Bird Care

Birds are very rewarding pets to keep and many can be taught to talk a number words and phrases too.Canaries1lo

They can be kept in cages or aviaries, brightening up both the home and garden, and some birds really enjoy their owner’s company.

Read through of pet care guides below, offering information for some of the species available.

Advice provided by The Pet Charity, further information can be found on their website

Parrot1lo
Parrots make interesting, enjoyable pets and can provide a lifetime of mutually satisfying companionship. They are great whistlers and some can even learn simple words and phrases.

Birds are social, so a single caged bird will require a lot of attention and stimulus if it is not to become bored and frustrated. A caged bird will enjoy times of peace on its own but it must feel emotionally part of its human flock.

Choosing your parrots 
There are a number of common breeds of parrot kept as pets in the UK, these include Parakeets, African Greys, Cockatoos, Macaws and Amazons. If the bird is to be left on its own for long periods it is better to give it a companion. Lovebirds should always be kept in pairs or small groups.

It is also recommended to have your parrot microchipped. Unintentional escapes do sometimes happen, and you have a better chance of being reunited with your pet if it has been microchipped.

General care 
Early signs of illness include loose droppings, discharge from the nostrils, laboured breathing, feathers raised to give a puffed up appearance, resting with head under the wing and both feet on the perch. These are all general, non-specific signs of a variety of illnesses, so if you are concerned about your parrot’s health or behaviour, seek specialist veterinary advice.Feathers: Feathers should not be allowed to become too dry. You can use a suitable fine mist spray together with a special solution to spray on, your pet shop can advise you on suitable products. Many parrots do enjoy a bath or shower, but not all of them.
Respiratory diseases: The bird will be listless, with feathers fluffed up and wheezing if it catches a cold. Keep him warm, do not bath and consult with your vet immediately.
Wet droppings: Commonly caused by an excess of green, mouldy or contaminated food; a change in diet or lack of fresh water; intestinal infections; or liver and kidney diseases. Keep him warm, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and consult your vet.
Mites: These are parasites that feed on birds’ blood, causing itching, weight loss and feather loss. Mites are easy to destroy with a suitable spray and your pet shop or vet will advise.
Beaks and nails: An iodine block can help keep your bird’s beak trim. If you suspect your parrot’s nails and beak are too long seek expert advice.
Feather plucking: A complex, common, and frustrating problem with many possible causes, including skin or feather infections, a poor diet or environment, lack of exercise or stimulation. Spend time with your parrot and provide it with toys for exercise and entertainment. If the condition persists consult your vet.

Housing
Parrot cages make suitable homes for short-tailed parrots only. Long-tailed varieties should be kept in an outside aviary or an indoor flight, as can short-tailed parrots.

A roomy cage is a necessity if you are unable to provide an aviary, and it must be large enough for your parrots to stretch their wings and fly from perch to perch. Parrot3loParrots are climbing birds, so it is preferable to choose a cage with horizontal bars.

Avoid putting the cage in draughts, direct sunlight or in damp or humid conditions. The cage should be furnished with perches of different diameter and one or two toys, but don’t overcrowd the cage. Try and buy a selection of toys and rotate them to avoid boredom. Do not place perches directly above food and water pots.

The cage/aviary can be furnished with non-poisonous wood branches, such as fruit wood, which will add interest and aid with keeping the beak properly shaped. You can also hang toys off the branches for added entertainment.

Sand sheets or cage bird sand may be used in the bottom of the cage of smaller species, and replaced regularly. The cage and furnishings should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant weekly, although droppings should be removed daily.

Outside aviaries must have a sheltered section to provide protection from wind, rain and strong sunlight and for many species it may need to be heated. Place the roosting site (the highest perch or nest box) and food containers within the sheltered section. The floor should be paved or have a sunken wire mesh to prevent rodents entering. If possible, install an infra-red light to deter thieves. It is also essential to have a double-door entrance system so birds cannot escape.

Introducing your parrots to their new home
Before introducing your parrots to their new home, fill the food and water pots and sprinkle a little extra onto the floor, to ensure they have enough to eat until they finds the seed pots.

Make sure all windows and doors are closed and fires are guarded. Gently open one end of the carry box and let your parrots walk into their new home. If they appears anxious or do not settle, drape a cloth over three sides of the cage until they settles. Leave them to adjust to their new setting quietly for a few hours.

Whilst your parrots are still young, introduce them to as many people and noises as possible. This will ensure they are confident and comfortable with other people taking care of them if you are away or if he outlives you – which may well happen.

Training
Parrots are very intelligent and curious animals that can be trained, which will also help you bond with your pet. ‘Step-up’ onto your finger can be encouraged with a little gentle pressure to the breast, followed by a reward and praise. ‘Fly to me’ can also prove very useful if you notice a door or window has been left open, although this takes some persistence. Repetition, patience and positive reinforcement is the best form of training. Do not punish your parrot as you may ruin your relationship.
Parrot2lo
Food and water 
It is important that you give your parrots a varied diet. Detailed requirements vary with the species, but each day you should offer food from the following categories:
Cereals: A good quality parrot mixture should be available from your pet shop. Check the seed dishes daily and remove any empty husks and refill as necessary.
Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, pears and cherries and more exotic fruits are all suitable, but do not feed avocado, as this is toxic to parrots.
Vegetables: Celery, carrots, broccoli, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, fresh peas and beans are all suitable. Fresh foods must be thoroughly washed before being offered.
Supplements: Cuttlefish is a source of calcium and helps to keep the beak trim. A mineral block will provide essential minerals and trace elements, although both these items will be demolished rapidly by larger parrots. Vitamin drops may be added to the water.

Millet sprays, honey bells, rosehips and seed bars can be given as a treat. Be careful not to offer your parrot too many fatty treats as they are prone to liver damage.

Food and water pots should be washed regularly and fresh water should always be available.

Parrot Societylo

This information is supported by The Parrot Society. For more information please visit www.theparrotsocietyuk.org

Cockatoos are playful and intelligent birds to care for as pets. They are very vocal birds and are typically noisy at dawn and dusk – so if you’re planning to keep cockatoos it is advised to discuss this with your neighbours first. cockatoo2

Cockatoos originate from Australasia and South-East Asia. These species of parrot boast beautiful erectile crest feathers on their heads, which are displayed in response to feelings, such as fear, excitement or aggression. These parrots are the only species not to have any blue or green colouration in their plumage.

Many cockatoos live between 40 and 70 years, so you must be sure you are ready for a lifetime commitment.

General care 
Early signs of illness include loose droppings, discharge from the nostrils, laboured breathing, feathers raised to give a puffed up appearance, resting with head under the wing and both feet on the perch. These are all general, non-specific signs of a variety of illnesses, so if you are concerned about your parrot’s health or behaviour, seek specialist veterinary advice.

Feathers: Feathers should need regular grooming to stay healthy, including a gentle spray with water. You can use a suitable fine mist spray together with a special solution to spray on, your pet shop can advise you on suitable products. Many cockatoos do enjoy a bath or shower, but not all of them.
Respiratory diseases: The bird will be listless, with feathers fluffed up and wheezing if it catches a cold. Keep him warm, do not bath and consult with your vet immediately.
Wet droppings: Commonly caused by an excess of green, mouldy or contaminated food; a change in diet or lack of fresh water; intestinal infections; or liver and kidney diseases. Keep him warm, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and consult your vet.
Mites: These are parasites that feed on birds’ blood, causing itching, weight loss and feather loss. Mites are easy to destroy with a suitable spray and your pet shop or vet will advise.
Beaks and nails: An iodine block can help keep your bird’s beak trim. If you suspect your cockatoos’ nails and beaks are too long seek expert advice.
Feather plucking: A complex, common, and frustrating problem with many possible causes, including skin or feather infections, a poor diet or environment, lack of exercise or stimulation. Spend time with your cockatoo and provide it with lots of toys for exercise and entertainment. If the condition persists consult your vet.

If you are worried about the health of your cockatoos consult with your vet. It is recommended to seek a vet that has experience with birds.

Choosing your cockatoos
There are three commonly-kept species of cockatoo – white, black and grey roseate – the white cockatoo is the most popular type kept as a pet in the UK, as the other types require more specialist care and knowledge.

A healthy cockatoo should be: 
• Bright-eyed and alert
• Have no signs of discharge from the eyes or nostrils
• Have a clean vent area
• Feathers should be smooth, flush to the body and not be fluffed up
• Should have no signs of breathing problems
• Movement should be fluent with no signs of lethargy

Housing
Cockatoos can be housed in an outside aviary or a roomy cage. If you choose to house your cockatoos in a cage, it is highly important they are provided with daily time outside their cage.
A roomy cage is a necessity if you are unable to provide an aviary, and it must be large enough for your cockatoos to stretch their wings and fly from perch to perch. Cockatoos are climbing birds, so it is preferable to choose a cage with horizontal bars.

cockatooAvoid putting the cage in draughts, direct sunlight or in damp or humid conditions. The cage should be furnished with perches of different diameter and a few toys, but don’t overcrowd the cage. Try and buy a selection of toys and rotate them to avoid boredom. Do not place perches directly above food and water pots. Cockatoos are notorious chewers so it is important to provide them with plenty of wooden chews to keep them entertained.

The cage/aviary can be furnished with non-poisonous wood branches, such as fruit wood, which will add interest and aid with keeping the beak properly shaped. You can also hang toys off the branches for added entertainment.

Sand sheets or cage bird sand may be used in the bottom of the cage and replaced regularly. The cage and furnishings should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant weekly, although droppings should be removed daily. A removable tray will make cleaning easier.

Outside aviaries must have a sheltered section to provide protection from wind, rain and strong sunlight and for many species it may need to be heated. Place the roosting site (the highest perch or nest box) and food containers within the sheltered section. The floor should be paved or have a sunken wire mesh to prevent rodents entering. If possible, install a security light with an infra-red sensor to deter thieves. It is also essential to have a double-door entrance system so birds cannot escape.

Introducing your cockatoos to their new home
Before introducing your cockatoos to their new home, fill the food and water pots and sprinkle a little extra onto the floor, to ensure they have enough to eat until they find the seed pots.

Make sure all windows and doors are closed and fires are guarded. Gently open one end of the carry box and let your cockatoos walk into their new home. If they appear anxious or do not settle, drape a cloth over three sides of the cage until they settle. Leave them to adjust to their new setting quietly for a few hours.

Whilst your cockatoos are still young, introduce them to as many people and noises as possible. This will ensure they are confident and comfortable with other people taking care of them if you are away or if they outlive you – which may well happen.

Training
Cockatoos are very intelligent and curious animals that spent most of their waking hours playing and entertaining themselves. They can be trained, which will also help you bond with your pet. ‘Step-up’ onto your finger can be encouraged with a little gentle pressure to the breast, followed by a reward and praise. ‘Fly to me’ can also prove very useful if you notice a door or window has been left open, although this takes some persistence. Repetition, patience and positive reinforcement is the best form of training. Do not punish your birds as you may ruin your relationship.

Many cockatoo owners cuddle their pets and offer too much touching – which can eventually frustrate the birds as they reach maturity. Try to keep touching to a minimum and play with them instead of cuddling.

Food and water 
It is important that you give your cockatoos a varied diet. Each day you should offer food from the following categories:
Seeds, nuts and cereals: A good quality parrot mixture should be available from your pet shop. Check the seed dishes daily and remove any empty husks and refill as necessary.
Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, pears and cherries and more exotic fruits are all suitable, but do not feed avocado, as this is toxic.
Vegetables: Celery, carrots, broccoli, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, fresh peas and beans are all suitable. Fresh foods must be thoroughly washed before being offered.
Supplements: Cuttlefish is a source of calcium and helps to keep the beak trim. A mineral block will provide essential minerals and trace elements, although both these items will be demolished rapidly by larger parrots. Vitamin drops may be added to the water.

Millet sprays, honey bells, rosehips and seed bars can be given as a treat. Be careful not to offer your cockatoos too many fatty treats as they are prone to liver damage.

Food and water pots should be washed regularly and fresh water should always be available.

Parrot Societylo
This leaflet has been produced with the help of The Parrot Society UK. If you require further help or advice please visit www.theparrotsocietyuk.org, telephone 01442 872245 or email les.rance@theparrotsocietyuk.org

Cockatiels are natural acrobats and mimics – they can learn simple words and phrases and are excellent whistlers. Cockatiel
Originally a native of the hot, dry Australian interior, all cockatiels for sale in the UK are now bred in this country.

Cockatiels are communal birds that make interesting and intelligent pets. The normal colour is grey but there are variations such as white, cinnamon, pied, silver or lutino (pale yellow). You can expect to have the companionship of these fascinating birds for twelve to fourteen years, so you must be sure you’re ready for a long-term commitment.

General care 
• Feathers: You can use a suitable fine mist spray together with a special solution to spray on, your pet shop can advise you on suitable products. Some cockatiels do enjoy a bath, but not all of them.
• Colds: The bird will be listless, with feathers fluffed up and wheezing if it catches a cold. Keep him warm, do not bath and consult with your vet immediately.
• Wet droppings: This can be caused by an excess of green, mouldy or contaminated food, a change in diet, a lack of fresh water or an underlying illness. Keep him warm, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and consult your vet.
• Mites: This is a parasite that feeds on birds’ blood causing itching, weight loss and feather loss. Mites are easy to destroy with a suitable spray and your pet shop or vet will advise.
• Beaks and nails: An iodine block can help keep your birds’ beaks trim. If you suspect your cockatiels’ nails and beaks are too long seek expert advice.
• Feather plucking: This can be due to a poor diet, lack of exercise or stimulation. Spend time with your cockatiels and provide them with toys for exercise and entertainment. If the condition persists consult your vet.

If you are worried about the health of your cockatiels consult with your vet. It is recommended to seek a vet that has experience with birds.

Choosing your cockatiels
A healthy cockatiel should be:
• Bright-eyed and alert
• Have no signs of discharge from the eyes or nostrils
• Have a clean vent area
• Feathers should be smooth, flush to the body and not be fluffed up
• Should have no signs of breathing problems
• Movement should be fluent with no signs of lethargy

Housing
A single caged bird will require a lot of attention and stimulus if it is not to become bored and frustrated (a common cause of feather plucking). If the bird is to be left on its own for long periods it is better to give it a companion. In an aviary cockatiels will mix with canaries, budgies, and some small parrots, but not with the larger parrots.

For indoor cockatiels, a roomy cage is advisable and should be large enough for your birds to stretch their wings and fly from perch to perch. Cockatiels are climbing birds so it is preferable to choose a cage with horizontal bars. Avoid putting the cage in draughts, direct sunlight or in damp/humid conditions. Only cover the cage at night if the room temperature is likely to fall.

Cockatiel2The cage should be furnished with perches of different thickness so the cockatiels can exercise their feet. Do not place perches directly above food and water pots. Put a few toys inside the cage but do not overcrowd it. Try buying a selection of toys and rotating them to avoid boredom.

Sand sheets or cage bird sand should be placed in the bottom of the cage and replaced regularly. The cage and furnishings should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant weekly, although droppings should be removed daily. A removable tray will make cleaning easier.

Outside aviaries must have a sheltered section to provide protection from wind, rain and strong sunlight. This is where you should position the roosting site (the highest perch or nest box) and the food containers. Aviaries should also have a paved floor with a sunken wire mesh to prevent vermin and a double-door entry system for added safety.

Introducing your cockatiels to their new home
Always take your birds home in a carry box, not in a cage. Before introducing your cockatiels to their new home, fill the food and water pots and sprinkle a little extra onto the floor, to ensure they have enough to eat until they find the seed pots.

Make sure all windows and doors are closed and fires are guarded. Gently open one end of the carry box and let your cockatiels walk into their new home. If they appear anxious or do not settle, drape a cloth over three sides of the cage until they settle. Leave them to adjust to their new setting quietly for a few hours.

Food and water 
A good quality cockatiel mixture should be available from your pet shop. Check the seed dishes daily and remove any empty husks and refill as necessary.

Millet sprays can be given as a treat as can honey bells and seed bars. Fresh thoroughly washed green-food may be given, such as chick-weed and dandelion, but be very careful not to over feed.

Your birds will also require a good supply of mineralised or oyster shell grit, which helps to digest their food. Cuttlefish bones should be supplied too as it is a source of calcium and helps to keep the beak worn down and maintain strong bones. Bird specific vitamin supplements are available and may be added to the drinking water or mixed with fruit or vegetables. Fresh water should always be available.

Parrot SocietyloThis leaflet has been produced with the help of The Parrot Society UK. If you require further help or advice please visit www.theparrotsocietyuk.org, telephone 01442 872245 or email les.rance@theparrotsocietyuk.org

Budgielo1Budgerigars are friendly, cheerful companions ideal for all age groups. They are available in attractive and sometimes unusual colours, and live for around 7-8 years.

The budgerigar is a member of the parrot family and originates from Australia. It is a relativity simple and inexpensive pet to keep.

General care 
Feathers: Feathers should not be allowed to become too dry. You can use a suitable fine mist spray together with a special solution to spray on, your pet shop can advise you on suitable products. Some budgies do enjoy a bath, but not all of them.
Colds: The bird will be listless, with feathers fluffed up and wheezing if it catches a cold. Keep him warm, do not bath and consult with your vet immediately.
Diarrhoea: This is commonly caused by an excess of green, mouldy or contaminated food, a change in diet or lack of fresh water. Keep him warm, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and consult your vet.
Mites: This is a parasite that feeds on birds’ blood causing itching, weight loss and feather loss. Mites are easy to destroy with a suitable spray and your pet shop or vet will advise.
Beaks and nails: An iodine block can help keep your bird’s beak trim. If you suspect your budgie’s nails and beak are too long seek expert advice.
Feather plucking: This can be due to a poor diet, lack of exercise or stimulation. Spend time with your budgie and provide it with toys for exercise and entertainment. If the condition persists consult your vet.

It is not possible to correctly sex very young budgies until they are at least three months, however you can buy one at around 6-7 weeks old. A younger budgie is easier to train than an older one.

HousingBudgielo3
Budgerigars can be kept in flocks in aviaries or in cages as pairs. A roomy cage is advisable and should be large enough for your budgies to stretch their wings and fly from perch to perch.

Budgies are climbing birds so it is preferable to choose a cage with horizontal bars. Avoid putting the cage in draughts, direct sunlight or in damp/humid conditions. Only cover the cage at night if the room temperature is likely to fall.

The cage should be furnished with perches of different thickness so the budgies can exercise their feet. Do not place perches directly above food and water pots. Put a few toys inside the cage but do not overcrowd it. Try buying a selection of toys and rotating them to avoid boredom.

Sand sheets or cage bird sand should be placed in the bottom of the cage and replaced regularly. The cage and furnishings should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant weekly, although droppings should be removed daily. A removable tray will make cleaning easier.

Outside aviaries must have a sheltered section to provide protection from wind, rain and strong sunlight. This is where you should position the roosting site (the highest perch or nest box) and the food containers.

Aviaries should also have a paved floor with a sunken wire mesh to prevent vermin and a double-door entry system for added safety.

Introducing your budgies to their new home
Always take your birds home in a carry box, not in a cage. Before introducing your budgies to their new home, fill the food and water pots and sprinkle a little extra onto the floor, to ensure they have enough to eat until they find the seed pots.

Make sure all windows and doors are closed and fires are guarded. Gently open one end of the carry box and let your budgies walk into their new home. If they appear anxious or do not settle, drape a cloth over three sides of the cage until they settle. Leave them to adjust to their new setting quietly for a few hours.

Budgielo2Food and water
In the wild, budgies feed on a variety of seeds, including seedling grasses and leaves of plants. Your pet budgies will require a good mixture of seeds to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need – a good quality budgie mixture should be available from your pet shop. Check the seed dishes daily, removing any empty husks, and refill as necessary. Both the food and water pots will need washing regularly.

Millet sprays can be given as a treat as can honey bells and seed bars. Fresh thoroughly washed green-food may be given, such as chick-weed and dandelion, but be very careful not to over feed.

Your birds will also require a good supply of mineralised or oyster shell grit, which helps to digest their food. Cuttlefish bones should be supplied too as it is a source of calcium and helps to keep the beak worn down and maintain strong bones.

Bird specific vitamin supplements are available and may be added to the drinking water or mixed with fruit or vegetables.

Fresh water should always be available.

Budgerigar Society

This information is supported by The Budgerigar Society. For more information and advice please visit www.budgerigarsociety.com

Canaries originate from the Canary Islands and there are many popular varieties in the UK, such as Borders, Fifes, Glosters, Rollers, Norwich, Lizard and Red Factors. Canaries 2

Colours range from yellow, green, brown, variegated and red to various pastel shades.

Hens may twitter but cocks really sing. There is no easy way to sex canaries so seek advice from your pet shop. Changes in the environment can affect singing. The singing normally returns once settled into their new home.

If your canaries go into moult in their new home resumption of song can take six weeks or more.

Properly cared for your canary will live on average for 10 years.

General care 
Moult: This is a natural occurrence where the bird changes its feathers and is usually problem-free. The process can take several weeks and the bird will become quieter and spend more time resting. An abnormal moult can be caused by sudden shock or fright, disease or extremes of temperature.
Feathers: Feathers should not be allowed to become too dry. You can use a suitable fine mist spray together with a special solution to spray on, your pet shop can advise you on suitable products. Some canaries do enjoy a bath, but not all of them.
Colds: The bird will be listless, with feathers fluffed up and wheezing if it catches a cold. Keep him warm, do not bath and consult with your vet immediately.
Diarrhoea: This is commonly caused by an excess of green, mouldy or contaminated food, a change in diet or lack of fresh water. Keep him warm, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and consult your vet.
Mites: This is a parasite that feeds on birds’ blood causing itching, weight loss and feather loss. Mites are easy to destroy with a suitable spray and your pet shop or vet will advise.
Toenails: Overgrown claws need to be clipped. If left they will endanger the bird by becoming caught in the cage wire. Care must be taken when cutting nails to avoid cutting the blood vessels and nerves. Consult your vet or pet shop.

Housing
A single caged bird will require a lot of attention and stimulus if it is not to become bored and frustrated. If the bird is to be left on its own for long periods it is better to give it a companion.

Canaries can be housed in a cage or in an aviary. A roomy cage is advisable and should be large enough for your canaries to stretch their wings and fly from perch to perch.

The cage should be furnished with perches of different thickness so the canaries can exercise their feet. You can also use fruit tree branches as perches, such as pear or apple, but do ensure they have not been soiled by wild bird droppings. Do not place perches directly above food and water pots. Put a few toys inside the cage but do not overcrowd it. Try buying a selection of toys and rotating them to avoid boredom.

Sand sheets or cage bird sand should be placed in the bottom of the cage and replaced regularly. The cage and furnishings should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant weekly, although droppings should be removed daily. A removable tray will make cleaning easier.

Outside aviaries must have a sheltered section to provide protection from wind, rain and strong sunlight. This is where you should position the roosting site (the highest perch or nest box) and the food containers. Aviaries should also have a paved floor with a sunken wire mesh to prevent vermin and a double-door entry system for added safety.

Introducing your canaries to their new home 
Always take your birds home in a carry box, not in a cage. Before introducing your canaries to their new home, fill the food and water pots and sprinkle a little extra onto the floor, to ensure they have enough to eat until they finds their seed pots.

Make sure all windows and doors are closed and fires are guarded. Gently open one end of the carry box and let your canaries walk into their new home. If they appears anxious or do not settle, drape a cloth over three sides of the cage until they settle. Leave them to adjust to their new setting quietly for a few hours.

Care should be taken not to disturb your canaries at night. Night fright can cause the birds to fly into the cage wire, so cover the cage at night.

Canaries3loFood and water
In the wild, canaries feed on a variety of seeds, including seedling grasses and leaves of plants. Your pet canaries will require a good mixture of seeds to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need – a good quality canary mixture should be available from your pet shop. Check the seed dishes daily, removing any empty husks, and refill as necessary. Both the food and water pots will need washing regularly.

Millet sprays can be given as a treat as can honey bells and seed bars. Fresh thoroughly washed green-food may be given, such as chick-weed, lettuce, watercress and seeding grass, but be very careful not to over feed. Orange Marigold heads in the summer can be eaten too.

Your bird will also require a good supply of mineralised or oyster shell grit, which helps them to digest their food. Cuttlefish bones could be supplied too as it is a source of calcium and helps to keep the beak worn down and maintain strong bones.

Bird specific vitamin supplements are available and may be added to the drinking water or mixed with fruit or vegetables.

Fresh water should always be available.

Canary Council logo

This information is supported by The Canary Council. For more information please visit www.canarycouncil.co.uk

Finches comes in a huge variety of colours and are the ideal pet for all the family and first-time bird-keeper. The Finch

The most popular finch kept in the UK is the Zebra Finch, which originates from Australia. Another popular breed, the Bengalese Finch, is not seen in the wild as it is a product of many years of selective, captive breeding.

Finches live in flocks and should not be kept singly – they should be kept in pairs in cages or as small groups in aviaries, and can also be kept with canaries.

General care 
Moult: This is a natural occurrence where the bird changes its feathers and is usually problem-free. The process can take several weeks and the bird will become quieter and spend more time resting. An abnormal moult can be caused by sudden shock or fright, disease or extremes of temperature.
Feathers: Feathers should not be allowed to become too dry. You can use a suitable fine mist spray together with a special solution to spray on, your pet shop can advise you on suitable products. Some finches do enjoy a bath, but not all of them.
Colds: The bird will be listless, with feathers fluffed up and wheezing if it catches a cold. Keep him warm, do not bath and consult with your vet immediately.
Diarrhoea: This is commonly caused by an excess of green, mouldy or contaminated food, a change in diet or lack of fresh water. Keep him warm, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and consult your vet.
Mites: This is a parasite that feeds on birds’ blood causing itching, weight loss and feather. Mites are easy to destroy with a suitable spray and your pet shop or vet will advise.
Toenails: Overgrown claws need to be clipped. If left they will endanger the bird by becoming caught in the cage wire. Care must be taken when cutting nails to avoid cutting the blood vessels and nerves. Consult your vet or pet shop.

Housing
Finches can be housed in a cage or an outside aviary. A roomy cage is advisable and should be large enough for your birds to stretch their wings and fly from perch to perch.

The cage should be furnished with perches of different thickness so the birds can exercise their feet. You can also use fruit tree branches as perches, such as pear or apple, but do ensure they have not been soiled by wild bird droppings. Do not place perches directly above food and water pots. Put a few toys inside the cage but do not overcrowd it. Try buying a selection of toys and rotating them to avoid boredom.

Sand sheets or cage bird sand should be placed in the bottom of the cage and replaced regularly. The cage and furnishings should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant weekly, although droppings should be removed daily. A removable tray will make cleaning easier.

Outside aviaries must have a sheltered section to provide protection from wind, rain and strong sunlight. This is where you should position the roosting site (the highest perch or nest box) and the food containers. Aviaries should also have a paved floor with a sunken wire mesh to prevent vermin and a double-door entry system for added safety.

Bengalese and Zebra finches are keen bathers and shallow dishes should be provided.

The Finch 2Introducing your finches to their new home
Always take your birds home in a carry box, not in a cage. Before introducing your finches to their new home, fill the food and water pots and sprinkle a little extra onto the floor, to ensure that they have enough to eat until they find the seed pots.

Make sure all windows and doors are closed and fires are guarded. Gently open one end of the carry box and let your birds walk into their new home. If they appear anxious or do not settle, drape a cloth over three sides of the cage until they settle. Leave them to adjust to their new setting quietly for a few hours.

Care should be taken not to disturb your finches at night. Night fright can cause the birds to fly into the cage wire, so cover the cage at night.

Food and water
In the wild, finches feed on a variety of seeds, including seedling grasses and leaves of plants. Your pet finches will require a good mixture of seeds to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need – a good quality foreign finch mixture should be available from your pet shop. Check the seed dishes daily, removing any empty husks, and refill as necessary. Both the food and water pots will need washing regularly.

Millet sprays can be given as a treat as can honey bells and seed bars. Fresh thoroughly washed green-food may be given, such as chick-weed and dandelion, but be very careful not to over feed.

Your birds will also require a good supply of mineralised or oyster shell grit, which helps to digest their food. Cuttlefish bones should be supplied too as it is a source of calcium and helps to keep the beak worn down and maintain strong bones.

Bird specific vitamin supplements are available and may be added to the drinking water or mixed with fruit or vegetables.

Fresh water should always be available.

National Council for Aviculture

This information is supported by The National Council for Aviculture. For more information please visit www.nca.uk.net

The keeping of a small group of domestic hens or ducks is becoming increasingly popular. The availability of compact housing means that even the smallest of suburban gardens can be home to a couple of chickens. The owner can be rewarded with fresh eggs at breakfast time plus much enjoyment and entertainment.Ducklo

Properly cared for domestic fowl will live for several years, although maximum egg production is only likely for two or so years. Being gregarious birds, domestic fowl should be kept in small groups.

It is not necessary to have a cockerel or drake unless you intend to breed. Cockerels can be noisy and potentially cause upset to neighbours and drakes will over-mate the ducks.

General care 
Good animal husbandry and welfare is an essential part of keeping domestic fowl. This means providing suitable food and housing, which must be cleaned out regularly, and observing their behaviour to look out for signs of illness.

Respiratory infections: Your poultry house should have permanently open, but vermin-proof, ventilation at the top of the hut on two sides. This is vital to remove ammonia, which can cause respiratory problems. The birds may be sneezing and/or have snotty nostrils with foam in the eye if suffering from excess ammonia or a respiratory infection. Keep in a warm outhouse and consult with your vet.
Diarrhoea: This can be caused by an excess of green, mouldy or contaminated food, a change in diet or dirty water. Normal droppings from the caeca are a different consistency and colour, occurring about twice daily.
Mites and lice: These are parasites that feed on birds’ blood, causing itching and anaemia. Mites live in the hut during daylight hours and can be destroyed with a suitable spray. Lice live on the hen all the time and louse powder is effective against these. Diatomaceous earth used all the time in the litter will help prevent parasite build-up.
Toenails: Overgrown claws may need to be filed to the correct shape if they display excessive growth. Care must be taken if cutting claws to avoid damaging the blood vessels and nerves. Consult your vet or pet shop.
Parasitic worms: Part of their lifecycle is in insects, which are favourite chicken snacks, so poultry should be treated regularly to prevent excessive build-up. It’s important to worm hens and ducks with a licensed wormer two to three times a year.
Illness: Chickens are prey animals so hide their symptoms if they’re sick. A sick chicken will stand with its feathers ruffled and its eyes closed to conserve energy – seek veterinary attention immediately.

Choosing your poultry
You will need to think carefully about what type of fowl you want to keep, and how much space you have available. Before you decide to buy your chickens or ducks, you must first consider whether you can meet their welfare needs of correct environment, diet, behaviour, company and health.

Behaviour
Chickens love to scratch with their feet to find insects; even tiny chicks will do this. The flock keeps watch for potential aerial predators and has a special call to alert their friends. You should keep at least two chickens or ducks, as they are happier with company.

You should handle your poultry weekly to check weight and condition. Pick one hen off the perch with both hands around her wings and body, facing you. Slide one hand under her so her breast rests on your outstretched palm, her legs between your first/second and third/fourth fingers which are then clenched firmly together. Your other hand is lightly placed over her back to balance her as you lift her off the perch. Take the weight on your forearm and hold her close to your body, her head pointing towards your armpit, leaving your other hand free to inspect the bird. Do not squeeze the body as it harms the breathing.

Housingchicklo
Domestic hens and ducks can be kept in separate, simple, predator-proof wooden huts with a perch if keeping hens. The enclosure must be sufficient to allow for natural foraging behaviour and be of a suitable size so the ground does not become a quagmire, which is particularly important with ducks, who like to sieve food and mud together.

Perches and nest boxes should be sufficient for the number of hens. The floor area should be a minimum of 30 x 30cm per bird, plus 1 x 1m per bird for day-time area. Hens can be accommodated in a movable wood and mesh ark, thereby ensuring that any grassed area does not become over-used and rife with the build-up of parasites and droppings. Alternatively, more roomy permanent fenced accommodation can be provided. Fencing can be electrified in order to deter foxes but, in any case, domestic fowl should be shut in each night. Clematis, honeysuckle, berberis, pyracantha or firs can be grown on the outside of the run both for shelter and to enhance the area.

Ducks will require either a small pond, which is easy to clean, with an easy entry and exit, or a water-containing vessel large enough to submerge their heads. This is essential to allow the ducks’ behavioural and physiological need to bathe, without which feather condition and health will rapidly deteriorate.

Hen houses will need perching of 5cm width with rounded edges for the birds to roost on at night, but will not be used by domestic ducks, except for Muscovy ducks. The general floor space in the house should be covered in a reasonably deep layer of clean wood shavings and/or straw or commercial poultry dust-free bedding.

Hens will require nesting boxes – one per three to four hens – inside the hen house to lay their eggs. These should be inspected daily for removal of eggs and lined with clean straw (do not use hay due to harmful moulds). Domestic ducks will not ordinarily use such nest boxes, instead, the eggs will need to be removed from the general floor area of their house.

How often the house needs cleaning out will depend on the number of birds, the type of house and the type of bedding material used. It is important to ensure that droppings and soiled bedding are removed and replaced regularly to prevent disease. Every month a thorough clean and disinfecting of the house should be undertaken.

chicklo2Food and water
Domestic fowl need to have a regular supply of commercial, balanced feed. With sufficient space and/or changing of the position of the enclosure, domestic fowl will forage naturally for part of their dietary intake. Diet can be supplemented with additional fresh vegetable material, particularly in the winter. Please note that it is illegal to feed poultry scraps from your own kitchen, to prevent disease transference.

Grain, such as whole wheat, should also be offered: maize is useful in cold weather but can lead to feather pecking in warm weather. It is a good idea to provide whole barley or wheat for ducks in a bowl of water to avoid wild bird contamination.

Mixed grit is needed so the birds can successfully grind their food, with oyster shell grit in order to help ensure sufficient calcium levels for good egg production.

Commercially produced specialised feeders and drinkers are readily available and help keep food and water clean by not allowing poultry to defecate in it. Wild birds should be kept away from these.

Fresh water should always be available, supplied by a gravity-fed drinker and scrubbed regularly, in order to avoid algae build-up and contaminated stale water. Cider vinegar (10ml:500ml, plastic drinker only) in the water once a month helps reduce pathogens.

This leaflet has been produced with the help of Victoria Roberts BVSc MRCVS, Premier Backyard Poultry vet. If require further information please visit www.vicvet.com

2017-08-17T11:04:27+00:00July 17th, 2017|Mammals, Pet Care|