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Pet Question
--- Be sure you're caring properly for your bird  ---
No myths allowed
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Sleep requirements --  Cage needs -- Feeding & Nutrition

Poop! How to read those droppings

Mating Behavior, Egg Laying

Converting from seed to pellets

Biting and Screaming Bird

Why you should NOT buy pet store products for health

**  and a lot more **
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Birds
Parrot Nutrition

It surprises a lot of owners to learn that most birds these days
should have a predominantly pelleted diet.

Pellets are constantly updated to keep with the current
research and science with regard to ideal nutrition for birds.   
Today’s formulas are better than ever.

It’s still necessary to supplement this diet with fresh foods
every day and to decrease seed feeding until it doesn’t amount
to more than about 15-20% of the overall diet.

Sunflower seeds shouldn’t be allowed at all.   The only
reason they’re in all those seed mixes is because they’re
cheap filler and birds tend to love them.

Children love sugar and fats too, but we don’t let them eat it all
day, every day, right?  We have to be even stricter with our
birds because their systems are more susceptible to nutritional
problems like liver disease, tumors and a lot more.

********** So, what to feed? ***********


Whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, fruits and legumes.
Include the colors orange, yellow , green, plus reds too!
Think sweet potatoes/yams, squash, melons, oranges,
peas, chard, beets and others.  

Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous and natural,
whole grain pastas are great choices.

Limit fats, especially the kind from animals. Good fats
are most plant fats like soy, olive and canola oils.  No
fried anything

Don’t hesitate to give your companion a few sips of all
natural orange juice or carrot juice.  

It’s not a good idea to put it in their regular water dish, rather,
provide a separate dish for it and don’t leave it for more than
an hour or two at most.  You don’t want to chance introducing
a bacterial infection to your bird while trying to keep them
healthy.

-- For recipes click here --
Pet Store Health Products  

Just in case you’re wondering about those pet store
products
Vitamins or medicines to add to a bird’s water?

When it comes to parrots
(any bird with a hooked bill)

--Never use them –

These products can put your bird off their water,
leading to dehydration and multiple associated
health risks.

As for the antibiotics, they don’t work, have not
been known to work for many years (which is why
they’re available over the counter) and they aren’t
about to start working anytime in the future.

What they will do, however, is kill the good bacteria
in your bird’s system.  The bacteria that supports a
healthy immune system.

They may also strengthen the bad bacteria in your
bird as bacteria develop resistance very quickly

When your bird really needs an antibiotic it may be
difficult to find one that works.  
Using these products can hurt your bird not only
immediately, but most certainly in the long run.
Birds should be weighed once a week.  
This way, when you notice weight loss, it
should be in time to head off a very serious
problem.  Otherwise, by the time you can
see that your bird has lost weight, the
problem has likely been going on for some
time.

A bird needs to be weighed on a gram
scale.  Ounces won’t do it.  By the time an
ounce scale registers the loss of an ounce,
it’s more than 28 grams!  That’s
significant for a bird.

The average weight for a Grey Cheeked
parakeet is 45-60 grams; a red rumped is
60 grams and Quaker or Monk = 90 to 150
grams.

Find out more on various birds’ average
weights here:

AvianWeb Weights  
Cages  - a frequent recommendation is to get the biggest you can afford.

That doesn't mean putting a macaw in a cockatiel cage because it's all your budget allows    

If you cannot afford the biggest cage for the size bird you want to adopt, then wait!

Birds need a cage that they can turn around in with their wings outstretched and not touching any of the sides, top or
bottom.  

A cage needs at least three different kinds of perches:  Natural hard wood like Manzanita, natural soft wood like pine
and a rope perch.  

You really should also have a grooming perch like calcium, Manu, concrete or cement, although a cuttle fish bone and
mineral block in the cage are acceptable instead.  I have grooming perches, cuttle bone and mineral block for each bird.
Yes, bird beaks also molt and you might see  some layers
coming off, like this
Pet Question

Birds need regular challenges, input
and interaction.

Be sure toys are safe for a human toddler
and double check for bird safety.

No bean-bag toys or you'll have the stuffing
everywhere!

No fluid filled toys like teething rings

And no matter how sure you are about the
toy safety, always check them to see how
they're holding up
This is a "baby wing trim "  - the bird
will  still be able to fly, but not have a
lot of lift or distance.   

It's a good idea for a bird to have
confidence


This is the next stage of wing trimming
for the next big molt.  It reduces more
lift and distance


This is the full wing trim.  The bird
shouldn't get any real lift or distance,
but is able to gently glide to the floor or
nearby surface.

Wing Trimming shows you
care.

If a bird is out of cage a lot,
which is good, there's no
forewarning when someone else
might open a window or door.

I can't begin to count the number
of times I've heard that "It's been
years and years and nothing has
ever happened".  

All it takes is once and your bird
can be gone forever
Birds need toys that they can shred
and destroy.  
Safe wood on safe
materials are well worth the investment.

Toys are necessities
All Birds Poop - what should it look like?

All bird droppings are made up of three parts: Faeces
(feces), the solid, central part which can vary in color
depending on the food the bird eats.
Urates, the next layer of the ring, which can be cloudy-
clear or with shades of white, yellows and greens, again
depending on the foods eaten.
Urine is the clear liquid, usually outer layer of the ring.
Depending on the amount of fruits and fluids the bird
eats/drinks, this can be a significant part of the dropping.

Human companions to birds need to learn what’s normal
for their bird. When the bird is healthy, acting fine and
eating a well balanced diet, there’s a general look to the
droppings that may vary depending on the time of day,
but are usually similar looking.

If a bird eats beets one day, the droppings may look
frighteningly reddish. Sometimes when the bird eats
more dark leafy greens (or blueberries), the droppings
can assume a nearly black hue.

When a bird is on a largely seed diet, the feces may be
any shade of  bright green; pelleted diets without added
food colorings would produce a dull, brownish-green. If
the bird is eating colored pellets, the droppings may
reflect what colors are most often chosen.

Constipation or pasting of feces at the vent area may be
symptoms of egg binding.  Many owners discover that
their ‘male’ is actually a female when this happens,
sometimes after many years and even some vet visits
over that time.

Other causes of what is perceived as constipation is
ingestion of a foreign object (including grit if it’s made
available), toxins or other disease.

If caught very early you might try administering a tiny
drop of olive oil to the side of the beak so the bird
ingests it;  setting the bird in a shallow, warm ‘bath’ of
plain water while gently massaging the vent area may
also prompt a movement – or passage of an egg, but
since this is a serious symptom and can become life
threatening in a very short time, I wouldn’t wait or try
home remedies.

Diarrhea is often actually Polyuria. True diarrhea is
when the feces part of the droppings are not well formed
and liquidy.  Diarrhea is usually caused by a disease.  
Polyuria is when there’s more than usual amounts of the
urine and urates (the feces are still well formed).   

Polyuria may be caused by viral infections, allergies to
foods or even a tumor somewhere. There are just so
many possible causes that a vet visit is essential in
order to catch things early.  

‘Bubbly’ droppings are also considered abnormal.  Some
bacteria produce a gas and this is what may be causing
the bubbles.

One day of abnormal droppings (usually appearing too
loose or liquid) is not typically an emergency. As long as
the bird is still eating, drinking and acting normally, there’
s no change in vocalizations, there is no feather fluffing
(looking bigger), staying at the bottom of the cage or
excessive sleeping - sometimes a change in droppings
is little more than something that will last a few hours
and be fine.

If there’s ever red in the droppings and they have
no dietary explanation, blood must be suspected
and it’s prudent to make an appointment with an
avian vet.

If droppings remain abnormal more than 24 hours,
please see a vet or have a mobile vet visit your home.  It’
s far better to have a visit and exam find nothing wrong,
than to miss something that with early treatment may
insure the bird lives.  
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Eggs ?  This is not good

Egg laying is something that every female bird can
do without benefit of male birds.  Of course eggs
laid without a male to mate with are not fertile and
will not hatch.   Laying, in birds other than chickens
and other food source poultry,  is not healthy  and
shouldn’t  be ignored.  All steps you can take to
stop this behavior should be taken and right away.

Make sure you provide fresh cuttlebone to this bird
at all times to help maintain calcium in their over-
stressed body.  Other good sources of calcium are
in fresh foods such as kale, broccoli, chard tops,
spinach and collard greens.

You might want to increase her nighttime hours to
13 sleep instead of 12+12.  
Another option is to move things around inside the
cage. Change out her toys, switch perches,
rearrange feeding and water cups - make it look
'new' to her.  Even moving the actual location a little
bit can help.

Other precautions are to not pet her under her
wings or touch consistently from the mid-back down
(this can trigger egg laying).
No feeding her from your mouth, which is just a
good idea anyway since we have far too much
bacteria there to be safe for a bird.  

No feeding soft foods from your fingers which may
be perceived as regurgitation, another mating
behavior.

Leaving the eggs in with your bird may help
curb the behavior as well.  If you notice any cracks
or breaks, the egg must be removed.  

I prefer to replace them with fake eggs of a similar
size and shape, available at many craft stores.  
Just be sure they are bird safe - no flaking paint for
example.

Some cockatiels, parakeets and other smaller birds
will accept regular marbles as their eggs.  
If egg laying continues or becomes chronic, you
must consult with an avian vet or other vet who is
well experienced with birds.  

Chances of severe health complications exist in
over-layers.


Here are some more links to help stop egg laying

T. Lightfoot, DVM


Cockatiel Egg Laying
Out of Cage Time

Your bird needs to leave their cage just like you
need to leave your bedroom or house.  

The average bird owner has their parrot out of
cage for at least 4 hours every day

No less than 2 hours a day is recommended

Our birds are out of cage for 7 hours every day


Finches, canaries and some other smaller
species that are in nearly constant motion would
be the exceptions
Rev. Dr.  S. August Abbott

- Certified Avian Specialist -
-Pet Industry Joint Advisory
Council member-
-Int. Assoc. of Animal Behavior
Consultants -
This gives you an idea of how to use PVC pipe and
connectors to make your own play gyms and perches.  

I use natural, safe wood limbs secured into the pvc so the
birds have a good grip.  PVC by itself can be slippery.  A
slippery or unsure perch can cause stress in any bird
which may increase biting and screaming - the bird's only
tools to communicate


Our happy blue and gold macaw is enjoying one of her
regular showers in a protected outdoor area.  

Temperatures should be 70 degrees (21 C) or higher for
an outdoor shower.

Otherwise, indoor bathing is the order of the day
For caged birds who chew,  it is not recommended these days to put a dowel in their habitat. Much of today’s lumber
has been treated with chemicals and unless you can know for sure that it’s untreated wood, your bird could slowly
poison itself by nibbling away at this dowel.

Better choices are three different perches:

1. A
rope perch available through many pet supply stores, appropriate for the bird you have.  Be sure to keep the
perch trimmed of frayed rope (and discard it when it’s too frayed) and always make sure it’s clean. Rope perches
are easy to rinse off in a sink, bathtub, with a garden hose or even on the gentle cycle of a wash (no fabric softener
in the rinse please).

A rope perch is often chosen by the bird to sleep on.

2. A soft wood perch, like
pine or many fruit trees is another necessity.

Never  avocado  branches  or Oleander  

See here for more safe and unsafe woods

3. A grooming perch, usually made from manu (a calcium/clay type material) or even some of the concrete perches
available are good choices.  You still must provide a cuttlebone for your bird and scrape it regularly to be sure it’s
got a clean, fresh surface available.

Another good perch and very popular is
manzanita wood.  This would be considered a medium-hard perch, but they
come in such natural shapes with great variations from one end to another that they are just plain good exercise for
those feet and legs!

The sizes should vary so that one allows the foot to wrap around just ¼  of the way; another should allow the foot to
wrap around about ½ way and the third perch should fit the foot around ¾  of it.  The rope perch should probably
be the one that allows a ½ way around grip.

For a more detailed list of safe and not safe plants and perches,
click here
"She was not what you
would call refined.  She was
not what you would call
unrefined.  She was the sort
of person who kept a parrot
"  
 

(Mark Twain, 'Following the
Equator')
Birds larger than a cockatiel and
children under 10-12 years old are
not a good mix.
Birds can perceive the slightest
changes in expressions, pupil
dilation and children's movements
are not smooth and sure which
frightens a bird.
Bites with beaks larger than a
cockatiel's on little fingers can be
serious and are best avoided to
begin with.
Baby Food for Baby Parrots:

(Human) baby rice cereal mixed as directed

Add (also from the baby food aisle) ½ to 1
teaspoon each of:

Applesauce
Sweet potatoes/yams
Peas or Green beans

This can be fed as a supplement or
in an emergency, but should not be fed as
their only baby food.
Please choose a professional formula
Need a Vet ?

vet-lookup             hospital directory

International List
Hand feeding guideline - scroll down
Sleep is vital for overall health in our birds.   
Keeping with the bird's natural rhythm is best.  That
means 12 hours of quiet, dark nighttime and 12 hours
of daylight and activity.

We provide separate sleep cages as seen here,
with just the basics: A soft perch, a small amount of
food, full, clean water and a 'snuggly'.  A piece of
material or soft toy for the bird to have next to them,  
like a flock mate would provide that security in the wild.

Cover all except about 1/4 of the front door so the bird
can see out and feel reassured that there's no danger.
During seasons with longer night hours, or with females that are egg laying,
increasing the nighttime hours to 13 or 14 is acceptable.

So if you generally wake up at 7 a.m., putting the bird to bed at 7 p.m. is good.

To get 14 hours, I suggest putting to bed around 6 p.m. and waking at 8 a.m.
Pulling a chick for hand feeding should be done only about 2 weeks
before they’ll wean (which means you only have to provide about 2-3
feedings a day).  
Weaning ages vary depending on the type of bird.
Carefully place the baby (chick) on a towel and gently cup your hand around
the body for support.

You can use an eyedropper or small syringe available at all bird shops and
many pet stores specifically for this task.  As you approach the baby with the
food, they will often instinctively open their mouths for feeding - their crop is
going to be to their right side of the throat, so angle the dropper/syringe to be
sure it goes there.

As the instrument touches the inside of their mouth, they will typically start
pumping at it (they are doing their part to help you through this), slowly, but
steadily dispense the formula.

When the formula is emptied, take a look at the crop. It’s going to look like a  
pouch at their right side of the throat area. It’s supposed to bulge.

Depending on how much the eyedropper or syringe holds and the type of bird
(and the age), you may have to offer another feeding right away.  If the bird
has a full crop, both of you will know it and the bird won’t be so anxious to
accept the device.

It usually doesn’t take too long before you become comfortable with feedings
and they can be done relatively quickly; however, I prefer to not go too fast and
enjoy the bonding.  This isn’t to say make it such a slow process that the chick
becomes stressed or overly anxious, but not treating it like an assembly line
job (to just get it over with) may be nicer for both of you.  

As the chick gets older and begins eating a bit on their own, many owners like
to supplement their diet with spoon feedings of a thicker mix of the formula.  At
first, this means holding the spoon to their beaks much in the same way as the
dropper or syringe was and letting the mixture just fall into their mouths. It’s
messy for sure, but pretty soon they’ll start bending their head down to take
the mixture off the spoon themselves.

It’s important to not offer formula for too long since it’s high in fat and can
cause health problems when fed to weaned birds.   In sick, older and special
needs birds there are exceptions.  It’s something that needs to at least be
discussed with an avian professional.
For more about hand
feeding
click here
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Pet Question
USA vet look up                 World vet look up
A real seed junkie?  Try sprouting the
seeds first.  
Click Here


How to convert from seeds to pellets
---- Click here ----
The Girls
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Perches