Give Your Bird A Healthy Start For A Long Life
Copyright © 2005 by Margaret Madison
All Rights Reserved
The two most important things you can do for
your birdís health is to keep your bird in a clean environment and
to ensure your bird receives proper nutrition. You canít do
anything about disease your bird was exposed to before you acquired
the bird and you canít do anything regarding your birdís genetics
and what they may be predisposed to, but you can have some control
over what your bird is eating and where your bird is living.
Ideal Cleaning Schedule
Wash water and food dish.
Change food and refill water.
Change the cage paper.
Shake off cage cover outdoors.
Clean cage, cage cover and accessories.
Twice a Month
Thoroughly disinfect cage and accessories.
Cleaning and washing can be done with hot soapy
water, as you would clean your own food bowls and cups.
Disinfecting is done after cleaning the dishes and cups so that no
organic debris is left on the surface. Then you can use any one of
a variety of cleaning products out there. Make sure to use a
disinfectant that combats many of the common organisms that affect
our birds. To safeguard against toxic fumes, disinfect the items
away from your bird, rinse them very well and allow the cage,
accessories and water/food cups to fully air dry before allowing
your bird contact with them again. Having two sets of perches and
cups is handy.
Cleaning is important to the health of your
pet. They have no choice but to live in the conditions you provide
for them. They can suffer respiratory problems from being kept in a
dirty environment. Bird droppings become moldy after sitting long
enough and that creates unhealthy conditions for your bird as well
as the humans. Bird droppings if left long enough turn into dust
and that can also be kicked up into the air and inhaled by humans
and other pets including the birds themselves. Cockatiels not only
have the regular feather flakes and debris that any pet bird will
bring, but the cockatiel is also known as a ďpowder downĒ bird. The
powder down can coat everything quickly and staying on top of
dusting can help you and your birds as well. HEPA air filters can
help cut down on the dust, but you still need to dust to prevent it
from continuing to just blow it all around inside your home. HEPA
filters are also handy on your vacuum cleaner. Many people also
develop allergies to their pet birds and keeping things clean is
best for you as well as your bird.
In addition to HEPA air filters and vacuum
cleaners, to help cut down on bird dust, shake your birdís cage
cover outdoors each morning after uncovering your bird. Bathe/mist
your bird in plain water at least once a week. Your bird would
probably enjoy playing in the water more often though.
There are many ways to offer your bird a
bathing opportunity from a shallow dish in the kitchen sink (this
keeps their toes from getting caught in your sink strainer, plus
gives the water a clean place to accumulate and for the bird to
splash in), a shower perch in the bathroom, a new plant mister that
has had only water ever used in it, or even an oversized water cup
for their cage. Some birds will bathe in any shallow pan of sorts
whether it is a plant saucer or upside down Frisbee.
Other grooming tasks would include keeping
flight feathers trimmed, and keeping nails trimmed. Trimming beaks
should only be done by an avian vet because birds have a sensory
organ in their beak tips which tell them whether what they have in
their beak is hot or cold and whether it is food or not food. An
inexperienced person trimming a beak can permanently damage the beak
to where it will never re-grow normally again or cause an extreme
amount of pain and profuse bleeding from the bird. With the flight
feather trim, the idea is to trim enough so that the bird canít gain
altitude but that enough flight ability is retained so that they can
maneuver and glide to safety avoiding any obstacles that might be in
their way. Nails only need to be trimmed when they are snagging
onto clothing or in toys. If you attempt this yourself, a birdís
quick is very long and thin so you only want to remove the tippy tip
of your birdís nail. Have some corn starch or flour handy to
prevent excessive bleeding. A little bit of blood is a lot to your
bird who only has a couple teaspoons full in his whole body and
birds blood doesnít coagulate like ours does. Bleeding should be
taken seriously in your pet bird.
Providing Proper Nutrition
My birds have a base diet of a half dozen
different pelleted diets. Several varieties are available in their
cages at all times. The pellets comprise approximately half of
their daily food intake. Once a day, usually in the morning, but
occasionally at supper time, they receive a platter of fresh foods.
This is often a partial offering from what Iím having for dinner.
When cooking with the birds in mind, I donít add any butter/oils,
sugars or salts to the foods. These fresh food items can include
warm cooked whole wheat pasta, brown rice, bits of cooked chicken or
salmon (broiled or baked), scrambled eggs, unsweetened cereals or
whole grains, broccoli, sweet potato, peas, carrots, warm cooked
plain beans (no sauces), shredded greens (the darker green the
better), bell pepper seed balls, cucumber, apple, papaya, squash and
zucchini. My birds also get a small amount of seed each night
before bedtime. My goal is to keep their daily intake somewhere
around 50% pellets, 30% fresh food items and 20% or less seed mix.
Always make sure your bird has access to fresh clean water and has a
mineral block and a cuttlebone available in his cage at all times.
Variety in foods is healthy for your birds just as it is for us.
Variety also helps fight boredom.
I donít believe a bird needs any dietary
supplements unless for some reason your bird is in temporary need of
such supplementation and it is determined so by an avian vet. For
example, egg laying hens may require additional calcium
supplementation or if your bird is sick or having some other
digestive problems, there may be a need to supplement the diet. The
thing about vitamin/mineral supplements is that there is no ď100%
dosageĒ pill that a bird can take. We have pre-measured vitamins
for our human use, but birds donít have that luxury. Their
supplements are sprinkled on food or mixed in their water. If the
food is wet, supplements can change the taste of the food and the
birds may not eat any of it after the first accidental taste. If
the food is dry, the sprinkled on supplement just sifts to the
bottom as the bird forages through the food cup picking out his
favorite dried food bits and the supplements gets tossed out with
the hulls and crumbs. If added to their water, it can change the
appearance or taste and the bird may avoid drinking altogether to
avoid the change in the drinking water. There is basically no way
to know with certainty how much of the supplement your bird is
actually ingesting this way. You can overdose a bird on vitamins
and too much of a good thing is nearly as bad as the nutritional
deficiencies themselves. Both circumstances present their own set