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Birds as pets

Marina Brodie of Pretoria writes

My young son wants to keep a pair of birds; I’ve never had a pet bird so I’m not sure how to care for them. Any advice?

There are many bird species that are successfully Birds do not make good pets in homes where people smoke! The passive inhalation of cigarette smoke is known to cause respiratory disease, irritation of the skin and chronic eye problems, and these predispose the birds to developing secondary bacterial infections that may prove fatal. Many common household cleaning agents release fumes with a similar effect, and care should be taken when using these products in the immediate vicinity of the bird. It’s a myth that members of the parrot family can survive on seeds alone; seeds are very high in fat and low in many nutrients. It is preferable to feed them with commercially produced pellets as they provide a better balanced diet. Supplement with fresh veggies, a little fruit as a treat, a little seed and some nuts. A small amount of pasta, cheese or wholewheat bread can also be given. This is the process of removing feathers on either one or both wings to hinder the bird’s ability to fly. This can be dangerous as it leads to a loss of control in flight, which could result in injuries of the wings or sternum of the bird during a crash landing. For this reason, some vets prefer clipping both wings to allow for better control during flight, but a lighter bird may still be able to fly. It is recommended that you speak to your vet who can recommend the most appropriate form of clipping for the type of bird that you keep. Remember that a bird’s metabolic rate is relatively high and this makes them susceptible to high temperatures. Do not place a bird’s cage near a window if the bird will not be able to escape direct sunlight. Water bottle malfunctions are common and birds wanting to bathe may empty a water bowl. This is a common cause of death in pet parrots and owners should be particularly vigilant in this regard.

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