Bird Keeping: Your Questions Answered
If you’ve got a bird as a pet, then you’ve probably had people give you the stink eye. For many people, bird-keeping is just plain evil. The way they see it, birds were made to fly, so why keep them in a cage for your amusement?
Yes, birds were made to fly but, having a bird for a pet can be beneficial to both the bird and you. So, if you planning to get a bird as a pet or, you’ve got one and you are worried that your keeping it is you being cruel, let’s answer your questions and clear your doubts.
Is it Wrong to Keep Birds as Pets?
Well, this question is subject to opinion. However, birds make excellent companions for senior citizens, children, and anyone who spends most of their time at home i.e. remote workers or stay-at-home households. Birds are also very social. They can sing, talk and play, and because birds are great at imitating humans, they can be taught to do simple tasks or learn tricks. Also, unlike most pets, birds can be lifelong companions, they can live for a very long time.
But bird keeping is not for everyone, like any pet you need to give it the attention it deserves. You need to feed it the proper diet and make sure it’s comfortable during the winter. This shouldn’t be hard because unlike most pets, birds are not as expensive to feed and they require minimal grooming.
One important thing to know is not all birds should be kept as pets. Wild birds don’t belong in cages. If you want to get a pet bird, don’t get a wild bird out of its natural habitat and keep it in a cage in your room. That’s harmful to the health of the bird, and it contributes to the reduction of the wild bird population. Here are some examples of pet birds that are perfect if you are a beginner:
- Hyacinth Macaws
How Large Should the Bird Cage Be?
The larger, the better. Make it a huge flight cage. Birds need as much room as possible to fly around and exercise their wings. A small cage would restrict them from doing this. The birdcage should also include its water and food bowl and toys. Parrots like to chew, especially females, so a chewing toy is a necessity. The birdcage should also have a perch. On a tree, birds have several branches to jump to and from. This allows them to exercise and keep their muscles and joints active. Now, when putting the perch in the cage, you want to make sure it’s more than one. Just like the tree, more than one perch would give the semblance of tree branches, and this way, your bird can jump from one to the other, as much it wants. The perch should be high, the height makes the bird feel safe. But the perch should be no higher than midlevel.
What Treat and Diet Should I feed My Pet Bird?
Birds eat a variety of things. Weed seeds, earthworms, grains, grasshoppers, beetles, flies, and some birds even eat other birds. However, your bird’s diet should depend on the type of bird your pet is. That’s why birdkeeping isn’t for everyone. You don’t want to feed your bird beetles and grasshoppers when it’s actually a frugivorous bird (Birds that eat fruit).
A lot of birds are granivorous including sparrows and finches. If you like, you can plant seed-bearing flowers in your garden and that can serve as a natural food source for your pet. It will also attract other birds to your garden.
Parrots love seeds. But they are also what you’d call omnivores, which means they can eat meat, vegetables, nuts, flowers, insects, and buds. Lovebirds also eat seeds. They eat grains, berries, and fruits too. To provide a healthy and balanced diet for your pet, you can add as much variety as possible. But this variety should be specific to what your pet likes to eat. For instance, because parrots primarily love seeds, you can add other foods to spice up their diet. You can also feed your bird fresh fruits and vegetables like grapes, papaya, mangoes, broccoli, or squash. Again, this diet should be specific to what your pet likes. If you are unsure of what diet to feed your bird or you find that it’s not responding to its diet as it should take it to a vet.
What Should I Feed My Bird During Winter?
During winter, the ground is often too hard for birds who live in the wild to dig for food like worms, beetles, or grubs. Also, birds lose a lot of heat during the winter, so they need to eat enough food to get back their warmth and energy.
Your pet is not as disadvantaged as the birds in the wild during winter, it’s safe in the warmth and comfort of its cage. So, you can keep feeding its regular diet and treating it as lovingly as you already are.
To help the birds in the wild, you can leave out food and clean water for them. Foods like sunflower seeds, fruits, bread crumbs, and Nyjer seeds. You can also leave out water in clean water bowls. To prevent this from freezing, drop a small plastic ball on the surface.
Birds are very vulnerable during winter. Their food sources are depleted (especially the seed sources), their water sources are frozen, and their predators are hungry. So, while your pet is safe and warm, you can keep the other birds comfortable by putting out what you can.
What Can I Do to Keep My Pet Birds Happy?
Play with Your Bird
Not all birds need human interaction. Canaries care little for it; parrots on the hand (all species of parrot) love it. So, if you want your bird to be happy and comfortable around you, you need to interact with it. You can whistle to it, play games with it, or talk to it, parrots are great mimics, so this should be fun. You can also cuddle with it while you watch TV or work. This is a good idea if you’ve just got the bird and it’s not yet used to the environment.
Another way to keep your bird happy and entertained is to get it another bird. A playmate, if you will. This works if you have a tight schedule and have no time to play with your bird. This way, your bird is not lonely.
Let It Out of the Cage
Remember, it’s a bird, and it needs to fly. Also, its cage is mostly meant for sleeping. You can let your bird out of its cage every day for a certain amount of time; say two to three hours. You can make it more if your bird is really active. Some people let their bird out all day and this is not a bad idea at all. However, if you are going to do that, you need to make sure there are no dogs or cats roaming around the house.