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Basic Bird Care

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Birds are a highly intelligent species that require proper nutrition, adequate exercise, and mental stimulation. Dr. Eva is highly experienced with a variety of bird species. She believes that proper diet and husbandry are the cornerstones for a long and happy life with your feathery flockmate. Below are some general recommendations on diet and husbandry for your pet.

Please note that these are general recommendations and any specific recommendations for a particular species should be discussed in person with a trusted exotics Veterinarian.


General Aviary Recommendations


To avoid lead and zinc toxicities, it is not recommended to provide any metal toys or attachments, or use a metal or painted aviary. As perfumated products and Teflon cooking products can easily cause upper respiratory infections, please do not house your aviary near the kitchen or user perfume products.

Although covering a bird’s aviary has become the normal standard for going to bed, this causes your bird to inhale its feces overnight. To avoid possible respiratory complications and encourage proper sleep cycles, we recommend moving the aviary into a well-ventilated and completely dark room void of any light pollution overnight.

Cage Liners: A popular cage liner for the bottom of an aviary is newspaper. Although it is easy to clean, females will often find ways to rip pieces from the lining and use them to create a nest. If you want to discourage nesting behaviour and egg production, we recommend not placing any sort of liner at the bottom of your aviary and cleaning the bottom tray daily with non-scented soap and warm water.

Lighting: UVB is necessary in the production of Vitamin D3 and help the body absorb calcium. Sunlight helps produce healthy bones and helps to stimulate appetite and proper immune function. As natural sunlight through a glass window filters out needed UVB, it is recommended that proper lighting, such as the Zoomed AvianSun 5.0 UVB light, be provided for all bird species. Lights should be placed over 1/3 of the aviary and about 20cm from the highest point that your bird can perch to avoid burns. For optimal absorption, lightbulbs should be on for 10-12 hours a day and changed a minimum of every 6 months.

Temperature and Humidity recommendations: As many species of birds are native to tropical areas, it is recommended to provide either a light running water source, such as a fountain, near the aviary, or invite your bird to sit on the curtain rod as you shower. We do not recommend the use of humidifiers near your aviary, as this can encourage unwanted fungal growth and infection.

Cleaning and Disinfecting: Remove droppings and clean the aviary on a regular basis to minimize bacteria, fungus, and mould growth in your pet’s home. Many household cleaners such as Lysol, PineSol, or Mr. Clean can be poisonous to your bird.

A 1:30 dilute bleach solution can be used to clean all non-soakable (porous) materials, while soakables can be boiled in water for 30 minutes. Rinse well (at least 4-5 times) and ensure there are no residual fumes prior returning your bird to its aviary.


General Diet Recommendations


Pelleted vs. Seed Diet: Just like children, a bird will not intuitively eat a balanced diet when given a choice. Many seeds and nuts contain a higher fat content but are lower in Vitamin A and calcium. A bird will often pick out the seeds they like based on their flavour rather than their nutrition value.

Pelleted diets, such as Harrison’s Bird Foods, provide a more uniform and balanced nutrition source based on the current understanding of the nutritional requirement for birds. As the nutritional value is balanced, there is no need for supplementation. Pellet formulations should be chosen based on your bird’s age, health, and lifestyle needs.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables can be given occasionally as they can have higher sugar contents than your bird needs. Organic dark, leafy green vegetables contain high sources of nutrients and can also be given as an occasional treat.


Common Issues


Dystocia/Egg binding: Female birds can produce eggs without the presence of a male and although the eggs are infertile, they still need to be laid. Difficulty laying eggs is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary intervention, as the eggs will begin to break down in the body causing sepsis.