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A Bird in the Hand

Pet birds can make very good house pets

Pet birds can make very good house pets, and they are more friendly and affectionate than you might expect.  Many birds enjoy close contact with their human companions, and some love to talk, sing and whistle to you.  They can be relatively easy to look after once you have taken the time to tame them and learn as much as you can about their care.  When first buying a pet bird do bear in mind that they are unlikely to be sitting on your hand and singing to you when they first arrive – of course it does vary as each bird has its own personality, but it can take patience before they reach that level of tameness.  Take time with your pet every day, and he will slowly get used to you and become more tame.

For house pets there are a variety of species which will suit, these include: Budgies, Lovebirds , Cockatiels, Parakeets, Kakarikis, Canaries and Finches.Budgerigars and Canaries are some of the most commonly kept bird pets as they are easy to find and relatively easy to care for.  They both come in a variety of colours and can live to 7 – 10 years.  Some Budgies do learn to say a few words, while male canary’s sing (the females do not) and are fairly hardy.  Canaries can be more delicate, but will do very well on the correct diet, and as always, consult your vet or supplier as to exactly the right feeds.  Larger breeds can love for 20 years, so choose carefully and do your research on what sort of bird will suit you best.
Once chosen, there are a few things you need to consider:
Your bird should be housed in the roomiest cage you can accommodate, and if they will spend a lot of time caged, then make it bigger still.  The idea is that they can stretch their wings fully and flap without hitting the sides.  They should be able to take short flights within the space.  Horizontal bars are essential for birds who like to climb, for example Parakeets, cockatiels and parrots.  The bar spacing needs to be considered to make sure the bird cannot get his head through, and metal bars will prevent chewing damage.  The easier the cage is to clean, perhaps with a sliding tray, the better, as this is a job which needs regular attention.  Place the cage in an area free of drafts, out of direct sunlight.  In a corner is ideal, as this will make your bird feel more secure. 
If you decide on aviary, indoor versions are available and mean you can control the lighting and temperature.  Outdoors, you will need to provide a sheltered area, and some birds will benefit from heating or cooling in extreme weather conditions. 
Once you have set up your cage or aviary, it needs to be kitted out.  Bowls for food, grit and treat are necessary, either plastic or ceramic for larger birds who may tip over anything too light.  They can be mounted with clips or hooks to prevent the bird moving the bowl around or tossing is to the floor of the cage.  Perches are essential to provide standing space and help them to exercise their beaks.  The need to obviously fit the birds feet, and can be wood plastic or concrete – natural (non toxic wood) provide variety and exercise for the feet!
Birds enjoy toys, from bells and mirrors to ropes and ladders.  Birds do suffer from boredom, and these toys will combat that and help to keep them interested and healthy, as well as providing you with more entertainment!
There are various suitable diets, from mixes which offer formulated food and seed, pelleted and extruded feeds and seed only diets.  There are also supplements available to keep your bird in the best health.  Mixes are suitable as a mix of seeds, formulated food and vitamins, although vegetables and seeds will add an essential dimension.  Again, speak to your local vet who will be able to give you a list of all your breeds’ requirements.  Grit is a requirement for a lot of seed eating birds, as a digestion aid for unshelled seeds, and cuttlebone and calcium blocks should also be provided for seed eaters.
Many birds enjoy a bath as you will know if you have watched birds in your garden, so you can provide a small bath in the bottom of the cage, or bar mounted for the birds to splash around in.  You may find that if you do not provide a bath, the birds will take to using their water bowl anyway!
Keep your bird safe – don’t leave doors and windows open, allow them to fly near hot appliances, or switch on your ceiling fan.  There are many plants and flowers which are toxic to birds, including daffodils, oleanders, lily-of-the-valley and so on – be safe and check what will be okay to keep in the house.
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