Welcoming home a new bird

When welcoming a new bird into your home you’ll want to make sure his environment is as safe, comfortable and stimulating as possible.

Follow these tips for a happy, healthy feathered friend:

Create a comfy haven for your bird

A roomy cage where he can stretch his wings is essential. Avoid tall, narrow cages which can inhibit your bird’s movements. Bamboo and wooden cages are difficult to disinfect; opt for metal instead. A good guideline:  The cage’s length and width should be at least one and a half times her wingspan. 

Cover the cage for at least 10 hours a day. He needs 10 hours of darkness to sleep.

Add toys to entertain. A bird spends many hours alone. It needs mental stimulation. Ask your EberVet Vetshop about toys for birds that’ll keep them entertained for hours.

Pick your bird’s spot very carefully

Birds are sensitive creatures; though they love to be near the action loud noise and sudden movements can frighten them. Pick a quiet place near a family area. Make sure it is not close to the bathroom or kitchen; these areas often harbour dangerous fumes from household cleaners or nonstick cookware. Place the cage away from heating or cooling vents, radiators,  fireplaces, or windows— rapid temperature and humidity changes will stress your pet.

The first few days

Bring your bird home on a quiet day. He’s not ready to meet people, so let him enjoy his own company and his new surroundings for a few days. Feed him regularly, and don’t forget to cover his cage—he needs at least 10 hours of darkness to nap.

Your bird enjoys quiet companionship, so talk softly, read to him, and watch television nearby. Let him get used to your presence before you handle him. But don’t worry—he’ll be eating from your hand in no time.

During turbulent times, many of us turn to comfort foods—and birds are no exception. So feed your pal his normal chow for the  first week. If you want to change his diet, do so gradually. Ask your EberVet Vetshop for help in choosing a healthy diet. And keep the area around your bird’s cage quiet. You can sweep up the litter beneath his cage, but resist the urge to run the vacuum.

Making introductions

Your bird needs several days to explore his new environment without stress, so keep children, company, and other pets away.

When he seems at ease, allow children to move quietly around the cage, talk softly, sing, and tell stories— they can learn to handle your bird later. Slowly introduce other pets, and never leave the bird alone or unsupervised with a dog or cat.

Watch out for diseases

Before your pet meets the rest of your feathered family, he needs a visit to the veterinarian. Even healthy looking birds can carry deadly diseases. Isolate your bird for 60 to 90 days, wash your hands after handling him, and store his cage supplies separately.

Making introductions

If you are already a bird owner,  you’ll need to introduce the newcomer slowly and gently. For small birds, offer them adjoining rooms—place their cages side by side for about a month so they can chat. If they get along, try placing them in one cage for a few hours. As long as they don’t squabble over dirty dishes or who gets the biggest perch, you can leave them in the same cage.

Proceed more slowly when introducing larger birds. After a month in the same neighborhood, open the cage doors and let them gossip in the doorways or on top of the cages. If this works, place them together ina neutral play area. Large birds can injure each other quickly, so if one of your feathered friends acts out, throw a towel over him—you don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.

Pets who get along can move in together as long as they don’t act territorial—you’ll still need to watch them closely, though, the first few weeks.

With or without a roommate, your bird will settle right in and become a vocal member of the family.

PICKING A BIRD CAGE

  • Pick the largest cage that’s appropriate for your bird. The cage’s length and width should be at least one and a half times her wingspan. And you don’t want to damage your pet’s precious plumage, so make sure her tail feathers fit comfortably.
  • Avoid tall narrow cages—these inhibit most birds’ natural movement. Circular cages reduce flying space. Your best bet: A simple, roomy square cage.
  • The bars of your pet’s cage should be close enough that your clever cockatiel can’t poke her head through, but far enough apart so they don’t trap or pinch her toes, wings, or beak. Vertical bars are easier on tail feathers, and horizontal bars are easier to climb.
  • Avoid wood or bamboo houses. You can’t disinfect these cages, and parrots can chew them to toothpicks. Acrylic cages provide a clear view and protect your floor, but they don’t offer adequate ventilation or a place to climb. Metals, such as stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, brass, aluminium, and galvanised wire or iron, make solid safe cages.  These wires should be strong with a nontoxic  varnish that withstands disinfectants and chewing without corrosion or chipping. Beware of older cages that are painted with poisonous lead-based paint, and choose electroplated rather than dipped galvanised metals to prevent excessive zinc ingestion—and poisoning. Cages painted with a powder coat are durable, easy to clean, and come in attractive colours.
  • A wire grid or grate above the floor will protect your bird from old droppings or spoiled food, and it also keeps her from shredding cage papers or escaping when the cage tray’s not in place. Removable floor trays allow easy daily paper changes and should accommodate standard papers and newspapers.
  • Choose a solid stable cage with no exposed sharp edges, and make sure all welds, joints, and seams are sturdy and smooth. Tighten all nuts and bolts, and make sure the hardware’s out of your precocious pet’s reach. Some habitats also sport cage stands, seed guards or skirts, casters, and extra food and water ports.