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3 Tips To Make Your Adopted Bird Feel Right At Home

When you bring your adopted bird home, make sure she is happy with her cage location, bird toys and bird treats, so she can adjust happily.

Laura Doering

Green-winged macaw

Most adoption organizations offer some basic background information on the bird you are fostering and/or adopting: e.g., how many homes the bird has previously been in; why the bird is in need of a new home (the bird was found, the previous owner died or could no longer adequately care for the bird, or the bird was given up because of behavior issues); as well as any known health issues or behavior issues. The group might even be able to note if the bird is comfortable being around other birds/pets or children.

However, once the bird is in your home, it’s up to you to do some sleuthing to determine your new bird’s likes and dislikes so you can make your bird feel at home in your home. Here are some areas to pay close attention to:

1) Cage Location
After quarantine, where you initially place your new bird’s cage might make sense to you, but it might not work for your bird. If your newcomer appears timid, offer an area of your home that allows it some privacy, such as placing the cage up against a wall so the back part is obstructed, or by covering a side of the cage.

Don’t place the cage in a high-traffic area of the home (at least initially) so as to allow your new bird time to adjust to your family’s schedule. Conversely, if your new bird jumps up and clings to the cage bars nearest you whenever you walk past it, the bird might be content being more in the thick of things such as in the living room.

Good Location: The bird appears relaxed in its cage, fluffs and preens its feathers, vocalizes intermittently but not excessively.

Bad Location: The bird appears tense (feathers sleeked back), startles at most sounds or movements within the home; does an alarm call when people enter or exit the room it’s housed in.

2) Bird Toy Type
Welcome your new bird into your family with a gift of bird toys to play with. Birds can have distinguishing tastes when it comes to toys; one bird’s destroy toy is another’s ignore toy. The only way to know for sure is by offering a variety, and seeing which types your bird gravitates toward. Try some of the basics: destroy toys (those made of paper, cardboard, wood); sound toys (made of hard plastic or bells); chew toys (made of leather strips or soft wood or plastic); puzzle toys (those that your bird can manipulate). Make sure the toys you offer are size-appropriate and bird-safe.

Good Bird Toy: The bird chews up the toy or you hear it jingling or banging the toy.

Bad Bird Toy: The bird ignores the toy or appears fearful of it. Don’t give up on a toy if your bird ignores it on the first go. Move the toy to a different location in the cage or near a perch, and see if your bird goes for it. If your bird seems afraid of a new toy, place the toy near the cage but not in it so your bird has time to adjust to the toy’s presence.

3) Favorite Treats
Your established flock might savor an almond snack, but that doesn’t mean your newcomer will. Take the time to offer a variety of healthy treats, and make note of the ones your newbie takes a liking to.

Good Treat: The bird immediately hops to its treat bowl as soon as the treat is dropped or the bird isn’t shy about taking the treat from your hand.
Bad Treat: The bird ignores the treat or quickly drops it to the floor after taking it in its foot or beak. Keep a daily diary of the food items you offer and the bird’s interest in them. Rank the food on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being best) based on whether the bird ignores the food, tries it but then drops it or devours it. Use the power of the flock as an influencer. It might take a few trial rejections, but some birds will try a new food simply because those around it eat it.

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Posted: September 24, 2013, 4:30 p.m. PDT

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3 Tips To Make Your Adopted Bird Feel Right At Home

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Reader Comments
My GW macaw never had a toy, perch, grate on the floor of his old cage. In quarantine at my home, his new cage looked like a nursery school with different types of toys, perches, seed grate, etc. I had a soft radio in the room when I wasn't there and also slept in the room too. I wanted to be the last person he saw before he slept and the first when he awoke. He had been so traumatized that it took me 3 months before I could actually touch him. Now we are soul mates! He is the best bird and we adore each other.
Donna, St. Louis, MO
Posted: 10/4/2013 3:24:11 AM
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