Dr Adrian Gallagher BVSc (Hons) MACVSc (Avian Health)
Dr Kathryn Loughlin BVSc MANZCVS (Avian Health)

248 Hamilton Rd, Chermside 4032
t 07 3359 2233 f 07 3359 2344

Bird Care

Bird Health and Enrichment Tips

Below are a few suggestions to help maintain health and to enrich your bird’s life.

To book for health checks, microchipping, wing trims and parrot playschool or if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly, helpful staff during normal business hours.

New Bird and Annual Health Checks

We recommend that you take your bird to an avian veterinarian for new bird consultations and annual health checks. There are a number of reasons why this is important:

  • Dietary advice
  • To enable early detection and treatment of avian disease
  • To provide information on how to better care for your feathered friend
  • To provide tips on training and behavioral advice
  • To address any other concerns that you may have

Birds are screened for numerous common infectious diseases including:

  • Chlamydiosis - this is a common disease that we see in newly acquired birds, as well as older birds. This disease is potentially deadly for your bird, and can be transmitted to humans causing a disease called psittacosis. Download our Psittacosis handout for more information.
  • Intestinal parasites - many birds suffer from intestinal parasites including worms. “In water” medication is an unreliable method of worming your bird. We recommend crop dosing with a complete wormer.
  • External parasites - external parasites, such as mites and lice, can be irritating for you and your bird. These can be treated effectively using a pyrethrin spray weekly for 3 consecutive weeks or using oral medications.

Quarantining new birds is essential to prevent disease transfer. We recommend getting your new bird health checked as soon as possible and suggest isolating new birds for a minimum of 4 weeks.

Housing

The cage that you choose for your bird should be large enough to allow the bird to stretch its wings fully. No cage is too big! If using a galvanized wire cage, it should be scrubbed with neat vinegar, and then rinsed with water. This will help to eliminate the risk of heavy metal poisoning.

Rope or natural tree branches should be used in place of dowel and plastic perches. These should be wide enough to prevent the toes from wrapping around the perch. Perches should be replaced regularly as they become damaged, soiled or chewed.

Stress Minimisation

Stress plays a major role in many diseases by lowering the bird’s immune system. It is important to monitor your bird when you introduce them into your home. Establishing trust with your bird is an important and ongoing process. First you must spend time with your bird, taking time to handle, touch and talk to your bird. Birds are highly sensitive animals and thrive on positive reinforcement. Avoid punishment, instead focus on rewarding positive behaviour.

Bathing

It is important to provide sufficient areas for bathing to enable your bird to maintain its plumage. A large, flat dish is recommended.

Signs of Illness

It is very important to keep an eye on your bird’s behaviour and general appearance to detect problems early. There are a number of signs that can indicate illness and veterinary advice should be sought immediately. These include but are not limited to:

  • Loss or change in appetite
  • Change in character, vocalization/talking
  • Change in droppings (colour, firmness, number)
  • Change in activity (i.e. bird becoming lethargic)
  • Change in attitude (suddenly becomes friendly or unhappy)
  • Fluffed appearance
  • Noticeable, loud or laboured breathing
  • Sneezing, coughing or stained nostrils
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Sitting on floor of the cage
  • Reluctance to move
  • Unusual lumps or bruising
  • Any discoloration of the face, feet, beak, or legs

Diet

A complete and balanced diet is essential to ensure that your bird lives a long, healthy and happy life. A seed only diet is very unhealthy for your bird. Seed is generally high in fat and carbohydrates, and is low in vitamins, minerals and some amino acids. Essentially, it is considered the equivalent of feeding your bird a fried chip diet. Birds fed seed only diets can suffer from multiple health problems. These include malnutrition, overgrown beaks and nails, feathering abnormalities, liver and kidney disease, reproductive disease and cancer.

At Brisbane Bird Vet we recommend feeding ‘seed’ eating birds (e.g. cockatiel) a pelleted diet. Gradual conversion is generally best. Nectar eating birds (e.g. lorikeets) have different nutritional requirements to ‘seed’ eating and we can best replicate this by offering a nectar mix (wet mix) and a dry mix. Wet mix should be mixed fresh daily and in hot, humid weather this spoils easily.

Fresh vegetables and fruit should be offered to both ‘seed’ and nectar eating birds on a daily basis. Essentially all fruits and vegetables can be fed with the exception of avocado, onion and garlic. Native nuts, blossoms and berries can be offered. Bones (including chicken and chop bones), nuts and seed can be offered as treats.

Environmental Enrichment

Birds are very intelligent creatures! It is essential to keep them busy to prevent the development of behavioural problems. When in the wild, birds spend several hours using their beak to hunt, forage and tear things apart and we should be trying to replicate this in captivity. Foraging trays, baffle cages and toys are ideal ways for keeping your bird busy.

Exercise

Exercise is extremely important for your pet, whether inside or outside the cage. Ideally, your bird should be left flighted and given the opportunity to fly daily. Sufficient exercise can be achieved (without flight) through climbing, acrobatics and swinging.

Hygiene

It is important to keep your bird's living environment clean. You may like to consider using a sanitising agent (e.g. F10). We suggest a thorough cleaning of the cage at least once a week. Water and food containers should be washed in warm soapy water daily.

Microchipping

Microchipping provides permanent identification for your bird. It is advisable to have your bird microchipped to assist with relocating your bird if it escapes.

Contact us to make an appointment for your bird.

Wing Trimming

Ideally, birds should remain flighted. However, you may wish to have your bird’s wing trimmed for the following reasons:

  • To prevent escape
  • To prevent misadventure within the home

It is important that a wing trim be performed using the correct procedure to prevent any injury occurring to your bird. We are more than happy to show you the correct wing trimming procedure, or you can download our handout: Procedure for Correct Wing Clip

Parrot Playschool

Parrot playschool is not only fun for you and your feathered friend but is highly educational. It provides you with valuable information on avian health and husbandry, as   well as environmental enrichment strategies and training, and behaviour modification methods.

For more information on parrot playschool, contact Brisbane Bird Vet.