So You Bought a Parrot, Now What?

In my other blog, I write about my daily life. But, most of my posts revolve around my parrots, as does my life. It is in my belief that birds were not intended to be on this earth so we could still them in a cage in our homes. No matter what your religion is, birds were not made for solitary stationary lives. They were intended to fly in the great outdoors. Nobody can argue with that.

But, now you have one in your home, as do I. Now what? Well, let’s hope that you did your research and you found a parrot that is right for you and your family. We’re going to assume you did for the sake of this article and my sanity.

CAGES

The first thing that needs to be purchased is a cage. Have you ever walked into a pet store and saw that they have a sale going on, “Buy This Cage, Get a Parakeet FREE!” Don’t do that. Just buy the parakeet and cage separately because THAT cage will not be big enough for your new family member. Remember, your new family member is a bird with wings and will need to use those wings. A cage for a parakeet should be wider than taller, because they are not helicopters that can fly straight up.

Bigger is always better when buying a cage for your new pet. However, the width of the bar spacing in cages is also just as important, as tiny heads can get trapped in between the bars. So, keep that in mind when purchasing the cage.

A good cage size for a Macaw or bigger parrot is one where your parrot can stretch his wings without touching the sides of his cage.

FOOD

As with the topic of human children and nutrition, there are just as many debates on parrot nutrition. Some say pellets only, some say seeds and pellets, some say fresh food, seeds, and pellets, some say cooked foods, fresh foods, seeds, and pellets; but, no one says that only feeding seeds is good for a parrot.

Mine get a huge variety of foods on a daily basis. If you read my other blog, you would know that I am having some issues with Sisco eating foods that are good for her. She is a seed junky and will not eat anything else except mashed potatoes. Just like human children, if they are exposed to only certain things, they will never develop a taste of other foods. However, if they are exposed to good foods on a daily basis, they will eventually try something, and possibly even like it!

The point is to never give up trying to feed your parrot healthy foods and never stop learning about parrot nutrition.

TOYS

What do you mean by toys? My bird needs toys? Isn’t a swing enough? Um, no. Your bird needs something to do. A bored bird is an unhappy bird. A bird that is busy is a happy bird. A bird that is locked in a cage from day in to day out with nothing to do will exhibit very unwelcoming behaviors such as excessive screaming. A bird that doesn’t have any toys (or the wrong toys for THAT specific bird) but is allowed the freedom to come and go as he pleases may start to be destructive to the things around him, such as the molding on your big picture window or your first edition of Twilight.

There are lots of different toys on the market today. To pick out which toy is right for your bird will just be a process of trial and error. But in reality, a bird should have a variety of toys and not the same type of toy in his cage at all times. You should have enough toys to be able to rotate every few weeks.

ATTENTION

No, it is not enough to plop them in a cage with healthy foods and enough toys to outfit a bird toy store. Sorry. You need to pay attention to him. You do not have to hold your parrot 24/7, but you do need to give him ambient attention. Ambient attention is to give your parrot attention while she is in her cage or on her playstand. This can be achieved with just talking to your parrot, interacting with her, calling his name when he calls for you, reading to her, dancing with her, singing with her, watching TV and keeping a running commentary with her of what you see, etc. This is the kind of attention parrots absolutely love.

VET CARE

Your new buddy needs to see a doctor from time to time. It is true that birds hide their illnesses, so when you see what could potentially be a sign of an illness, get him to a vet as soon as possible! The time to find a good avian vet is when he is healthy, not when it is an emergency.

Those are just some of the basics of parrot care. The very basics, unfortunately. If you do not treat your parrot like the delicate animal he is, things can go very wrong in an instant.

Protecting Garden Birds From Magpies

Magpies can be desired and detested in equal measure, depending on the person and situation. On the one hand, they’re uniquely intelligent birds, with a well developed social system accompanying their well developed appetites. Unfortunately, they’re not only incredibly hungry, but predatory to boot. A small flock will happily devour an entire rabbit left gutted in the garden, so it’s no surprise the ease with which they crack open eggs waiting to hatch, or even kill the live young of other birds around the garden. If you want to keep the other species safe you can read on for a little info on deterring the creatures.

First up, a very simple a cheap system for deterring magpies from your garden. Oddly enough, these socially advanced creatures absolutely cannot abide being looked at by other animals, particularly those they can’t identify. In Australia the birds have been known to attack children in the street, who then took to strapping paper eyes to the reverse of their caps. The magpies see the false eyes, spook easily and are quick to back away.

This is an easy method to adopt, and there are a few ways to expand upon it to make it even more effective. Start off by making a few sets of paper eyes at home. Once you’ve got a few pairs start posting them up around the garden. Trunks and walls are best, a nice flat surface where they’ll enjoy a lot of visibility. Fasten them on with sellotape for longer-lasting results.

The tape actually plays into the best way to improve the technique. Magpies are more likely to spook from objects which reflect light well. Not only are they bright, but they better represent the glistening effect of an actual eye. The best value for money solution you’ll find requires two types of object. A thread of string and any loose CDs and DVDs you’ve no intention of keeping. String the CDs together into long hanging ornaments, then affix them to walls, trunks and branches. They’ll turn in the wind, reflecting randomly while also resembling a circular eye, complete with pupil.

In small domestic gardens these techniques will prove successful enough at scaring off the pesky, predatory birds. So long as you maintain good lines of sight so a pair of eyes or reflective CDs are constantly in view the magpie population should quickly begin avoiding your property. In larger areas setting up a large number of these items tends to be an inefficient use of your time. Instead consider a scarecrow with reflective eyes. They’re an old standby, and the appearance of a conscious human does wonders deterring these birds.

Francesca has been writing about UK wildlife and garden birds for years, from providing them with shelter to keeping them safe from predators. Now serving as a featured contributor to Garden Bird, a premier supplier of bird feed and care accessories, she hopes to expand her audience even further.

The Best Spring Feed for Your Birds

Spring is certainly an important time for bird feeding. Many migratory species will be passing through your garden on their way back home, and you can expect to see new nests and hatchlings springing up around your area when mating season kicks off. Birds have specific nutritional needs throughout the period, however, so it’s worth taking the time to note just what you should be providing.

Mealworms

These are an old standby, and an excellent source of live feed. Unlike their larger, crunchier brethren, mealworms are both protein heavy and moist. They benefit smaller birds the most, and you can expect to see them surge in popularity during mating season. Adults will bring them back to the nest to sustain their young, as they’re one of the most nutritious and edible feeds out there.

Remember, they can easily go off if left outside for too long. Consider soaking them in water for a little extra moisture on hot days, as long as they’re all eaten quickly. As always, be sure to clean up any uneaten remnants to prevent disease.

Fruit

If you grow a variety of plants in your garden, there’s every chance you have a few apples and pears going spare through spring. These large, meaty and moist fruits are particularly suited to feeding larger birds, capable of digging in more effectively. The high water content will certainly benefit them in hotter weeks, and slicing up a few to leave on the feeder will keep a lot of birds happy.

As an interesting idea for presentation, consider slicing a fruit in half and impaling It on the branch of a tree. This will move larger birds into the canopy, while producing a pleasant natural appearance. Just be sure not to leave any sliced fruit out for longer than a few days. In the heat and rain of spring it’s quite easy for them to rot, so dense trees and covered feeders are a nice touch.

Seeds and Nuts

As ever, nyger seeds make for a great investment, and are extremely popular among the majority of finch species. They’re very fatty for their size, but will need a specialised feeder to hold them in.

Peanuts are a regular feature of any feed mix, but will require special attention if you intend to leave them out in the spring. They’re heavy in fat and protein, but be sure not to make the mistake of leaving out salted nuts, birds can’t process the salt and will suffer for it.

Remember, whole peanuts can easily choke a newly hatched bird, so either crush up your nuts or leave them in a mesh they cannot be removed from whole. Any other small seeds and nuts will suffice, sunflower hearts being another high nutrition treat.

Facts About Duck Boxes

One of the best ways to attract wild ducks is through the use of a duck box. The use of the box is particularly to boost the number of ducks in several local populations. Before, wood ducks are abundant in several parts of the United States. However, due to constant hunting their numbers gradually declined. Constant hunting and land reclamations have nearly caused the extinction of this type of bird. Now, because of the changes in the law the wood ducks have increased in numbers. Wild ducks often use the boxes as homes and they often lay eggs on such boxes.

The Importance of the Boxes

The importance of the boxes is that most wood ducks and other duck species usually make it their home. Yes, duck females typically live in wetlands and in wooden boxes. Because of their constant migration, they require homes in various places. When a prospective wooden box is found, the wood duck will often inspect the box and check its contents. Wood ducks often pick their boxes according to their size and shape. Of course, they will also pick a home which is away from any predators. Once they have selected a suitable box for them they will often lay eggs there. The eggs will hatch and then they will then migrate to another location. Basically, a duck box is effective increasing the population of both wooden ducks and other species.

Picking the Right Location for a box

In order to pick the right location for a box, several factors should be strictly considered. One of which is that the box should be away from any known predator which might endanger the tenants of the box. Therefore, the box should have wooden posts and several metal cables in order to prevent any predators from eating the birds. The box should also be found near a suitable habitat and it should not be very far. Usually, wild ducks prefer homes which are a hundred yards away from their habitat. The reason for which is that they require the fertile wetlands for food and for looking for a partner. The shallow wetlands allow them to look for insects and small fishes which in turn becomes their meal.

Using the right materials

Another important factor when making a duck box is to choose the right wood for the job. The ideal type of wood is the rough cut and unfinished lumber since the ducklings have the sharp claws to create an exit hole. Metal or plastic boxes are not ideal since they might impede the ducklings from exiting the structure. At least a couple of wood shavings should also be inserted on the box so that the ducks will have a nest. Once the females see the wood shavings, they will usually use it in order to incubate their eggs. After the winter season, the boxes should have a new batch of wood shavings since the old batch will be damaged by the harsh weather brought about by the winter cold.

Exotic Birds: All About Purple Martin Housing

Purple Martins are the largest breed of swallows that nest typically in North America. These beautiful and exotic birds mostly depend on man-made or artificial housing like wood and aluminum houses mounted on poles or natural and artificial bird house gourds.

If you are thinking of being a host to these species of exotic birds you will not be disappointed. Setting up individual houses or even a small colony in an open space near your house like the back yard can be a highly rewarding experience.

Here are some of the different housing options that Purple martins prefer to nest in.

Aluminum Houses:

As far as housing Purple martins go, selecting the right size house is essential. Aluminum houses for martins are not only heavy duty and durable but also have openings on all four corners. Providing spacious housing like this for the birds to perch on not only increases the potential of occupancy by them but also does away with territorial issues.

Wood Houses:

Many Martin hobbyists also prefer to go with wooden houses, mainly because it has two design features that help attract them. The first one is that wooden houses can be lowered or raised vertically without making it tip over. Secondly, the nesting spaces inside are easily accessible, which allows a person to remove any unwanted pests or other species of birds. This also allows the houses to be monitored without disturbing or damaging the nests.

PVC Plastic Houses:

For the first time their hobbyist, going with the plastic houses will be the perfect and cheapest way to start off your Bird’s colony. PVC houses are made out of hard plastic that is durable and pleasant to look at. They are also extremely easy to assemble and provide UV protection.

Gourds:

Bird house gourds have always been popular among Purple’s hobbyists. Today, you can easily grow natural gourds in your backyard with proper information. The advantage of having a gourd is that they do not attract other bird species like sparrows or starlings that can cause problems for the Purple martin colony.

Gourds are usually painted white to reflect heat and provide a cool environment for them to nest in. Plastic gourds enable the owners to access inner reaches of purple martin houses by way of a movable vent cap and extra access entrances for regular clean-ups and nest checks.

Most of the Purple Martin houses have Starling or round openings, door plugs, front porches and internal predator guards. By carefully reading and understanding the importance of getting the right kind of housing you can ensure that the Birds will come to nest in your colony every year.

Feeding Birds – What Type of Feeder Should You Use?

Wild birds are surely capable of feeding themselves off the land. However, when weather extremes make things tougher for them, having an additional source of food or water can be a life saver.

You may see flocks of red-winged blackbirds descend on your backyard seed feeder before they leave their northern range. Feeders can help prepare wild birds for their long journey of migration. You may live on the southwest coast of North America and see Anna’s Hummingbirds at your nectar feeder in the winter. Wherever you live, your wild birds can certainly use a helping hand from time to time throughout the year.

Wild birds will come to feed at many different types of feeders depending on the type of feeder they prefer. Some birds prefer most to forage from the ground or platform feeders, as do cardinals. Others as this male house finch will feed from the ground, platform feeders, tube feeders, and seed feeders readily all as one. Others still, like the goldfinch prefer thistle seed from open fields or from tube feeders.

Platform feeders will attract Chipping Sparrows, Cardinals, American Tree Sparrows, Towhees, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Song Sparrows, White-Throated Sparrows, Meadowlarks, Evening Grosbeak, Blue Jays, Magpies, Steller’s Jays, Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves, Black-Capped Chickadee, Gray Catbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, Pine Grosbeak, Northern Mockingbirds, and others.

Platform feeders can be as simple as a piece of wood on your picnic table, or your picnic table itself. However, that can be quite messy. Another option would be to get a 4×4 post and nail a wood plank sized 12 x 12 or larger to the top of the post. Drill holes through the wood plank so that water does not just sit as a puddle. To prevent most of the food pieces from just falling off to the ground, you may take some thin wood trimming and nail it to the border of the wood plank. Nailing the wood trim to surround the border of the wood plank will help keep most of the nuts, fruit, suet, or bread from just falling off. Although, having some of the scraps fall to the ground is good, as this will also attract other birds that will like to forage on the ground most often.

Suet Feeders attract: Blue Jays, Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Black-Capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Mockingbirds, Brown Creepers, Gray Catbirds, Wrens, Steller’s Jays, and more.

A suet feeder is typically made of wire mesh, and easily hung from a tree branch, hanger, or pole.

Fruit feeders/ Fruit & Jelly Feeders attract Orioles, Western Tanagers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

Fruit feeders will typically utilize cups for jelly as in the feeder above, with side pins for sticking orange halves.

Peanut Feeders attract: Indigo Bunting, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Eastern Bluebirds, and others.

Hummingbird or Sugar Water Feeders attract more than Hummingbirds. They also will attract Bullock’s Orioles, Baltimore Orioles, Western Tanagers, and House Finch among others.

Seed Feeders attract: Painted Bunting, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Grosbeak, House Sparrows, Juncos, Common Redpoll, Red Crossbill, Tree Sparrows, and many more.

Guide To Installing A Bird Cage

To protect your birds, you need a cage.

Best wires to use

There are many types of wires you can use with the most popular being:

Galvanized wires: A galvanized wire is one that is coated with zinc which is highly toxic. The main role of the coating is to prevent corrosion thus increasing durability. To protect your birds you should consider removing the coating. You do this by soaking or sandblasting the wire. To prevent the wire from corroding apply non-toxic paint to the wire.

PVC coated wire: From its name, this is the wire that has been coated using PVC. The coating is usually very thin and can be easily removed. Due to this, you are advised from installing it in a cage with chewing birds. You should use it in areas with non-chewing birds such as softbills and finches. If you want to use the wire in chewing birds, you should go for a powder coated wire. A powder coat is a cooked coat that is difficult for the birds to remove. The wire will be expensive but the coating will be sturdier thus the birds won’t be able to remove it from the wire.

Stainless steel mesh: This is the best material to use. It will protect your birds without rusting. It also doesn’t require a lot of care. To buy it you should head to your local hardware store.

Installing a bird cage

After you have settled on the right wire, you should go ahead and install the unit. To completely keep predators from your birds you should place an outer layer. As rule of thumb install a tough material. This calls for you to avoid plastic netting as predators can easily tear through it. Larger birds can also easily chew holes through it. For peace of mind, install a 14 gauge 1″ x 1″ grid wire.

You can install a cage with a wooden frame or go for an all-wire unit. It’s all about your preferences. If installing an all-wire cage, you should go for a mesh wire or chain-link fencing. You should go for a pattern that the birds can’t easily pass through. The pattern should also be able to hold the perches and bird toys.

Conclusion

This is what you need to know about bird caging. You should choose a material that is strong and durable. You can install the unit on your own but for ideal results, hire a professional to help you out.

The Right Way to Take Care of a Pet Parrot

Getting a pet parrot may turn out to be a highly worthwhile investment, in terms of time and money. Such a pet proves to be very fascinating to some people, especially with the numerous abilities they have. One can simply be entertained with the gesture of teaching their parrot a bunch of tricks, and a ton of time is to be dedicated into providing proper care for this type of bird. There are so many things, though, that one has to make sure of, such as cleaning its cage properly, changing its water supply as well as ensuring that it’s always provided enough company. Below are some additional things to ponder upon when it comes to taking care of a pet parrot.

  1. One has to decide carefully if they really want to have a parrot as a pet, and this includes looking into their cage’s size and getting it a perch, since it’s quite a sociable creature to have. One should also realize that its most unique trait is the ability to mimic any sound it hears, including how the owner talks. Owners should have enough time spent on schooling it and ensuring that it gets the proper training in order to develop into a well rounded pet that everyone can have fun with and appreciate.
  2. Getting them the right kind of food is also essential. Parrots are often fed seeds which contain a lot of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, all of which can help them grow and acquire healthy bodies. However, this isn’t always the most appropriate choice. Considering that most seeds are being commercially manufactured, and may even include all those various nutrients, there’s also a lot more freedom in choice. One can simply purchase pellets which these birds can chew on, and the owners won’t have to worry about husks of seeds scattered all over the cage.
  3. It would also be essential for the owner to take it out of its cage and be properly groomed. There needs to be utmost caution when doing so, since these creatures can be very fidgety, thus increasing the risk of injuring them. Their beaks must be properly cleaned in a delicate manner, toe nails should be trimmed carefully with the right sized trimmer, and wings have to be clipped properly to avoid nasty falls during flying play sessions.

A pet parrot may not be the least complicated type of birds to handle, yet they are pretty fun to have around the household. It also teaches owners how to be responsible in taking care of fragile creatures that will end up leading to a whole new experience.