Birds are one of the greatest joys in life. Watching them swoop and soar led humankind to want to emulate them and take wing right along with them. They’re what initially drove us to find practical ways to take flight and forever change the landscape of the world as we know it. It’s their cheerfulness and bright colors that are a part of what also makes them charming and wonderful house pets. If you keep birds as pets, here are some ways you can keep them happy and healthy while under your care.
Birds in the Wild
Birds are extremely clever creatures. Studies have shown that certain species of parrots have an emotional complexity akin to that of a five-year-old child. Our feathered friends have proven time and again that they can learn and master puzzles of the type of complexity scientists formerly thought only capable of much more advanced beings. Honeyguides, as they’re known, lead the Yao tribesmen in Mozambique to beehives in an effort to get a taste of the treat for themselves as a reward. So, how do we keep our own birds feeling happy and rewarded?
Birds as House Pets
Proper nutrition is imperative to the health and well being of your pet bird. Offering them a variety of pellets, seeds and treats is a good way to keep your bird healthy. Like all living beings, variety is the spice of life and overdoing it with any one thing is not good for any of us. Make sure and acquaint yourself with the type of bird or birds you keep and dial in their diet accordingly. Since the advent of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to find enlightened information on the right food for your particular pet. To be on the safe side, check with your veterinarian to verify the diet you plan on feeding your bird before embarking on it regularly.
Bird Baths & Grooming
Grooming and bath time aren’t just limited to our furry friends. Birds not only enjoy bathing, but grooming is an important part of their overall care and can directly affect their health. You can buy bird baths at nearly every pet store or purveyor of pet supplies, whether in a brick and mortar store or online. If you’re unsure of your bird’s affinity to bathing, buy him or her an inexpensive bird bath to begin with. Another idea is to use a misting bottle and fill it with room temperature water or purchase a bird bath spray and give them a little spritz every now and then.
Environment & Climate Control
A huge part of your bird’s happiness depends on their environment. If you’re going to keep them, give them a clean, adequate space to hop around in and spread their wings or take flight, even if it’s just in short spurts. A cramped, dirty cage would be a miserable way to live out your days. Another important factor is keeping them out of constant direct sunlight and providing them with some shade and comfortable temps. While birds do need certain levels of UVA and UVB rays in order to properly synthesize vitamin D necessary for bone health, no respite from glaring sun, extreme heat or cold are all no-nos, as well as drafts.
Bird Toys & Perches
Besides a clean, spacious cage, you should provide your birds with multiple perches, preferably made from non-toxic woods. If you’ve got the room, consider including indoor plants that are edible. The benefit to adding safe plants to their cages range from giving them a more natural environment (with opportunities to hide) to added oxygen. This can help with behavioral problems. Toys are a must. If you’ve got one lone bird, hang a small mirror in its cage. Birds love to chatter and talk to one another, and this will make him or her feel less isolated. Bells, natural ropes and others toys can keep them from getting listless, depressed and/or bored, another problem with solitary pets.
Exercise & Learning
Keeping birds mentally stimulated can also be accomplished by teaching them a few tricks or a word or two, depending on the breed. Not only will it help fill their days, but it can build a better bond between the two of you. Finally, it’s critical that your bird gets daily exercise. This means letting them out of their cages in a safe, supervised environment where they can spread their wings and investigate. Birds are curious by nature, so keep an eye on them. Also, close all the blinds in the room you set aside for this practice to keep them from flying into windows or glass. If you follow all of these tips and change their toys out regularly, you’ll have happier, healthier birds in your life.