Basic Bird Care
Whether we are talking about Budgies or Macaws, the basic needs for all these parrots are the same. I will be talking about basic care here. Within the individual species there will be differences in some nutritional needs and emotional needs. I highly recommend anyone that is interested in sharing their life with a bird to study the individual species you are interested in. Unfortunately, breeders don't give you the whole story. Why would they? Their main interest is to sell you a bird. Should they tell you everything you would need to know, you would probably change your mind. So please before taking a parrot into your home, learn all you can. Your bird will also need basic vet care. Find an Avian Vet in your area. Dr. Mohan from Reynoldsburg, Ohio visits our area twice a year. Their phone number is 614-755-2273
(It is unfortunate that we do not have a vet in our area that is knowledgable about birds)
Basic Food Needs
Seed should make up 25% or less of your birds diet. I also have available at all times pelleted food. Change and wash food and water bowls daily. Bacteria can grow quickly if their bowls are allowed to be dirty (which can cause a multitude of illnesses). They need fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other healthy foods (yes. people foods). I begin breakfast everyday with fresh broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, apples, grapes and assorted other veggies, and sometimes add some scrambled eggs. Cooked rice is always nice at lunch or added with dinner, which by the way, is the same exact thing that my husband and I are having. Our birds eat all the same things that we do, in fact, I wouldn't think of sitting down at the dinner table without all the birdies bowls being filled first. The guilt would be too much. The only exceptions are avocados, caffeine, chocolate and of course alcohol these are toxic to birds. Please watch their intake of salt and sugar and keep that out of their diet. Well, so much for the old ideas of here is the bird and here is the seed. The other things that should NOT be fed, are sunflower seeds and peanuts. Sunflower seed is high in fat and low in nutrition, birds will become addicted to them and not want anything else, which will cause an overweight and malnurished bird that leads to liver disease and eventually death. Peanuts are not actually a nut, they are a legume and they can carry a fungus that can cause aspergillus. Which can be deadly. So the proper ratio of food for your parrot is, 25% good quality seed, 25% pellet, 25% fresh fruits, and 25% fresh veggies. Please make sure your fruits and veggies are grown in the United States or get organic if you can.
Please do not feed grapes grown out of the U.S. as the pesticides that the other countries us can soak into the meat of the grape and kill our birds.
These birds are not domestic animals, they were meant to fly free and forage in the forest and be with their flock, but we have taken all that away from them by buying them from breeders and pet stores. The demand goes up and the breeding continues without educating the new owners. The bird gets stuck in a cage in the corner of the living room, that is until they find out how messy and loud the bird is and then they are banished to the basement or worse. To me, there is no cage that would be too large. Buy the largest one you can afford and even then make sure the birdies have as much time out of that cage that you can give them (a minimum would be 4 hours a day). Use newspaper on the bottom of the cage, that way you can keep an eye on droppings (one of the first signs of illness) and the print retards bacteria growth. Change it daily. Don't use the cob or the shavings in the bottom, it promotes bacteria growth within hours if it gets wet (which it will). I guess I keep putting myself in the place of the bird, we clip their wings and put them in a cage in the corner and just feed the same old seeds everyday, I would say that the quality of life would not be there. These birds have the intelligence level of a 5 to 6 year old child. Would you do these things to your children? The thought nowdays is to build flight cages to add non toxic plants to their areas, to try to give them a more natural area. There is a wonderful group that now teaches how to build flight cages for you homes, www.naturalbird.com. Go visit and see the wonderful housing they are doing now. The point I am trying to make is, these birds were not born into this lifestyle, they did not asked to be here, but here they are, and now, it is our responsibility to give them the best possible life we can give them. We make ourselves responsible for their lives by having one as a companion.
My thoughts on wing clipping has changed a great deal in the last several years. The old thought is to keep them trimmed to prevent escape. Now, my belief is, it is our responsibility to keep them safe and allow flight (after all that is their nature). Work your home so that it is birdie safe, watch open doors and windows, screen in porches...if at all possible allow flight. If that just isn't an option, please do a modified wing clip that will still allow some flight but not to get altitude. Please have this done by a professional, preferably an avian vet. So many do such a severe wing clip that the poor birds hit the floor so hard they hurt themselves. You can also hit blood feathers and cause bleed out, which is another reason we recommend a professional to do this.
Toenails need to be kept trimmed as well. I suggest you find a professional or an avian vet to handle these needs so that it is done correctly.
Bath time is also very important, a plant spray bottle or a tub for them to bath themselves. It keeps the feathers healthy and expends unused energy that they would normally be using in the wild to forage. My birds pretty much get daily bathing ...we have a outside bird bath set up for them indoors, they love it! Wild Birds Unlimited have easy lightweight bird baths that can be easy to handle and clean indoors. My birds just fly over and jump in. My African Gray even has bathtub toys!!
Try to do this early in the day so they have plenty of time to dry off before bedtime, and make sure they aren't in any drafty areas!
These are just very basic bird care needs, and it has amazed me how many people that I have spoken with that don’t even realize these simple facts.
Keep checking back, I will be adding new information from time to time.