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How to care for birds

Feeding

  • Different bird species have different nutritional requirements. Budgerigars extract the kernels of seeds or nuts by cracking the hard outer husk with their beaks. Finches and canaries eat seeds, but they can't crack nuts. The size of the seed should suit the size of the bird. Commercial seed mixes can provide a basic balanced diet. Remove empty seed husks from the seed container every day.
  • Well-washed green vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, and chickweed, and fruits may supplement the diet. Never feed avocado because it is poisonous to birds.
  • Cuttlefish bone and oyster-shell grit provide minerals that are essential for crop function.
  • Keep food containers off the floor to reduce the risk of faecal contamination.
  • Column water containers are preferable because birds are unable to bathe in them and it is easy to check the water level. Give birds fresh water daily.

Handling

  • Restrain a small bird in one hand by gently placing your thumb and first finger on either side of its head and immobilising its wings with your remaining fingers. Be careful not to squeeze the bird's chest.
  • Finches are common cage birds, but they are not suited to regular handling because they may go into shock and die.
  • Budgerigars may be accustomed to handling. However, they may hurt themselves if they panic and will bite if they are hurt or frightened.
  • Exercising a bird in the classroom is not recommended.

Health

  • Always feed birds their appropriate diet and keep their cage clean.
  • Each day, look for normal activity. Is your bird eating, preening, and grooming its feathers? Check its skin for scabs, dandruff, bald spots, or itchiness. Check that its eyes, ears, and nares (nostrils) are clear of any discharges and that its droppings are normal. Check its beak, nails, and feet. Know what is usual for birds.
  • Moulting (the normal loss and replacement of feathers) is influenced by the time of year, the age of the bird, and the degree of stress it is under.
  • To keep their feathers healthy, budgerigars (budgies), parakeets, canaries, and finches need a mist or water bath three to four times a week. Another option is to provide them with a bunch of wet chickweed.
  • Birds like regular routines, and they may take time to adapt to any change, whether it is a new environment, a new food, or a new toy. When changing a bird's environment, provide a quiet time to allow it to settle. Covering the cage provides extra security for the bird.
  • Birds can be affected by viral, bacterial, and parasitic conditions. Finches and budgerigars are active, alert birds. They should sit upright on the perch. Sick birds often seem weak and have a drooping, fluffed-up appearance. If you ignore their illness, small birds may rapidly deteriorate in condition. At any sign of illness, or if you have questions, consult a veterinarian.

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