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 Bird Cage Portal's PET BIRD BUZZ Blog - About Pet Birds and Pet Bird Supplies
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A blog dedicated to the companion birds in your life!

Pet Bird BUZZ shares our thoughts and experiences of living with pet birds for over 25 years, along with comments about bird cages, bird supplies and accessories offered at BIRD CAGE PORTAL.  Pet Bird BUZZ is all about having a great relationship with pet birds and providing them with the best envirnoment and a great life!

Monday, November 30 2009

As winter weather approaches we get a lot of questions regarding keeping your bird warm. How to do it safely?  What’s the ideal temperature for your pet parrot?  Can I use a space heater?  We want to address all these concerns and more.

Feral Rose-ringed Parakeet in winter 

Hardy species of parrots have been known to
survive in frigid conditions

As soon as the temperature starts dropping my heat bill starts going up.  When the heat bill goes up, I add an extra layer of clothing and turn the thermostat down to save some money on the heat bill.  But what about the animals?  My cats have thick fur coats, they’ll be ok.  But parrot feathers don’t seem exactly warm, do they?  Well, they probably are reasonably warm, but may not be warm enough for easy adjustment to quickly falling temps.  Since I have Caiques and other South American species, I looked up the average temperature for their natural region.  I found that the weather the wild birds acclimate to is 55 – 64 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since my birds are indoor pets I don’t have to worry about dropping the temperature down that low.  I keep my thermostat at about 68 degrees during the day and drop it down another notch at night.  I do cover my birds at night in the winter months to help with added warmth and keep off any air that may be blowing on them  when the heater kicks on.

If you still don’t feel comfortable with your bird at cooler temperatures there are other alternatives.  Heated perches are very popular.  They are fitted so that the cord stays outside of the cage, and the perch heats up slightly to provide a warm place for your bird to roost.  If you have a bird that likes to chew and destroy his perches, I would be wary of putting one in the cage.  I know of other owners that purchase the ceramic heat emitters that are found in the reptile section of your petstore and use those at night for their birds.  The heat emitter does not emit light, only heat, making it ideal for night use.  If you do choose to get a heat emitter make sure that you buy the appropriate outfit for it.  You’ll want to get a holder that has a ceramic base to screw the bulb in.  Otherwise you run a risk of fire as the heat emitter can get too hot to use in regular sockets.

If your bird is a snuggler you can also hang a cozy tent in its cage.  Cuddling up to the warm fleece at night will help keep your parrot warm during the cold months.

Owners that keep their birds outdoors report the animals acclimating quickly to the outdoor temperatures. Aviary owners make sure their birds have an indoor area to get away from the elements, as well as an outdoor flight for the birds to frolic.  I’ve seen many pictures of cockatoos at the rescue Mollywood in Washington choosing to romp outdoors in the snow of their flights in the winter season.  Birds can acclimate much easier to cold weather then they can to hot weather. If allowed to acclimate, it is reported that they do extremely well in cooler temperatures.  Your pet is hardier then you may think!  But be careful of truly frigid weather, especially if the temps drop quickly ... birds need time to acclimate and definitely need added protection against wind and rain. 

Often times the subject of supplemental heat in the home, mainly spaceheaters, comes up as soon as the weather gets chilly.  Bird owners trying to save money on heat always question the safety of heaters.  Some well known brands of heaters can have teflon (PTFE) on them, so buying a safe heater can be a bit tricky if you don’t know the right questions to ask.  From my experience, some options that are safe include the Optimus rotating oscillating heat fan, which the manufactuerers ensure has no PTFE on it.  Some brands of ceramic heaters are said to be safe as well.  Among bird owners the favorites are the ‘radiator’ type of heaters that have oil components and no teflon.

Here is a good way for your small to medium size birds to enjoy some winter sun … a Wingdow Seat! These creative, durable molded plastic window perches attach to almost any window with industrial strength suction cups.  They not only provide your bird entertainment but will protect him from chilly winter drafts while he enjoys viewing outside activity.

Winter doesn’t have to be a stressful time, so kick back and relax!  Be vigilant, and you and your feathered friends will get through another cold season comfortably warm and stress free.

Posted by: Emily AT 10:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 17 2009

This question always seems to pop up when bird enthusiasts just get started in the care and keeping of their feathered friends.  What cage liner is best to use?  What is the cheapest method, and which is the safest?  There are so many products (some misleading) that it can certainly lead you in obscure, not to mention potentially hazardous, directions.  Let’s separate fact from fiction.

When first deciding what sort of liner to use consider your cage.  Is the tray an odd shape?  Does your cage have a grate to prevent your bird from tracking around the bottom?  Can the bird reach the bottom with the gratein place?  The answers to these questions will help determine which sort of liner is best suited for your situation.  You want to pick a liner that can be easily examined, as a change in your birds droppings can be an indicator of illness.  You want to choose a product that will make it easy to see the consistency, color, shape, and number of droppings. You also want a liner that will be easy to maintain and will not allow droppings, water, or other messy substances to permeate and cause potential mold issues.

Common Beddings on the Market Today Include:

Corn Cob Bedding while often marketed for pets and birds in particular, this product can cause more hazard then harm.  Because it is so absorbent it can easily mold.  The dust produced from the corn cob also has the potential to create respiratory issues in sensitive birds.  If your bird has any access to his cage bottom at all, corn cob can pose a hazard if your bird accidentally ingests any of it.

Walnut Shells are another bedding type that is easy to come by, and at one time or another has been recommended as OK for birds.  Walnut shells when eaten can irritate and inflame organs, causing discomfort, or even internal damage. Walnut shells are not recommended for avians.

Cedar Shavings can contain ingredients and natural oils that are toxic to birds.  Their strong aroma can cause respiratory discomfort which can lead to allergic symptoms and irritation of the digestive track.  Also, any sort of wood  shavings are not ideal for ‘broody’ or ‘nesty’ female birds.

Pine Shavings unlike cedar are not toxic and are quite often used as nesting material for birds. We suggest using pine shavings for nesting material, but not as a bedding for the cage bottom.  Shavings can increase hormonal behavior in female parrots especially if they have access to the shavings.  If shavings are eaten crop impaction is another concern. If your bird is a bather, shavings are not recommended as they can easily harvest mold when wet.

Kitty Litter. I’ve heard of few owners using kitty litter in the bottom of the birds cage. The dust factor that is associated with litter alone makes using kitty litter a hugenegative  issue.  Clumping litter contains ingredients to make the litter swell,  sometimes to ten times its normal size.  So if ingested it poses a huge health hazard to your bird.

Paper Products are seemingly the all around winner when it comes to cage liners.  Easy to come by …  I’ve heard of owners getting their paper from neighbors, buying end rolls from their local newspaper, and everything in between!  Newspaper is probably the most commonly used cage liner.  In the US all newspapers use a soy based ink which is safe for your bird in case it has access to the bottom of his cage.  Actually soy based ink is said to have antibacterial properties, so it’s a healthy way to line your cage and ward off unwanted bacteria.  It also has a slim risk for molding and is easy to clean.

Cage Catchers pet bird cage liners
Cage Catchers

Cage Catchers and KageLiners are two bird-safe alternatives currently available that have recently been getting a lot of praise. Cage Catchers is a brand name for a paper that is lightly waxed on one side which makes it better that newspaper since the waxed surface deters moisture absorption. This not only is healthier for your bird but helps protect cage trays from excessive moisture which often leads to metal tray damage.  Cage Catchers come in many sizes and can even be custom cut to your specifications.  A wallet-friendly alternative to paper, they make cleaning your cage easy and pain free.  Cage Catchers, like paper, harbor little possibility for mold and give little opportunity for unwanted bacteria to fester.

Other beneficial products to consider are:  Neater Tweeter Mess Magnet, Luv My Birdie Litter.

Whatever you decide to use please make sure what you use is safe for your bird.  We’ve heard owners using just about everything in their cages — from paper towels to aluminum foil (a big no!), even including fleece that is swapped out and washed daily.  Whatever fits your cage, your budget, and your bird is what will be best for you!  We recommend contacting your local newspaper to see if you can strike a bargain for their recyclables, or even the end rolls.  If that isn’t possible, don’t forget the Cage Catchers … they are an ideal choice!

If you are looking to cut down on bird debris and mess, we also recommend checking out this great line of seed catchers, excellent products for small bird table-top cages.

Posted by: Emily AT 01:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 09 2009

A travel carrier is an essential accessory for a bird owner.  Whether it be for car trips, road trips or traveling by plane, your bird will need a comfortable and safe way to travel with you.  Travel carriers do not need to be as big as your bird’s regular cage, but should be large enough for the bird to fit comfortably and move around a bit. Keep in mind the duration your bird will be in the carrier — for a shorter day trip, a smaller carrier is fine.  For a longer trip the bird will spend one or more days in, a larger carrier is recommended.  An ideal carrier for up to a week’s travel time for small to medium-size birds is the Poquito Avian Hotel.

Avian Adventures Poquito Avian Hotel pet bird travel carrier
Poquito  Avian Hotel

Types of Carriers

Depending on what type of travel you plan, there are many types of carriers available for your use. Airline approved carriers are a must for flight. Commonly used carriers include cat and dog carriers, modified to hold a perch and food dishes.  There are bird specific carriers available including collapsible wire carriers with grates and locking trays, heavy duty stainless steel carriers available for those with big beaks, highly durable easy-to-carry aluminum carriers, and even acrylic or polycarbonate carriers.  For short trips hand held carriers that have a mesh front may be ideal and are suitable for smaller birds that aren’t apt to chew.  Whatever your desire, there is a model available that will suit you and your bird.  I personally chose a wire knockdown model that allows the carrier to be stored easily when not in use.  A great space saver!

Setting up the Travel Carrier

Choose a perch that will provide firm footing for your bird.  Stay away from slick woods like manzanita and choose perches such as rope.  I recommend perches like grapevine, cholla, or rope that will allow your bird to have a good grip.  A perch should be installed toward the front of the carrier to accomodate the birds tail.  Also in case of a sudden stop the bird will not be thrown forward, but will be able to lean forward and grab the front of the carrier.  When choosing a toy for the carrier select one made out of soft material, and  preferably mount it on the side of the carrier so the toy does not move when the vehicle is in motion.

Getting Ready to Go

Your bird should be comfortable and used to his carrier before any long trip.  Putting his favorite toy and treats in the carrier will help put him at ease.  Once he is used to his carrier it is advisable to take the bird on several short trips prior to the real trip.  This will let you see how the bird reacts to the carrier and also to the trip.  It is not uncommon for some parrots to experience car sickness, like my greencheek conure. If your bird does exhibit car sickness there are several things you can do to help ease the effects including:  covering the carrier, trying the carrier in both the back and front seats of the car(safely buckled in), and if all else fails offering shredded ginger root prior to the trip can help ease any stomach upset.

Be sure to always secure your bird’s carrier with a seatbelt or other device.  Like little children, a bird in a front seat could be vulnerable to injury if there was an accident and air bags were deployed.

Also be sure to bring adequate food and water for your feathered companion. It is recommended that providing juicy fruit or an ice cube will replace water on a short journey, as the bird will still recieve necesarry liquids without worry of water spilling.  On extended travels your bird will need out of cage time, so a portable playgym or T-stand is recommended.  There are several models available that break down making it easy for you to carry.

Before vacation day, it is recommended that you make sure your bird has been properly groomed.  While some articles say that your bird requires a health certificate before any travel, this is largely untrue.  If you are driving with your pet you will not need to provide proof of health inside the US.  If you are flying or traveling by other means it is required that you have a recent (within 30 day) health certificate for all animals.  If your bird is fully flighted, a harness for the journey is necessary to ensure your bird will not escape.  I personally chose to clip all my birds prior to travel, as I want to be able to grab them quickly without worrying about putting on a harness in an emergency.

Always keep safety in mind while traveling.  Keep your bird in the carrier while the vehicle is in motion.  Climate and altitude changes can affect your pet  so be sure to have weather conditions checked ahead of time.  It is best to avoid crowds and never let your bird out of your sight.  It is also advised to reserve your hotel ahead of time, so that you can be sure the place you rest is pet friendly.  I found that Drury Suites Hotels were very accomodating and pet friendly.

It is also recommended that you bring along emergency contact numbers of both pet sitters and your avian vet.  Carry your avian first aid kit, in case of an accident.  Documents such as proof of ownership, breeders name/address, medical records, and a recent photo of your bird is recommended.  Some owners have taken a further step and also microchipped their avian companions.  If you have done this be sure to have the chip’s information in a safe place, and take it on your travels.  The chance that you will need all this documentation and information is slim; however, the information would prove invaluable in case of an emergency.

Posted by: Emily AT 01:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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