SETTING UP THE CAGE - KEEPING THINGS CLEAN - FIRST AID TIPS
CHOOSING AND SETTING UP THE CAGE...
Before bringing home a new bird, choose and purchase a cage. Buy the largest cage you can afford and have room for. Make sure the cage bars are not spaced so far apart that your bird can get his head caught or squeeze through and escape. If you don't have room for or can't afford a large bird cage then DON‘T bring home a large bird!
Once you get the cage home, assemble it if necessary and wash it. For this, we recommend a solution of water, white vinegar and GSE. If you have purchased a used cage, it should be disinfected after washing. A weak bleach solution can be used (10% bleach / 90% water) to disinfect. Do this only with good ventilation, well away from your birds (preferably outside) then rinse, rinse and rinse again!
Next, add perches, food / water dishes and toys appropriate to the size of the bird. Take care not to over-crowd the cage. Your bird should have enough room to spread his wings and turn around without hitting perches or toys.
Because birds spend all their time on their feet, your choice of perches and placement of them is very important. We like to include 3-4 perches of various types and textures in each cage. Using half perches and flexible cable style perches allow us to include more of a variety without crowding the cage and place them so that they are out of the line of droppings. The dowel rod type perches that come with most new cages are usually inappropriatly sized and the least beneficial.
Birds usually sleep on and spend most of their time on the perch highest in the cage. For this we prefer a COMFY CABLE PERCH. Soft and flexible, it’s most comfortable for the birds feet and can be bent and placed in an upper corner. Be sure to position it far enough from the sides so the birds tail does not rub on the bars.
We usually place the second highest perch next to toys or the toy box. A CHOLLA WOOD perch which varies slightly in size and texture is an excellent choice for this one.
Next to the food and water dish, it’s best to use a perch that can be easily cleaned. This perch will often have food stuck to it so it should be washed frequently to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Every cage should include a 3rd food dish for soft foods such as vegetables, greens and fruit, treats and / or cooked foods. Next to this dish, where the bird will spend some time every day, we like to use a pedicure type perch such as SANDY PERCH or POLLY PASTEL PEDICURE. This type of perch with it’s rough surface, helps keep the birds nails from overgrowing so that trimming is seldom necessary. Spending too much time on this type of perch can cause foot sores however so it should never be placed high in the cage where it might be used as a sleeping perch. This perch will need to be washed frequently to remove stuck on food and bacteria. The two types mentioned are easily removable and can be soaked to soften dried on food or placed in the dishwasher.
Food and water dishes should be washed daily so choose ones that are easy to remove for cleaning. LOCK-CROCKS inserted or removed with just a twist and are dishwasher safe are a good choice for the soft food dish.
Having multiple food and water dishes on hand allows for you to simple pull them out and replace with a clean one each day rather than having to take it out, wash and dry it before refilling and placing it back in the cage.
Your birds cage should also include an interesting assortment of fun toys. Toys provide exercise, mental stimulation and help relieve boredom. Toys should be rotated frequently to maintain interest. If your bird is unhappy, screaming and / or otherwise driving you crazy, chances are he is simply bored. Toys are an easy and much appreciated way to improve the quality of your birds life. Keep in mind - a toys destroyed - is a toy enjoyed!
Many birds also enjoy playing with foot toys - small things they can pick up with their feet. A toy box is a great way to add a variety of foot toys to the cage or play area. You can simply use a small plastic crate attached with cable (zip) ties or choose a STAINLESS STEEL PAIL like those offered on our foot toy page. For your convenience, we also off the BUCKET 'O BOOTY - a stainless steel toy pail available in two sizes. It comes pre-filled with 10 fun foot toys and includes a stainless steel quick link for hanging.
KEEPING THINGS CLEAN!
I'm often asked about the best way to keep things clean when it comes to pet birds.
The best way in my opinion is to stay on top of it!
It's much easier to do a little cleaning every day than to wait until the mess is overwhelming!
Take care to never use chemical cleaning agents anywhere around your birds. Birds have very sensitive respiratory systems. The fumes from these products can quickly cause the death of pet birds.
I use plain black and white newspapers for lining the bottom of the cage. These should be changed every day or at least every other day.
Keep on hand a spray bottle filled with water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 20-30 drops of NutriBiotic® GSE*. Spray this solution on dried-on food and droppings while you are changing papers and tidying up. Within a few minutes these spots will have softened enough to simply wipe off.
Be sure to spray this on perches too and clean them well to prevent bacterial infections and foot sores.
You can also mix a bucket of this same solution for larger jobs like cleaning cages and floors, or for soaking toys that have been soiled by droppings.
*WHAT IS GSE? GSE® (Grapefruit Seed Extract) is a highly concentrated, natural disinfectant that contains CITRICIDAL®. CITRICIDAL is a natural quaternary compound synthesized from the pulp of certified organically grown grapefruit. The process converts the grapefruit bioflavonoids into an extremely potent compound that has been proven highly effective in numerous applications.
GSE is available here on our web site - click on the button to the left.
Toys need frequent cleaning as well whenever they become soiled. The vinegar / GSE solution works fine or you can wash them with hot water and dish soap. Be sure to rinse well and allow to air dry.
Once a month or so I wipe down the entire cage. I remove all perches, soak them and scrub if necessary.
When I have a large amount of toys that need cleaning, I load them in the dishwasher through the antibacterial cycle (or as hot as your dishwasher will allow). This also works well for sanitizing some perches.
A few minutes of daily cleaning really is much easier than letting it build to the point that it's an overwhelming job. Think of it as quality time spent with your bird or birds. And remember, the birds would just love it if you'd take the time to sing some silly songs - or whistle -while you work.
KEEPING THE BIRDS CLEAN!
Showers are an extremely important part of your birds good health.
You can use spray bottles of course and bathing in a dish work well for some smaller birds. I've found the easiest way is to shower with my birds. My Macaw sits on a free-standing small perch on a bench seat in the shower. Others sit on a tension rod overhead at one end. Some days they don't want to get wet, but they always enjoy the humidity. On the days that they do want to get wet, I take them down on my hand or finger and let the water gently bounce off my shoulder so it's not hitting them directly. Just another way to squeeze in a little extra quality time with your feathered friends! Remember - Happy birds have happy humans!
Oh and sometimes they just need to get REALLY wet like in the photo below. Just like kids through a sprinkler they are!
FIRST AID - QUICK TIP
Everyone who has a bird or birds should keep a first aid kit on hand. This kit should include something to stop the flow of blood in emergencies. Many keep Styptic powder, also known as Blood Stop on hand. This works well on hard surfaces like nails that have been trimmed too short, but it is very caustic and should never be used on open flesh wounds as it will cause a severe burning sensation. I prefer to use cornstarch for all instances. When emergency situations arise, we are most often in a hurry and the cornstarch can be a powdery mess! Fill a clean, new syringe with cornstarch and cut the tip so the opening is big enough to stick the birds toenail in. Keeps things handy, clean and neat!