Birds make the most comforting companion for any family. From the cheerful chatter of budgies to the low whistling of finches, the cooing of cockatiels and the shrill calls of conures, birds are destined to add a sparkle and smile to your day. From aviary birds to hand reared birds they give colour, entertainment and companionship. We absolutely adore birds at our store and promote active rehabilitation and rescue of large and small parrots that have been abandoned/abused.
Different species of birds have longer lifespans and it is important that you recognise whether you will be able to take care of that bird, especially where you are looking to buy or adopt a parrot that has an average lifespan of about 25-50 years on average.
What About Parrots?
Whilst large hand reared birds / parrots can talk and sing and imitate you, which can be very appealing, you need to also consider the following before buying/adopting these beautiful birds:
- African Greys; particularly can live up to a max of 80 years of age.
- Parrots are like 5-year-old children and do not grow up.
- Parrots are loud.
- Parrots are destructive.
- Parrots are sensitive and emotive creatures and require dedicated care and attention.
- They do not like loud noises, nor fast and aggressive movements towards them.
- They usually bond to one person; most often but not exclusively to a person of the opposite gender.
- Parrots can become extremely aggressive and start (and do not stop) biting if not given enough attention or abused.
- Cockatoos are not able to be rehabilitated if abused badly and generally will either be
- Put down or
- End up in a rescue organisation
- Require a large enough cage, birds need to able to at a minimum be able to spread their entire wingspan and not obstruct their open tail against bars.
- A blanket to cover the entire cage at night.
- Quiet room at night, i.e. a bird cage should not be in the lounge where you are watching TV.
- Cover from direct sunlight and drafts during the day especially if the cage is outside.
- Mineral block for reducing the beak.
- Mineral sticks with grit for declawing the claws of birds.
- Ensure fresh water and fresh food daily where you are feeding either egg food or fresh chop.
- Replace seed at least every second day.
- Clean the cage every 3rd/4th day.
- Access to bath bowl especially on hot summer days.
- Toys against boredom.
- Variety of different sized perches-sekelbos perches are an absolute must, even if you have a budgie for perching and health of your bird’s feet.
- Where you have a hand reared bird-clipping of wings is advised to prevent loss of the bird.
- Companionship, either by another bird companion or your personal attention.
- Ensure you give your birds supplements and deworm them at least once a year or when showing symptoms of ill health.
Some statistics on large parrots particularly African Greys:
- 50% of parrots that were bought as youngsters will over time be abandoned.
- 15% of birds will be lost – fly away due to not being clipped
- 23% will die to incorrect care/hospitalisation or trauma, ie attack by a dog.
- 2% of birds will be stolen and sold for gain.
This means that only 10% of all large bred parrots thrive and are owned by a conscientious owner and are happy. Not sure how you feel after that statistic; however I believe that is simply grievous and horrific. So please think and plan and research and most importantly understand and reflect on whether you are up to it.
- INSERT BIRD CARE GIF-BEFORE YOU GET A BIRD
Essentials for your bird aviary or bird cage should be;
- Additional metal bowls for food or as a bird bath
- Additional plastic food and water bowls
- Mineral blocks for keeping your bird’s beak in check
- Cuttlefish for mineral treat and boredom
- Additional perching sticks
- Gravel mineral sheets in varying sizes
- Bird hammocks for sleep, particularly for conures and parrots
- Nail clippers
Birds, including your budgie, canary and cockatiel require a varied diet and certain larger parrots like the Ecclectus require mostly only fresh food. Feeding your bird, the incorrect food can lead to liver damage and essentially death. A balanced diet between seeds, pellets and vegetables and fresh food is advised.
The approximate ratio between seeds/pellets and fresh food is:
Fresh food 20%
However; this is merely a guide and certain larger parrots require more fresh food in their diet.
*INSERT FOOD CHART
- Dried and fresh fruit
Naartjie, papaya, blueberries, cherries, apple, pear are firm favourites. Chop up finely and give small amounts in the morning separate from their seed. If feeding banana, remember it carries a high protein and fat content and should not be fed more than twice/week.
- Egg Food
Egg food is excellent for general health and can be added in its dry form to your seed diet on a daily or weekly basis. It is also recommended where:
- Your bird is nesting
- Your female bird is feeding baby birds
- Your baby birds are weaning
- Your bird has suffered trauma or has been sick
Egg food can be fed dry or wet. If fed wet, do not leave the mixture in the cage for more than a max of 24 hours as it contains egg it will sour and if ingested cause your bird to become ill.
- Fresh vegetables/herbs-also called chop commonly by breeders
Salad (EXCLUDING Iceberg), herbs, cooked pumpkin, cooked butternut and cooked potato mash are firm favourites. Also try chopped carrots, baby marrows, brinjals and fennel. Tomatoes are always a hit. We keep a bag of frozen peas and mielies in the freezer and place a small amount in the microwave to defrost when we have no alternatives, quick and effective,
Most pellets are a dried form of vegetables cooked and can include beans, rice, lentils, wheat, carrots, etc. Where choosing to feed between seeds or pellets, always chose pellets as they are healthier for your bird long term.
Most seed mixtures, (excluding peanuts and sunflower seeds) are excellent in small quantities for your bird. Your bird should not receive only a seed-based diet as this leads to kidney and liver failure. Seed mixtures may include:
- Millet, red, golden
- Sorghum and flax
- Milled maize
- Sunflower seeds/peanuts
PLEASE NOTE: We advise that you do not feed your bird a sunflower based diet. It should only be added in extremely small quantities as a treat. Once a bird is used to sunflower seeds, it is extremely difficult to wean them off and change to a pellet and fresh food diet. The comparison I make to owner asking what all the fuss is about:
Just as it is not healthy for you or your children to only eat or predominately to eat
- Diet sodas
- Meat only
so it is not advisable for your bird to eat predominately sunflower seeds or peanuts. Both are full of large amounts of fat and do cause liver and kidney failure. Also most birds on this diet are usually overweight.
Dangerous to all birds are the following foods:
- Nicotine and the smoke of cigarettes
- Seeds of most fruit
- Saliva of humans