Tips and Advice

Choosing the bird

Before Buying a Bird there is quite a lot to consider, both for your enjoyment, and for the Bird's Welfare. First, decide which species you might like and which you are able to accommodate. Most people are aware of the Budgie, which is fairly easy to look after, but if your sights are set on a larger and Exotic species, then there are a number of aspects to consider.

Think of the noisee factor. Most of the larger parrots can be noisy with their calls and display performances; birds such as Cockatoos, Conures, African Greys and even the humble but loveable cockatiel. So it is very important to consider your neighbours and your housing situation before you decide on a bird. Neighbours may complain about the noise, and some have taken parrot owners to court (in some cases winning). Think about this very carefully before purchasing particularly one of the larger varietys such as a Cockatoo.
Anyone considering buying a bird must consider their home environment. Do you have any pets that may pose a problem to a "New member of the family" and compete for affection? Most pets will learn to live with a bird but a close watch should be kept, especially during the first few weeks. Most cats would love a budgie sandwich, so extra care has to be taken on striking the right balance so the bird and the cat have their own special space. Each should also have their own special time with you so no jealousy occurs, which could lead to severe problems.
Anyone in the household suffering from Asthma or a similar chest compliant should seek medical advice, and maybe see if a allergy test could be performed to see if there is any known allergy to feathers. This is very important particularly if considering an African Grey or a Cockatoo, or even a cockatiel as these species in general give a lot of dust, which may irritate a "Weak chest". This dust can be kept to a minimum by regularly spraying the bird with tepid water (about twice a week). Here are a few points to consider when actually purchasing a bird:
(a) Choose a good pet shop, that has a known good reputation. Or choose a breeder, the best way to trace a good breeder, is looking in Magazines that deal with parrot /bird issues i.e Cage and Aviary, Just Parrots as these magazines do the best possible to vet all breeders, so you can be nearly certain of a good quality breeder. Ask about the history of the bird ( Captive Bred, or wild caught ) who originally owned it? Ask for proof , if possible. Some breeders/pet shops may have a birth certificate of details of the ring, if the bird has one, the date of hatching and If it has been carried out, a certificate stating the bird has been sexed, and what sex the bird is.
(b) Look for clear, bright eyes, also clear nostrils.
(c) Good feather condition, look for blood on the feathers or broken feathers. ( This could indicate if the bird has been badly kept ) Check for foot damage and also that the bird is not sat with it's, feathers puffed out.
(d) The bird should be alert, and active and not sitting on the floor in a docile condition.
(e) Look for signs if the bird has been eating. ( Empty seed husks on the floor or in the bowl ) check also it's droppings if possible.
(f) Once you have chosen your bird, and cage and have got it home and settled it in, please remember that the care you have taken must be followed up by making sure that the cage is regularly cleaned with a good disinfectant (ark-klens by vetark). Most cages are still made with plastic perches which can cause foot ailments i.e Bumblefoot, it is always best to change these for wooden ones. (These can be sandpapered regularly ) and the perches must also have different diameters to help exercise the bird's Feet.
ENJOY YOUR BIRD Finally when considering a bird ASK - READ - LEARN

Caring for your Bird

All parrots need a basic diet of seeds. As well as the normal mixtures (Budgie Mix, Parakeet mix, and Parrot mix) most like a variation, and you can mix the seeds to what your bird seems to prefer. Cockatiels often like Parrot Mix, as well as parakeet mix. Budgies will welcome parakeet mix, as well as their own budgie mix. All Psitticines need to be offered fresh fruit (Sweet Apple, Orange, and Banana) and vegetables (Carrot, Lettuce, Dandelion Leaves, etc.). All fruit and vegetables should be washed before offering it to the bird, in case of sprays or insecticides. Remember that birds will not have the same tolerance levels as us, so everything should be washed before hand. At first you may find that your bird may not eat certain foods as it is not use to them, but do not GIVE UP! Continue to offer the food, until either they eat it or you are certain they do not like it.
They are individuals and as we are. Some will like one thing and another something different. Most birds enjoy the occasional Millet spray. Aditionally, Cuttlefish, Iodine Nibble and fresh drinking water should always be available.
If a bird is given a balanced diet and is protected from accidents it should stay healthy and happy. Birds are very adept at hiding the signs of illness because in the wild such signs would be an indication of weakness to predators. Observe your bird's normal habits and if they alter suddenly - be alerted! First signs are usually a lack or complete loss of appetite, drinking too much or too little water, or alterations in the bird's droppings. A bird does not urinate as mammals do; their urine is the white part of their droppings surrounded by solid waste matter. The bird's droppings are usually dark green to brown with a white centre (urine). If the droppings become brighter green, runny or watery, this is an indication that the bird is not well. A bird can develop an illness in 24/48 hours, so it always necessary to act quickly. Consult your local Veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Remember, if a bird is given too much fruit, it can cause runny droppings, giving the false impression of illness.
Always buy a cage as money will allow. In any event a cage should be large enough for the Bird to stretch and flap it's wings without touching the sides of the cage or perches and any toys. (Do not overload the cage with toys) .

Temperament and Habits

Always remember, each bird is an individual and as such will behave differently. Its readiness to become friendly will depend on whether it was wild caught, captive parent reared or hand reared.
Hand reared birds are usually very tame as they are used to being handled at a very early age and tend to become "imprinted" on humans. Sometimes, hand reared birds can become very dependent on human company to the point that they do not relise that they are not human themselves, and may try and dominate their human owners.
Captive parent reared birds are a little harder to tame but with patience and tender loving care become tame and make very good pets. They tend to be less demanding than hand reared birds. Wild caught birds are usually difficult to tame fully and are better used as aviary birds for breeding purposes.
All Psitticines are social creatures and thrive on attention given to them by their owners. When our birds are left without human company (including the birds in the outside birdroom) even for a short time, we leave the radio on for them as they seem to relish the sound of human voices. The radio is course switched off when they are bedded down for the night.
It may be found that a particular bird will be more friendly to one person than anyone else. This is not unusual. This should not put off anybody getting a bird, as Psitticines are social creatures and usually get along with humans in general.
One important issue is that some can be chewers. They tend to like wood and wallpaper, and some are like puppies and even like the odd shoe! If the bird chews you must give a firm "No" (Never hit a bird) as soon as it has commited the offence, and immidiately put it into it's cage. If it happens again, repeat this procedure. Eventually it will soon learn what is expected of it. At all times you must show the bird who is in control, as some birds - particularly Hand Reared ones - will try and become head of the flock in your household. That will cause severe Headaches, and destruction in your home!

Chosing a suitable cage site

Cages are best placed in the family main living room, as this is where the bird will benefit from social contact. Also the owner will reap the fun and love that a bird certainly give. It is a documented medical fact that most people keeping psitticines run less risk of developing stress related heart and blood pressure complaints.
Do not place a cage where it is in direct sunlight as this can cause the bird to overheat. Also keep the cage away from draughts as a bird can catch a cold, but unlike us it can prove fatal for the bird. Cooking fumes and fumes from a non-stick frying pan have been known to cause death. Also Cigarette smoking should be kept to a minium, and if at all possible the smoking should be restricted to another room, where the bird does not live. Their is evidence that the smoking enviroment can cause chest problems to the bird.

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