Bird Care Sheet

BIRDS

A QUICK FACT SHEET

B0000963

BY: JILL M. PATT, DVM

VARIETIES:

Parrot type birds: Psittacines, Finch type birds: Passerines, Nectar Eating Parrots: Lories, Birds of Pray: Raptors, Flightless birds: Ratites.

PARROT / PARAKEET:

The only difference here is that parrots are hook billed birds that are generally thought of as a large bird with a plump body and short tail. Parakeets are generally small birds with long tails. The bird we commonly call the parakeet is actually a budgerigar or budgie.

INTERESTING FACTS:

Birds have many hollow/air filled bones and air filled sacs throughout their bodies allowing them improved oxygenation for flight. Birds use their preen glands to spread an oil or powder like substance onto their feathers that then reacts with sunlight to form Vitamin D that is ingested when they preen. Birds are highly intelligent and have been proven to learn and understand many words.

LIFESPAN:

The lifespan will vary greatly with the type of bird and can range from just a few years for our smaller finches to 100+ years for our parrots. Unfortunately, many birds do not live out their expected lifespan due to poor nutrition over their lifetime.

SEXING:

Many birds are dimorphic: males and females occur in different color forms. The Eclectus parrot is the most extreme example of sexual dimorphism. Some birds such as Umbrella Cockatoos appear identical in coloration but iris color will vary between the sexes. And some types of birds are outwardly identical.

HOUSING:

All birds should be provided with the largest cage that you have space for. Even those with trimmed wing feathers will actively climb and explore their cages.

TOYS: Numerous bird toys should be provided including those that can be chewed or destroyed.

PERCHES: should vary in size, shape and texture, to allow the birds to rest their feet

LOCATION: In an area of the house where they can enjoy interaction but not be in the center of the action (they need rest too), the kitchen should be avoided due to temperature fluctuation and potential toxins from non-stick cookware, immediately in front of a window is not ideal as there will be temperature fluctuations and stress if the bird cannot escape the view.

ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION:

Enrichment toys, foraging activities & toys, and a radio or TV set on a timer to go off and on several times daily

DIET:
In general you need to provide a large variety of fresh food for your bird. Ideally, offer a core diet of an organic, color free avian pellet and a large variety of vegetables daily. Seeds should be limited to treats except for the small birds such as budgies and cockatiels which should have a 50% seed diet. Clean sprouted seeds can also be offered and are a good way of introducing greens to the stubborn eater. Fruits should be limited as a treat only. Offer clean, fresh water at all times. Certain species have additional nutritional needs – please research your particular bird’s needs.

SUPPLEMENTS:

Generally are not needed for those birds on a good balanced diet and some supplements can create toxicity if overdone.

MEDICAL CONCERNS:

Numerous! All birds should have at least an annual examination. Feather picking, skin mutilation, respiratory disease, eye infections, trauma, organ disease, malnutrition, reproductive problems and many more…

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at: www.littlecrittersvet.com

2 thoughts on “Bird Care Sheet

  1. Timothy G. Stigar

    Dear Dr. Patt,
    I am a first time breeder. This year our Macaws produced 3 chicks.We decided to incubate artificially and hand raise the chicks. I am using a home-made formula, as we are in Mexico, and cannot find any commercial formulas. One of the chicks died today. Can you advise me on the best way to raise these remaining chicks? And what formulas I might be able to use, and possibly you might be able to explain the chicks sudden death.
    Thank you , Timothy

    1. admin Post author

      Congratulations on the successful breeding. Now the hard work begins :) Not only do you need to raise these baby to be healthy adult birds but you also must ensure that they are well socialized to allow them to live emotionally healthy adult lives. I encourage you to read as much as possible on how to properly raise hand-fed chicks to be emotionally strong adults. That said, I don’t recommend making your own formula there are just too may things that can go wrong from nutrient imbalances to contamination. If you live in a remote area I’d recommend using the internet to order one of the larger brand chick rearing formulas. I’m a fan of Harrisions but there are many available now that have been proven on many generations of chicks. You don’t want your 3 babies to be a test for a new diet. I frequently see growth abnormalities in chicks not fed properly so don’ t let this happen to yours. Good luck with the new babies.

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