Helping Your Bird Live a Happy Life: Part 1

Today and next week we have an article written by Dr. Peterson about helping to ensure that your pet bird has a happy and enriched life.

Pet birds live their lives in confinement. In the wild, these animals would be spending their days foraging for food and exploring the environment without borders or walls. It is fascinating to have these pets in our homes, and they can provide us with much entertainment.

We have to remember, though, that they need to be provided an environment in which they can exhibit natural behaviors, use their own brain power and have fun. Providing them an enriched environment in turn makes them much more interesting to us.

Most bird owners know the term “bird brain” is a misnomer. Birds can amaze us by connecting words with meaning, as evidenced by studies with the world renowned African grey parrot, Alex, who understood the concept of zero and would create new phrases from previously learned words. Pet birds deserve to have their active minds kept busy with many toys and diversions.

Train your birds.
Birds enjoy training and play sessions with owners and they take well to target training. Information on this can be found on the internet. Many parrots and parakeets really enjoy learning to talk and whistle. Some parrots love for their owners to sing (off key is fine) and to be a bit goofy. This is especially true of Amazon parrots.

If they are supervised, birds relish being allowed outside their cages once the room or house is bird proofed. I like to allow birds the chance to fly indoors, as it is good exercise and fun for them, but they can get in trouble quickly, so precautions must be taken. Many pet birds raised in captivity never learned to fly, are very awkward fliers, are out of shape or afraid to fly.

If the situation is deemed too risky for the bird to fly, wings can be kept trimmed. Never trust a wing trim in order to take a bird outdoors, as a gust of wind can still carry a beloved pet out of reach. If you take your bird outside, use a bird harness or travel cage. Most birds love the adventure and benefit from natural sunlight. Some people set up camp tents to allow their birds to play outside, but always supervised. Be aware that parrots can contract West Nile Virus, so avoid taking your bird out when mosquitoes are active.

Next week will be about how to make your birds home, its cage, a more fun and entertaining place to be.

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