chicken standing upBirds have become very popular pets in Australia; whether it be a canary or a chicken, they certainly have grown in popularity over the years. There are many different types of birds available as pets and they all have something different to offer.

Some birds are known for their stunning looks and beautiful song, while others have the amazing ability to learn how to talk and play games. Then of course there are chickens who add charm and life to any backyard, scratching around and providing fresh produce to add to a Sunday brunch!

Birds are very intelligent and can be taught many different commands. They learn surprisingly quickly and when allowed to be a part of your life will bond with you strongly. They each have unique personalities which make them fun to be around.

They are sensitive little creatures so it’s important to learn as much as you can about what they require to live a happy and healthy life, each different  species has its own special requirements such as specific diets, housing, floor substrate and level of exercise.

By reading and researching as much as possible and along with the support of our avian vet team here at nOah, you will be well equipped to care for your pet to the highest of standards and the result will be maximum enjoyment of your feathered little friends.

Buying a bird is a serious commitment for at least five years but some can even live as long as you! Keep in mind the following helpful considerations when making your decision:

There Are So Many Choices! Which Best Suits You?

A canary, budgerigar, cockatiel or even a pretty little finch are particularly good pets for a family with very limited space or modest means. They are suitable for people living alone, especially apartment dwellers. The care of these is not complicated, but the individuality they show depends on the degree of freedom they are allowed and on the stimulation provided by their surroundings and their companions.

Male or Female?

Only the male canary sings and whistles, and the male budgerigar is usually easier to teach to talk. There are important differences to be aware of between the genders of each species.

Chickens are now very popular inner city pets with many people now choosing to share their backyards with these lovely birds.  Keep in mind Roosters unfortunately cannot share our homes in the city, whilst their early morning wake up call sounds beautiful in the country those who live in the city don’t often appreciate it quite as much and therefore by law they cannot be housed in the suburbs.

Some of the larger parrots are particularly intelligent and thrive on human contact, they love to learn and love to be out and about in your home with you.

The other important aspect to consider when buying a bird is how long they live… different species vary dramatically in regards to life expectancy, a canary lives around 5 years whilst cockatoos with the right care can live upwards of 70 years!

Health Care Routine

Please ask one of our team regarding a good health care routine as it does vary between different species and many of the differences are critical to raising and caring for a happy avian friend. We can help you with a good regime for your bird. We also encourage you to research and read as much as possible, they are quite different to owning a dog or a cat!

Housing

A well-designed and built aviary is the most satisfactory housing, enabling them to live with freedom of movement and adequate opportunity for flight.  Keep in mind that they fly horizontally rather than vertically so providing a cage that gives them this space rather then hopping up and down from perch to perch  is very important. Circumstances often dictate that birds are kept in cages, usually manufactured of metal with wire mesh screening. The biggest thing to take into consideration is the size of the enclosure, birds by nature are active and inquisitive and… no surprises… love to fly, so the bigger the better!

Their home should be positioned in a well lit, sunny area where they will have frequent human contact, and in which it will be safe to be released for exercise if possible. A portable cage permits the birds to be repositioned for their comfort. Appropriate perches of varying size (natural branches are best) must be provided, as well as secured food and water troughs. The food and water receptacles should not be positioned beneath perches and any accidental contamination of the food and water by bird droppings must be removed immediately.

Activities

Ladders, bells, ropes, swings, mirrors, and suitable toys provide stimulation for a caged bird, however avoid over-furnishing as this will crowd the cage and may result in injury. It is very important that we encourage many forms of mental stimulus and that our little friends are allowed time to be… well… birds. To fly and bathe and scratch and sing, these beautiful creatures are at their happiest when given the freedom to exhibit their normal behaviours.

Protection

At night the cage should be covered over to permit the bird to rest and to protect it from draughts. Should the cage be placed outside the house at any time, it must be in a position that is safe from predators – cats and wild birds – that could scare or directly injure them. Birds should not be left in the sun without shade and should be protected from overheating on hot days.

Handling

It is important to train your bird to be handled, especially to permit examination for signs of ill-health. Begin by letting them become accustomed to being handled in the cage. Soon they will become finger-tame, and then they may be able to be handled outside the cage. It will require a good deal of patience and gentleness when handling birds, especially canaries.

Talking and Training

Some parrots (budgies, cockatiel, galahs etc) that have constant close contact with their owner will learn to talk. These can start to talk at about six weeks of age, and if they have not succeeded by six months, they probably never will. Teaching a bird to talk starts by repeating the same word over and over. Once they’ve learnt one word, new words or complete phrases may be achieved. Birds can be taught to come when they are called, dance, pick up items, free fly and can even be toilet trained!

YouTube is an excellent source of inspiration, you can see just what they are capable of and also receive step by step training!

Training your bird not only enhances the bond you share but it also encourages mental stimulation which means you will have a happy and healthy little companion.

Feeding

Each and every species has very different dietary needs some birds are predominately seed eaters whilst others have a diet based on fruit and nectar. Knowledge has changed a lot over the years and we now know that it’s important to feed a broad and varied diet. Gone are the days of just a bowl of seed and water. Birds are now encouraged to enjoy a diet with fruit and vegies, with less high fat foods such as sunflower seeds etc which can cause obesity and related health issues.

As each species has different needs it is important to research as much as possible into your birds dietary requirements and of course the team here at nOah are more than happy to talk you though any questions you may have.

Please phone Northcote Animal Hospital (nOah) on 9482 1913 to discuss your bird vet needs.