Maintaining a Clean Environment

Written by Deb White. Posted in Environment

Maintaining a clean environment for your parrotAs conscientious parrot companions, it is our responsibility to maintain a clean, healthy environment for our birds so they are not exposed to infectious agents.   Birds in the wild rarely come into contact with their feces! They remain high in the trees while their droppings fall to the ground.   Unfortunately, caged birds have to live in close proximity to their droppings as they often land on toys, perches, food and water cups and cage grates.

Probably most of us wish we could just tell our birds to "CLEAN YOUR ROOM!"  Unfortunately, it is up to us to not only clean their "personal space" but, also to scrub the food stuck on the walls, the poop off of the floor, the seed hulls stuck in the floor boards, the feathers in the heating vents....you get the picture.  Keeping up with the mess is a seemingly never ending chore.

Fortunately, there are many bird safe cleaning products and accessories available that, when combined with a routine cleaning schedule, will make this thankless job more manageable.

Recommended Cage Cleaning Routine

Daily

  •     Change cage liner to remove droppings and spoiled foods and minimize opportunity for bacterial and mold growth.
  •     Wash food and water bowls with hot soapy water.
  •     Perform a quick wipe of the cage surface with a damp cloth.

Weekly

  •     Remove grate and tray and scrub them in a washtub with hot soapy water and disinfect them with a bird safe cleaner.
  •     Scrape droppings off perches and toys.
  •     Sanitize the water and food bowls in the dishwasher.
  •     During the cleaning process, inspect toys and cage for potential safety issues.

Quarterly

  •     Take the cage outside and thoroughly scrub the cage from top to bottom including all the nooks and crannies.
  •     Wipe down all of the surfaces to remove water and let the cage air dry in the sun.

If left to dry, fecal matter can easily become airborne contaminates which can be inhaled by your parrot as well as yourself.   

Helpful Cleaning Hints

  •     Keep moistened wipes on hand to clean poop before it dries
  •     Pre-soak dried on poop to make it easier to wipe off
  •     Place washable floor mats under all cages to protect your flooring.
  •     Have an extra set of food and water dishes available.
  •     Buy custom pre-cut cage bottom liners & stack several in the cage bottom so you can quickly remove the top soiled layer & have a fresh one automatically in place.
  •     Install an electronic air filtration system to cut down on dust and dander buildup.
  •     A few minutes spent daily on cleaning tasks will reduce the mess and time required for weekend chores.
  •     Hang sheets or use washable paint to protect the walls behind your bird's cage.
  •     Use a scraper to clean off perches and cage bars.
  •     Use seed guards and cage skirts to minimize fallout from the cage.
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On the Bright Side - The Benefit of Light

Written by Deb White. Posted in Environment

Parrots and the Benefit of LightIn the wild, the sun dictates not only the seasons but also the biological cycles of birds.  The length of the day influences when your bird will molt, breed and migrate amongst other things.   Our parrots need to experience the same light and dark cycles as their cousins in the wild.

Our companions wild counterparts are exposed to natural sunlight daily which offers many benefits over the typical household lighting.   Exposure to natural sunlight:

  •     Stimulates the production of Vitamin D which is essential in activating the absorption of calcium necessary for bone and physical development.
  •     Promotes skin health and feather quality.
  •     Stimulates breeding activity.
  •     Strengthens the immune system.
  •     Improves mental disposition.
  •     Increases playfulness and activity levels.
  •     Invigorates appetite.

Birds deprived of exposure to UV light often develop undesirable behaviors and can become depressed and lethargic.

Our parrots need to be exposed to natural sunlight or full spectrum light daily.  Optimally, this should occur while in an outdoor cage or aviary.   Birds do not get the benefits from light that is filtered through windows as glass blocks up to 90% of the beneficial UVA and UVB rays.  If it is not possible due to climate or work schedules to allow your bird outdoor time then the next best thing is to expose your bird to artificial full spectrum light.

In order to obtain the necessary lighting, it is recommended that you use full spectrum bulbs with a CRI (color rendition index) value of 92 or greater.  It is best to hang the light fixture approximately 18 inches above the cage as artificial UV light does not travel far from it's source. The length of time your parrot should be exposed to full spectrum light depends on where your parrot originated from geographically.

If your bird species originated from near the equator, it will need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.  Those species further from the equator will need shorter periods of exposure time.  Some experts recommend only 4-6 hours of full spectrum lighting per day.  You may wish to use full spectrum lighting with a timer in order to mimic natural conditions throughout the year.  

Just as important as daylight hours is night time rest.  Please refer to our article Hush-a-bye Baby, in the Tree Top for more information on how to ensure your bird gets adequate sleep.

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Perch Placement Guidelines

Written by Administrator. Posted in Environment

Perch Placement GuidelinesWhen deciding where to place perches consider the following:

  •     Place perches at multiple levels within the cage to encourage movement & climbing.
  •     Don't overcrowd the cage as this inhibits movement.
  •     Don't place the perch so close to the sides that the birds tail hits the cage bars
  •     Don't place perches directly over food or water dishes.
  •     Birds like to sleep and spend most of their time on the highest perch in the cage.  A secure natural or rope perch is recommended for this position.
  •     Place a cement perch near the food dish as birds often will use this surface to clean their beaks.
  •     A flexible perch may convey a sense of swaying in a tree branch.
  •     Make sure perches are safe and secure in your parrot’s cage.
  •     Many birds are easier to get out of their cage if a short "come out" perch is attached to the inside of a swinging door.
  •     Don't place edible perches where at risk of being pooped on.

 

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Play Areas: Playing Outside the Box

Written by Deb White. Posted in Environment

Parrot Play AreasIn the wild, parrots have an infinite space within which to climb, hang, reach, interact, play and check out what's going on in the neighborhood.  They don't have to deal with cumbersome bars limiting their movements and blocking their view.  Clearly, we can't give full reign to our pet birds in our homes, if only for their own safety.  However, there are many times when we would like to expand our bird's world and have them participate in family activities in other rooms of the house.

Establishing outside of the cage play areas is a great way to offer your bird the opportunity to be in different areas of your home and to interact in a wider variety of manners with their human flock.

Play areas can take many different forms and come in a variety of sizes.   There are floor, table top and hanging varieties and they range in design from the very basic to extremely elaborate and can be made from metal, wood, acrylic, rope or PVC. No matter what the form, if properly designed and equipped, they offer the benefits of:

  •     Increased opportunity for exercise.
  •     Increased mental stimulation through added interaction and visual stimulation.
  •     Enhanced learning opportunities through exposure to new experiences.
  •     Better socialization and a stronger sense of belonging to the flock (emotional security).
  •     A safe and secure place for your bird to play.

Well-designed play areas have:

  •     multiple play levels to promote movement through climbing
  •     an easy to clean base that catches droppings
  •     removable food cups
  •     multiple hooks to allow for the addition of stimulating toys
  •     varied perch diameters to promote foot health

In sum, play areas make for an interesting and safe place to enrich your bird's physical, mental and emotional well being.   You will also enjoy your bird's companionship while you watch TV or surf the net . It will also make your time pass more cheerfully while you do the dishes or even the laundry.

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Temperature

Written by Deb White. Posted in Environment

Temperature requirements for ParrotsWild parrots are native to tropical and subtropical climates where temperatures generally range from 70-95 °F with humidity levels running 77-88%.  In the wild, parrots can take action to regulate their temperature as needed by moving into the shade of leaves or into sunny clearings.  Domestic parrots however, rely mainly on their human companions to regulate the temperature in their environment.

For birds living in our homes, temperatures typically fluctuate very little from one season to the next as we humans like to maintain a relatively constant indoor temperature of 65-72 °F year round.   Unless we have an unusual circumstance, such as a winter power failure or a broken air conditioning system, our parrots environment as it relates to temperature is fairly regulated.

Parrots have the ability to adapt to a wide range of temperatures but, once your parrot companion becomes accustomed to your home atmosphere, its internal wild furnace is essentially turned off.  This does not mean that parrots can no longer adapt to temperatures above and below what is typical in our homes.  It only means that parrots need to be acclimated slowly for larger temperature ranges.   Problems occur when birds are exposed to rapid temperature changes. Variances greater than 10 to 15 degrees within a 24 hour time period may prove detrimental to your bird’s health.

Under extreme temperature conditions, heat stroke and hypothermia can occur and parrot owners should be aware of the warning signs and take appropriate corrective measures.

Here are some guidelines to assist your bird in regulating its bodily temperature:

It's Too Dang Hot!

  • Always keep your bird's cage out of direct sunlight or, at a minimum, ensure they have a spot where they can retreat from the sunlight within their cage.
  • Keep cages at least 12-18 inches away from exterior windows to avoid drafts.
  • If the room temperature rises above 85 °F, room air movement is needed.  You may wish to use a fan or crack a window to increase room air flow.
  • Don't place your bird's cage directly in front of a fan or air conditioner.
  • Never ever leave your bird in a car on a hot day.  It takes as little as 10-15 minutes for heat stroke to kill a bird.
  • Daily misting and cool (not cold) water showers will help your birds regulate their temperature on hot days.
  • Skinny birds may have difficulty regulating the cold, while obese birds may have difficulty with the heat.   Be extra vigilant under these conditions.
  • In outside aviaries, always provide plenty of shade with access to lots of cool water for bathing and consumption.  Check throughout the day to make sure your bird still has access to shade.


Baby It's Cold Outside

  • Place a safe space heater in close proximity to the cage area, but not so close that it will be hazardous to your bird.  Be careful to use heaters that do not give off any noxious fumes.
  • Acclimate your parrot slowly as temperatures begin to get cold in fall and warm in the spring.
  • Use a heated perch inside your bird’s cage to keep their feet warm.
  • Give your bird a tent or other snugglie to help keep him warm.
  • If your bird gets chilled, warm it on a heating pad, massage its feet to aid circulation and/or put small birds under your clothing to warm them with your body heat.
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