General Husbandry of Caged Birds

Housing Conditions
Pet birds may be caged or allowed to remain on perches while the owner is home to supervise their activity. Birds should be confined to cages while their owners are away to avoid accidental injury and other misfortune. Unsupervised pet birds allowed "the run of the house" often get into trouble. Not only can they be terribly destructive to the home and its furnishings, but also all homes contain objects that can be harmful (directly or indirectly) to pet birds. These include mirrors, windows, walls, houseplants, electrical cords, and items containing harmful chemicals. Birds resting on open perches are usually content to remain there and usually take flight only when frightened by a sudden movement or loud noise. Unfortunately, these "impromptu" flights are taken without a flight plan and birds usually wind up crashing into walls, doors, windows or mirrors because of their confusion and poor depth conception.

The major source of poisoning of pet birds is lead found in curtain (drapery) weights, curtain pulls, leaded and stained glass, fishing sinkers and ammunition carelessly discarded in ashtrays or dropped on the floor, costume jewelry, and in the lead wrapping around the tops of wine bottles, to name the most common sources. Most caged birds seem to have an affinity for this soft metal and love to chew on it. Poisoning results from eating even a small amount of lead. Lead poisoning can be successfully treated if diagnosed early enough.

Caged birds allowed unrestricted freedom in the home may eat houseplants or chew on electrical cords, resulting in illness and injury. Some unsupervised pet birds chew on macramé, carpet and other similar fabrics and often swallow these materials, resulting in crop and intestinal impaction. Free flying birds are also more vulnerable to injury from ceiling fans, hot stoves, and attack by pet dogs, cats and ferrets sharing the same household. It is wise not to underestimate the aggressiveness of our four legged friends, and to restrict contact between them and pet birds as much as possible.

Birds allowed unrestricted freedom and flight within the home may escape through open doors and windows. Most bird owners have the mistaken notion that their bird would never fly away and leave them. Unfortunately, birds that have escaped the owner's home easily become disoriented when outdoors. This confusion makes return or capture of the escaped bird very unlikely. Birds can be microchipped to identify them if they are found.

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Renton Veterinary Hospital
128 Rainier Avenue South
Renton, WA 98057
Phone: (425) 255-8676
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