There are various birds available as pets in Australia. Each variety has unique characteristics, temperaments, colours, sizes, and special needs so it is important that you gather as much information as possible. This will help you choose the right bird for your circumstances and allow you to meet your bird's needs.
Some birds like handling while others do not. All birds are enjoyable to watch, listen to, and to have around. Some birds are great talkers, others have a beautiful song and some bring great companionship and endless fun antics to each day.
Learn all that you can about the type of bird you intend to get. Equipped with knowledge and understanding, you will have a better idea of what to expect and you will be better able to provide the pet bird with the care that it needs to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
Buying a bird is a serious commitment of at least five years, however, some birds can even live as long as (or longer than) 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? 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 care of these caged birds could hardly be more simple or undemanding, but the individuality they show depends on the degree of freedom they are allowed and on the stimulation provided in their surroundings and by their companions. Larger birds such as eclectus parrots and cockatoos require much larger cages (or an aviary), far more human interaction, and constant stimulation.
- Male or female: They say only the male canary sings and whistles and the male budgerigar is usually easier to teach to talk. Generally, males of most bird species are easier to teach to talk. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule - one of our nurses has a talking (albeit tone-deaf) female cockatiel! There are other important differences to be aware of between the genders of each species and these should be thoroughly researched before you make your decision.
- Health care routine: This will depend on the species of bird you decide upon. An initial veterinary check-up will help you to develop a health care routine for your bird, as well as address necessary parasite control treatments (e.g. worming).
- Housing: A well-designed aviary is the most satisfactory housing for any bird, enabling them to live with freedom of movement and adequate opportunity for flight. If a bird is kept in an inside cage, it should be positioned in a well-lit sunny area where the birds will have frequent human contact. The minimum size of a cage will depend on the breed and number of birds. If it is safe and possible to do so, your bird should be released from the cage regularly for exercise. Be mindful of windows/glass surfaces and ceiling fans. Prevent your bird flying into these as it can cause fatal injuries. A portable cage “stand” allows a bird to be repositioned for their comfort, and appropriate perches of various sizes must be provided. Food and water troughs should be well-secured and not positioned beneath bird perches; any accidental contamination by bird droppings must be removed immediately.
- Activities: Ladders, bells, ropes, swings, mirrors, and other suitable toys provide some stimulation for a caged bird, but avoid over-furnishing as this will crowd the cage and may result in injury.
- Protection: At night the cage should be covered (e.g. with a towel) to allow the bird to rest and to protect it from draughts. Outside cages must be safe from predators (e.g. cats and wild birds) that may scare or attack and injure your bird. Do not leave your bird in the sun without shade, and protect them fro overheating on hot days. Most birds enjoy a gentle "mist" from a spray bottle of water on a hot day, however, do not drench your bird as it can prevent them from flying and results in a chill.
- 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 clean while water and food troughs, and perches, should be removable for easy cleaning.
- Handling: It is important to train your bird to be handled, especially to enable physical examinations
for signs of ill-health. Begin by letting them become accustomed to being handled in the cage.
Soon they will become tame enough to sit on your finger, and then they may be able to be
handled outside the cage. Handling a bird requires a lot of patience and gentleness, particularly
with finches and 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. Generally, if they are not talking by six-months-old, they are unlikely to learn after this time. To teach a bird to talk you must start by using the same word over and over. Once the bird has learnt one word, new words or complete phrases may be achieved.
- Feeding: The caged bird's basic diet should consist of a specially prepared seed mixture. This diet should be supplemented with fruit and vegetables. Cuttlefish bone should be available in every
cage to provide many trace minerals required by birds. Fresh water is essential to a bird's life and must be replenished frequently in hot weather or if becomes fouled.
Alphabetical lists of toxic-non-toxic plants, wood, fruit, and vegetables for birds:
If you have any further questions relating to bird care or you would like to book an appointment,
please give us a call on 9274 1845.