When purchasing a new bird, you need to be sure you are buying the healthiest bird you can. Make sure they are a nice healthy weight, by feeling their chest and abdomen. Check to make sure there are no broken feathers, abnormalities with the shape of their beak or claws and no signs of diarrhea.
Birds kept in a cage can get a little bored, so make an effort to bring the outdoors indoors for them. Dowel perches are not really ideal, because in the wild, birds do not sit on perfectly rounded tree branches! Try some branches from a native tree, which vary in thickness. Variety is the spice of life. Birds love colour too, so if the bottlebrush in your backyard is flowering, pop a flower or two in the cage.
There should be enough room in the cage for your bird to be able to stretch their wings right out and give them a flap. They need some room to move. Long enclosures are better than high enclosures because it enables the bird to have a fly around.
Birds such as cockatiels and budgerigars enjoy toys to play with too. Mirrors, little ladders and bells are popular favourites.
The smoking of cigarettes around birds can very damaging to their lungs and air sacs. In addition, the smoke can also irritate their skin and is often considered to be a contributing factor towards self-mutilation. Finally, nicotine staining on the fingers can lead to dermatitis of the feet, in birds that routinely perch on mum and dad’s fingers.
Different birds have different nutritional requirements, however most people keep parrots, so here are a few little extras listed below that can be supplemented into their diet after the appropriate birdseed has been supplied.
Eucalyptus flowers and gumnuts, apples, corn on the cob, pine cones, sliver beet, spinach, thistle, dandelion flowers, carrot (grated for small birds) to name a few. Mealworms can provide protein to larger parrots such as galahs and cockatoos.
Cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower should only be given in moderation because they contain a substance (thiouracil), which can have a bad effect on their thyroid.
Chocolate and avocados are a huge no no with birds, so save them for yourselves!!
If you have birds kept in an aviary with a concrete floor, you really only need to worm your birds once a year. However, if you have an earthen floor, it would be best if you wormed out all your birds every 3 months.
Treatment is quite simple, just a liquid that you add to their drinking water for 2 consecutive days running. “Wormout Gel” covers all the major worm species found in birds, including thread worm, tapeworm, roundworm, caecal worm and hookworm.
Just remember, regular removal of droppings decreases the risk of reinfestation.
When introducing new birds to resident birds, you should always keep them separated for a period of 6 - 8 weeks. Not only will this prevent the possibility of a disease being introduced to your aviary, it allows you to monitor your new bird during its settling-in period. If it is incubating some nasty bugs, this is the likely time when they will break out.
All new birds should be wormed with Wormout Gel as previously mentioned, and depending on where your little feathered friend has been, one of our vets may even suggest something else. Don’t be afraid to ask any of our lovely staff!
Signs Of Illness
- Fluffed up feathers / huddled appearance
- Head held under one wing
- Weight loss / reduction in appetite
- Broken feathers
- Sleepy appearance / decreased activity levels
- Vomiting (often noticed on top of the head)
- Sitting low on the perch
- Runny droppings / dirty bottom
What To Do Before Visiting The Vet
- Don’t clean the cage, because you may wash away some useful evidence that could help with a diagnosis of your bird’s illness.
- Remove any swings or toys that may cause injury to your bird during transportation to and from the veterinary centre.
- Empty the water dish.
- Leave the food dish as it is, so we can determine eating habits.
- Place a layer of aluminium foil or glad wrap over the bottom of the cage so we can distinguish between the fresh droppings and the older ones.
- Provide a list of any worming treatments, medications or mineral supplements that have been used recently.
Annual Health Checks
Although there are no vaccinations available for birds, we encourage owners to bring their birds in for an annual health check.
During your consultation, we will examine your bird to make sure they are a healthy weight, check for any feather abnormalities and ensure that a suitable worming schedule is in place. Birds often mask signs of a low grade illness quite well, so a thorough examination by a veterinarian will help to assess their current state of health and put you back on track
The Department of Primary Industries advise that there is currently no known avian influenza in Australia and further that pet, caged and aviary birds are at negligible risk of infection if the owners follow simple bio-security measures. A copy of these measures is available. Just ask our reception staff.