Birds are intelligent creatures that require a significant amount of care to ensure that they live long and fulfilling lives.
Failure to provide them with the enrichment they need can lead to a damaging mental state including depression, pulling out their own feathers, or self-mutilation.
Any time an animal is prevented from expressing their natural behaviors stereotypic behaviors can occur in their place. These are unnatural behaviors that are seen as a result of an inability of a captive animal to carry out behaviors that are instinctive and necessary to thrive in the environments we create.
Birds should be able to perch, forage, fly, interact with the same or similar species, and have access to sunlight, and proper nutrition. For birds living in homes, socialization with their humans is an essential part of their care as they bond deeply to those that they love. Keeping your bird in an active part of the household where they can be part of your daily routine is important to keep your bird mentally stimulated.
When setting up your bird’s cage, make sure it is big enough to allow flight especially if you are not able to let your bird out for supervised exercise in a bird safe room. Cages should have perches that are appropriate to the size of the birds’ feet so they can perch comfortably. Be sure that perches are not located over food or water. Mirrors, swings, and other toys can be placed around the cage for enrichment. A radio playing in the room can provide mental stimulation and placing your birds cage near a window for sunlight is also ideal. If possible, your bird should be able to enjoy the company of another bird even if housed separately. It is possible that they will not get along and owners should be prepared for this, but most animals enjoy having a buddy.
Change your bird’s food and water daily and keep their perches and cage papers clean.
Your bird should have time outside of the cage to fly in a room that is free from hazards like ceiling fans or poisonous household plants. If you can’t be near your bird to supervise them, large flight cages can provide space to fly. They also need sleep in a draft free environment usually from dusk on in a quiet room. Putting a blanket over your bird’s cage at dusk is calming and will allow them to get the adequate rest that they need in the dark until morning.
While dietary options vary from bird to bird, birds should be offered a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as nuts, cooked beans, pelleted food, and seeds. The best thing you can do before taking your bird home is consult with an avian veterinarian on the dietary needs of your specific bird.
If you decide that you are unable to care for your bird, please do not let them go outside. This is setting your bird up to die a slow death in an environment that they are not accustomed to being in by starvation, dehydration, and exposure. Contact a local animal shelter or humane society for surrender options and they can help you network to bird rescues if necessary.
Birds are incredible creatures that bond deeply to their humans when their needs are being met. They have big personalities and with that can come behavioral issues as they protect the ones they love.
Consider the time you have to give before adopting a bird, and also research to find out the best type of bird to fit your lifestyle. Birds can live very long lifespans with appropriate care with some living from 3 years to 100 years. This is something to consider when adopting a bird, because they often outlive their owners and a plan should be in place for them to make sure that they continue to thrive and be cared for.
As with any animal in our care, their lives exist within the confines that we set up for them and it is our responsibility to ensure that they live in a clean, disease free environment with access to food and water, as well as time, attention, love, and an ability to express natural behaviors specific to their species.