Tips on Caging Birds & Their Care

Free Tips On Caging Birds, Feeding, Handling

Topics below are specific notes on bird handling, feeding, water supply, and cages. We hope these notes are of interest for you.

GENERAL. In addition to flight feathers, those feathers on the body provide insulation which helps to maintain a relatively high body temperature.

Budgerigars and canaries normally have a body temperature of around 40C to 42C, which some small finches have an even higher temperature in the region of 45C.

The bones of birds are very light and fragile. The long bones contain air in the cavities which communicate with the respiratory tract.

As birds have no diaphragm, the thoracic and abdominal cavities are not separated. Not only does this affect the signs of disease but is an important consideration when handling. Birds can easily die if undue pressure is applied around the body.

FEEDING. The most common cage birds are seed eating such as budgerigars and canaries, which normally live on canary, rape, niger seed and millet.

Tip 1. They also need a dietary source of iodine and need this included as iodised seed, given as a supplement in the form of an iodine nibble or as an addition to the drinking water.

Tip 2. Small amounts of green food are also advisable, such as an occasional washed lettuce leaf hung in the cage.

Tip 3. It is vital to provide grit for seed-eating birds. Most pet shops will provide mixed grit which has soluble and insoluble grit present. Pieces of cuttlefish bone and commonly put between the bars of cages for birds to exercise their beaks and act as a source of minerals. It is best not to use pieces of cuttlefish washed up on the beach.

Tip 4. Seed-eating pet birds cannot survive for more than about 48 hours without food. Such birds normally take in around 25% of their body weight daily as food. A continual source of seed should always be available, and the husks which the bird removes should be blown away from the surface of the feeding pot every day so that the bird can reach the whole seed underneath. A medium sized 45g budgerigar will normally eat around 10g of seed daily.

Tip 5. Putting “fluffed up” birds into a relatively high ambient temperature can often get them eating again when they have been off their food. It may be necessary to spread some seed on the floor of the cage as well as in the seed bowls to give the maximum opportunity for the bird to eat.

Tip 6. A bird which is not eating, needs energy urgently and should be given 5% dextrose solution by mouth at the rate of 1ml per half hour.

WATER. Fresh water should always be available for drinking.

Tip 1. Birds with wet dropping or diarrhoea tend to drink much more water to compensate for fluid loss.

Tip 2. A calibrated water container is useful in a cage so that the daily intake can be recorded.

Tip 3. Budgerigar sized birds drink about 2-5ml water daily and canaries proportionally less.

CAGES. The use of a semi-enclosed type of cage helps to prevent birds from becoming frightened by the other activities going on around them.

Tip 1. Large psittacine birds such as parrots, continually make use their powerful beaks and need large robust cages with strongly constructed bars and perches.

Tip 2. All cages should be fitted with perches with enough distance between them to allow flight. The perches should be of sufficient diameter to allow a comfortable grip with the toes and claws without excessive contraction or spreading.

Tip 3. It is necessary to have a thermometer incorporated into the cage to achieve the optimum ambient temperature. This is usually around 30-38C.

Tip 4. Birds which are “fluffed up” in appearance usually need a higher ambient temperature. A bird which is too hot, usually keeps its feathers close to its body, in which case a slightly lower temperature should be aimed for.

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