Pet Bird Species: Lovebirds

March 28, 2015 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Active, curious and playful, lovebirds are very entertaining and often recommended as pets. Measuring only 15 cm in length on average, lovebirds are among the smallest of parrots, but are big in personality and have many of the traits of larger species. They thrive on social interaction and can put on quite a show for their human caretakers with very little encouragement.

As their name suggests, lovebirds crave affection, so if owners are not able to give their pet lovebird plenty of attention or are out most of the day, it’s generally a good idea to get a pair. A reputable lovebird breeder should be able to provide a well matched pair of birds, which is important as they can be aggressive if they don’t get along. It’s never a good idea to put a lovebird with another bird species. Pairs of lovebirds are a delight to watch as they play with and groom one another. Breeding pairs of lovebirds even feed one another, carefully transferring food from one beak to the other. It is an erroneous assumption that pairs of lovebirds will not bond with their human handlers. They may bond more with one member of the family more than others, but a lot depends on how they are handled from the start and they will more often than not respond to positive attention from anyone. They appear to enjoy grooming their favored humans with the same degree of affection shown to one another.

The minimum size of a cage for a lovebird should be 1m x 1m x 1m – but bigger is better. They need a variety of safe (preferably wooden) toys, swings and perches to play on and to chew. Providing a cuttlebone is important as this helps to trim their beaks, which grow continuously, and is also a source of calcium and minerals. They enjoy bathing and sunning themselves as part of their daily routine. It is good to remember that lovebirds that are not getting sufficient stimulation and companionship may exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression and feather plucking. Their immune systems may also become suppressed leading to ill health. But, in general, they are easy to care for.

Your pet lovebird’s diet should consist of a good seed, grain and nut mix, along with fresh fruit and vegetables. They also enjoy edible flowers and green weeds, such as dandelion and chickweed. Among the foods to completely avoid are avocado, rhubarb, mushrooms, onions and potatoes.

So, if you’re considering getting a pet bird (or two), lovebirds are a good choice. Just bear in mind that their lifespan is 15 years on average, and they bond for life, so be sure that you want to make a bird part of your household.

Living with the Happy Bird

October 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Birds lovers know how much time and care feathered friends require. Ensuring their happiness is a lot of responsibility. In my quest to keep my quaker parrot Dahlia entertained, I’ve discovered ways to incorporate her in my daily routine.

Most birds are very social creatures getting lonely, bored, and even distressed when left alone. Looking for opportunities each day to include Dahlia keeps her close as I go about my day. Activities especially suited for a bird on the shoulder or nearby include personal grooming, light housekeeping, working on the computer, and running errands. When you have time, playing and allowing them to fly freely can be both physically and mentally stimulating.

Games and Activities

Taking time for focused attention will make all the difference in your bird’s quality of life. There are many ways to interact that will promote bonding and stimulate brain activity. Many birds love toothpicks. Try putting one in your mouth and turning your head to one side. The movement and stick-like object hits the bird’s nest-building instinct. Dahlia and I play keep-away for a couple of minutes several times each week. After she takes the toothpick, she expertly shuttles it to the other side of her mouth to keep it from me. I position her so I can take it back. Knowing I want the toothpick stimulates her interest in it while providing greater eye/beak coordination. Although she has little interest in toys, most birds do. It’s important to buy new toys regularly.

Around the House

There’s no reason your bird can’t help you while you’re working on a computer, doing light housekeeping, opening the mail, and doing bike and car repair. Several bird friends have marveled at how much their birds enjoy watching them do dishes. Since most birds have the developmental ability of a toddler, seeing dishes moving from one place to another provides enough interest for most birds. Having a perch or playstand makes hanging out with you a snap.

In the Bathroom

Bathroom time is an opportunity to keep your bird company. People have showered with birds for decades if not centuries. Dahlia wasn’t up for the shower at first and now she won’t let me bathe without her. If your bird doesn’t is reluctant at first, don’t give up. The steam is especially good for tropical birds. My parrot never tires of my morning routine. The motion of the toothbrush is one of her favorite things. She bobs up and down with the brush every time. The dental floss never makes it to the finish line as I rush to use it as she chases it between my fingers.

On the Road

Dahlia goes with me to run errands daily. Whether she stays in the car or goes in, we spend more time together and she enjoys the changing scenery as a result. Running errands with a bird can be a great bonding time. I put a towel, paper towels, or paper diaper changing pads on the dashboard above the steering wheel. Dahlia stands on the edge of the dash, on the steering wheel, on my shoulder, and on her cage in the passenger seat. I keep snacks in the glove compartment and bring fresh food such as one grape cut in half, a cucumber slice, and a very small container of bird seed is usually in my purse.

At the Pet Store

If you have time, stop in a pet store for a brief walk through. Dahlia enjoys going to the pet store about once each week. She stares at the rabbits and cats, marvels at the fish, and postures for the parrots. The stress relief I get from so much animal cuteness makes the trip well worth it. Seeing my own little bird react to the menagerie of animals is a delight, but the main benefit is making her day a bit more interesting.

Flying Free

Since Dahlia spends much of her time on my shoulder, she is mainly a free bird. She often flies ahead to the car, flies to me from across the room, and regularly flies both in and outdoors. Since this was not something I planned, I did not train Dahlia to fly or to return to me as is customary. She will not be flying again until spring and then only in parks far from traffic.

Caution; free flying should only be done with birds bonded to you. Since there is no one else Dahlia would rather be with, she always comes down from the tree sooner or later.

Article contributed by: Lisa Kendall

Grooming

February 9, 2009 by  
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Birds in the wild with take care of their own grooming needs. However, your pet bird will require some assistance from you.

Birds will keep their feathers in good condition by preening. Preening is the process whereby birds keep their feathers smooth by running their feathers through their beaks thus “zipping” the sections on the feather closed.

Bird grooming involves trimming of wings, claws and beaks, as well as bathing.

Trimming of your bird’s wings is an important part of bird grooming as it ensures the safety of your bird. Both wings should have their flight feathers trimmed. This results in a even, controlled descent to the floor. Trimming only one wing may result in “crash landings”. Trimming of the wings is not painful as the feathers do not contain nerves and are made of the same material as your fingernails. The appearance of your bird will not be altered. Before you begin trimming your bird’s wings visit your local veterinarian and he/she will demonstrate exactly how it should be done. It is important to remember that your scissors must always point away from the body of the bird. Also ensure that the person handling the bird does so carefully.

The next aspect to consider in bird grooming is that of beak and claw clipping. In the wild the beak and claws would naturally be worn down. Unfortunately birds in captivity are unable to do this. If clipping is not done the claws and beak will grow too long and the beak may become chipped or damaged. Avoid the use of sandpaper perch covers to shorten nails as these will damage the soles of the bird’s feet. The tools for clipping a small bird’s claws are nail clippers, an emery board and styptic powder (stops bleeding). Larger bird’s require a rotating grind stone. A Veterinarian should trim your bird’s beak. When trimming your bird’s nails have the styptic powder or some corn flour nearby in case of bleeding. Should any bleeding occur it is vital to take your bird to your Veterinarian.

Bathing is also important when grooming birds. This can be done by providing the bird with a suitable container of water in which to bathe. Alternatively you can spray the bird with a light mist of water. Commercial sprays for bathing are unneccessary. Bathing can take place daily or when convenient. Bird’s must be allowed to air dry, preferably in a warm room or sunlight. Whilst a hairdryer may be used, care must be taken not to burn your bird.

Grooming of birds is important to keep them in good health, and also brings you the pleasure of seeing your bird in beautiful condition.

Bird Care

February 9, 2009 by  
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Caring for your pet bird is not difficult once you know the basics. The first step in bird care is understanding your bird’s behavior as this can give you insight into your bird’s health and mood. It is most vital to ensure your bird receives the correct nutrition as this can affect both his/her physical and mental health. Part of bird care is grooming, which includes bathing, clipping of wings, cutting of nails and trimming the beak.

Birds are very active creatures and therefore it is important to take the safety of their environment into careful consideration. You should keep first-aid supplies as well as your Veterinarian’s telephone number on hand in case your bird injures itself. A well cared for bird will be a happy bird.

Clicker Training for Pet Birds

January 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

Clicker training is a positive reinforcement training method that makes use of rewards for desired behavior rather than dominance and punishment for unacceptable behavior. The clicker training method can be used to train almost any kind of animal, and bird enthusiasts are having a great deal of success in using this method for the training of birds.

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