Basic Care For Your Pet Bird

Biological Facts

  • Budgies may live 10-12 years or more
  • Cockatiels may live 15-20 years or more
  • Larger parrots may live 25-50 years or more
  • Cockatiels weight averages 75-125 gm; Budgies average 30 gm; cockatoos average 300-1000 gm; other large parrots average 300-600 gm with macaws getting up to 1500 gm

Behavior

  • Parent-raised (until weaned) birds are better adjusted those raised entirely by humans
  • Human handling during this time results in more tame adult birds
  • Tamed birds readily adapt to new surroundings and activities – expose early to daily activities in your household as well as to other pets
  • Birds are intelligent, curious, and are easily amused with simple toys and love to explore their surroundings
  • Birds need environmental enrichment to reduce the chance of feather picking
  • Birds with unrestricted access in the home will encounter numerous dangers and should be housed in a “bird friendly” safe room.

Diet

  • Birds need fresh, specifically formulated diets, such as Harrison’s or Zupreem diets
  • Treats should be limited to only 5% of the diet; dark green vegetables and fruits can be 10-30% of diet
  • Clean, fresh water should be provided daily

Housing

  • Enclosures should be as large as possible, with the bird able to fully extend it’s wings and flap without touching the sides of the enclosure
  • Enclosure should be clean, secure, safe and constructed of durable, non-toxic materials, with varied perches such as Polly’s Pet Perches
  • Avoid placing perches directly over food or water to prevent contamination
  • Access to natural light is preferred, but avoid drafty areas.
  • Birds outside of cages need constant supervision to avoid access to other pets, small children, and any household toxins.

Preventative Care

  • Bi-annual physical examinations
  • Fecal examinations
  • Blood work annually for adults
  • Wing trimming every 3-6 mths, as needed

Common Disorders of Chicks

  • Crop disorders/ burns
  • Trauma
  • Foreign body aspiration
  • Fungal, bacterial, and viral infections
  • Candida yeast infection
  • Hypothermia

Common Disorders of Adults

  • Behavior – feather picking, screaming, aggression and biting
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Fungal, viral , and bacterial infections
  • Obesity
  • Parasites
  • Reproductive disorders, such as egg binding and cloacal prolapse

Courtesy of Dr. Dan H. Johnson, DVM, Dipl. ABVP-ECM
Board Certified in Exotic Companion Mammal Practice Avian and Exotic Animal Care Raleigh, NC