood or leather to chew on. Introduce new toys slowly to allow the bird to become accustomed to them over time. All toys should be periodically washed and disinfected.

  • Contrary to popular belief, pet birds not raised with other birds typically bond to their owners and are unlikely to want to live with another new bird. If you feel your bird is lonely or bored, first consider providing more enrichment in the form of safe toys and entertainment. If you decide you want to introduce another bird into your household, be sure you are ready to take on the work of caring for more than one bird and be certain to introduce him slowly. All new birds should be checked by a veterinarian before exposing the original bird to a new one, and the new bird should be quarantined in a separate, isolated room within the house for 30-45 days. Some birds never accept new birds in their territories. Consult your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems.

  • Lead is a common household hazard for birds. Due to their curious, explorative nature, house birds can be exposed to lead around the house. Lead causes heavy metal toxicity, affecting the blood, nervous system, and gastrointestinal system. Lead poisoning can be fatal if not treated.

  • Leg bands are used as a form of identification for some pet birds. They are typically placed on the bird's foot when it is a baby. Leg bands may get caught in the cage , on toys or on fabric causing serious damage to the foot or leg.

  • There are approximately 50 species of Lories and Lorikeets (subfamily Loriidae) distributed widely throughout southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Polynesia. These birds come in a delightful assortment of sizes and brilliant, glossy colors.

  • The peach-faced lovebird is the largest and most commonly kept of the nine species of lovebirds. Lovebirds are incredibly inquisitive, playful, and possess a delightful, spirited sassiness. Although not generally very destructive, they do enjoy chewing. Young, single love birds bond closely with their owners and can be a wonderful, affectionate, and interactive family pet. A pair of lovebirds often bonds more strongly to each other even if they are the same sex. Young birds may be easier to tame and train than older, wild-caught, or colony- or parent-raised birds. After bringing your new bird home, you should have it examined by a veterinarian familiar with birds to help ensure that it is healthy. Like all other pet birds, lovebirds require annual, routine veterinary health check-ups.

  • Macaws are the largest members of the parrot family. They are high maintenance birds that require a great deal of space to house. They also require a lot of daily affection and attention. Their vocalizations tend to be loud, harsh, penetrating squawks. Their impressively large beak can be exceedingly destructive. Some commonly kept macaws include the blue and gold macaw, scarlet macaw, severe macaw, green-winged macaw, and the hyacinth macaw. Despite the exotic appeal of macaws, they are unsuitable for many households and family situations due to their loud screeching, destructive behavior, and great need for daily attention and time out of their cages. Macaws may be purchased from pet stores or reputable breeders or adopted from rescue organizations. After bringing your new bird home, you should have it examined by a veterinarian familiar with birds to help ensure that it is healthy. Like all other pet birds, macaws require annual, routine veterinary health check-ups.