For the tiny creatures that they are, parrots seem to have a lot of things, from cages to boxes of toys to dishes to perches and swings. They dominate any home they occupy. Here are 5 more things that you should not be without, or without access to, when you own a parrot:
1. GRAM SCALE
Birds are so good at masking an illness that there are few ways that we have to learn that something is wrong. One of those ways is by weighing them frequently. Because birds are so light, they must be weighed in grams to get an accurate idea of weight fluctuation. For instance, my large umbrella cockatoo weighs about 1 and 1/2 lbs. If I suspected a weight loss, and used a pound scale, it would not register. It would only indicate a loss or gain by one pound, which is most of a bird’s weight.
The loss of a one pound in my bird would be the equivalent of a 150lb person dropping suddenly to 50lbs, or escalating to 250lbs, just to give you an idea. Even very experienced bird people cannot reliably pick up a bird, particularly a small bird, and say with certainty that their weight is acceptable. Gram scales can be purchased at an Office Depot type of place for a small cost, or at a pet store where they will come with a perch attached.
2. AVIAN VET
No matter how much you love the vet that takes such good care of your cats and dogs, you need an avian vet. If your regular vet is a good vet, he’ll understand and acknowledge his limitation. A bird’s physiology requires the expertise of someone uniquely familiar with their specific needs, diseases, and medications. In fact, in many cases, taking your very ill bird to someone not avian certified is a waste of your money and your bird’s precious time. I know that avian certified vets are hard to come by in some rural areas, if you google avian vets in your city or state it will help you find the closest one. Many people drive for hours to get to one. If this is your case, at least make sure your regular vet is teamed up with a certified avian vet for guidance. If there is a university near you, see if they have an exotic pet department where you might obtain help when in dire need.
3. AVIAN FIRST AID KIT
Know what the contents of your first aid kit are and know how to use them. Your vet can help you with this. (We also include vet tape in our first aid kit.) Keep information on Parrot first Aid with your kit. Print off a copy of this post on critical care for parrots and keep it with your kit for when emergencies arise. Believe me. They DO arise.
There were been two times in the past 5 years that I had to rush my pets out of my former apartment because of fire. Since I am currently staying in Jamie and Dave’s house and they are probably reading this and sweating bullets, I want to quickly point out that neither incident originated in my apartment.
In the first case, there was an actual fire in an apartment in my building. It was the middle of the night and I heard someone pounding on my door yelling: “FIRE! EVERYBODY OUT!” Then I heard the sirens, and knew it was serious. Of course, I had carriers. 3 of them. And I had six animals and birds to evacuate. Fortunately, I was on the first floor and was able to roll two of the cages outside to safety, and use the carriers for the rest. We were outside for about 6 hours that night and it was inconceivable that I would have been able to restrain a bird or animal outside of a carrier for that long. Lesson learned.
The second occasion was an evacuation because of smoke.
The geniuses in the apartment next to me turned on their oven with a pizza box in it and set it afire. While flames weren’t shooting out of the apartment like in the first case, the smoke was overwhelming. This time I was prepared. Each animal had their own carrier, except the cockatiels who shared one.
5. A JOURNAL FOR EACH BIRD
I started keeping a journal years ago for my birds to maintain a good record of their weights and health issues. It helps me to keep a handle on any significant changes that occur. At some point it dawned on me that recording behaviors was just as important. I have countless times referred to the previous year’s journal data to see if certain odd behaviors are seasonal with a particular bird, and it has at least once alerted me to a problem in the making. I keep my journals with my scale to make it easy to record the weights of each faithfully, and the journals have accompanied me to the vets office on several occasions and have helped me to explain health concerns or incidents accurately.
These are just five things, four when you exclude your vet, who likely doesn’t live with you. When the time comes that you must move to a larger house to accommodate your bird’s growing entourage, please don’t blame me.
Photo credit: www.avianlive.com
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.