Basic Bird Care

Basic bird care and purchasing a new pet bird.

There are a huge variety of birds available as pets in Australia. Each variety has unique characteristics, colours, sizes, temperament and special needs so it’s important that you learn and gather as much information as possible. This will help you choose the right bird for your needs and also cater adequately for the bird’s needs too.

Some birds like handling but others don’t. All birds are enjoyable to watch, listen to and have around. Some birds are great talkers, others have a beautiful song and some bring endless fun antics to each day.

Learn all you can about the type of bird you are getting. Equipped with knowledge and understanding, you will have a better idea of what to expect. You'll then be able to provide the pet bird care it needs and the result will be maximum enjoyment with

Buying a bird is a serious commitment for at least five years but some birds can even live as long as you! Keep in mind the following helpful checklist when making your decision:

  • Children caring for birds: Owning a pet bird provides a child with companionship and teaches the child responsibility and care. Parents must still supervise the day-to-day care so that the bird is not neglected through ignorance or loss of interest.
  • Which bird?   The specfic bird for you depends on your family situation, space available and time you have to put into training and playing with your new pet.  For example a canary or budgerigar is a particularly good pet for a family with very limited space or modest means. They are suitable for people living alone, especially flat dwellers, the individuality they show depends on the degree of freedom they are allowed and on the stimulation provided by their surroundings and their companion. 
  • Housing: A well-designed and built aviary is the most satisfactory housing for birds, enabling them to live with freedom of movement and adequate opportunity for flight. Circumstances often dictate that birds are kept in cages, usually manufactured of metal with wire mesh screening. The minimum size of cage to house one bird will depend on the breed of bird you choose and recommendations can be found on the RSPCA website. The cage should be positioned in a well lit, sunny area where the birds will have frequent human contact, and in which it will be safe to be released for exercise if possible. A portable cage stand permits the birds to be repositioned for their comfort. Appropriate perches of varying size must be provided as well as well-secured food and water troughs. It is ideal to make perches out of natural branches as opposed to dowel wood as this can damage a birds feet.  The food and water receptacles should not be positioned beneath bird perches and any accidental contamination of the food and water by bird droppings must be removed immediately.
  • Activities: Most pet birds are highly intelligent creatures whose psychological needs must be identified and addressed to maintain their welfare in captivity. Allowing some species an opportunity for supervised freedom outside the cage and some time to fly is recommended.   Be careful to ensure that the bird can be kept safe from,windows, cieling fans and low hanging light fixtures. 
  • Toys : Toys are a good mental diversions encouraging exercise and beak wear.  However, It is important to select toys appropriate to the size of bird you have.    Chew toys include natural branches, natural fibre rope toys as well as rawhid chews.    There are also a wid variety of toys available that can hide food in them and force the bird to use its brain to figure out the puzzle to release the food.    Some more nautral options include hiding food items around the cage and environment to enourage your bird to spend more time foraging. 
  • Sleep : Birds should get 10-12 hours of darkness and sleep each night all year round.     This can help prevent many behavioural issues, a towel or cloth can be used to cover the birds cage at night to help block out natural light when they are trying to sleep. 
  • Protection: At night the cage should be covered over to permit the bird to rest and to protect it from draughts. Should the cage be placed outside the house at any time, it must be in a position that is safe from predators - cats and wild birds – that could scare or directly injure the bird. Birds should not be left in the sun without shade and should be protected from overheating on hot days.
  • Cleaning: A tray on the floor of the cage will collect excreta and should be removed each day and thoroughly cleaned. The cage itself should be easy to scrub out, while water and food troughs and perches should be easily removable for cleaning purposes.
  • Handling: It is important to train your bird to be handled, especially to permit examination for signs of ill-health. Begin by letting them become accustomed to being handled in the cage. Soon they will become finger-tame, and then they may be able to be handled outside the cage. It will require a good deal of patience and gentleness when handling birds, especially canaries.
  • Talking: Some birds that have constant close contact with their owner will learn to talk. These birds can start to talk at about six weeks of age, and if they have not succeeded by six months, they probably never will. Teaching a bird to talk starts by using the same word over and over. Once the bird has learnt one word, new words or complete phrases may be achieved.
  • Feeding:  Each species of bird has specific dietry requirements for that species.  It is best to do your reseach for the species of bird you have to make sure you are providing a suitable diet.  In general, it is best to avoid a diet that is majority seed based, as these a high in fat and can cause health problems in the future. We recommend adding in a portion of pelleted diets suitable for the species of your pet and fresh greeen vegis and grasses as part of a birds diet. 

When should your bird visit the vet? 

At Glenorie Vet clinic we offer a wide range of services for our avian patients, just click here to find out more.  We recommend an annual health check, this is the equivalent to you visiting the docotor every 5-10 years.   Annual health checks allow us to pick up signs of disease early before they become too serious.      There are some avian emergencies which require a visit to the vet immediatly which include: 

  • Reduced appetite or not eating
  • Sitting in a different location in the cage
  • Change in fecal colour or consistency 
  • Bleeding 
  • Being fluffed up 
  • Difficulty breathing. 

If you have any questions about bird care or notice any issues with your feathered friend please call us on 9652 1338.