8 Keys to Keeping Your Pet Bird Happy

In the wild birds, are busy looking for food, choosing nesting sites, collecting nesting materials and socializing with other birds. In captivity, they are often locked behind bars all alone for long hours. Neglect and boredom can lead to severe emotional problems.

Many birds end up in rescue with behavioral problems that make it difficult to find them new homes. According to the Avian Welfare Coalition, parrots and other captive birds are among the fastest growing group of displaced animals in the U.S.

Experts at AvianEnrichment.com say that the more†you understand†your pet bird, the better†you can ensure that†your feathered companions are living happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.

At the University of California, Davis studies conducted on orange-winged Amazon parrots revealed that providing enrichment devices that satisfy a bird’s instinctual need to forage, as well as devices to encourage movement and exercise can reduce stress in pet birds.

How to Have a Happy Pet Bird

1. Provide as much time out of the cage as possible.

If possible, dedicate a room in your house as your birdís room, say avian experts at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

This means bird-proofing the room. Remember: birds will chew through anything in sight, including wires, cords, the wall and furniture. Dangerous surfaces should be adequately covered, and all windows and doors closed before allowing your bird out of the cage.

If you donít have a dedicated bird room, be sure to set time aside as often as possible to allow your bird out of the cage for one-on-one interaction and the opportunity to fly.

2. Purchase the biggest cage you can afford.

According to the HSUS, a cage can never be too big for an animal who has wings.

Veterinary experts at Drs Foster and Smith say that a birdís health is directly related to the qualityóand cleanlinessóof the cage. The cage bars should be appropriately-sized to prevent escape or injury but still encourage instinctive activities, such as climbing, flying or playing.

The Oregon Humane Society recommends placing your bird’s cage in an active part of the home where your bird can observe the daily activities of the family and have the opportunity for frequent interaction.

3. Encourage foraging behavior.

Itís estimated that parrots spend 50 to 70 percent of their day in the wild foraging for food, according to Phoenix Landing, a nonprofit dedicated to the welfare of parrots.

To get your bird to forage, the organization recommends using skewers or putting food in bowls covered with butcher paper and placing the bowls in different locations. You can also hide special treats in puzzle toys. There are some great homemade foraging toy ideas at parrotenrichment.com.

4. Offer a variety of safe toys.

Veterinary experts at Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital, NJ, recommend providing a variety of safe toys that are specifically made for birds.

Bird toys can be made from ropes, rawhide, wood and plastic. Itís important to inspect the toys for small parts that your bird could ingest or loose string that could injure your birdís toenails. To keep your bird interested and engaged, change up his toys every two or three weeks.

8 Tips for Keeping Your Pet Bird Happy

5. Satisfy your birdís natural instinct to chew.

To provide an outlet for a birdís natural instinct to chew, AvianEnrichment.com recommends providing a wide selection of safe, novel destructible items. These could include toys, cardboard boxes and large tree branches to explore and destroy.

6. Offer a selection of fresh and natural food.

Vegetables and fruits are great additions to a pet birdís balanced diet. These foods provide birds the opportunity to make choices while also providing them with a nutritious diet.

Experts at AvianEnrichment.com recommend offering vegetables such as corn, broccoli, carrots, yams and peas.

While most fruit is safe and generally healthy for birds to consume in small quantities, precautions have to be taken with certain fruits. For example, while diced apple is safe for pet birds, the apple seeds contain cyanide and should always be removed, according to avian experts at the Lafeber Company. Pits from cherries, plums, apricots and peaches also contain cyanide and should be removed before feeding these fruits to your bird.


7. Provide interactive toys.

Educational toys are a great way to help alleviate boredom for pet birds. There’s a wide variety of entertaining bird toys on the market. Some require the birds to solve puzzles while others teach them new tricks.

Veterinary specialists at Drs. Foster and Smith recommend the Foraging Wheel, which birds have to spin before being rewarded with treats from one of the toy’s five compartments.

8. Take your bird outside.

Companion birds enjoy spending time outdoors, and veterinarians say that natural sunlight is great for their health. However, there are precautions that need to be taken before heading outside with your bird. If your bird has the ability to fly, you donít want to lose him in the great outdoors.

Consider rolling his cage outside, so he can enjoy the sunshine while staying safe. Alternately, you can place your bird in a travel carrier or train him to wear a harness. Any birds from cockatiels to macaws can be harness trained, according to northernparrots.com. But be sure to check out the pros and cons of harnessing a bird before heading outside.

According to Lafeber Company experts, a sunny day is a perfect time to give your bird a spray bath. Most parrots enjoy the post-bath preening session, and youíre sure to have fun watching them in action.


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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Ann B
Ann B19 days ago

2 are always better than one

hELEN hEARFIELD21 days ago


michelle m
michelle m21 days ago

Good article.Thanks.

Peggy B
Peggy B21 days ago


michela c
michela c21 days ago


Thomas M
Thomas M3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Vincent T
Vincent T3 months ago


Danii P
Past Member 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Danii P
Past Member 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Danii P
Past Member 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing