Q: What do I have to do to have a bird? Do they need grooming, or do they groom themselves like cats? Can I leave a bird alone at home and if so for how long?
A: Hello Kim, Below is a lot of information to help you in making your decision about a bird
Here are some things to consider to get a bird.
Is your family ready for a new pet? Perhaps a bird could be right for you! Like all pets, birds have their pros and cons. While these feathered companions can be charming, silly and entertaining, they also require a lot of care, can make a big mess and might drive you a bit crazy with their squawking.
Not sure if a bird would be a good addition to your home? Here are 11 things to consider before buying a bird:
These intelligent animals thrive in stimulating environments where they spend time with humans or other birds. In fact, a bird may be driven to engage in destructive behaviors, like plucking, if he is isolated or does not get enough attention. When you’re deciding if a bird is right for your family, you should consider the amount of attention you can devote to this pet. If no one is home all day, a bird might not be the best pet for your family.
After spending quality time interacting with a pet bird, you — or your child — will also need to prepare his food, clean his cage, clean his food bowls and help him with his grooming. It’s also important for a bird to have supervised time outside of his cage. Be prepared to take on these responsibilities if your family opts for a feathered friend.
Many pet birds live a long life. In fact, some can live up to 100 years! As such, adding a bird to your family has the potential to be a lifelong commitment. Even smaller budgies can live for 8 years, so if you’re thinking of getting a bird as a pet for your child, he may not be around to care for his pet during future summers or college years.
Unfortunately, some pet birds tend to bite, especially if they bond to a particular person and feel jealous or needy. While this is certainly not always the case, it’s important to consider the possible safety issues that come along with having this type of pet.
5. Other Pets
If you have other pets in the house, you can still have a bird! You should, however, consider several factors before making that leap. The cartoons are right — sometimes birds and cats just don’t get along, so you’ll have to start out with supervised interactions.
A pet bird will need an appropriately sized cage — the larger, the better. Some cages are as big as five feet wide! Make sure that you have the necessary space for a cage, stand and other supplies.
Do you love peace and quiet? Then buying a bird might not be the best choice for you. Even small budgies tend to make an awful lot of noise, and that noise isn’t always pleasant.
Not all vets will treat birds. So, before bringing a bird home, check that you have a local avian veterinarian available to you.
As with any pet, it’s important that you keep your budget in mind. Bird food, toys, vet bills, grooming costs, cages and stands can add up rather quickly
Whether you’ve never owned a bird or just want to make sure you’re doing the right thing by your feathered friend, having the appropriate essentials is paramount to the health and happiness of your pet. According to the Association of Avian Veterinarians, here’s what you need and why you need it:
- Food. Pet birds need a formulated diet, meaning food pellets specifically for birds, as a base diet. Fresh or dehydrated fruits and vegetables are also a nice addition, along with nuts, beans, and cooked brown rice. The really daring can feed Tweety table foods, but don’t give your bird onion, alcohol (obviously), avocado, or chocolate — these are toxic to birds.
- Cage. The biggest you can afford and that will fit in your home is ideal for a bird that will spend most of its life behind bars. Bird cages should be made of a strong, non-toxic material and easy to clean. A basic measuring estimate is a cage that’s wide enough to not cramp fully extended wings and high enough to accommodate birds with long tails.
- Perch. A do-it-yourselfer can be made by attaching two branches on each side of the cage with uncoated wire or a small bracket. Make sure the bird perches are set far enough from the food and water bowls. Branches from pesticide-free, non-toxic trees such as Northern hardwoods, citrus, eucalyptus, or Australian pine are best. Or you can keep it simple and just buy a couple of bird perches from the pet store.
- Water and food bowls. Wide, rather than deep cups will encourage your bird to try new food items. Many food and water dishes have a built in perch, and they all have a ledge the bird can balance on as he eats and drinks. As long as Tweety gets around well on his own, perches need not be set close to the bowls. In fact, if his perch is too close, he may overeat or chew on his food dishes — not healthy activities.
- Cage liners. No need to get fancy on this one. Cage liner paper, paper towels, or newspapers will do just fine. An advantage of choosing paper over pieced liner (sand, wood chips, etc.) is easy monitoring of droppings for good hygienic cleaning. Put the liner under the mesh barrier to maintain space between your bird and his leavings.
- A hiding place. Birds are constantly on display to the outside world, including humans and other pets. Like anyone else, they enjoy a degree of privacy and feel safer having an escape hatch. Again, simple is best; a towel, paper bag, or nest box is ideal.
- Toys. No pet should ever be without playthings. Appropriate objects to play with, such as soft white pine, rawhide and leather chews (made for pets), or pine cones, help to keep the beak healthy and will keep your bird active. Natural fiber rope can also provide a nice diversion, but balsa wood, cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine are all no-nos.
- First aid. Just like us, birds need to have their nails trimmed, so it is likely that at some point in your bird’s life, there will be at least a little blood. A styptic pencil puts a quick stop to bleeding, calming both Tweety and you. Keep one handy as a just-in-case item.
Of course, lots of other bird toys and supplies are available for your feathered friend, but these are good for a start.
- Bird Grooming
Pet birds regularly preen and self-groom, but there are still grooming tasks that responsible bird owners need to do to keep their feathered friends looking their very best. Grooming can be stressful and uncomfortable for a bird, however, and knowing how to do these tasks quickly and easily will make the process better for both bird and owner.
- Why Birds May Need Help Grooming
While wild birds are able to keep their bills, talons and feathers in excellent condition through their daily activities, the life of ease and comfort pet birds have makes it more difficult for them to stay well-groomed. The natural wear that keeps bills and talons in the proper shape for wild birds is not the same as for pet birds, which are offered soft, bite-size food that doesn’t need to be pursued, caught, cracked, shelled or otherwise manipulated before nibbling. Pet birds are also not subject to seasonal climate cycles, migration patterns and other facets of wild bird life that help keep them in great shape. Instead, pet birds may have inadequate or uneven wear on their bills and talons, overgrown feathers and poor conditioning. Fortunately, it is easy to help keep your pet bird looking great.
- Grooming Your Bird
There are several essential grooming tasks that can keep your bird in peak condition. Not all birds will require every type of grooming assistance, however, and novice bird owners should seek the advice and guidance of a professional groomer or experienced bird veterinarian to learn the best grooming techniques to suit their bird’s individual needs and personality.
The typical tasks needed to groom a bird include…
- Talon Trimming
A bird’s talons are essential for a firm grip while perching, manipulating food or walking around a cage. When talons are too long, the bird may develop an unbalanced gait or lameness, and long talons may cause scratches or other injuries. They can also snag fabric and cause stress if the bird feels trapped. Trimming talons is easily done with small nail clippers, removing just the tips of the talons to blunt and shorten them. Another option is filing the talons with a rotary file that will automatically cauterize the tips if there is any inadvertent injury.
- Bill Trimming
A bird’s bill is continually worn down as it manipulates its food or uses its bill for climbing and gripping. In captivity, soft foods do not wear down the bird’s bill, and an overgrown bill can make it more difficult for a bird to eat or preen properly. A small file can be used to even out the bill shape or slightly reduce an overgrown tip if needed. Providing harder foods or toys for a pet bird to gnaw will also help keep the bill in proper shape.
- Wing Clipping
Small pet birds such as canaries that do not leave their cages may never need their wings clipped, but larger birds such as parrots and macaws that enjoy time outside their cages will need regular clippings. Clipping the wings shortens the outermost flight feathers to make it more difficult for the birds to fly to greater altitudes or further distances, but they can still glide effectively and land safely.
Birds do not need to be regularly bathed, but they will enjoy the opportunity to bathe themselves. Misting your bird lightly with a spray bottle will trigger their preening instincts, or you can provide a shallow water dish they can splash in. The water should be kept fresh and clean, and no soaps, conditioners or other chemicals are necessary.
Many birds, including some popular pet bird species, enjoy dusting – rolling and “splashing” around in ultra fine dust or sand. This helps absorb body oils and keeps skin and feathers in good condition. You can easily provide dust for your bird to use, but be aware that it will be messy process as the bird enthusiastically raises a cloud of dust while it preens.
Regardless of the type of grooming your bird may need, it is best to never attempt any trimming, bathing or grooming if the bird is stressed or sick. Doing so will only aggravate the bird and can make its symptoms worse. Instead, delay grooming for a few days, or do it only in very small sections to keep stress as minimal as possible – such as clipping only 1-2 talons per day rather than struggling to do all of them at once.
- Keeping Clean
One of the easiest ways to help your bird stay groomed is to be sure its cage is clean. Remove soiled bedding, spilled food, shed feathers, feces and other debris every day, and be sure there are plentiful toys for the bird to use to keep its talons and bill in good shape. With just a little extra help, your bird will always look its best!
If you have any other questions please give us a call at 732-441-7102