Cockatiel Advice and First Aid 101

Parrot Care

Caring for your parrot

Cockatiel

AVIAN VET CHECK

WHY IT’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO HAVE A NEW BIRD VET CHECK!
Many new bird owners often don’t realise the importance of a new bird vet check, not only do you need a new bird vet check for quarantine purposes to know if your bird is in good health, but how does one expect to tame and train a sick bird ?

If your bird is feeling sick and exhausted all your efforts in taming that bird is going to be completely wasted! Your bird will be cranky, aggressive and want nothing more than for you to leave them in peace! It is recommended by Avian vets that all new birds are examined in the first week of bringing them home, preferably on the way home from picking up your new bird.

BLOW DRYING A PARROT

People often make the big mistake of drying their bird with a hair dryer, most hairdryers these days are fitted with a TEFLON coil and of course Teflon fumes are toxic to birds. A bird's skin is also extremely sensitive! In doing so leaves the birds skin sore, sometimes burnt (even is on low heat) itchy and dry. Dry itchy skin can start a bird feather plucking! Blow drying also dries out feathers leaving them Brittle and damaged!

A bird should be allowed to dry NATURALLY in a warm environment that is free from any drafts.

TRIMMING BIRDS NAILS AND WHY IT'S NOT A GOOD IDEA TO DO IT YOURSELF?

Trimming a parrots nails should be left to a professional parrot groomer or an avian vet, cut too short and the bird can be left in pain, bleeding and open to infection. If you want to trim your parrot's nails yourself but have no knowledge on how to do so safely, then filing them instead using an emery board is the safest option. Please remember that you don't want a parrot nails too short, they use them to grip onto perches and other surfaces, cut too short can result in falls.

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT TRIM YOUR PARROTS BEAK YOURSELF

Never attempt to clip your bird's beak at home. A bad beak trim can cause permanent damage to your bird's beak and a bird can bleed to death if done incorrectly. A parrot's beak is an extremely sensitive part of your bird's anatomy. This is because there is a series of pits in the upper and lower beak which have many touch- sensitive cells. If the vein near the tip of the beak is cut, the parrots will bleed profusely and it will be in terrible pain.

If a bird's beak is over grown there is a reason why and the bird needs to be examined by a vet ASAP. Illnesses such as liver disease can cause beaks to become over grown.

CARING FOR ELDERLY PARROTS

As we all know parrots live many years and a lot of them can actually outlive their owner so it's always important to put in place arrangements for the parrots in the event of the owners death.

A parrot being happy is essential for a long life, a parrot being elderly does not mean they not then interested in new and exciting toys and games. Some people unfortunately once the parrot reaches a certain age neglects playing, and buying new things for the cage which is sad, so new toys and games is fantastic to keep elderly parrots entertained, active and happy.

Lower perches- some parrots even when elderly still like to perch high up so give the parrot a choice, lower the majority of the perches but give an option of one or two still high up.

More layers of paper should be laid at the bottom of the cage or a soft hand towel with paper on top of it. Elderly parrots sometimes don't have a good sense of balance they can easily fall so it's best they fall onto a softer surface.

Keep cages free from clutter- if an elderly parrot is having difficulty moving around especially if they have arthritis big toys and swings makes it even more difficult for them to move around. So only put in the essential cage accessories, add some toys but instead of adding a whole lot of toys, keep it at 2-3 and change toys around weekly.

If your parrot has arthritis which symptoms may include, (reduced flexibility, sitting at bottom of cage , swollen joints, loss of balance, difficulty climbing, biting at feet , reluctance to fly) - flexible perches and sitting perches are a good idea also wider wooden perches.

Please note that the above symptoms are some signs that can come with arthritis but can also mean many other illnesses, so if you notice any of the above please have your parrots vet checked ASAP.

Sleep is extremely important for elderly parrots and they should be allowed to have 12-14 hours undisturbed sleep a night along with as many naps as they like throughout the day.

Nutrition is very important to prolong your parrot’s life so make sure you giving a good balanced diet. Calcium and vitamin A is very important for elderly parrots so feed lots of leafy greens, boiled eggs etc. Many elderly parrots begin to enjoy mashed food too a bit more, and often like pellets soaked for a minute or so before eating.

Elderly parrots tend to lose weight too, so make sure you keeping a good weight record! They may find it difficult especially with arthritis to hold onto food bowls so make sure they able to access food easily without having to hold onto the side of the dish. An idea is to put a perch alongside the food bowl so they can perch on that instead of the dish.

Cataracts- elderly parrots sometimes develop cataracts signs can be squinting, redness, cloudy eyes. Unlike humans where this takes time to develop parrots can develop it over a few weeks so any of the above symptoms or any other changes in eye condition should be checked as soon as possible with a vet.

You may notice a few behaviour changes too with older parrots for example, increased sleep, less active, less vocal, again this can be caused by old age but can be signs of other illnesses so any change in behaviour should be checked by your vet.

 

COCKATIEL PIN FEATHERS

While your parrots are in moult they will get a lot of pin feathers coming through (A pin feather is the start of a new feather growing)  these are extremely painful when you touch them , so when giving head scratches ensure to do it very gently or you’ll be in for a retaliated bite.

When parrots are moulting expect them to be more sleepy and grumpy, respect this time as it takes a lot out of their system to grow new feathers. It’s not the time to carry parrots on shoulders as they are so moody.

Bathe your parrot at least 2-3 times a week while they moulting and ensue you give them a little extra protein and calcium plus their balanced diet to grow a beautiful healthy plumage.

CONTROLLING FEATHER DUST

All parrots produce feather dust, but 'powder down bird’s' produce the most feather dander. For more information about these birds please read my article entitled ‘Human allergies and parrots’. Some people may develop allergies or respiratory conditions while they already have an existing flock, so below I’ve listed some ways that can help to keep down the dander.

  • Keep cages spotless! Daily cleaning of cages keeps down feather dust and also stops dried poop becoming aerosolised (please read my article entitled ‘Aerosolised bird poop’)
  • Change cage paper daily
  • Bathe your birds often at least 3-4 times a week.
  • Hard wood floors are better than carpeted, but of course if you have carpets in your home then vacuum daily. You can buy allergy vacuum cleaners.
  • Use a good quality HEPA air purifier, this will help tremendously.
  • Ensure that parrot rooms are aired regularly (Please never keep a bird near an open window or in any drafts, this can make the bird sick)
  • If curtains are used in the home dust them often and keep them clean. Blinds are much easier to keep clean.
  • Wiping surfaces with a damp cloth instead of a dry cloth will remove more dust and stops it becoming airborne.
  • Remove any furniture and objects in the room that have no purpose, these items collect dust.
  • For information on the best HEPA air purifiers to buy visit https://www.oransi.com/page/bird-dander-air-purifier

FULL SPECTRUM LIGHTING FOR PARROTS

All birds need natural light because without it they can have dull looking feathers, health issues and even behaviour issues such as feather plucking.

Natural light through windows will not benefit your birds in any way. So it's always a good idea when it's warm and sunny get your birds outside to soak up some natural rays .However if you live in a country such as England like I do, and summer is only for a very short period, full spectrum lighting is the closest to mimicking natural sunlight you going to get.

If you can't find one made specifically for birds you can use the ones labelled birds and reptiles, but ... please NEVER use the ones for reptiles ONLY, as these types have too much UV strength for our birds!

The bulbs should be positioned no more than two to three feet away and no closer than one foot from the cage, as too close and your parrot will get burnt by the bulb!

How long you leave your birds under the light depends on the species and it’s very important to follow manufactures guideline on each individual product to prevent accidents!

Here is a guideline of how long different species of parrots can be exposed to the full spectrum lighting:

  • ALL African species e.g (Greys,Lovebirds etc) Cockatoos and Eclectus should receive no more than 4-6 hours a day.
  • All medium birds to large species should have no more than 2-4 hours a day.
  • Small parrots like budgies etc should have no more than 1-2 hours a day of full spectrum lighting.

It's a good idea to have the bulbs on a timer this is because parrots should have the same time of exposure each day, and the lights should be used when the sun is normally at its highest point this will mimic what your parrot would experience in the wild.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR BIRD'S PLUMAGE

Nutrition plays a very important role in a bird having a healthy plumage, but there are other factors too that play their part such as:

  • Feeding your birds a healthy balanced diet.
  • Bathing your bird regularly.
  • Ensuring that your bird gets enough sleep, 10-12 hours a night.
  • Making sure that your bird gets enough sunlight.
  • Checking your bird for mites.
  • Giving your bird a big enough cage so that feathers are not damaged on the cage bars.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO SPRAY BATH A BIRD
To spray bath a bird you would need a spray bottle set to mist, and plain water (please never use soap to simply bathe a parrot). You don't want the water too hot or too cold, you need the water to be tepid. You then spray the bird from above, so that the droplets come down like rain. You don't have to drench your feathered friend, just spray the bird enough to make its feathers damp.

HUMAN ALLERGIES AND BIRDS

African Greys, Cockatoos, Cockatiels and Amazons are powder down birds. This fine powder keeps their feathers soft, silky and waterproof. People with allergies, asthma and other respiratory issues should consult with their doctor first before buying powder down birds. Often people have these medical issues but still chance it and the parrot ends up being rehomed no fault of their own. It is not fair on the bird!  

People with these medical conditions, please consult with your doctor first before buying ANY SPECIES of parrot.

KEEPING YOUR PARROTS HAPPY AND HEALTHY?

  • Are you getting your birds from a good breeder that has a healthy flock?
  • Have you educated yourself on the species of parrot you have, as all species of bird have their own special requirements in care.
  • Have you educated yourself on first signs of illness?
  • Is the environment around them clean, smoke and chemical free?
  • Are they subjected to constant environmental stresses such as loud noise and mishandling / stress from other animals that may cause them fear?
  • Is the cage in the correct position in the home away from loud noise, drafts, radiators or freezing air conditioning?
  • Are they in a big cage? In which they have freedom to fly, move, climb, play and forage?
  • Is your home made bird safe?
  • Is their cage kept clean daily free from bacterial build-up?
  • Are they given fresh food and water daily?
  • Are they given a rich cage environment, to keep them occupied to prevent behavioural issues such as feather plucking and for their mental and physical health?
  • Are they in a cage made from nontoxic materials?
  • Have they got correct perches for foot health to prevent feet infections and other foot related illnesses? Correct perches for parrots are natural wooden perches of different sizes and widths!
  • Are they given parrot safe toys? Are they being subjected to any heavy metals?
  • Have they got constant company if not from their owner but from a mate of their own species (a TV or radio is not classed as company)
  • Are they given an all-round balanced diet and a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables daily?
  • Are they given a vet wellness check-up every 6 months with an avian vet?
  • Are they clipped? If so please educate yourselves on how important flight is to a parrot’s mental and physical wellbeing. And if you insist on clipping please get it done by a professional to prevent injuries!

LIGHT TRANSITION

In the wild parrots would experience a slow transition from light to dark as the sun went down. This gradual change of light would give the parrot’s time to find a safe spot and get ready to roost for the night. In captivity they are not given this slow natural process as we just turn the lights off. In their minds they go from one minute being in daylight then instantly into pitch darkness. This does not give them the time to settle, get comfortable and ready to roost. It is very unnatural for them and many people complain that their birds for hours afterwards continue to play or scream.

It is very important that parrots are allowed this natural process, so here are a few tips on how to help this situation:

  • Get into the habit of putting your birds to bed roughly the same time each night.
  • Cover their cage so they feel secure and know that it is time to start getting ready to roost.
  • Use light dimmers in your home, slowly over a period of time dim the lights until they completely off.
  • If light dimmers are not an option or too expensive to install, you can buy dimmer lamps that are relatively cheap on sites such as Amazon, eBay etc.

AUTHORS NOTE: Please remember that species such as cockatiels do have night frights, so a night light should always be left on for them.

NEW BIRD NOT EATING

A new bird may not eat for 24 hours when you first bring them home. It is a new environment with different sights and sounds and they may not be relaxed enough to eat. In the wild birds are constantly watching for predators and unless they feel safe in an area they will not forage. The same applies to captive birds in a new environment.

If however the new bird does not start eating within 48 hours, this is call for concern and your bird will need to see a vet. In order to help your new bird feel more confident eating and to help reduce stress, ensure that the breeder has given some of your birds original food, at least a weeks’ worth. It would be a good idea ahead of time to buy the same bowls your breeder or pet shop has been using, this will all contribute to him settling in more quickly.

 

PARROT BATHING RULES

DO'S AND DON'TS WHEN BATHING A PARROT!

THE DO'S LIST:

  • Do bath your bird at least 2-3 times a week. Bathing keeps their plumage in good condition.
  • Bathing regularly also helps to soften dirt on the feathers and skin and encourages preening! It also helps to control their dander, in dusty parrots like cockatiels.
  • Do bathe your bird in a warm environment.
  • Do bathe your bird in tepid water.
  • Do mist your bird from above so it comes down like rain.
  • Do clean all spray bottles and bird baths thoroughly, don't allow bacteria to build up in the bottle or the spray tube.
  • Do make bathing fun by getting involved, spray yourself too and get wet together.

THE DON'TS LIST:

  • Don't bath your parrot before bedtime, doing so does not give your bird enough time to dry completely before it settles to roost for the night.Don't blow dry your bird, most hairdryers have
  • Teflon coils and the fumes are toxic to birds.
  • Don't bathe your bird with soap , not only is soap/ shampoo toxic to birds , if not rinsed thoroughly the soap can become sticky on your birds feathers and reduce your birds ability to insulate heat ! Some soaps can also burn your parrots sensitive skin. NOTE: Antibacterial soap is toxic to birds.
  • Don't bathe with cold water.
  • Don't spray your bird directly in the face.
  • If you want to towel dry your bird, never rub their feathers as you would do when drying the fur of a dog, it will cause damage to the feathers.
  • Don't bathe a parrot in a sink that you have cleaned with any type of chemicals, ensure no chemical residue is left on sinks / baths
  • Don't ever leave your birds unattended whilst bathing, bird's especially small birds can drown easily.
  • Don't allow your bird's to bathe in fish tanks, the chemicals used in them can be toxic to birds and fish tanks are full of bacteria. The bacteria maybe beneficial to your fish but not to your bird! Birds can drown in open fish tanks.
  • Don't bathe your bird in a cold environment or where there are any drafts.
  • Never bathe a sick bird, unless instructed to by your avian vet.
  • Birds shouldn't be soaked to the skin unless in an emergency situation, for example in the event of heat stroke.

PARROT BEAK TRIMMING

Never attempt to clip your bird’s beak at home.  A bad beak trim can cause permanent damage to your bird’s beak and a bird can bleed to death if done incorrectly. A parrot’s beak is an extremely sensitive part of your bird’s anatomy. This is because there is a series of pits in the upper and lower beak which have many touch- sensitive cells. If the vein near the tip of the beak is cut, the parrots will bleed profusely and it will be in terrible pain.

If a bird’s beak is over grown there is a reason why and the bird needs to be examined by a vet ASAP. Illnesses such as liver disease can cause beaks to become over grown.

PARROT MYTHS PART ONE

(This additional article was written by Katie Madison)

MY PARROTS ALWAYS HAVE SAME FOOD AS ME. IT DOESN'T DO THEM ANY HARM.

It depends what you are eating! If it is all fresh fruit and veg, with occasional egg, fish and lean chicken, there is no problem.  However, if they share your chips, mac and cheese, yoghurts etc you are feeding your exotic pet foods that cannot be metabolized or digested properly and increasing their likelihood of developing major health problems.

ALL PARROTS NEED IS COMPLETE SEED MIX. IT SAYS SO ON THE BAG!

Many brands make this claim and it is untrue. Giving a diet mix of pellets, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables etc, ensure vitamins, nutrients and minerals are part of their diet. A good diet can avoid many illnesses. Further, you are providing enrichment. For example, did you know that human beings can get everything they need from eating grapes, and their pips! Fancy spending the next 30 years just eating grapes?

MY BIRD IS ALWAYS BITING AND DOESN'T LIKE PEOPLE. SHE IS JUST A NASTY VISCIOUS CHARACTER.

In the wild, a parrot will nip partner to warn of imminent danger, but biting is rarely seen. This is because all the other parrots can read her body language. As human owners, we must learn to read this body language. She will have given the warnings clearly, and they have been ignored. In addition, either her current owner or previous owner has inadvertently taught her that biting gets her what she wants. This behaviour can be tackled and overcome, but it is not a character fault. It is also important to understand your parrot species. Got your African Grey sitting on your shoulder and your partner walks in? These notoriously one person parrots will nip you out of jealously of partner/warn you of danger.

YOU MUST CLIP THEIR WINGS SO THEY DON'T ESCAPE.

Sadly, we have come across many people who have lost their birds because they mistakenly thought this. In fact, a parrot being clipped can make family members more complacent about leaving doors open or having pet outside without precautions. Whether clipped or not, every parrot owner should have safety precautions in place which all family members observe. Just something to think about: a cockatiel can fly up to 25 miles in a day outside. A clipped cockatiel can fly 7 miles a day.

I SEE SOME OF YOU WEIGH YOUR BIRDS. WHAT IS THE POINT? I NEVER BOTHER.

Sadly, you could be missing signs of illness that are otherwise not visible. If you suddenly lost or gained 10% of your body weight over a 3 week period without trying, you would most likely be ringing your GP for a check-up. (30g budgie loss/gain 1g a week for 3 weeks = 10% change in weight).

Reasons for weight loss include:

Internal blockage; metabolic disease; tumours; beak problems; wring diet/deficient diet; infectious disease; heavy metal poisoning; and companion bird guarding food.

Reasons for weight gain include:

Lack of exercise; wrong diet; fatty tumours; liver problems; heart problems and egg binding.

PARROT MYTHS PART TWO

(This additional article was written by Katie Madison)

SANDPAPER PERCHES KEEP NAILS TRIMMED.

Once the very tip of the nail is gone, the bird's nails are no longer in contact with the perch and their feet are. These can lead to all sorts of feet problems, including lesions/bumble foot. As recently pointed out by Dr Perry, the glue used can also be toxic by giving off fumes.

For the same reason, sandpaper sheets for the bottom of cage are inappropriate.

THE METAL GRID IN BOTTOM OF CAGE STOPS PET BIRD STANDING IN POOP AND IS MORE HYGENIC AND EASIER TO CLEAN.

Not only is the grid difficult to keep thoroughly clean, a panicked bird, day or night, could catch nails/feet/legs in the grid and do severe damage to themselves. It is best to remove the grid, but if not, cover in several layers of newspaper, creating much less work for you and keeping your pet safe.

SHE DOESN'T NEED A BIG CAGE. THEY ARE EXPENSIVE AND SHE IS OUT A LOT, ANYWAY.

The cage is a major investment and will last many years. It is best to buy the biggest you can afford and accommodate. Research the specific species you have and their full wing span. Then cut out a cardboard circle with that diameter. Use this to judge how much space your bird will have in the cage, allowing for toys and perches taking up space. Ideally, your pet bird will spend 12 hour undisturbed nights in their cage. Can they stretch/flap their wings in that space? In the long term, it is cheaper to buy the biggest cage you can first time, than buy small and then have to upgrade and sell smaller cage (from own experience!).

MY BIRD IS NOT INTERESTED IN TOYS, SHE HAS HAD THE SAME ONES IN THERE FOR YEARS AND DOESN'T TOUCH THEM. IT IS A COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY.

Birds in wild are busy all day, foraging for food, chewing to trim beaks, make nests and so on. Pet birds who are bored will develop mental/emotional problems and this will translate to physical problems, including potentially self-mutilation/feather plucking. Toys/amusements need rotating on a regular basis (my budgie gets bored after 3 days) and some trial and error may be needed to find the type of toys that interest your pet.

DOWELLING PERCHES ARE FINE AND EASY TO CLEAN. WE HAVE HAD BIRDS ALL MY LIFE AND NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEMS.

Birds spend the majority of their time standing. A variety of sizes and shapes of natural perches will exercise feet and leg muscles and add interest for your bird whilst aiding nail trimming. Always having the same size perches can lead to a variety of problems, including arthritic arched feet. If dowelling perches have never caused any problems, the owners have been lucky.

PARROTS AND HUMIDITY

Did you know that it is very important to have the correct humidity in your home for different species of parrot?! That is why when choosing a mate for your bird or just expanding your flock it is important to take this into consideration so that you can provide the correct environment for each individual bird.

Parrot species that come from rainforest such as Greys, Amazons and Macaws need to be in a high humidity environment, this keeps their plumage and skin in good condition. These types of parrot Species should never be kept in a too dry environment such as near any radiator source or it can make their skin and feathers very dry and can start birds feather plucking.

On the other hand if you have birds that come from very arid regions such as the cockatiel, too much humidity can cause feather plucking, skin conditions and even fungal infections.

It’s always best to bathe your bird with plain water at least two to three times a week the more frequently the better this keeps their skin and plumage in good condition. Remember to always allow your bird to dry naturally in a warm environment away from any drafts.

 

PARROTS AND SUMMER SAFETY

CARING FOR BIRDS OUT IN THE SUN!

Taking your birds outside to enjoy a bit of sunshine is paramount for good health. No they cannot benefit from sunlight through a window they will not receive the vitamin D they need through glass.

When taking your birds into the sun one side of the cage HAS TO be covered to give the bird a choice of shade. Birds can over heart and dehydrate extremely quickly when in direct sunlight. Drinking water has to be supplied at all times in the outdoor cage to prevent dehydration! Stainless steel bowls can become extremely hot and burn the bird in direct sunlight. The best choice would be to supply a glass or ceramic bowl or make sure that the stainless steel bowl is on the side of the cage where you have given shade.

AUTHOURS NOTE: I personally use cable ties to secure doors while my birds are outside in case the door is faulty or parrots try and escape. Many cheap travel cage often used for outdoor cages can spilt apart very easily if accidently dropped or banged , so again cable ties are a good idea to use to tighten up the sides and bottom of the cage when you have your birds outdoors. Please remember even clipped birds can escape.

 

PARROTS NEED FREE FLIGHT

It is extremely important that parrots are allowed free flight for serval hours a day, at least one hour a day at the very minimum. Birds that are NOT given the opportunity to exercise correctly will become over weight and in turn develop many aliments. Like fish whose entire bodies are designed for swimming and living in water, a bird’s entire body and all its functions are designed and rely on their ability to fly.

It is also important that Avery’s are not over stocked in order for birds to have adequate space for flight.

Homes should be made parrot safe, in the same way mothers make their homes toddler safe. Many people have the misconception that if a parrot is clipped this will make them somehow safer. Clipped birds can still fly out a window or door. Clipped birds are often lost and injured more frequently than fully flighted birds. This is because many owners of clipped birds become extremely complacent. Parrots that are fully flighted or clipped need to be supervised at all times while out their cages.

PARROTS NEED SLEEP

Some parrot owners often don’t quite understand how important sleep is to a bird. Vets and avian experts around the world give a clear cut message that parrots NEED at least 10-12 hours UNDISTURBED sleep a night, most experts  say 12-14 hours .Parrots in the wild go to sleep at sunset and wake at dawn , and what people don’t realise is that sleep deprivation in parrots is very serious! Parrots can start terrible behaviour issues such as biting, feather plucking, self-mutation, screaming etc. But it can lower their immune system, cause cardiovascular disorders, depression and many other ailments.

People often have their birds in sitting rooms with the T.V blaring and watch programmes till early hours of the mornings. They then may wonder why their birds wake up grumpy, want to bite, has no desire to socialise with the family, has no intention of coming out the cage, pick fights with other birds and has a poor quality of life.

If a parrot lives in a family room that is very active till late at night, it is then best to buy the bird a separate travel cage , which can be used as a sleep cage and be placed in a spare room which is quiet to allow the bird to get the sleep to desperately needs.

 

PARROTS NEED SUNLIGHT

It’s very important that our parrots get adequate sunshine, especially if they aren’t on a pelleted diet that provides them with vitamin D.

Every wonder how parrots receive vitamin D from the sun? Well parrots have an Uropygeal gland (preening gland) which secrets an oil that keeps their feathers waterproof. When exposed to sunlight the oil is changed into the active form of vitamin D, then when the bird preens it ingests it.

 

STACKING BIRD CAGES TO SAVE ROOM?
People often stack parrot cages one on top of the other to save room or when they are breeding birds. This is never recommended and is a form of cruelty for the parrots in the bottom cage. In the parrot world there is what behaviourists call height dominance, the higher up the parrot is the more confident and superior they feel. This is why height dominance can be such an issue in a home where people try and tame birds who are perched at a higher eye level than the owner! Stacking cages then means the reverse, the poor birds at the bottom will feel extremely stressed and inferior, its quality of life diminished!

Furthermore seeing just the bottom half of people walking passed is not only stressful but gives the parrot no mental stimulation! If one can't have all cages at eye level then its best to wait until there is enough room for more birds, than to leave a parrot feeling insecure and inferior!

TOWEL DRYING A PARROT

Towel drying is ok (only if a must) but the parrot should be patted gently dry, never rubbing its delicate feathers which could cause damage to them.

TRIMMING A BIRDS NAILS

Trimming a parrots nails should be left to a professional parrot groomer or an avian vet, cut too short and the bird can be left in pain, bleeding and open to infection.

If you want to trim your parrot’s nails yourself but have no knowledge on how to do so safely, then filing them instead using an emery board is the safest option. Please remember that you don’t want a parrot nails too short, they use them to grip onto perches and other surfaces, cut too short can result in falls.

WING CLIPPING

Birds should be encouraged to fly for their physical and psychological well-being.

Here is a list of reasons why a bird should NOT be clipped and NEEDS to fly: 

· Health benefits-NONE! There are no health benefits to clipping a bird’s wings not psychologically or physically.

· Prevents escape- No , clipped birds can still escape, all it takes is for primaries feathers to be slightly over grown and off they go or they can fly on a strong wind current.

· It causes stress- The stress of wing clipping often triggers feather plucking especially in African greys. Clipped birds live in a constant state of stress because of the fear of falling, especially in non-tame bird’s .Owners often still allowing clipped birds to sit on high places such as cages, which can result in bad injuries.

· It breaks trust- An owner doing something as traumatic and stressful to their birds as holding them down and clipping wings, their birds often never have the same level of trust or bond again with their owner.

· Phobic - Clipped birds often lose all confidence and become very withdrawn, anxious , fearful and uninterested in activity. They can often become extremely phobic, nervous, self-mutilate and suffer depression.

· Psychologically - A bird is naturally programmed with a flight reflex when they sense danger it is such a profound reflex it’s equivalent to us being suffocated our first reflex is to try to grab any breath we can, so when a clipped bird senses danger they too instinctively try to fly but can’t so this of course creates the most serious psychologically problems!

· Physically - Falling injuries from clipped birds are seen more in vet surgeries than bird injuries fully flighted, this is a proven fact.

A list of injuries that vets have recorded on clipped birds:

  • Split tissue of breast or abdomen.
  • Splits below the cloaca.
  • Broken beaks.
  • Head injuries.
  • Wing tumours.
  • Broken wings.
  • Broken legs.
  • Broken toes.
  • Skin infections from bad clipping.
  • Broken/ loss of  tail feathers.
  • Infections.
  • Abnormal moulting.
  • Heart conditions.
  • Obesity.
  • Diseases brought on by stress.
  • Cat and dog injuries on birds.
  • In grown quills.
  • Joint disease.
  • Arthritis.
  • A shortened life span! (By no means is this list exhausted)

Birds have wings they use to go from point A-B in order for them to do so their entire bodies are built and geared around flight, down to their hollow bones. Birds also have a much higher body temperature to us around (42-43 degrees C) and a much faster heart beat around three times faster than ours at rest. A bird in flight heart rate can go up to 1000 beats per min, so for a bird to remain healthy it needs regular vigorous exercise and they can only accomplish this via flight. Or owners can end up with some of the medical conditions mentioned above.

AUTHOURS NOTE: If you are going to clip your birds wings, always get a professional to do it.

A cockatiel

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