In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka speaks about taking care of birds with special mention on the precautions to be taken for Budgerigars
By Maneka Gandhi
What are some precautions that should be necessarily taken for Budgerigars?
• Don’t allow perches and gravel sheets to become heavily soiled with dropping. Your bird will be healthier in a regularly cleaned home. Change gravel sheets and wash the base of the cage every 2 or 3 days. Clean the cage and its contents, including toys, regularly with a suitable disinfectant solution that is thoroughly rinsed afterwards. Don’t locate food, grit or water, below perches where they may become contaminated with droppings. Choose a cage where feeders are attached to the cage sides above the floor.
• Don’t place the cage in a window which receives direct sunlight, or the bird may suffer heatstroke.
• Don’t clutter the cage with too many toys restricting the bird’s movement — provide just one or two items at a time and change them occasionally to keep him interested. Never attach toys with string or cotton, use sturdy clips or hooks.
• Don’t place the cage too close to TV sets or hi-fi speakers; loud noises will stress the bird.
• Don’t give your pet alcohol — booze is strictly NOT for the birds! Neither are tobacco products, candy, chocolate and avocado. Tropical birds do not possess a special digestive enzyme to cope with certain elements in these foods, which may prove toxic in some cases.
• Don’t allow any bird to take food from your mouth; some bird diseases can be passed on to you (and vice versa).
Should I cover the cage of my Budgerigars bird?
Birds need fresh air all night. (This is particularly true of the macaw species which are prone to respiratory issues.)
Use single layer, lightweight, breathable fabric. A cotton blend like broadcloth or just bed sheets. Birds sleep as well under light coloured fabric as they do under dark colours. Only cover three sides of the large cages or take extra measures to provide for ventilation when covering all sides (see covering tips below).
• Pull the cage away from the wall at night about 6 inches. This allows for extra air flow.
• Keep the cage cover clean and dust free.
• DO NOT expect your cage to cover to eliminate the sound of conversation or the TV. Birds require a minimum of 8 hours of undisturbed sleep each night. Do not put the TV on the whole night.
• DO NOT cover your bird as punishment or to stop them from screaming. This practice does not correct behaviour problems. It might make life temporarily easier for YOU, but it makes life worse for your bird. Punishment does not work on birds.
• DO NOT leave your bird covered so that you can avoid interacting with him. Your bird’s cage cover should ONLY be used during sleeping hours. A cage cover is not a light switch that turns your relationship with your bird off and on at your convenience.
• When making your decision as to whether to cover or not, always take into account that cage covers are made up of fabric which is made up of individual threads. Some birds like to play with fabric and break it down and pull it apart. This leaves fibres that can entwine themselves around body parts. There are also birds who ingest these fibres which can become impacted in their digestive system.
How would I know that my bird is sick?
A healthy Budgie is alert to his surroundings, stays upright most of the time, and is active. If your bird starts acting sick, see a veterinarian. Some signs of a sick bird include: • Deformed, receding, or ulcerated beak; • Difficulty in breathing; • Stains around the eyes or nostrils; • Change in appearance or texture of stools; • Weight loss or loss of appetite; • Swollen eyes or eyelids; • Feather problems including chewing, plucking, or thinning; • Bowed head, lethargy, being overly quiet.
My bird broke a blood feather. How can I relieve it of its pain?
A blood feather is a new feather which needs a large blood supply. So, if it breaks then the bird can lose a lot of blood. A broken blood feather can be an emergency for a pet bird. A broken blood feather that remains in a bird’s skin essentially acts as an open faucet, allowing blood to pour out of the bird’s body. Because birds cannot tolerate much blood loss, broken blood feathers, that are left untreated, can be fatal.
If you are able to identify a broken blood feather, the feather shaft must be removed from the bird’s skin to stop the bleeding. To remove the broken blood feather, the first thing to do is to wrap the bird in a towel. This will not only allow you to restrain your pet safely as you work to remove the feather, it will also reduce the amount of stress to your bird as a result of the procedure.
Once your bird is restrained, locate the broken blood feather. Using tweezers, grasp the blood feather firmly at the base of the shaft, close to the bird’s skin. Working as quickly as possible, pull on the base of the feather until the shaft is freed from the feather follicle.
After you have plucked the blood feather, place a pinch of corn-starch on the affected area to help aid clotting, and use a piece of sterile gauze to apply pressure to the feather follicle until the bleeding has stopped. A new blood feather should start to grow to replace the one that had to be pulled. It’s a good idea to schedule a visit with an avian vet as soon as possible after removing a broken blood feather, just to make sure that there are no complications and your bird is recovering successfully.
What is the difference between a budgerigar and a love bird?
Lovebirds are tubby-looking birds, with short tails. While lovebirds are available in a number of colour combinations the most common example is the peach-faced lovebird. This green lovebird, with a red or orange face, may also be found in a yellow colour. Lovebirds most commonly make just one sound — a raucous and ear-piercing screech. Lovebirds can be surprisingly aggressive towards other creatures. For example, aviary-owners soon learn not to keep lovebirds with smaller, or more docile, species such as budgies or finches.
Budgerigars are slighter, with a noticeably longer tail. They’re also available in a far wider range of different colours, from blues and greens to yellows and whites. Budgies have two core sounds which they produce. The first is a gentle rolling “babble” which they make while communicating with you or one another. It is a soothing and pleasant chirp. They can produce a harsher call when scared or surprised. Budgies tend to positively thrive on relationships with other bird species.
What food do budgerigars eat?
Budgies are vulnerable to obesity, iodine deficiencies, and other nutrition-related problems. A well-balanced and varied diet must always be maintained for these birds to stay healthy. Because seeds are nutritionally incomplete, lacking vitamins, minerals, and protein, they should only be a very small part of a budgie’s diet and should never be the entire diet. If you gradually offer your bird fewer seeds, replacing them with healthier options, such as fortified pellets and a limited amount of fresh table food, your bird will eventually start eating more of other properly balanced diets.
Fruits, vegetables, and greens should account for no more than 20 – 25% of the daily diet. Pale vegetables, with a high water composition (example: Iceberg or head lettuce and celery) offer very little nutritional value.