The BC SPCA is pleased to provide basic bird care tips and information on diet, shelter, exercise, grooming, health care and socialization for pet birds. It is important to do your homework before getting any kind of pet.
Small birds: (Parakeet, Canary, Finch) 5-10 years
Cockatiels: 12-15 years
Parrots: 60-100 years (If you are thinking of getting a parrot, get advice from an experienced parrot guardian.)
Birds cannot live on seeds alone. In fact, in the wild, birds eat seeds as a last resort. Adding fruit and vegetables to a bird's diet adds variety and nutrition. Bird pellets are also available in pet stores and are quite nutritious, but some birds may not like them. Keep seeds and fresh fruit in separate food dishes in your bird's cage. Always remove any uneaten fresh food after 4 or 5 hours or it will spoil and make the bird sick.
A bird's food is very important to his health, so talk to your veterinarian about the best food for your bird.
*Note: avocado, coffee beans and chocolate as well as many household plants are poisonous to birds.
All animals need fresh water to live. Change your bird's water every day and completely clean the dish once a week. Birds also like to take a bath. A separate bathing dish should be put in the cage away from the food and water.
Birds naturally fly many miles in a day. A bird's cage should be big enough for her to stretch her wings and fly short distances. Buy the biggest cage you possibly can for your bird. Some birds need tall cages because they like to climb and others need long cages so they can hop. Add different sized perches (not covered with sandpaper) to the cage so your bird can jump and climb.
Your bird's cage should be kept away from drafts and direct sunlight. Some kitchen fumes can make birds sick, so the cage should be kept away from the kitchen.
Flying around the house is a good way for pet birds to get exercise. Watch your bird so that she does not get into any dangerous materials (pot of hot water, mirrors, hazardous products, etc).
Birds like to take baths. You can give your bird a shower by misting her gently with lukewarm water from a spray bottle (don't use soap as this could be harmful to your bird).
Birds naturally groom themselves but sometimes pick at their feathers until patches are missing. Feather picking can be a sign of stress, not eating properly, infections and other problems. Take your bird to the vet to get help.
A bird's claws grow like your fingernails, but since it is difficult to trim a bird's claws, take your bird to a veterinarian for this.
Health problems in birds are often caused by not eating a balanced, healthy diet. Other problems are caused by unclean bowls or spoiled food. Keeping the cage clean is also very important to a bird's health. If you notice changes in your bird's behaviour, such as not eating, sleeping more, over-preening or unusual feather loss, take your bird to a vet right away.
Don't panic if your bird loses most of her feathers once a year. This is natural and is called molting. New feathers will grow back.
Some birds can be trained to sit on your shoulder, while others don't like to be touched. Get to know the type of bird you want to adopt so that you know what to expect. Either way, it is important to care for and interact with your bird, even if it is talking to her or giving her a playful mist.