The amount of responsibility that comes with having a bird in the house will vary greatly depending on the species. A large breed of bird such as a parrot requires a lot of time, energy and maintenance while a bird such as a canary is much easier to care for and keep happy. But all birds come with some basic pet care responsibilities.
Food and Water BowlsBirds are rather chaotic eaters and drop food into their water bowls, water into their food bowls, etc. Many times the comparison between birds and toddlers have been made and you may certainly agree after they’ve thoroughly attacked their food area! So daily cleanings of food and water bowls are necessary to maintain a healthy environment for your bird. Because birds are highly sensitive to chemical agents, be careful what you clean with, make sure there is no left over residue and always allow bowls to completely dry before returning to the cage. It’s best to have two sets of dishes to give enough time for the recently cleaned set to air out and stainless steel, glass, ceramic and plastic work best for bowl materials.
Cage CleaningSince birds are used to a large area for territory, they tend to be quite messy and their cages get dirty rather rapidly. If feces and food matter are allowed to collect, the cage quickly becomes a toxic environment for your pet. So weekly cage cleaning sessions are needed to keep a bird’s home hygienic. The bars of the cage should be wiped down and all the toys, equipment, perches and accessories washed. Once a month the entire cage should be thoroughly disinfected and scrubbed down as well. Again, because birds have such a sensitivity to chemicals, be careful that no cleaning fumes reach your pet.
An Avian VetBird health matters and illnesses are nothing like the ailments of cats and dogs, so do some research and track down a vet who specialises in avian care before any emergencies develop. Common bird problems involve crooked or cracked beaks so your vet should know how to trim beaks, nails and wings.
Bathing, Grooming and TrimmingBathing on a frequent basis is important for your bird’s health and cleanliness, in the wild bath time is one of the most treasured moments in the life of a bird. You should provide your bird with the ability to bathe about twice a week, possibly more in winter when homes are heated and can dry out a bird’s skin easily. Some birds are bowl bathers; others enjoy a ‘shower’ using a spray bottle. Try out different methods to see which your bird enjoys.
Nails that are too long can get caught on objects, hurting your pet. You can use a human nail clipper to trim the ends off once a week or you can file the nail points off. If unsure about what length to trim the nails, cut a little at a time or have your vet show you the proper procedure the first time. Most birds who will be spending time around the house outside their cage will also need to have their wings trimmed to prevent accidents like flying into windows, so have your vet show you this practice as well. Wing clipping can be done with a good pair of scissors, once a month.
Toys, Entertainment and PlaytimeYes, your bird yearns for attention, diversions and lots of playtime. Larger birds like parrots are highly intelligent and need to have lots of toys and entertainment to keep them occupied, especially when owners are away for large portions of the day. Birds that are bored can develop all sorts of neurotic habits to occupy themselves like feather picking, so toys are essential for your bird’s emotional well being, not simply for fun. To keep the novelty of toys fresh, have a wide variety and rotate them often. There are many bird toys that owners can easily make themselves to cut costs and have fun doing it.
Be aware that bird’s beaks are constantly growing so one last responsibility is to give them something to gnaw on to keep their beaks in shape. This also stops a bird from picking you as a chew toy!