Budgies by Gina Cioli/BowTie/Courtesy Nick Morris
After its first molt, it can be difficult to tell the age of a pet bird.
There are a lot of estimates about the longevity of our small pet birds. Once a small pet bird is past its first molt, it’s difficult to tell whether the bird is 1 year old or 10. As a pet bird ages, there are a few clues that it is in its declining years.
Older pet birds can develop filmy cataracts. They may lose muscle tone and weight. Their physical activity becomes less exuberant, and they may have joint pain. Their feet and beak appear less smooth and more scaly-looking. If a pet bird has joint problems, it may spend more time on the bottom of the cage, or it might rest against food cups. Senior pet birds spend more of the day sleeping. Some birds develop tumors and have difficulty getting comfortable or even perching or standing. Be sure to put your older pet bird’s food and water where the bird can reach it, such as on the cage floor or near a favorite perch.
Keep Pet Birds Strong
Regular exercise and vet checkups are great ways to maintain your pet bird’s health as it advances in years. When it comes to managing an aging pet bird’s health, diet and activity influence weight, according to Larry Nemetz, DVM of The Bird Clinic in Orange, Calif.
Start your bird off on a healthy, varied diet while it is still young. Provide your small bird with plenty of swings, exercise toys and a playgym so your bird is working out well into old age.
Encourage your bird to flap its wings, walk and climb about. Allow free-flighted pet birds out-of-the-cage time to fly in a safe environment. If possible, build an outdoor bird aviary where your pet bird can fly and reap the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
Diseases that cut your small pet bird’s life short are often inherited, just as they are in people, which can include diabetes or cancer. Be informed of the status of your bird’s health with regular veterinary exams. Track your pet bird’s weight to point to any significant weight loss or gain. There are special diets available for birds with some health conditions, so ask your avian veterinarian if that’s an option for your bird.
Household accidents can also keep a small bird from reaching its golden years. Watch your step, and look before you sit down. Keep glasses of water covered up, as well as any body of water that can endanger your bird, such as toilets and pots of boiling water. Do not use nonstick cookware. The fumes from overheated cookware can be poisonous to pet birds.
If you have a breeding pet bird, it will become less viable as it ages, with smaller clutches and less fertility in each clutch. Eventually, at fairly advanced ages, female pet birds stop laying eggs altogether.