Managing Caged Birds

by Tania Archbold, Veterinary Nurse


Are you thinking about getting a caged bird? Research suggests that many parrots such as a Galah or Cockatoo are highly social animals, usually living and interacting with large numbers of their flock. As a result, individual parrots find it stressful confined in isolation for long hours while their ‘flock members’ (in this case you) are away from home.


If your new parrot will be spending long hours alone we recommend that you consider getting it a mate. Individual parrots become easily bored, lack opportunities for adequate exercise and they can get behavioural problems such as feather plucking or self mutilation. Single parrots may be okay if you can spend a lot of time interacting and training them. Remember that some parrots will live for more than 30 years.


Cockatiels and Budgies are popular as they are relatively easy enough to care for but their potential as pets are often underestimated. A well cared for Budgie can live well into its teens and Cockatiels can also live to be approximately 30 years old. Both Budgies and Cockatiels can be very good talkers. They can learn more than 300 words or phrases. Be careful what you teach your bird to say though - do you really want to listen to that rude word over and over for the next 30 years?



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No matter what breed of bird you get it is important to provide a stimulating and safe environment for them. In the wild birds interact with and learn from other members of their flock. We recommend that you provide a wide range of safe toys for shredding, climbing on and manipulating to stimulate the birds’ natural behaviour and problem solving abilities.


Cage hygiene is very important because they will spend a lot of time in a relatively confined space. The cage will need to be cleaned regularly and it is important to plan the cage layout so that risk of contamination of food and drinking water by faecal matter is reduced.


Caged birds need a balanced diet. High fat, seed based diets can lead to obesity and liver disease. You should offer your bird a staple diet of a good quality complete formula supplemented by a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.


Avocado is highly toxic to birds and should never be fed. Seed mix should be fed but it is important it is limited to a small proportion of your birds overall diet. Hiding some food around the cage can provide added stimulation as the bird spends time looking for it. Grit for a parrot is unnecessary; it can interfere with absorption of essential nutrients and medications.


Perches should vary in size and some should be ‘natural timber’ (for example, branches from non toxic trees) so that their feet get some exercise. Sand paper wrapped around smooth perches can lead to arthritis and corns so avoid using these. Make sure if you are using ‘natural timber’ perches that they are a safe wood for your bird to chew on.


For further information about the requirements of your caged bird, or before purchasing a caged bird as a pet contact us, using the telephone or email contact information below, to discuss the requirements further.



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