Seed diets, while more affordable, simply don’t provide the nutrition that parrots need. Seeds are high in fat, which most captive birds don’t need. Plus, they are very low in essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins that keep a bird healthy.
Over time, birds fed a seed diet will fall victim to a compromised immune system leaving them vulnerable to infections and illness.
There are a number of specialty pelleted diets made specifically for birds. Pellets are formulated to provide a proper balance of nutrients that your bird requires for ideal health.
Many Avian Vets recommend Harrison’s Bird Foods and Roudybush. They also recommend a rich range of fresh, raw plant-based foods.
Save time with your bird care plan by ordering premium parrot food from subscription websites like Amazon.com
Supplement bird pellets with a rich variety of raw (uncooked) plant-based foods that offer your bird the greatest range of bio-available nutrients. You’ll want to feed fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A, magnesium, and calcium. You'll also want to ensure that your bird gets a dash of essential fatty acids like coconut oil and red palm oil.
Always wash fruits and vegetables as your bird is susceptible to the toxins in pesticides. Diluted GSE safely cleans toxins off of vegetables.
Make time every day to ensure that your bird has fresh water. In hot summer months you should change the water in both the morning and evening.
Birds love to dip pellets or food in water leaving it susceptible to spoiling. They also tend to bathe in it and use it as a toilet bowl.
Imagine the bacteria and fungus that can grow in water in just a few short hours. Wash bowls thoroughly at least once a day.
The white filmy stuff on the bowl surface is full of bacteria and fungus. Contaminated water can cause fungal infections that are deadly, take months to recover from, and are expensive to diagnose and treat.
Avoid the heartbreak and just offer clean water at all times. Make offering fresh water part of your morning bird care plan.
To care for your bird, you have to be aware of seasonal changes. In the winter, you need to make sure that your bird stays warm, while in the summer, you need to make sure that it doesn't get overheated. Make sure that your bird has safe, supervised outdoor access during the summer months.
Many bird's undergo stressful molts between January and March and their body can be depleted of nutrients as they grow new feathers. Generally, the molt is followed by a natural hormonal period during which time the adult bird would be preparing to find a mate, prepare a nest, and rear young. This is another time of year that your bird's body will undergo dramatic changes.
To encourage exercise, always provide the largest cage you can afford. Keep in mind that the bar space of the cage should not be larger than your birds head. You don’t want your bird to get its head stuck between the bars.
Stick with powder-coated cages or stainless steel cages to avoid metal toxicity. Birds seem to get a lot of enjoyment rubbing their beaks up and down the cage bars.
Inferior cages can poison your bird with lead or zinc. While you may think you are saving money by purchasing a used or cheap cage, it may be a decision that you regret later.
When choosing a bird cage, look for one with a big door. Also, examine the bird cage for crevices where food and poop can get stuck. The fewer places that you have to scrub the easier it will be for you to maintain your bird care plan.
Peachy, my Moluccan Cockatoo
Provide a variety of appropriate sized perches for your bird. Good choices are natural branches and rope perches.
On rope perches, trim strings longer than an inch in length, or better yet, avoid them altogether. Avoid dowel perches that cause foot cramping and chronic foot problems.
You may want to clean hardwood and Sandy Perches in the dishwasher to make keeping cage accessories easier.
In addition to cleaning food and water bowls, routinely wipe cages down with a bird safe disinfectant, such as Pet Focus.
Bleach is extremely toxic when inhaled so it is best avoided if at all possible. You can use A & E makes a good cage cleaner that can dissolve stubborn poop and food stains, however, it does not disinfect.
Change cage paper routinely. When food, poop and water mix, on tray paper or substrate, it makes a nasty breeding ground for deadly fungus and bacteria.
If your bird’s immune system is compromised due to stress or poor diet, the outcome could be disastrous. Save yourself a lot of heart ache by making cleaning a part of your daily bird care plan.
Regular baths rinse dust and dirt from your bird’s feathers, skin and even its sinuses. Baths moisturize skin, too. Bathing options include misting, bathing in a bowl, or even on a shower perch.
Find the method that your bird most enjoys. You may have to train your bird to tolerate baths. Bathing also helps make cleaning tasks easier by washing a lot of dust and dander right down the drain.
We recommend that you bathe your bird minimum of three times a week, even in the winter. Dusty species like cockatoos, cockatiels and African grey's will benefit from daily bathing.
Plan on “bird-proofing” your home, just as you might if you had a toddler in the house. Birds are incredibly curious and they’ll chew electric wires, explore electric outlets, chew up stuff that isn’t good for them etc.
While clipping your bird’s wings is a personal choice, keep in mind that flighted birds are susceptible to in-home injury and prone to flying out of an open window or door.
Some of the more common flight injuries that we hear about include drowning in open water, such as toilets, flying into windows or ceiling fans.
Birds instinctually mouth everything, leaving them susceptible to ingesting poisonous metals such as lead and zinc or other toxic items. You’d be amazed at the things in your home that contain lead and other metals.
Anything that has been soldered contains lead. This includes lampshades, stained glass and stereo equipment. Lead is in curtain weights, old paint or painted cages from undeveloped countries such as Mexico or China,
Chipped ceramic bowls contain lead. Costume jewelry, foil, aluminum cans, foil from the top of wine and beer bottles, floor linoleum and even min-blinds contain toxic lead and zinc.
Symptoms of lead toxicity include incoordination, seizures, anemia, and kidney damage. If your bird has any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.
Birds are particularly sensitive to airborne toxins due to their super-efficient respiratory system. While their respiratory system enables them to fly, it poses problems in an enclosed household.
Common airborne toxins include any non-stick surface, such as Teflon-coated cookware, drip pans, irons and self-cleaning ovens. Never allow Teflon to overhead.
Toxic fumes are deadly to birds. Your bird can get toxicity pesticides, wet paint, floor and rug cleaning solutions, wood burning fireplace smoke, air fresheners, incense, scented candles, hair spray, perfume, hot-oil frying, cleaning products, and burning plastic, just to name a few.
Cigarette or marijuana smoke is very toxic to birds, too. As a rule of thumb, avoid using any substance that gives off fumes or odors. Always remove your bird from the immediate area and air out your home if you smell any of the above odors.
When developing your bird care plan, take a look at your pots and pans and other household items that contain teflon. It could be an iron, to an electric cooking appliance. Always unplug electric appliances that contain teflon.
Keep your bird away from cats, dogs, ferrets, larger birds and other potentially harmful animals. Wild animals have even been known to enter pet doors and attack pet birds.
Never allow small children to play with a pet bird unless they are closely supervised.
If another animal bites or mouths your bird, seek an IMMEDIATE appointment with a veterinarian, preferably an avian vet. Animal saliva is deadly to birds.
When developing your bird care plan, figure out a way to keep small birds away from other household pets.
Safe bird toys are essential to your pet’s well-being. The key word here is “safe.”
Make sure that the metal hardware or embellishments are made from bird safe substances to avoid metal toxicity. Ensure that the toy is properly sized for your parrot species.
Larger parrots often break off plastic parts and swallow them. Rope toys should be inspected frequently and strings trimmed to avoid neck or toe strangulation. Inspect bird toys for wear and tear at least weekly.
Watch for the following signs of sickness in birds. Birds instinctually hide illness until it is critical. Learn the signs of a sick or injured bird.
As part of your bird care plan, keep your avian veterinarian's phone number handy and maybe even on speed dial on your cell phone.
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Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in anxiety disorders and nutrition for mental health. With over 30 years experience, in a range of settings, she’s created thousands of successful behavior plans to help turn around challenging behavior. She’s authored a number of books on supporting challenging behavior in birds.
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Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.
Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.
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