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Good Habits For You & Your Bird

You are part of your bird's flock, and to create a happy flock, follow these tips on dieting, sleep and exercise for a healthier lifestyle.

Chris Davis

Golden Conure

Did you ever think that you would belong to a flock? Well, when your companion is a bird, you are part of a flock. Being a flock member carries responsibilities, and it can have a profound effect on our lives.

Remember that we affect our avian friends’ lives even more. Although we are aware of the importance of our daily husbandry and social and behavioral interactions with them, we sometimes do not think about how powerfully our unconscious behaviors may affect them.

The simple truth is that our birds perceive us as other flock members. Consequently, many of our own behaviors can affect them, both positively and negatively. Like young children, they often mimic those activities, behaviors and habits that they witness within their homes. If we pay attention to this, our love for them can inspire us to not only create better lives for them but to also positively alter our own lives.

Because our birds are important family members, most of us endeavor to feed them the best foods we can provide. We offer a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, pellets and nutritionally formulated seed diets, with the addition of occasional healthful treats, a piece of whole-grain bagel or a favorite nut, for example.

On the other hand, many of us frequently consume foods that we know are unhealthy. Unfortunately, our birds enjoy when we share food with them and can be drawn to eating unhealthy things that we like. In addition to being unhealthful, a sip of soda or beer, or a potato chip or a cheese curl is a tiny bit for a person to consume, but it is very large to a bird, even to a macaw.

Ironically, although we may work hard to feed our avian family members healthful foods because we love them and want them to live long, healthy lives, one of the most loving acts we can give our birds is to eat properly ourselves, too, so we can continue to be with them and enjoy them, for a long time!
In the old days, before electric lights, people working at physically demanding jobs literally "got up with the birds” every morning and went to bed early every night. There was a recent news story stating that, prior to electrical lights, it was customary for people to get 10 hours of sleep per night!

Now, it is common to stay up very late at night, often to our detriment. Although we can make this free choice, our birds cannot, and we must make sure that they get the dark and quiet sleep environment required for their good health. If your bird’s cage is in an area where there is frequent late-night activity, he will probably be healthier and happier if he is placed in a smaller sleep cage in a quiet part of the house every night.

Many of us can also improve our own health by making a commitment to regularly get to sleep earlier, especially those of us who stay up late watching television or spending too much time on the computer.

Unfortunately, the term, "couch potato” is no longer limited to only people. We have managed to make our animal companions little perch potatoes, too. Lack of exercise is one of the top reasons for ill health or early death of both people and their companion animals.

If you are physically able, exercise near your bird. If he is not frightened by your movements, place him on a nearby perch, and encourage him to flap his wings while you move your arms. Dance to music and encourage your avian friend to dance with you, either on a perch or on your hand. Teach him fun physical activities, and praise him profusely to encourage his continued movements.

If neither of you have exercised before, the last thing you want to do is to endanger the health of you and your bird by starting a rigorous exercise program. Start slow and easy; just swing your arms if that is all you can muster. Engage your avian friend at a gradual pace, as well. For example, instead of handing him a favorite healthy goodie or fun toy, at least make him walk across the sofa for it! Respect your avian friend’s downtimes, and only engage him in activities when he is awake and alert.

Healthy Relationship
Having an avian companion is not a one-way street. It is a real commitment. If you have developed bad personal health habits, ask yourself an important question: do you love your bird enough to take better care of yourself so that he has you around longer and so that he does not reflect your negative habits?

This does not mean turning your life upside down. However, it does mean making, at the very least, small daily health-conscious choices for both you and your avian friend and gradually increasing them as you both grow more comfortable with them.

By altering some of your own bad habits, not only do you increase the possibility of your own life being healthier and longer, but you can help your beloved feathered family member enjoy a longer life span, as well.

Want to learn more?

End Bad Habits That Affect Your Pet Bird

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Posted: February 24, 2014, 12:45 p.m. PDT

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