Posted: July 10, 2013, 3:30 p.m. PDT
Keep your pet bird healthy with good nutrition and exercise.
Offer varied bird foods to your pet bird and check that she eats what you feed her. Try limiting food items to one variety per dish, for example, to monitor how strongly it tempts your pet parrot. Try incorporating the food in foraging activities. When you see what your bird goes after while trying to solve foraging puzzles, you can keep an eye on what your bird devours.
Good food leads to healthy birds. Formulated diets provide superior nutrition and optimize a bird’s physical — as well as psychological — health. Foods with high fat (seeds) and sugar (dried fruit, some table snacks) create active parrots that need a way to expend energy. Feed these in moderation; if restrained from venting excess energy, parrots can act out in frustration.
Weigh your pet bird on a regular basis. Know the ideal weight for your parrot, and monitor any gain or loss. This can alert you to the presence of subclinical disease that would otherwise go unnoticed; birds innately mask signs of illness and hide infirmities well. Notify a veterinarian if weight fluctuates greatly on either side of the norm. Weight loss undetectable by holding your bird can be noticed on a scale that weighs in grams (not ounces).
Maintain a clean cage and play area for your pet bird. The benefit is twofold. In addition to keeping a sanitary environment that prevents disease, you can monitor fecal droppings to detect any changes.
Droppings should have a firm, colored (based on food color) fecal portion with white, crystalline urate and clear liquid urine. If you see changes, unrelated to food, to any portion of the droppings, this could indicate illness. Your pet bird will most likely need the attention of an avian veterinarian, and you can get more information by consulting a health references.
Birds can demonstrate their health through appearance. Healthy birds will be fully feathered and have an erect-but-relaxed posture. Their faces will display clear eyes without swelling or secretion and clean nares. Healthy beaks are strong and not flaky. They naturally trim down with chewing. Check for any beak overgrowth, as this might indicate illness.
Healthy birds stay balanced. They keep their wings at equal heights and close to their bodies, and balance equally on both feet. Feathers should appear smooth, clean and only fluffed when preening or petting occurs. An unbalanced bird that holds its wings out or at different heights, a perpetually fluffed bird or a bird with over-preened, possibly picked, feathers should be examined by an avian veterinarian.
Regular exercise is key for the health of birds and people alike. Pet parrot owners should work out their birds at least 20 minutes a day.
Flight is a simple, natural way for your birds to exercise. Train your bird to fly to you on command. The training session and trick itself both make for excellent exercise opportunities.
Birds with trimmed wing feathers can still feel the thrill and benefits of flight with a quick simulation. Let your parrot perch on your hand, and gently move your hand up and down, increasing speed gradually until your bird begins to flap its wings. Stay at this speed for a minute or two, and repeat after a short rest.