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Local Vets since 1949

Husbandry Advice

How birds are housed and fed has a tremendous impact on their susceptibility to disease, behaviour problems, and breeding capabilities. Before getting a bird, learn all you can about its specific environmental and nutritional needs.

Your bird cage and Sanitation

Your pets cage should be a minimum of four times as long, high and wide as your bird. For every additional bird, the size should increase by at least twenty percent. Be careful of ornamental and decorative cages – birds can become trapped in the crevices between the cages and they may be difficult to clean and sanitise.

The bird cage should be located in an area where temperature remains fairly constant. There is not need to cover a bird’s cage at night unless temperature variation is extreme. I like to place cages in areas where natural lighting and conditions are good for the growth a philodendron houseplant. An area adjoining the kitchen is often ideal for a single bird since the presence of people active in the area may relieve the bird’s boredom.

Bird cages should be changed daily. Drinking water should also be changed daily. If pelleted food is fed, the food dish should be cleaned daily to every three days. Do not use cat litter on the bottom of the cage – these products are often dusty and might be eaten by the bird impacting it. The best cage liner is ordinary newspaper. The best disinfectant is one part household bleach added to twenty parts water.

Toxic Products

Toxic household products can be a threat to birds who enjoy gnawing on the objects around them. Make sure water and food container can are constructed of lead-free ceramics, glass or steel. If you choose to let your bird out of their cage, keep them away from all houseplants as many indoor plants are also toxic.


Inadequate diet is the most common cause of disease in cage and aviary birds. Birds are very selective in what they eat. They cautiously pick through seed mixes picking out the grains that meet their fancy based primarily on color size and consistency. This lead to a number of nutritionally-based diseases including Obesity, Protein, Vitamin A and Calcium deficiency disease. When a pelleted diet is used, the birds are forced to eat all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Wing Clipping

Birds whose wings have been clipped have fewer accidents in the home than fully flighted pets. Loose, flighted, birds are also prone to escape out open doors or windows and may crash into windows and mirrors injuring themselves.
When trimming a bird’s wing, leave the first 4 long feathers (primary feathers) of each wing intact, remove about 10 of the secondary feathers leaving a few secondary feathers intact next to the body. This allows the bird to flap gently to the ground and retains the birds normal silhouette and feather conformation when the wings are folded.

Bathing your Bird

Almost all birds enjoy bathing. This removes excess dander and soil and stimulates preening and a sense of well-being. A shallow ceramic dish or plate makes an ideal bathtub. Baths should be provided a minimum of three times a week. If the birds are reluctant to bath, they can be misted off with a trigger-spray plant-misting bottle available at any home and garden center.

Illnesses in Birds

Any change in activity or appearance in a mature cage bird may be a sign of illness. Some of these changes are:

  • Weight loss
  • Change in Dropping Color or Consistency
  • Discharges From the Eyes, Squinting or Swelling
  • Discharge or change in Shape and Diameter of the Nostrils
  • Ruffled Feathers
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Less Activity Than Normal
  • Carrying Their Wings Drooped Lower On Their Body
  • Blood in the Cage or On the Bird
  • Open Mouth Breathing and Tail Bobbing (tail rhythmically going up and down)
  • Lumps on the body
  • Swollen Feet and Joints
  • Decrease in grooming and preening
  • Decreased talking, calling and singing
  • Sitting motionless on the floor of the Cage
  • Falling from the Perch or Limping or Perching on One Leg