Steps to a Healthy, Happy Bird
Feeding Your Bird
A proper diet must include a variety of sources for carbohydrates, fats and protein. Since seed diets are too high in fats and phosphorus and also deficient in vitamin A and calcium we recommend that commercial pellets diets become at least 60-70% of daily intake. The remaining 30-40% of diet should be fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains without added salt or fat. Nuts and seeds should be offered sparingly as special treats. Never feed your bird chocolate, coffee, or avocados. Often, even if provided a wide variety of foods, birds will be picky and tend to eat just a few of the items presented.
Even if you’ve tried these diets before, talk to your veterinarian today about new formulas that are available and new techniques that often will make even the most stubborn bird into a convert!
When giving foods above-and-beyond pellets, it’s a good idea to give foods that are higher in vitamin A as this is a frequently-missed nutrient. Here are some ideas: Squash, cantaloupe, mangoes, papayas, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, egg yolk (cooked), endive, kale, spinach, and cod-liver oil. Be sure to wash all vegetables well.
Please do not allow your bird free access without supervision. Most of our bird emergencies arise from injuries from other animals in the household.
All toys, caging and perches must be free of shiny metallic paints, lead, pewter, or galvanized coatings. All of these can be toxic if ingested. Teflon cookware must be avoided or used with caution. When teflon overheats it produces extremely toxic fumes that can kill your bird. Teflon can also be present in new heaters, heat lamps, and hairdryers. Check labels carefully for any new electrical products you purchase. Avoid or remove your bird during the use of insecticides, oven cleaners, air fresheners, aroma therapy or scented candles.
Manufactured cages are generally safe. We recommend square or rectangular caging with natural-style perches (branches of manzanita, cholawood, or madrona). Dowels do not provide enough exercise or nail wear for the feet. Ropes, cement • perches and various toys are recommended also to encourage activity and variety. We recommend covering their cage at night to promote security, prevent drafts, and provide privacy for proper amounts of sleeping. You can keep a night light on nearby to prevent “night-frights”, a phenomenon that primarily occurs in cockatiels. In general, a bird’s day should be about 12-14 hours. At our latitude and climate, full-spectrum lighting is also recommended.
Incandescent full-spectrum bulbs are available at pet stores. These should be about 75 watts and placed 3 feet above the cage. These provide ultraviolet light that is otherwise unavailable (due to cloud cover) or reflected by windows with double-paned glass. Ultraviolet light is important for vitamin D synthesis and integration of calcium in the bones; it may also playa part in overall well being.
We recommend nail trims and wing trims at regular intervals, usually twice yearly. Some birds never need their nails trimmed, other will require grooming every 2-3 months. Have your bird’s nails trimmed whenever they become uncomfortable to you during handling or when they form about 1/3 the circumference of an imaginary circle.
Feathers must be trimmed to prevent accidental loss out the door or injuries resulting from flying into window or ceiling fans, Your veterinarian would be happy to demonstrate how to trim wings or nails if you wish to perform these activities at home. Beaks should never need trimming unless an injury, dietary deficiency, or deformation has occurred.
Visit the Vet
We recommend an examination by a veterinarian upon purchase of a new bird and annually thereafter. Once a year, we will want to perform an physical examination of your bird and may recommend tests to detect any problems early. We will also discuss diet and conditions and answer questions that have come up in the previous year. Vaccination for polyoma virus can also be discussed. Typically your veterinarian will recommend:
Throat Culture: To check for early indications of infection in the upper respiratory passages. Often these infections come from the environment (handling, vegetables, water). Sometimes stress or lack of vitamin A can predispose your bird to infections.
Fecal and gram stain of your bird’s droppings: To check for bacterial imbalance and internal parasites.
Blood panel: Assesses the status of kidneys, liver, and circulatory systems as well as calcium, protein and cholesterol levels. It can also detect inflammation and infectious diseases.
Viral/Bacterial Testing: For new birds, we often recommend testing for special communicable diseases such as polyoma, psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD), and psittacosis (“parrot fever”). Psittacosis is a disease that can be transmissible to humans. If this bacteria is suspected, testing is imperative to the health of your bird and your family. Testing for these diseases is especially important when you already have birds.
DNA Sexing: We can even send in a blood sample to determine your bird’s sex!