Q: I have been told that birds require 12 to 14 hours of sleep and that I should cover them to ensure they get the sleep they need. I have also been told that covering my bird may cause night fright. So, should I cover my bird at night or not?
A: This is a very common question, but the answer is not cut and dry. Common sense indicates that parrots in the wild do not get covered and at certain times of the year, when the days are longer or there is a full moon, they do not get 12 hours of darkness. Why should this be any different in captivity? Covering a bird can make their sleep more restless because of fear. Originally birds were covered for protection from drafts due to the inefficiency of furnaces and windows in old homes. Few homes today are that drafty. Some birds like to be covered and some do not. Is it necessary? No. Can it cause fear and night fright? Yes. I choose not cover my birds and risk night fright and have never had a problem. Treat your bird as an individual and do what is best for him or her.
Q: Should birds wings be clipped?
A: This answer can be yes or no. A lot depends on the home environment and the wishes of the owner.
Problems with environment are very common sense. Open water such as sinks, tubs,
and toilets can be very dangerous. Kitchens have a myriad of hazards from knives, stoves, glassware, food borne bacteria, caustic smoke from burned food, and trash cans to name just a few. Then there are doors opening and closing, windows to run into, ceiling fans and much more. So, unless you can control these dangers, clip your birds wings. Many people have bird rooms that are safe for flight, but not safe from a birds destructive nature or the occasional splat of droppings. Again, your choice. When it comes to taking your bird outdoors, though, wing clipping is not the answer. Even with properly clipped wings a bird can catch a breeze and soar very high and a very long way.
Q: Is it safe to let my bird walk around my yard?
A: No, would be the best answer here. Common sense tells you to keep your birds cage clean and wash your hands before handling your bird. So who went out and washed the yard? Even a covered porch rail can have deadly micro-organisms lurking. Do you know what kind of vermin, varmint, or animal has been in your yard? Was the bird that landed on your porch disease free? Outside is dangerous for birds.
Q: We spend a lot of time on our patio in the summer. How can my bird join us safely?
A: There are only two true ways to keep your bird safe from outdoor dangers. First is to bring the birds cage out with you or have a smaller cage for use outside and keep the bird in the cage. The second is do not take the bird outside. All other methods involve risk.
Q: What temperature should my home be for my birds?
A: Basic rule of thumb is, if you are comfortable your bird will do fine. The bad aspects of temperature are; 1) Drastic changes. Changes of more than 10 degrees in a short period of time. 2) Drafts, which cause drastic changes. Birds can adapt to gradual changes in temperature very well. If you keep your home cool in the summer adjust your A/C unit gradually to the temperature you desire and then leave it there. The same goes for winter. To save heat cost you can lower your thermostat to any point you wish as long as it is done gradually and left at that setting. If you mist or bathe your bird with water, make sure the water is at room temperature to avoid a sudden change in your birds body temp.
Q: What temperature should bath water be for my bird?
A: Room temperature. If you raise the temperature of the water to what you feel is comfortable, it may be too warm and cause a shock to the birds body temperature. Our body temperature hovers at 98.6 degrees. For water to feel lukewarm to the touch it would have to be above the 98.6 degrees of our body, which, if your home is 72 degrees means an almost 30 degree temperature difference. Room temperature water may feel too cool to you, but it is the safest for your birds bath.
Q: I had my birds wings clipped and now he is chewing them. What does this mean.
A: If this is the first time your birds wings have been trimmed, the chewing may be just a curiousity as if to say," What happened?" It should stop once the bird gets used to not having his flight feathers. If this is not the first time the wings have been trimmed, OR, the chewing persists, it may be that the clipped ends are too long and are poking the birds side when his wings are folded. If that's the case re-trim the wings so that the trimmed ends are trimmed just below the covert feathers.
Q: My bird looks sick and I went to the pet store to buy some medicine. What medicine should I buy to help my bird?
A: NONE!! When a bird shows signs of illness they should be taken to a vet immediately. Birds hide the fact that they are sick or injured as a defense strategy so that predators won't see them as easy prey. Over the counter medication for birds are not strong enough to treat most illness and only make the bird feel better for a short time, but the bad part is if your bird does not get better with the pet store meds, the Vet will have a hard time determining what is really wrong. So, bottom line is, if your bird looks sick...take him or her to the vet right away.
Q: People say that a bird that is at eye level or higher becomes dominant, but my bird likes to ride on my shoulder. Is that OK?
A: That depends on a few things. First, let's get something straight. Dominance is a personality trait. Those that believe that a bird becomes dominant when it is higher than you must believe that all birds have multiple personalities and that altitude causes them to to change. That is just not true. A bird has the same personality on the floor as it has above your head. What is really happening is that a bird higher than you has a distinct advantage over you and if the bird decides it doesn't want to do something you tell it to do, it is in a position to rebel. The dangers of birds riding on shoulders are these. When on your shoulder a birds beak and wings are at your eye level and any sudden movement by you or the bird could result in an eye injury. If a birds wings are clipped and it falls from your shoulder, the bird could be injured in the fall. If the bird starts to slip off of your shoulder, it may try to hang on by grabbing your ear. The bottom line is, a bird on your shoulder has risk involved but, done cautiously it is your choice.
Q: Can I use Clorox Ultra bleach to clean my birds cage?
A: Bleach is an excellent disinfectant for your birds cage, but not all bleachs are alike nor are they safe. Regular bleach, without additives, is safe for use around birds cages and accessories, but any bleach that is scented, has extra whitening power or makes any other claims of new and improved or ultra, should not be used. Plain bleach such as Austins A1 and plain Clorox are safe to use in this dilution; 1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water. Before using this solution the bird and all food should be kept well away from the area you are working in. The fumes from the bleach can cause damage to your birds respiratory system. If you are using the bleach as a disinfectant, then the solution must be applied and let set for at least 15 minutes then rinsed very well with clean water. There should be no lingering smell of bleach when you are through.
Q: How can I tell my birds age?
A: There is no easy or accurate method to determine the age of a bird. The best that can be said for the age of a bird is baby, juvenile, adult or mature, and old or geriatric. If a bird has a band on it's leg there may be a hatch date, but not all bands contain this information.
Q: I have manzanita perches in my birds cage and my birds can't seem to hang on as they are slippery. Is there anything I can do to correct this?
A: Lots of the hard woods that are used for perches today are rather slippery. The safest solution is to get a piece of 30 to 50 grit sand paper and rough up the surface of the perch. Don't sand the perch as you would if you were removing material, but rather use one or two strokes to score the surface. This will help for months, but may have to be done again at some point in time.
More questions and answers to come.