It is very desirable to have a tame, affectionate and interactive bird as a family pet. Small birds such as finches and canaries may prove very difficult to befriend. Larger birds such as budgies, cockatiels and cockatoos are more willing and while your patience may be strained and bites sustained, the reward is great. The ultimate goal is to earn the bird’s trust and respect.
Choosing a bird
When selecting a bird, try to choose a young one as it will be easier to tame and train. Older, wild or colony birds are difficult to tame. Hand raised babies make better pets as they have been completely socialised with humans.
Handling for 15-20 minutes twice daily in a relaxed way will encourage the trust of your new pet. Don’t alarm it with sudden noises or movements.
Encouraging the bird to accept the close presence of your hand may be accomplished with food rewards. Move slowly and quietly and if it reaches forward to bite, keep your fingers still and try not to pull away. Never hit a bird as discipline as they don’t respond to this.
Budgies, cockatiels, cockatoos, Galahs, African parrots and Macaws all talk or mimic sounds. Some are better talkers than others and may develop an extensive vocabulary. The bird is mimicking what it hears and generally repeats sounds it hears frequently. Generally males are better talkers but female birds are able to talk as well.
Transporting Your Bird
At some time it will be necessary to transport your bird. In general birds are great travellers. Most tolerate cars and aeroplanes very well and some become quite excited by travelling. Plan ahead to ensure a safe enjoyable trip.
When travelling by car all birds may be transported in a cage. It is not safe for you to let your bird free in the car. Special pet carriers are available from good bird supply stores. These carriers are usually robust, well ventilated, safe and secure for your bird. Small birds may be placed in small boxes with airholes for short trips but remember that budgies and cockatiels can eat their way through cardboard easily. Remove toys and swing to prevent accidental injuries during the trip. Never leave your bird in a hot car– they suffer from heatstroke very easily.
When travelling by plane, it is up to the airline company to specify the type and size of the carrier required. Food and water should be available. It is also wise to allow a couple of hours extra to trip length for embarking and disembarking from the plane.
Travelling out of Australia for birds is subject to many regulations both here in Australia and also at the destination. It is wise to investigate all of this well before the travel date.
Bathing and Nail Trims
Bathing is very important to maintaining feathers. All birds bathe and it encourages preening and grooming to keep feathers free of dirt and parasites.Further details can be found here
Wing clipping is performed to prevent sustained flight. Further details can be found here.
Hints for caring for your pet bird
- Handle your bird every day with gentle smooth actions to encourage its trust.
- Repeat words and noises frequently to encourage mimicking, and don’t lose patience.
- Watch for changes in behaviour or appearance which may indicate ill health.
- Provide a good diet and toys for distraction.
- Never leave a bird flying in a house unattended.
- Consult your veterinarian about wing clipping and nail and beak trimming
- Above all play and enjoy your pet to the maximum.
Household dangers for your pet bird
Birds are naturally mischievous, and will get into many predicaments if allowed. It is crucial that if your pet bird flies free within your house that the house be “bird proof.” To find out what dangers your house may have click here.