This January 5th marks the annual National Bird Day; a time to celebrate our beloved, feathered friends. At University Veterinary Care Center, we are proud to provide care to a wide variety of birds, from parrots to peacocks and everything in between.
One of UVCC’s guiding principles is to provide opportunities for clients to become more knowledgeable about their pets, so in honor of National Bird Day, we have compiled a list of 8 things to know prior to purchasing or adopting a new bird.
Saying it’s a time commitment is putting it lightly
Birds live longer than most other pets, while this means you won’t have to say goodbye anytime soon, it may mean your bird actually outlives you. A few of the birds regularly seen here at UVCC are pushing 30 years old.In addition to a long lifespan, birds require a lot of daily interaction time, mental stimulation, and environmental enrichment. Birds are very intelligent creatures and if their needs are not met, they may become destructive.
Birds have very specific housing needs
While it is important for your bird to spend time outside their cage, it is equally important to provide a safe and clean cage for your bird as well. Cages should be large enough for your specific bird species. Along with the bars being spaced appropriately apart to prevent heads from getting stuck.The location of the cage is also important, for example: stay away from drafty, high traffic areas, and kitchens to reduce fume exposure.
They need room and fresh air to breath
Birds have a unique respiratory system and are very sensitive to air quality. Certain chemicals and fumes can be fatal. Owners who use tobacco will need to move all use outdoors to protect their birds. Also, several household items can be toxic; these include, non-stick cookware, scented candles, air fresheners, burned cooking oil, ammonia based cleaning products, and even hair spray. For your bird’s safety, do not use these potentially toxic products near your bird.
A balanced bird diet = lots of variety
Birds need a varied diet for optimal health. A balanced diet may include high quality pellets, fresh fruits, vegetables, and small amount of seed. Variety provides nutrients and mental stimulation while also preventing overindulgence on seeds (the candy of the bird world).
Discuss nutrition with your veterinarian to ensure you are meeting your bird’s specific dietary needs. Remember, no matter how perfect the diet, birds are naturally messy eaters who love to play with their food.
Noisy little birdies
Although there is a lot of diversity in the bird world, one thing is common throughout: noise! Vocalizing is an important way for birds to communicate. If peace and quiet is very important to you, a bird may not be a suitable pet.
Grooming is a necessity but they may need help
Birds naturally groom themselves and sometimes their owners, but from time to time they will require a little help. Birds require periodic misting or showers with clean, warm water. Every bird is an individual and may like a different amount of water, just be sure not to saturate your bird’s feathers. Also important are periodic toe nail, beak, and wing trims. Trimmings reduce the risk of broken legs, difficulty eating, arthritis and more.
Your bird may not want to be BFFs with your other pets
If you are adding a bird into a multi-pet household, some precautions need to be taken for every animal’s safety. Dogs and cats are natural predators to birds and they should never be allowed to interact unsupervised. It is ideal to have a room dedicated to your bird that is separate from other pets.
Veterinary care on average is less often but the right vet can be harder to find
When you acquire a bird, be sure to find and establish a working relationship with knowledgeable veterinarian, who has experience treating birds.
For the most part, on average birds require less veterinary care than dogs and cats, however, it is recommended that an initial exam performed in the first few weeks of purchasing or adopting a new bird. Additionally, yearly physical exams, and periodic nail trims may also be necessary.
Avian ownership can be incredibly rewarding. If you currently own a bird or plan to become a bird owner, please let University Veterinary Care Center help you make the most of your relationship with your feathered family member.