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Here we give some handy bird pet care tips and facts.
The characteristic that sets birds apart from all other living creatures is the presence of feathers. Feathers provide birds with both the means to fly and help them to maintain body temperature by trapping air close to the skin. Instead of jaws with teeth like mammals and reptiles, birds have evolved bills; these are lighter and therefore aid flight.
Choosing a bird as a pet will take some careful consideration. How much space you have for a cage or aviary will need to be taken into account, limited space will mean it would be best to consider small birds such as canaries or zebra finches.
If you are considering buying a parrot, it would be advisable to seek specialist advice from a reputable breeder before going ahead as they require a long-term commitment and expert care.
Your new pet may be very nervous when you first get him home. This is due to the change of environment. The best way to deal with this is to talk to him and at first handle him as little as possible, as over handling at this stage could cause considerable stress, which could be fatal. When your bird is used to his new home, you should begin to introduce your hand into the cage, just for short periods of time each day. By doing this, he will soon learn to trust you. Keep all movements very slow and controlled, as rapid movement will frighten your new bird.
The cage should be spacious with bars that run horizontally, it should also be easy to clean. The base of the cage should be covered in sand sheets to collect waste. Perches should be covered with sand perch covers, as this will help to keep your birds nails trim. Keeping two birds together helps to prevent stress and boredom, however it is important to ensure that the cage is as large as possible or your birds could fight. A toy such as a mirror or bell will also help prevent boredom. The cage should then be placed out of draughts and direct sunlight. The sand sheets should be replaced regularly, and the cage should be wiped clean every day. The cage and cage accessories should be disinfected at least once a week, with a suitable animal and bird disinfectant.
With the exception of parrots, all seed eating and grain eating birds swallow their food (or at least the kernel) whole, therefore grit must included in the diet to allow the bird to grind down the seed in the gizzard. This can be given by either providing constant access to a bowl of grit or using sand that contains grit as a floor covering. A seed mix should be fed each day – these generally consist of seeds such as canary or millet, depending on the size of the bird. A mineral block and cuttlefish bone should be placed in the cage, to provide minerals and calcium, which are vital for your bird’s health and growth. Seed bells, millet sprays and fruit or egg treats can be given in moderation. Fresh water must be available at all times. Food should be kept in sealed containers if kept out doors to avoid contamination by mice.
All our animals at Just for Pets are given a health check before being put on sale. Providing that your bird is properly fed and his cage and accessories are kept clean, he should remain healthy for many years to come.
Bird diseases are notoriously difficult to diagnose, it is therefore vital that a vet is consulted if you bird shows any signs of being unwell for more than 24 hours.
General signs to look out for are;
Lethargy or puffed up appearance
Sleeping with both feet on the perch
We stock a full range of fresh seeds, feeds and mixes to attract a wide range birds to your garden. we also carry a large selection of wild bird feeders and tables, fat balls, energy cakes and wildlife accessories. We are committed to protecting the environment and doing everything we can to look after the beautiful countryside around us. Just for Pets works closely with the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust as well as many other local charities.
Feeding wild birds is increasingly popular – over half of adults in the UK feed birds in their garden. People enjoy seeing wild birds at close quarters and it is an easy way to start teaching children about wildlife.
With this popularity growing it is important that we feed the birds responsibly and safely. This will ensure they can overcome periods of natural food shortage,survive periods of severe winter weather and be in good breeding condition in the spring.
If you keep your feeders full at all times you will attract more birds to your garden; if the supply of food you provide is constant then the birds will rely on your garden as being their primary source for food and visit regularily.
In autumn and winter, you will need to put out food & water more regularily as their supply of natural food is limited.
High energy foods (such as peanuts and suet mixes) with plenty of fat content are particularily beneficial because they build up body reserves to survive the frosty nights.
In spring and summer, birds require high protein foods (such as sunflower seeds) espescially when they are moulting.
Don’t feed whole peanuts unless from a mesh feeder; whole peanuts can be harmful to nestlings if swallowed whole.
Remember that natural food shortages can occur even at this time of year so the feed you supply can make a big difference to the survival of the young.
How should I feed the wild birds throughout the year?
Follow this simple monthly breakdown to ensure that you are providing the best sources of food for the birds that visit your garden.
Make sure that there is always plenty of fresh water available and that you clean out your feeders regularly. Since the days are short and the weather is cold, wild birds will need to build up sufficient energy reserves to protect them from the elements and help them to survive the winter. Put out food on a regular basis, twice daily in really severe weather.
Feed high energy foods such as black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, hi-energy seeds or high calorie treats such as fat balls or suet blocks containing peanuts or fruit. Peanuts can be high in a natural toxin, so only ever buy peanuts that contain, guaranteed, non-detectable amounts of aflatoxin.
Look out for winter visitors such as mistle thrush, nuthatch and redwing in addition to your usual variety of garden birds.
It remains important to feed high-energy foods with plenty of calories throughout February so your wild birds can build up the extra fat reserves to help them to survive the long cold nights.
Keep feeding foods such as sunflower hearts and seeds and high-energy seed mixes as well as high calorie treats such as fat balls. Nyjer seeds are small, black seeds that have high oil content and are particular favourites with siskin or goldfinches.
Check that your nest boxes are not damaged and that they are clear of foliage.
As the warmer, weather arrives it may be tempting to reduce the amount of foods that you offer in your garden for the wild birds. It is important that you don’t do this, as natural food resources are low at this time of the year, and birds are beginning to breed and therefore require nutritious foods. Feed seed mixes and treats as well as possibly some live foods such as mealworms or wax worms. These will help provide the birds with plenty of protein. Whole peanuts must not be fed, unless they are safely offered in a wire mesh feeder that makes it impossible for the birds to pull out any more than a small piece of nut at one time.
Make sure that you provide plenty of food, as shortages can occur at this time of the year. Good hygiene is essential, or feeding may do more harm than good. Do not feed whole peanuts, unless they are safely offered in a mesh feeder, as these can be harmful for nestlings.
Make sure that you provide plenty of protein rich live foods in your garden during May as these will help to give young birds the best possible start. Live foods such as mealworms or wax worms will be appreciated by a wide variety of birds such as house sparrows, finches, robins, blackbirds, song thrush and tits.
Providing a wide variety of foods during June will help the young birds to learn to look after themselves. Make sure that your birdbath or dish is kept full of fresh, clean water to allow the birds to drink or bath regularly. Do not allow the water to become stagnant.
Much of the years nesting activity will now be over, apart from birds such as blackbirds or song thrush that will continue to raise broods throughout the summer.
Pay particular attention to cleanliness when the weather is warm or disease could be a problem; so make sure that your feeders are kept very clean. Continue to provide a variety of good quality foods throughout the summer.
If you are going on holiday, ask a neighbour to continue to keep your feeders topped up or you may find that your birds will go elsewhere in search for food and may fail to return later in the year.
Continue to feed good quality foods and treats throughout the month. By now, most of the summer visitors’ will of departed for the winter and will not be seen again until next year.
Natural food is still plentiful so don’t be alarmed if you see a decrease in the amount of birds visiting your garden, don’t stop putting food out for the birds though or you risk them going elsewhere in search of food and not returning to your garden later in the year.
October is a good time to give feeders and tables a thorough clean and prepares them for an influx of winter birds next month.
Begin to feed high-energy foods such as black sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts. Try putting out some high fat treats such as suet blocks no, this will allow birds to begin to build up their fat reserves ready for the winter.
Winter-feeding will really begin this month; try not to disturb birds first thing in the morning, as this is the peak time for feeding.
Because the days are short, birds need to feed fast to ensure that they begin to build up the fat reserves that will help protect them through the long, frosty nights.
Don’t forget the wild birds over Christmas, especially if you are going away. Make sure that feeders are topped up and that you provide plenty of good, quality foods through this important month.