Quick Guide to Handling Small Parrots

Place your bird’s cage in a draft-free area, out of direct sunlight. Don’t place the cage under or near an air conditioning unit or vent, or in the kitchen. Select as large a cage as possible. The minimum suggested size is 30 cm x 30 cm x 60 cm for a budgie and 60 cm x 60 cm x 90 cm for lovebirds and cockatiels.

The bars need to be close enough together to prevent the bird from getting his head stuck — a little over 1 cm for a budgie and 1.5–2.0 cm for cockatiels and lovebirds. Horizontal bars are best, as small parrots love to climb. A metal cage is preferable to wood or wicker. Line the bottom of the cage with newspaper or paper towels.

Provide your small parrots with plenty of perches of varying diameters. Pesticide-free branches from non- toxic trees such as apple, elm or maple make natural and attractive perches. Wood, plastic and hemp perches can also be purchased. Monitor hemp or rope perches carefully, as the fibres can become tangled round the bird’s toes.

Avoid perches made of synthetic fibres, which can cause irritation to the feet. Concrete perches can help keep the nails and beak properly worn down, but provide some non- concrete perches as well.

Food and water dishes should be made from easy-to- clean, non-toxic materials. Do not place them on the cage bottom, which is the bird’s toilet, or directly under a perch. Each bird should have a separate food container so that those on the bottom of the pecking order have a chance to eat.

Small parrots love to play and explore. Ladders, ropes, swings and mirrors can all provide entertainment. Check all toys for potential dangers. Mirrors must have a covered back to avoid exposure to potentially toxic reflective backing. Rotate toys regularly. Provide your bird with a cuttlebone or lava rock to help keep the beak and nails properly worn down.

Change cage papers and disinfect food and water dishes daily. Clean and disinfect the cage at least once a week. Toys and perches will need occasional disinfecting as well. Replace wooden perches periodically as they cannot be properly disinfected. Rinse all items thoroughly after disinfecting.

DIET

Formulated bird feed, available as pellets, crumbles or mash, should provide the bulk of your bird’s diet, though budgies almost never eat formulated food. For budgies only, try a vitamin-enriched seed mix. The remainder of the diet should be made up of fresh fruits and vegetables (about 20–25%) and a small amount of seed.

Most fresh fruits and vegetables are suitable, but avoid avocado, which is potentially toxic. Ask your veterinarian about vitamin supplements. Fresh water must be available at all times.