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Hanford, CA 93230

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Hanford Veterinary Hospital Blog

The Principles of Pet Bird Care

pet bird careThere’s no doubt that pet birds can make a wonderful addition to a home and family. Curious, alert, and intelligent, birds are truly a delight to observe and interact with. Proper pet bird care, while simple, is absolutely critical to the continuing physical and mental health of our avian friends.

Follow our tips to enjoy a long and rewarding relationship with your feathered BFF.

Pet Bird Care 101

Making sure you have the right supplies is an important first step in pet bird care:

  • Cage – The cage should be large enough to provide your bird(s) with room to stretch their wings and fly. Cages should be made of nontoxic metal or other hard substances that cannot be bent or destroyed by your bird.
  • Bedding/lining – Use black and white newspapers, brown paper, or paper towels.
  • Perches – Choose a variety of perches placed at different levels within the cage.
  • Toys – Mirrors, safe chew items, and other bird-friendly toys are crucial for keeping your pet bird busy and entertained.
  • Food and water dishes – Dishes should be attached to the cage, but positioned away from perches to avoid contamination by droppings.

Living Conditions

Your bird is part of your family, and the positioning of the cage should reflect that. Make sure it is in a main area of the home, where bird and humans can see and interact with each other often throughout the day.

For ideal hygiene, cage floors, lining, and food/water bowls should be cleaned daily. A thorough cage cleaning should be done weekly.


Pet birds need a balanced diet consisting of food from all major food groups. Commercially formulated pellets made for pet birds, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other, carefully selected low-fat people foods, will provide most birds with the vitamins and minerals they need.


Birds tend to take care of their own grooming, and many enjoy bathing with running or standing water. Talk with your veterinarian regarding periodic wing and nail clipping.


Birds are extremely sensitive to toxins and fumes in their environment, and should be protected from them. Make sure your bird does not come into contact with fumes from the following:

  • Overheated teflon cookware
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Lead-based paint fumes
  • Insecticides
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Scented candles or incense
  • Certain houseplants

Watching for Signs of Illness

Not only are birds hardwired to hide signs of illness and injury, they have a reduced ability to survive certain infections and illnesses, as compared to larger pets like dogs or cats. Observing your bird closely to get a good idea of their normal behaviors and appearances will help you catch signs of trouble early on, such as:

  • A change in behavior (loss of interest in toys or people, reduced appetite, excessive sleeping, sneezing)
  • A change in appearance (ruffled feathers, discharge around the eyes or nostrils, labored breathing, cloudy eyes)
  • A change in droppings (discolored, tinges of blood present)

Birds, like all pets, should see their veterinarian yearly, or more frequently, for a wellness exam. If you have any questions regarding pet bird care, don’t hesitate to contact your friendly team at Hanford Veterinary Hospital.

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