Incredible creatures by nature, “National Bird Day” is a great time to pay homage and respect to our feathered friends. Birds can make amazing pets, but they need just as much care and love as any other pet! Birds are non-domesticated animals (albeit sometimes raised in captivity), with natural instincts to fly and flock together. So if you do choose to care for a bird as a pet, be sure to let them have the opportunity to ‘stretch their wings’ outside of a cage.
Here are some helpful tips from the folks at National Bird Day (www.nationalbirdday.com) to help make your bird happy:
- Provide a healthy and varied diet — not just seeds, but grains, beans, vegetables (cooked and raw) formulated pellets, and some fruit. (Harmful foods include chocolate, avocado, highly processed or overly salted foods, human junk food, and caffeine.)
- Give your bird the largest enclosure possible — no space is too big for a creature adapted to flying through jungles and across savannas.
- Provide daily exercise and ample out-of-cage time, preferably to include free flying in a safe, supervised environment.
- Offer a variety of toys and enrichment activities.
- Provide plenty of socialization with other birds and/or human caretakers.
- Give responsible access to unfiltered sunlight and/or full-spectrum lighting. Birds need exposure to UVA and UVB rays from direct sunlight (windows block necessary UV rays) or full-spectrum lighting to synthesize vitamin D necessary for bone health.
- Offer daily or weekly misting with a clean spray bottle of water to promote feather and skin health and for fun! Some birds prefer to bathe in a small container (like their water dish); others enjoy being misted with water. It is important to allow the birds to air-dry in a warm room or in the sunshine.
- Develop games and teach your bird skills (“jobs”) like foraging or treasure hunts (this can be done in the house or with creative toys in the cage), cleaning up toys by putting them in a basket.
- Provide a secure enclosure, carrier, or harness so your bird can enjoy the outdoors with you.
- Place multiple perches/stands throughout the house so that your bird can benefit from ambient “flock time” while being included in family activities like watching TV or movies, preparing meals, playing cards or games.
Source: National Bird Day, www.NationalBirdDay.com