Bird Care 101

By PetMD Editorial on Aug. 3, 2009

Caring for Your Bird

There’s more to getting a bird than simply buying a cage (although more on that below). Birds are delicate and complex creatures that need lots of loving care and attention to be happy and healthy. So don't be fooled, playing them Sesame Street to see their friend, Big Bird, or the film the Bird Cage doesn’t count for much.

Like with any pet, research the breed before bringing it home. This way there’ll be no surprises. Important things to pay attention to: genetic health risks, size, and the breed's personality traits. Some birds, for example, require much more care than others, even special foods. Then, once you find a breed that fits your lifestyle and personality, you can move on to the nitty-gritty.

Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Don't worry about designing a fanciful fun house for the bird. Your bird isn't going to care about pretty bars and ornate details. It will, however, care about room to move.

Obviously the size of the bird dictates the size of the cage, but it's essential the bird have enough room to spread both of its wings and move about freely. The wider, the better. The perch, meanwhile, should be at a height that suits your particular bird, preferably at a level where the bird can climb and settle on top of without too much effort. Don't overdo the amount of bird perches, though. Too many perches may hinder the bird’s ability to move.

The most popular bird cages are made from metal, but over time these may chip, rust, and poison your bird. There are, however, powder-coated finishes that are more resistant to structural flaws, and are better for climbing and grasping. You may even decide to purchase a stainless steel cage, which are expensive, but rust-proof, chip-resistant, and easy to clean.

Polly Want a Cracker (and Drink)

Food and water are important to us all living creatures. Birds are no different. Just fill each bowl and place them where the bird can reach from its perch. You may even want to have one set at perching level, and the other one on the cage's floor. Just make sure you consider where the bird spends its time. You wouldn't want its food or water dirtied by droppings.


Of course, while our feathered friends do make fun and beautiful additions to our homes, they need entertainment as well. No, you don’t need to do some stand up or learn some magic tricks (birds are not that demanding), but you may want to purchase some bird toys for your new pet. There are mirrors, climbing gyms, and chewing cuttlebones, all which are made especially for birds. Check out your local pet store for ideas.

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Remember, most of the items and equipment listed above are just the bare essentials for bird care -- you must also provide a warm, loving home and interact with your new pet. Some birds, especially parrots, can live decades. So who knows? You may have just found yourself a lifelong friend.

Image: Ken and Nyetta / via Flickr

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