If you are thinking about adopting your first bird or getting a bird after many years without one, this article is a must read for you. It is important to know about the bird you are considering—both the good and the bad traits of the species—to be sure that it is the right match for your family.
Birds can be wonderful pets, and with so many species to choose from, it is usually possible to find one that is likely to be a perfect fit for you. In addition to looking for the ideal feathered companion, you’ll also want to be prepared with all the things your new friend needs.
Bird Supplies for Beginners
When you are planning a budget for your new friend, here are some of the things you will want to keep in mind to purchase:
An appropriate cage is perhaps the biggest initial expense in getting set up for a new bird pet. This is not a place to scrimp, for your bird will spend many, many hours in this new home and it is important that it be comfortable.
Purchase the largest cage you can afford that has bars appropriately spaced for the species you are adopting. All birds should be able to fly in their cage, and not just stand and flap their wings.
Be sure that the bars are spaced appropriately to prevent escape and look for features for human comfort, such as easy-to-clean surfaces and castor wheels to allow for easy moving. Place the cage right in the middle of a heavily trafficked area in your home, preferably with a window view. Your bird should always feel part of the family and have things to watch even when not flying loose about the house.
- Small Bird Cage (budgies, cockatiels, lovebirds, conures):
Large Bird Cages (Amazons, African Greys):
Many foods marketed for birds are actually inappropriate for the species. Do your research and look for veterinary sources recommending the food specific to your species of bird. Most appropriate bird foods will look like dog and cat food kibbles (and ideally without any color). If you find bird seed, dried fruit, or bits of vegetables in the bag, chances are that this is the wrong food for your bird (with the possible exceptions being doves, finches, and a few others).
The best bird nutrition means that your bird can’t pick out her favorite parts and leave the rest behind. Therefore, a blended kibble is recommended. These foods are more expensive than “bird seed” but they will save you money in the long run by keeping your bird healthier. Don’t settle for something that is unhealthy just because your bird “likes it” or was eating this food when you adopted him.
If your household is on city water which is treated with chemicals such as chlorine, it’s better to offer your bird water free of chemicals, such as bottled spring water. Your bird’s cage should include a reasonably sized water bowl (based on the size of the bird) such as Featherland Paradise Plastic Cup w/Stainless Hardware Bird Cage Accessory.
It is critical to have comfortable perches for your feathered friends. The best perches for pet birds are those that resemble a natural perch, like tree branches. If you live in an area with fruit trees that have not been sprayed with pesticides, you can go out and cut some appropriately sized branches for your bird. If they eat them—that’s fine! And when the perches become soiled, simply throw them away and cut more.
If you choose to purchase perches, choose those that most closely resemble branches. The variation in size and diameter will exercise your bird’s feet and allow it to find spots to stand that are most comfortable.
Avoid using perches that are rough in texture or covered in sandpaper. These are marketed to help “keep nails short” but end up irritating the bird’s feet. Your bird will need their nails trimmed, and your veterinarian can teach you how to do that or do it for you.
Be sure to put perches in places where your bird can still comfortably fly; look for corners and edges to set the perch, not right across the” flight zone”.
Bird Cage Liners
The base of your bird cage will need to be cleaned regularly. It is important to find a liner that is safe to use and inexpensive for you to clean. Simple black and white newspaper works well for some birds (especially if your bird does not play on the bottom of the cage) but other options are available. Make sure that whatever you choose, the material is not something your bird will eat, such as corn cob litter, since these can potentially result in an intestinal obstruction.
There are also safe cage cleaning solutions (including vinegar and water) which can help to loosen up any mess left behind by your feathered friend, allowing you to wipe them off. Be sure to keep your bird out of the cage until it is entirely dry, so they don’t ingest any of the cleaning solutions.
Bird Hiding Place
Everybody needs a place to go to be alone, and this includes your feathered friend! Make sure that there is one corner of the cage dedicated to “privacy.” This might just be a few pieces of cardboard which your bird can sneak behind, a box with one side cut out of it, or even a “fluffy sleep hide” designed specifically for birds. As long as your bird can get away whenever they feel the need for some privacy, it will work.
Birds adore toys—some species more than others. Small birds often love mirrors, bathtubs, and small plastic toys they can “beat up.” Larger birds often love bigger wooden toys which can be chewed and destroyed.
Most birds will have a very large toybox and the toys can rotate over time. If your bird has a large or powerful beak, you can expect that toys may be destroyed constantly, so be prepared to replace them frequently.
This can get expensive quickly—but sometimes you can make your own toys using items such as paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes, and scraps of untreated wood. Look at a wide variety of commercial toys and see what your bird likes. From there, your imagination is the limit! Just be sure that your bird isn’t likely to hurt itself with the toy (like hooking a toenail) or eat small plastic parts.
Small Bird Toys:
Large Bird Toys:
First Aid for Birds
Every animal in your household should have a packed “go bag” in case of emergency as well as a first aid kit. Your veterinarian can help you to put together what should be in this kit, but it should include at least a pair of nail trimmers, styptic (to stop minor bleeding), and small scissors. Any medications your bird takes should also be in the kit, as well as extras of any vitamin supplements which you add to the diet.
Similar to a kit you might have for your dog and cat, you might also want to include:
Don’t forget the contact information for your veterinarian, local emergency clinic that sees birds, and your pet’s medical information.
With good research and careful preparation, birds can be a wonderful addition to the household and long-lived companions. Choose your adopted species carefully, and research all of the supplies you will need, and you will be off to a great start with your new feathered friend!
Featured Image: iStock.com/Lusyaya
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