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    Keeping Birds as Pets

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    lawrence_tbs
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    Registration date : 2009-02-26

    Keeping Birds as Pets

    Post by lawrence_tbs on Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:10 am


    Birds are winged, endothermic (warm-blooded), vertebrate animals that lay eggs. There are around 10,000 living species, making them the most numerous tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Birds range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) Bee Hummingbird to the 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in) Ostrich.All birds have forelimbs modified as wings and most can fly, with some exceptions including ratites, penguins, and a number of diverse endemic island species.
    Birds also have unique digestive and respiratory systems that are highly adapted for flight. Some birds, especially corvids and parrots, are among the most intelligent animal species; a number of bird species have been observed manufacturing and using tools, and many social species exhibit cultural transmission of knowledge across generations.

    Many species undertake long distance annual migrations, and many more perform shorter irregular movements. Birds are social; they communicate using visual signals and through calls and songs, and participate in social behaviors including cooperative breeding and hunting, flocking, and mobbing of predators. The vast majority of bird species are socially monogamous, usually for one breeding season at a time, sometimes for years, but rarely for life. Other species have breeding systems that are polygynous ("many females") or, rarely, polyandrous ("many males"). Eggs are usually laid in a nest and incubated by the parents. Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching. Many species are of economic importance, mostly as sources of food acquired through hunting or farming. Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets.

    KEEPING BIRDS AS PETS
    Introduction

    Attending to your birds is a serious responsibility. It begins with making a well-informed decision before placing a cage in home or at the garden and going to the pet shop to purchase a few birds. But there are very serious things to consider first.
    Consider items such as; Construction Materials, Bar Spacing, Ease of Cleaning, Features, and Cost.
    Choosing a cage is never a simple task, you need to consider a few things before you randomly buy a cage.

    Safe materials - Are safe, non-toxic materials used in the construction of my bird cage? This is one of the most important questions that you can ask. Chances are, you spent a good amount of money to purchase your bird and therefore you do not want an inferior cage that is made with Zinc or Lead. These materials decrease the life of your bird and can cause many types of illnesses and sometimes death. They can be a health hazard to you and your feathered friends.

    Bar Spacing - Why is bar spacing so important? Purchasing the wrong cage for your bird can be a bad thing. Birds that live in cages with to large of bar spacing often find themselves getting stuck. Birds that get stuck in between the bars will not sit there and wait for help, they panic, flail, pull and yank. This behavior is extremely dangerous to you birds. Many birds have perished as a result of a poorly fit cage. It is strongly recommend that you verify that the cage you want is good for your bird. Cages that have to large of spacing can make it easy for your bird to escape or worse, inflict injury and even death.

    Cleaning - Is this cage easy to clean? Simply stated, a clean cage is a healthy bird. Yes, we recommend that you clean the cage frequently. Cages that have a small opening and non-removable parts are some of the hardest cages to clean. Cage cleanliness is essential to the overall health of you and your bird. Cages that are left dirty promote bacteria and germ spread leading to illness and disease.

    Features - What makes this cage better than that cage? Some cages are made for the sole purpose of showing off your bird such as Dome-top cages, while others are made to help entertain your bird such as Play-top cages. Studies have shown that a bird that is stimulated and encouraged to climb, explore and play live longer. Look closely for features like; toy hooks, vertical and horizontal bars, perches and even the feeding bowls. Choose a cage that your bird will enjoy. Even you try to feel comfortable in your home, shouldn't your bird be comfortable too?

    Surrounding Area - Is this cage going to be placed in a corner or is it the main piece of furniture in the room? Much like you and I, birds need space. Heaven forbid that YOU have to live in a cubicle! Choosing a cage should be much like picking a piece of furniture. Allow enough space around the cage that your bird doesn't feel shut in. A good general rule of thumb is to get the largest possible cage for your species of bird.

    Cost- Does this cage fit in your budget? Some cages are so very expensive that it makes it almost impossible for you to purchase.

    Basic Bird Nutrition
    A balanced diet is a necessity to allow the bird to live a full and healthy life. An unbalanced diet is the main cause of disease and early death in pet birds. Malnutrition is a human-made disease. Fortunately, it is also treatable by changing the diet. Owners must be the ones to actively study avian nutrition. It is much easier to start a young bird on a varied diet of healthy foods than it is to convert an older bird to a new diet. A bird on an unhealthy diet must slowly (over several months) be converted to a healthier diet.

    Seed-eating birds
    Even for seed-eating birds, seeds alone are not a proper diet. Even when multiple types of seed are offered, the seed-only diet will not supply the necessary array of vitamins and minerals that is needed for optimal health. No one food is going to contain all the necessary nutrients in it. A diet rich in variety will provide the proper nutrition. Birds love seeds like children (and adults) love candy. They'll eat it over what is healthy for them. It is up to the owner to monitor the diet.
    Pelleted diets are readily available from many reputable manufacturers, pet stores, and veterinarians. The pelleted food is a blend of grains, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and various types of proteins. The ingredients are mixed and then baked and crumbled or shaped into appropriate size pellets. Pelleted food should be a large part of the diet especially for the larger birds.
    Fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Offer a wide variety of food, keeping it in as natural a state as possible. This will provide the bird with entertainment as it eats. For example, for larger birds, feed corn on the cob rather than feeding kernels of corn in a dish. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before feeding. Because fruits and vegetables are high in water content, the urine portion of the droppings will increase. Any fruits and vegetables left uneaten should be discarded daily so spoiling is not a problem.

    Non-seed eating birds
    Diets for non-seed eating birds such as Lories and Lorikeets consist of a commercially prepared lory diet, fresh fruit, nectar and fresh water. Birds such as Mynah Birds, Toucans, and Pekin Robins eat mostly fruit, a few vegetables, a good protein source, and fresh water.

    Foods to Avoid
    Some foods are on the do-not-feed list. These include foods that contain high amounts of sugar or fats (junk foods: potato chips, doughnuts, etc.), avocado (guacamole), chocolate, alcohol, or caffeine. Do not give fruit pits. Persimmons are also on the do-not-feed list.

    Feeding times
    Natural feeding times in wild birds are about a half hour after sunrise and again at 5-6 PM. Sticking close to these feeding times will be most natural for the companion bird. Larger breeds can have fruits or vegetables left in the cage through the day for snacking and entertainment. Smaller breeds will typically have seed left in the cage throughout the day. The smaller birds need to eat more frequently throughout the day due to their higher metabolic rate and energy need.

    Hygiene
    Dishes should be washed daily. No food should stay in the cage for longer than 24 hours as the risk of fecal contamination or spoiling is high.

    Water
    Fresh, clean water should always be available. If a water bottle is used, the water should be changed daily and the tip should be checked daily to be sure it is working. Dehydration is a serious problem that can occur within a day or two if water is unavailable.

    WHY DO YOU NEED A PET BIRD?
    Birds make good companions, are an enjoyment to observe, and they saturate a garden with sound including attracting other wild birds to visit your garden. Each bird has his or her own personality (just like Humans), but there are similarities in character and general action within the bird species. You should first decide what are the highlights of having birds is most important to you.
    Here are a few examples I first looked at when I first started:-
    Lovebirds who has a very loveable look, their noise, their colour, and their activity. Finches are extremely social and are best kept as pairs or groups where they will form bonds. A single parakeet or cockatiel may be more suitable if you want a companion bird. If you want a talker, consider a Budgerigar or a Parrot.

    CAN I AFFORD A PET BIRD?
    In addition to the cost of the bird, you will need a cage large enough to accommodate the bird or birds, a quality of food, water and feed containers, perches and toys.

    SPARE TIME TO LOOK AFTER THE BIRD AND CAGE
    Some people tend to think they can just put a bird in a cage and take care of its basic needs for food, water, and cage cleaning. It is not fare to the birds after they has become attached to you and you decide to give them away to someone else just because there is not enough time to care for them. Despite the popularity of parrots and other large birds, their lifespan and necessity for devoted companionship, regular psychological and physical stimulation, are beyond the awareness of the average person.
    Most birds will respond to repetition and reward, so to train a bird you must be gentle and have lots of patience. The bird you have selected could be more approachable to training during specific times of the day. You must be voluntary to accommodate its schedule.
    Cleaning up the bird seed and bird manure from the floor of the cage is not always of most people's interest or likes, so think twice before you decide on having birds for a hobby.
    You must be advised that a lot of small birds will live from seven to ten years and many large bird species can live to fifty years or more.
    Do not keep more birds than you can handle.

    No matter what bird comes into your home, read and ask questions regarding its specific nutritional needs. This will help your pet bird live a long and healthy life.

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