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.
Since eating is a bonding time for parrots, just like it is with people, it is okay to feed healthy table foods to birds. Just make sure that you watch the salt and fat. Check this list of foods to avoid. You’ll want to feed fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A and calcium. Always wash fruits and vegetables as your bird is susceptible to the toxins in pesticides. GSE is a good choice as is Morning Bird Sparkle
Make time every day to insure that your bird has fresh water. In hot summer months you should change the water in the morning and evening. Birds love to dip their pellets or food in water. 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.
General Parrot Care
Choosing A Bird Cage
For a healthy bird, 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.
Provide a variety of perches for your bird. Good choices are natural branches and rope perches. Trim strings longer than an inch in length. Avoid dowel perches that cause foot cramping and chronic foot problems.
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 AviClean to 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. Learn about bacterial and fungal infections here.
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 relieve your cleaning tasks by washing a lot of dust and dander 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 greys will benefit from daily bathing.
Where to Shop for Bird Supplies
Generic, big box stores, including pet stores often sell bird supplies that are known to cause health problems in birds. Our vet tells us that the most common injuries they see from improper bird supplies include injured feet from stale bird food to sandpaper perches, digestive problems from grit, fungus and bacterial infections from walnut shell or corncob bedding, and pesticide toxicity from chemical mite protectors. Birds have sensitive bodies so we recommend that you only with bird specialists who can guide you on proper bird care and species specific supplies.
Bird Safety Tips
Making Your Home “Bird Safe”
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. Learn how to “bird-proof your home here.
Clipping Your Bird’s Wings
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 injuries we hear about include drowning in open water, such as toilets, flying into windows or ceiling fans.
Metal Toxicity and Swallowing Toxic Items
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. 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.
Protect Your Bird from Airborne Toxins
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 from spray pesticides, wet paint, floor and rug cleaning solutions, fireplace smoke, air fresheners, incense, scented candles, hair spray, perfume, hot-oil frying, cleaning products, and burning plastic are deadly to birds. 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 area and air out your home if you smell any of the above odors.
Supervise Your Bird with Children and Pets
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.
Provide Your Bird with Safe Toys
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. Insure 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.
Poor appetite and activity level
Sitting fluffed, especially on the bottom of the cage,
Sleeping more than usual
Respiratory symptoms such nasal discharge, sneezing, wheezing or crackling breathing sounds,
Unusual droppings or regurgitation that is not associated with hormonal behavior.