Keeping your Bird Healthy
Keeping your Bird Healthy
General health care
You can tell if your bird is feeling poorly by watching out for these signs:
- Ruffled or dirty feathers – ruffled feathers can conceal weight loss and are a sign all is not well with your bird. Birds are naturally very clean so dirty feathers can be a symptom of an underlying illness.
- Unusual droppings – any change in your bird's usual droppings can indicate a potential health problem.
- Discharge on their beak – your bird's nostrils are called nares and are located on their beak. If the nares are inflamed, red or runny this is a symptom of illness.
- Cloudy eyes – your bird's eyes should be bright and clear. Cloudy eyes could be the sign of a cold or respiratory problem.
- Open beak breathing / panting – respiratory problems can cause your bird to breathe with their beak open. This could be very serious and you should contact your vet immediately.
- Changes in their calls / singing – if your bird is unusually quiet this could be an indication that they are unwell.
- Loss of appetite – if your bird stops eating, suffers from loss of appetite or loses weight this could be a symptom of impaction (blocked crop).
- Tail bobbing – frequent and unusual tail bobbing can be a sign of a respiratory infection as your bird may be struggling to breathe.
- Loss of feathers – Moulting is a natural process with birds and normally happens in the summer. Moulting tonics are available to help them grow back their new feathers. If moulting occurs at other times then this could be a sign of a cold or respiratory infection.
- Feather plucking – bird can sometimes pluck out their own feathers and this is can caused by boredom, stress, lack of exercise, lack of stimulation and attention or a poor diet.
- Overgrown beak or claws – An overgrown beak can be prevented by providing a high quality dry bird food, toys and cuttlebone for your bird to peck at. Contact your vet to have your bird's beak trimmed. If your bird's claws become too long they can catch on the cage wire and injure your bird. Contact your vet to have your bird's claws trimmed.
- Mites - Red mites are the most common bird parasite. They feed on your bird's blood, causing irritation and weight loss. Mites are difficult to see so to check if your bird has them place a white cloth in the cage in the evening and check it the next morning. If your bird has mites you will red spots on the cloth. Mites can easily be dealt with by spraying your bird with mite treatment, which is available in store.
Choosing a Cage
When you are choosing a cage for your pet bird you will need to bear in mind a few important facts:
Big is best
The cage should be as large and spacious as possible and should allow your bird to spread their wings and exercise.
- For larger birds who like to climb, such as parrots or macaws, your cage should be a good height whereas for smaller birds, the cage needs to be a good length so that they can fly within it.
- The majority of pet birds enjoy hopping from perch to perch which means that most round cages are unsuitable.
- Our trained staff are happy to help with advice on the best cage for your bird in store.
- View our bird Products section for our wide selection of bird cages and accessories
Where you position your bird cage is important. Birds are very sensitive to fumes and gases, which is why canaries were used to detect gas in coal mines years ago.
- Your bird cage shouldn't be located in the kitchen as fumes from cooking and cleaning products can be dangerous to your bird. Teflon coated cooking equipment releases fumes which can harm your bird.
- Position your cage safely away from drafts and direct sunlight but in an area of the house where your bird can become involved with you and your family and benefit from socialisation.
Strong and safe
Ideally, cages should be made of stainless steel for strength and durability. If you have a bird that likes to chew – such as a member of the parrot family – the cage needs to be tough enough to withstand their powerful beaks. Avoid cages made of fancy wrought iron and painted finishes as these may be toxic and the scroll work can easily trap your bird's head, wings, feet or beak. Our trained staff are happy to advise you on the best cage for your bird in store.
- The spacing between the bars of your cage is crucial to bird safety. Make sure that the space between the bars is narrow enough so that your bird can not get their head, wings, feet or beak stuck. Our staff will be able to help you choose the right cage with the correct bar spacing for your particular type of bird. It's also worth remembering that some birds like to climb so horizontal bars are a good idea.
- The cage door must be sturdily made and escape-proof. You'd be surprised how clever parrots can be when intent on becoming an escape artist!
The bottom of your cage needs to be lined with either sand sheets, bird sand or wood chips to collect droppings and scattered food. Sand sheets provide a good grip and also help to keep your bird's claws trim and clean. A removable tray will make cleaning easier.
Your cage should have a variety of perches that are the right size for your bird's feet to grip. Our staff are happy to help you choose the correct sized perches for your particular bird in store. Perches should be positioned at different heights of the cage and near each food and water dish.
Toys and boredom breakers
Your bird will need plenty of toys and boredom breakers to keep them happy and healthy whilst in their cage. There are a wide variety available from chimes, mirrors, mineral blocks, balls, swings and bells. There are 5 types of toys for birds and you should have at least one of each: 1. chewing toys, 2. preening toys, 3. foraging toys, 4. teaching toys, 5. foot toys.
Water, food and bathing
Fresh water and food should be provided at all times for your bird in suitable food and drink cups or dispensers attached to their cage.
Birds need water to bathe in, which is an essential part of their grooming routine. Bird baths are available to place inside your cage.
Some birds prefer to be sprayed with water instead and there are bird-specific shower sprays that you can use to gently mist their feathers!
Although birds do not use nest boxes to sleep in your bird may require nesting material if they decide to make a nest. Bird nests and boxes are available for finches, canaries and larger birds such as parrots as well as safe and natural nesting materials.
Cover your bird cage at night so you do not disturb them whilst they are sleeping. This will also keep your bird quiet! Covering the cage keeps your bird warm at night as the room temperature is likely to fall. Do not use a cover made of fabric which could be toxic (such as polyester) or from a material that your bird could get their feet stuck in (such as wool). The best thing to do is to buy a proper bird cage cover which will ensure your bird's safety.
Droppings and uneaten food should be removed on a daily basis and the cage should be cleaned with bird-safe disinfectant once a week.