If you have a bird, there are many special things your bird needs to live a long and healthy life. These sensitive pets can live a LONG time, but their lives can be cut short by ignoring even simple things. Here are tips on how to provide the best life for your bird.
Have a cage that is proper for your bird’s size. They should be able to flap their wings without hitting the edges of their cage at all. A too-small cage can break or sprain your bird’s wing if they flap and damage their wings. Birds have major arteries along the top of their wings, and if severed your bird can die in minutes. I’ve seen it happen, all because a parakeet was in a tiny cage, flapped its wings, and blood was everywhere in seconds. The bird died within 5 minutes, and it could have been totally prevented.
Your bird’s diet goes beyond birdseed. Birds digest their food in their crops, breaking down their food in the little pouch with tiny grains of sand. Wild birds eat dirt and gravel, so caged birds need gravel as well. Buy ground up clam shells in the pet food aisle for your bird (I would by “Gravel and grits”) and mix it with your bird’s food so they can better digest their meal. You can also feed your bird fresh uncooked fruits and veggies, and some birds even enjoy raw hamburger. My cockatiels loved to pick at chicken bones (gross, I know). You can also feed your bird broken egg shells that have been washed so they can get their food digestion substance.
Your bird needs a trimmed beak and trimmed toenails. A too-long beak will grow under the chin, keeping your bird from drinking or eating. Too-long nails keep your bird from being able to stand or perch. Simply wrap a section of sandpaper around your bird’s perch for them to keep their nails and beak trimmed. You can buy a scuttle bone for your bird to chew on for a trimmed beak as well.
Drafts are the main killer of birds, particularly parakeets and smaller birds, like finches. Always keep the bird cage away from an open window or the door, where the constant draft of opening and closing the door can make your bird ill. I lost 2 parakeets to pneumonia from having them near a draft. If you have your bird cage near a window or door, place a light sheet along the side of the cage facing the draft to protect your bird.
Cover your bird at night with a blanket, towel, or sheet to block out light. This keeps your bird from having “night frights” where they flap frantically when they hear noise or sense movement, allows your bird to rest, and also protects your bird from the cold.
Keep the cage clean. An unclean bird cage will mildew from spilled water and seed, and you can actually grow maggots and bugs in the debris all over the floor of the cage. Your bird will also root around in his filthy cage and could get a skin infection or become ill. Clean out the cage at least weekly, and using wood shavings is cleaner than a newspaper flooring.
Fresh water is a must! Birds crap in their water all the time, so you have to give them clean water often. Your bird will drink filthy water with food or feces (or both) in it anyway, so it’s up to you to keep it fresh.
Always make sure they have food. You may think your bird’s food dish is full, but often it is just the shells from what they’ve already consumed. Birds eat a lot, so feed them often.
Birds love junk food, like Cheetos, cereal, and will even take food out of your mouth, but this can cause them to become overweight. Keep your snacks to something healthier, like carrot sticks or raw broccoli, or salt free crackers and corn flakes.
When your bird is loose, limit their exercise to one room so you can keep an eye on them, and make sure the window is closed and the blinds or curtains are drawn. The average bird can hit a window at 40 mph, and even flying around a room your bird can knock themselves silly by smacking your window. One of my birds knocked himself clean out for 5 minutes hitting my bedroom window because I forgot to pull the blinds.
Make sure you let your bird out for about a half hour at least a few times a week, and if you don’t want something chewed on, like pictures, clothing, or plants, cover it with blankets or towels. It only took my birds an hour to completely take apart an entire bicycle helmet that they found in the closet. Birds will eat your plants, and your plants may be toxic, so keep them out of reach.
Don’t allow your bird to be stressed, or else he will start pulling out his feathers. A stressed bird will be more comfortable in a quiet room with a mirror for a friend, and if your bird cage is out in the open, simply cover a side of the cage so your bird can hit a comfort zone and not resort to yanking out all his feathers.
A healthy bird is a bird with proper diet, a clean cage, interaction, and a bird who is safe from toys he can get tangled in or animals who can harm him. Unfortunately, a lot of birds die from things other than old age, and a few simple precautions are all you need to help your bird live a long time.