SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

April 4, 2014

Vet Connection: Thinking about a pet bird?

Have you ever entertained the idea of acquiring a bird? Have you watched their antics at a zoo or pet store and wondered what it would be like to have an exotic creature with a big beak and iridescent plumage amazing guests with its vocalizations and imitations?

If you are considering having a bird join your family, it is important to know the nature of birds. They are flock animals. They are very social and prefer to be with other birds. It is much better to have two birds than one because they can keep each other company and are generally more comfortable when in sight of another bird of its species.

Birds will relate to their humans as members of their flock. They like to preen beside other members of the flock and eat together. If your bird sees you eat a new food it is much more likely to sample it. If you leave the room, they may call to you and expect a response just as they would expect a response from another bird. It is best to call back softly. That way your bird knows you are still in the vicinity.

Birds are prey species and have very good eyesight. Nothing makes a bird more nervous than the steady direct “eagle eye” stare of another human or bird. Birds are quite observant and will watch every move you make. Yes, they see in color!

Birds have a huge number of sensory cells in their beak and mouth. They explore their world through their sense of taste and touch everything with their beaks. Birds respond to all types of materials — wood, leafy greens and foods of all textures and flavors. They need a huge variety of food. A 100-percent pellet diet or all-seed diet is terribly unhealthy for a bird. Add cooked egg, cooked brown rice, tofu, beans, fruits and vegetables to the diet. Limit seeds to between one and eight teaspoons daily, depending on the size of the bird. If your bird is on a large number of seeds, gradually decrease the seeds over a period of weeks. Birds like to solve puzzles with their agile minds and dexterous beaks. Sitting alone in the cage with no toys, no TV and no interaction is bird jail. Provide two or three bird toys and rotate a new one in every three weeks or so. Spend time with your bird out of the cage and on a separate play gym area every day.

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