Caring for your first bird is a fun and rewarding experience. Birds are social creatures that make great companions, as long as you take the time to look after them properly.
Here's what you need to know about caring for your new bird.
Bringing your bird home
Always transfer your new bird from the pet store or breeder in a carry box. A small cardboard box is fine for this purpose – just punch some holes in it so your bird can breathe.
The journey will be stressful for your bird, and you don’t want it to associate this trauma with the home you have lovingly prepared for it. Line the bottom of the carrier with some newspaper or cloth to prevent your bird sliding about. If you are driving, carefully place the carry box in the footwell of the passenger seat of your vehicle so it doesn’t bounce around.
A smooth transition to family life
The excitement that comes with bringing your bird home may also bring a temptation to spoil them. Try and resist the urge to immediately show your bird off to friends and keep the kids at a distance.
Initially, your new pet needs time to relax and adjust to its new surroundings. When you get home, put your bird in its cage and leave it to settle in. This means no handling, except to change the cage liner and replace food and water.
However, you should speak, whistle and make eye contact with your new bird – indeed, this is an essential part of the bonding experience.
At night, your bird needs around eight or nine hours of uninterrupted darkness. New birds however, may feel frightened in a new environment so leaving a small light glowing can help it to adjust.
Tips on setting up the cage
Ensure there’s a food dispenser and a water dish for drinking, and don’t position perches above water containers. Bird droppings don’t make for healthy drinking water!
Perches should be made of wood, not plastic or metal. Aim to include two or three natural wooden branches in the cage. Bird toys can relieve the boredom of a cage environment. Mirrors, swings and foraging boxes are all fantastic cage accessories to keep your bird entertained. A bird bath is another essential element - for play and keeping your bird clean. Make sure the bath is stable, and not too deep.
Place the cage at head height in a well-lit, social area of your home. A new bird needs to feel secure, so it’s a good idea to position the cage close to a wall in a living room. That way, the bird can see out, with nobody sneaking up behind it.
Place the cage away from radiators, fireplaces, air-conditioning vents and direct sunlight. While it’s a good idea to allow your new bird to see outside a window, be sure it isn’t exposed to cold breezes. Fluctuating temperatures and changes in humidity can cause health issues.
Exercise is an important part of caring for your first bird
Make sure to purchase a cage large enough that your bird can flap its wings without touching the sides. You can also let your bird out of the cage to get some exercise and socialise with you - just make sure you have the windows closed first!
Feeding your new pet
Pet stores make it easy by stocking seed and pellet mixes tailored to your type of bird. They contain essential vitamins and minerals for good health. Once you become better acquainted, you can begin supplementing your bird’s diet with fresh greens and fruit as a treat.
Keeping an eye on your bird's health
It's important to monitor your bird's general health. A change in food and water consumption, abnormal droppings or changes in breathing may be signs it's time to visit the vet. It's also a good idea to regularly check the bottom of their feet for problems like sores.
Once your bird has become accustomed to its new home, the fun begins! You can begin encouraging them to perch on your finger or mimic sounds and words. Birds also adore receiving pats and affection. You will soon discover that showering your new pet with love and care is the most rewarding part of your day!