When buying supplies for your pet bird, it is important to know as much as possible about the needs of the particular species you plan to purchase.
Different bird types, such as parrots (like cockatiels, parakeets and macaws) and finches (including birds like canaries) will have vastly different needs when it comes to buying supplies.
You should also consider whether or not you intend to breed your birds, or keep them in flocks. Ensuring you know these needs before you head to the pet store will enable you to make the right choices for the health and safety of your bird.
Choosing a Bird Cage
The most essential and expensive item you must have for your pet bird is a bird cage. Bird cages come in a bewildering array of sizes and shapes to cater for different bird needs. A canary, for example, will need a longer cage than a similar sized parrot. This is because canaries exercise by flying from perch to perch and are rarely allowed outside the cage. Parrots, on the other hand, can exercise by climbing their cage bars and are suited to a taller cage, although it should still be at least three times the width of their wingspan.
You should also look at the bars of a potential cage. Cage bars should be tightly spaced so your bird cannot get its head stuck between them. This is particularly important for playful parrots. Parrots will also need horizontal bars for easy climbing. High quality metal bars are the best material, as wood tends to absorb odor and plastic may be too flimsy. Remember you will be cleaning the cage regularly, so pick one that will make this task easy.
You may wish to consider an indoor or outdoor aviary, particularly if you intend to breed your birds. In this case, you should also provide nesting boxes suited to your particular breed. In some cases, birds will breed more easily if kept in an aviary together, while in other cases they do better with one pair to a cage. You should also consider whether your bird is a social type, or is too aggressive to keep with other birds. Male canaries, for example, should not be kept with other canaries.
Picking Bird Cage Accessories
A bird cage should be lined with paper, such as the grit paper that is available at most pet stores. This makes for easier cleaning. You might also consider stacks of cage liners that fit in the bottom of the cage, so one can be easily removed each day.
For birds that exercise by flying within the cage, there must be at least two perches, on either side, but all birds will appreciate several available perches. Ideally, the perches should be at different heights, with a variety of thicknesses and made of natural wood. This allows your bird to exercise his feet. You can also purchase a cage cover to allow your bird to rest at night even when you want to keep the lights on.
Your bird should have access to clean food and water dishes, preferably hanging outside the cage so they remain clean. You might also want to consider a bowl of water that can be put in the cage occasionally for bathing. Some types of birds, such as intelligent parrots, need toys for their mental health. These can be mirrors, bells, ropes, and so on, but must be non-toxic and not likely to shatter or be swallowed. Larger parrots may need a stand or a play gym as they will spend a lot of time outside their cage. Birds like canaries or finches don’t usually enjoy toys and they can be a safety hazard for this kind of bird.
Bird Foods and Supplements
Exotic birds, such as toucans or lorikeets, will require a special diet, but most pet birds can be supplied by a local pet store and with fresh foods from home. A good quality seed mix, suitable for each specific bird type should be supplied at all times. Birds have a high metabolism and can quickly die of starvation if they are not fed properly and regularly. A cuttlebone should also be supplied for most birds, along with a supply of grit for digestion.
You may also give your bird sprays of millet, although this should only be an occasional treat. Otherwise, some birds may begin to eat it exclusively and will miss out on valuable nutrients from other seeds. Most birds will also thrive on treats of fresh fruits and vegetables, and an occasional portion of boiled egg for extra protein. Breeding birds will need extra supplements to maintain their health.
Keeping a pet bird can be a wonderful experience. Preparing yourself before bringing your bird home with the knowledge and items you need will reduce stress on you and your bird. With the right kind of environment, your bird will remain healthy and happy for years to come.