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Birdkeeping Essentials

Whether you’ve never owned a bird or just want to make sure you’re doing the right thing for your feathered friend, having the appropriate support is paramount to the health and happiness of your pet, which is why we’ve compiled a list of things to consider before you buy your bird.

1. Food

Pet birds need a formulated diet, meaning food pellets specifically for birds or bird seed, as a base diet. Fresh or dehydrated fruits and vegetables are also a nice addition, along with nuts, beans, and cooked brown rice. Above all else, don’t give your bird onions or chocolate — these are toxic to birds.

2. Cage

For an animal that will spend most of its life behind bars, your bird needs a home that’s the biggest you can afford. Bird cages should be made of a strong, non-toxic material and easy to clean. A basic measuring estimate is a cage that’s wide enough to not cramp fully extended wings and high enough to accommodate birds with long tails.

3. Perch

A DIY perch can be made by attaching two branches on each side of the cage with uncoated wire or a small bracket. Make sure the bird stands or perches are set far enough from the food and water bowls. Branches from pesticide-free, non-toxic trees such as citrus, eucalyptus, or Australian pine are best. Or you can keep it simple and just buy a couple of bird perches from the pet store.

4. Water

Wide, rather than deep cups will encourage your bird to try new food items. Many food and water dishes for birds have a built-in perch, and they all have a ledge the bird can balance on as it eats and drinks. As long as the bird gets around well on its own, perches need not be set close to the bowls. In fact, if the perch is too close, it may overeat or chew on its food dishes, neither of which are healthy activities.

5. Toys

No pet should ever be without playthings, and birds are no exception. Bird toys made from materials like soft white pine, rawhide and leather chews (made for pets), or pine cones, help to keep the beak healthy and will keep your bird active. Natural fiber rope can also provide a nice diversion, but balsa wood, cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine are all no-nos.

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