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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!

Saturday, July 03 2010

Be sure to keep your animals cool during the brutal days of summer. Hot summer days are hard for both humans and animals. Air conditioned environments help tremendously, of course. But what can you do to help alleviate the danger of hot temperatures if your air conditioning fails or if you can’t provide cool temperatures for your birds and other critters?

For your indoor birds, you have a few options:

  • Ice cubes in the water. Quick easy way to give your bird access to something cool.
  • Feed some frozen veggies. You can run a bag of organic frozen veggies under hot water for a minutes or less to slightly thaw and then place in your bird’s cage. A great treat, easy to make, and will help beat the heat.
  • Save your empty 2-liter pop bottles. Fill with water and store in the freezer. If you need heat relief in a pinch, put the bottles in front of a fan. The fan will blow cold air off the bottle and help cool the area down.
  • Spray your bird with cool water. Tried and true method and quick fix for a hot day.

For birds located outside in aviaries or cages:

  • Make sure the birds have protection from the direct sun. Fixing a tarp over the top of the cage/aviary will help warn off direct rays.
  • Make sure the birds have plenty of access to water, and add some ice cubes throughout the day to keep the water temperature as cool as possible.
  • If your bird is in an outdoor cage try to keep the cage off concrete. Concrete reflects heat back and can really contribute to the heat factor in an immediate area.
  • Use common sense … and monitor your birds during the day to be sure they are not over-heated and suffering undue stress.

Never attempt to apply sun block to your bird. If you are worried about how your bird takes the heat don’t push the limits. Birds can adapt to heat better than they can handle cold, but heat can still kill. If your heat wave is extreme and you are without a way of cooling your house or outside environment, consider taking your birds on a trip to a friend’s house, perhaps a local pet store, or someplace that you and your pets can safely escape the hot temperature.

Posted by: Emily AT 10:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, February 03 2010
Lately there has been some debate going on whether or not parrots need of grit. This is a common question of concern to bird owners, as well as a source of disagreement. Understanding what grit is, the purpose, and the possible problems that could result from its use, can help you make an educated decision on whether or not to offer it to your bird.
The Purpose of Grit
“Grit is used by birds to aid in digestion of seeds” is a comment heard repeatedly in both outdated parrot care books or other related texts. What this comment fails to convey is that grit is used by birds to aid in the digestion of whole, intact seeds. Birds digestive enzymes work amazingly well in digesting the inner portion of the seeds, but can have difficulty in breaking down the hull (which is the fibrous outer coating). Grit, in the avian ventriculus, aids in grinding and wearing away the outer shell of the seeds enabling the digestive enzymes to reach the nutrients within the inner portion of the seed.
What Exactly Is Grit?
The term grit is often loosely used and not entirely explained. There are two groups of substances that go by the name of grit -- soluble and insoluble. Insoluble grit is the type that is being discussed here.  It is composed of minute substances such as sandstone and other minerals often found in dirt and clays. Insoluble grit cannot be digested and will remain in the body until expelled.
Soluble grit is organic and can include crushed shells ... often oyster shells or cuttlebone. Since soluble grit is mostly calcium carbonate it is easily digested by the acids found in the proventriculus and poses little danger of accumulating in the digestive system. However, while soluble grit can offer an alternative source of calcium it does little in actually aiding the digestion of seeds.
Do Birds Really Require Grit?
In the United States, the general consensus seems to be "no". The purpose of grit is to remove the outer coatings of whole seeds, so it seems reasonable to assume that only birds which consume seeds intact, such as doves, require grit in their diet. Birds such as parrots, and even finches and canaries, hull their seeds therefore not needing the extra aid that grit would provide. In fact, some species of parrots have ridges on the inside portion of their upper beak that is believed to aid in the shelling of seeds. The seed is held in place by the ridges, while the lower beak is used to crack and remove the hull. Birds on a pelleted diet should not require grit either. In the US, the use of grit is generally discouraged, especially if offered freely, which may lead to obstructive gastritis. Although in Australia, grit is commonly given to pet birds with few problems being reported. At the time this article was written there is no explanation for these interesting geographical differences.
Potential Problems
If given freely some birds may over-consume grit products leading to a possibility of impaction. It is also recommended to check the contents of any commercially-made grit mixtures as some may contain charcoal. Charcoal can affect the absorption of vitamins resulting in deficiencies.
In conclusion, the benefit of grit for parrots and softbills has not been positively demonstrated. Potential risks have been observed, as well as potential health benefits. If offered at all, we recommend offering it in moderation.
Posted by: Emily AT 09:21 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 28 2009

The holiday season is a time for travel and for pet owners that can be especially stressful.  Finding kennels for cats and dogs is relatively easy, but how about one that specializes in birds?  One that will recognize the importance of the seemingly small details that are so critical to good bird care? Thinking about it is enough to make you pull your hair out!  Not to fret, while it can be a seemingly overwhelming burden ... there is hope. There are many options to choose from.  There are several in-house pet sitting services that have avian knowledge.  Also, boarding is available at a facility set up specifically for avians, at your vets, or you can even entrust your bird to a dependable friend while on holiday.

If you are transporting your bird to a boarding facility you be sure you can do so safely with a travel carrier appropriate for your bird.

When hiring a professional pet sitting service to come into your home and care for your animals, consider a few things.

  • Is the business professional and licensed
  • Is the business professional and bonded, and/or insured?
  • What prior experience with avians does the caretaker have?

Getting recommendations from other bird owners is a good way to start the search for a professional sitter. You can also use online resources such as the website for the National Associate of Petsitters located at to find a petsitter in your area that meets your requirements.  Many sitters also arrange a pre-meeting so they can come to your house and meet with you.  That way you can review how they interact with your animals and is highly recommended.  If you hire through an agency, make sure the agency is in good standing with your local and state agencies. Be sure you get a signed contract of services rendered, and that it explains clearly what liability the company/agency will take if unexpected accidents happen in your absence.

For whatever venue you choose to board your bird while you are away, be sure to ask the caretaker of the bird questions such as those listed below to ensure the health and happiness of your pets:

  • What type of training do you have?
  • Do you have previous experience caring for exotics & avians?
  • How many other pet sitting obligations will the sitter have during the period they will have your pet(s) under their care?
  • Can the employee provide references?
  • What precautions will the sitter take to prevent the transmission of diseases?
  • How many times a day will they come to your home, and how much time will they spent at each visit?
  • Will they interact with the bird, clean the cage, etc.
  • What is the cost of each service?
  • Are they willing to cook food for your bird or will all supplies have to be prepared in advance?

You want to also touch base with the employee and find out how knowedgeable they are about your species of bird(s).  If they have general knowledge, it may be a good idea to send home some literature about your birds.  That way you ensure they will will know the differences in species and the particular care each species may require.  A lesson on how to properly handle the bird would be important as well.  Be sure to leave a large flyer in an easy to locate place, i.e. the fridge for instance, detailing the emergency contact numbers, your number, alternate number, and avian vet number in case of emergency.

Good luck in your search for the ideal pet sitter.  While the search may be harder then expected, the reward of leaving with peace of mind that your pet is safe will make your vacation all the better.  Happy travels!

Posted by: Emily AT 01:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, December 03 2009

During the holidays there are many new and exciting things we use to decorate around the house that can be as dangerous to your avian friend as they are pretty.  We want your holidays to be fun and safe, so we are addressing the common holiday household dangers for 2009.                                                       

Christmas holly

Among the most common decorations for the winter season is mistletoe.  This often seen holiday plant that harbors such a fairy tale legend also has a dark side.  Mistletoe is part of the Viscaceae family, and the form commonly seen in North America is a hybrid plant of both English and European varieties.  Mistletoe is famous for bearing it’s fruit in the winter months making it a popular decoration during the Christmas season.  The red berries that are such a trademark of mistletoe are toxic to our avian friends, as are holly berries.  Another favorite holiday plant, the Poinsetta, can cause GI tract irritation if ingested.

Other holiday decorations such as tinsel, angel hair, and other common Christmas tree adornments are made of plastic.  They should be kept out of reach of your bird(s) at all times, as they are made of plastic and could become impacted in the crop of accidentally ingested.  Your favorite holiday scents can be dangerous to your birds, too.  Burning candles should used with diligence, and birds should always be kept in the cage if a candle is lit.  Candles, which have a bad reputation for lead in the wick are safer now due to new regulations.  More bird owners are beginning to use them again.  If you do use a candle, use one that is made out of a natural material such as soy or beeswax and is not heavily scented.  Remember, our feathered friends have a respiratory system different than ours.  Because of the way the air they breathe travels into their system any scent can be especially irritating.

Remember as you invite guests into your home this holiday season to keep tempting foodstuffs away from your avian companion. Alcoholic beverages, avocado, coffee, and salted foods should not be given to your bird under any circumstances.

Of course, with all these cautions, it doesn’t mean that your feathered friend can’t participate in the festivities of the holiday!  Buying a festive bird safe toy to adorn the cage is a safe and fun way to celebrate and keep your companion happy and entertained.  Many pet owners also have gotten into the spirit by choosing holiday themed toys for their avian companions.  For added fun, wrap the ‘gift’ in a piece of newspaper and place in the bird’s cage. Watch the bird unravel the present with delight!

Posted by: Emily AT 08:16 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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
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