General Care For Parrots
No matter what size your parrot is, from the smallest parrotlet to the largest macaw, ALL parrots require the same level of care. They all deserve nutritious foods, a safe cage and home, lots of entertainment and human companion that sees they get it all – each and every day.
Every parrot species needs to be fed a diet that supplies them with the nutrients their bodies require to remain healthy. The most common parrot diseases are related to substandard nutrition which cause poor quality of life and premature death.
Malnutrition can be blamed for some of the behavioral problems companion bird display as well – birds that don’t feel well can be mean and uncooperative, and who could blame them?
Contrary to what you read, commercial seed mixes are not a “parrot diet”. Even the best pellet brands can’t rightfully claim to be a “parrot diet”. Birds are a part of nature and that is where their food should come from as well.
Please see our diet page for more details.
Note: If you are seeking diet information for lorikeets, please see the following articles:
Since most companion parrots spend a great deal of time inside their cages, the cage you choose needs to satisfy a few crucial requirements:
- It must be safe. The bar spacing should be appropriate for your bird species. It should be sturdy in construction with no areas where body parts can be trapped. It should keep your bird well-contained so she isn’t wandering around while you are away.
- It should be as large as you can afford (while still appropriate for your bird’s species) so that exercise and play inside the cage is possible.
- It should be a happy place for your bird with lots to do. It should be set up in a way that encourages activity. And even though this doesn’t get discussed often, it should offer security to your bird. Remember, cages are not just meant to keep a bird inside. From your bird’s point of view, they also keep the outside away.
Please visit our cages page for more information and additional reading on cage selection.
Bacterial and yeast infections in companion birds are commonly treated in vet’s offices worldwide. There are many reasons a bird might find themselves overwhelmed and battling bacteria or yeast. Some causes will be beyond your control. One area you DO control is how clean you keep your cages, dishes, perches and toys.
Changing the cage liner often is not only healthy for your parrot, but also your family. The more often you pull up the papers, the less dander, dust and dried feces that will be floating in the air and sucked into everyone’s lungs. It also reduces the chance of insect or rodent infestations. (See the best liner to use in your parrot's cage.)
Perches need to be scrubbed down often. Your bird is a slob. He wipes his sweet potato covered beak on the perch right where he stands. He steps in his droppings and tracks them everywhere. Later in the day he walks through the messes he left behind earlier and then eats with those same feet. I think you get the point.
Likewise, toys and cage bars need to be wiped down often. A hand-held steam cleaner is a bird owner's best friend when cleaning.
Dishes must be washed after every use with hot soapy water. Dishes containing fresh foods should be collected after a few hours as the food will be collecting bacteria by that time. How often you remove the dishes containing dry food depends on your bird. If droppings, water or fresh food gets into the dishes they must be removed and cleaned. Water dishes should be cleaned with hot soapy water AT LEAST once a day – more often if your bird is a food or toy dunker.
NEVER use chemicals to clean anything your bird comes in contact with (including floors). Vinegar and water, as well as steam (no cleaners or chemicals added) will get the job done well and is safe for use with parrots.
It is just as important to keep your bird clean! Bathing is a big deal to a parrot. For wild parrots, bathing is a social activity for the flock and plays a role in mental well-being, but it is also necessary to their health.
Birds shed a lot of dust and dander – some species more than others. Without bathing, your bird’s feathers and skin will become itchy and dry. This is enough to make some birds begin to pluck.
The humidity level in your home is also something to watch. Even though many parrot species originate in humid rain forests, our parrots are adapted to our homes and 50% humidity is adequate for them, as it is for us. If you feel your own skin and hair getting dry, chances are your bird is feeling the same way. Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive.
Additional reading on the topic:
- How to select a humidifier to use around parrots
- Cold weather skin and feather care
- Humidity with sub tropical parrots
Of all of the things that kills pet parrots, toxic air quality is NUMBER ONE. This includes cookware with Teflon, spray or aerosol cleaners, room fresheners, smoke and candles and incense and more.
We discuss this on our blog repeatedly because it is so important. If you are a parrot owner, you NEED to be aware of this huge, but somehow often overlooked danger to your bird.
- Dangerous airborne contaminates
- Smoking around your birds
- Non-stick cookware
- Protecting your bird from poor air quality
- Parrot safe air fresheners
- Home repairs around birds
- Birds and second hand smoke
Your bird is going to get into everything. Know that, expect it and be prepared for it. We are all aware of the need to child=proof a home when there are toddlers present. However, when you add wings and powerful beaks to the equation, it gets tricky.
Things on high shelves are not out of reach and plastic cabinet locks are easily broken when we are dealing with a determined parrot. Sometimes we have to take extraordinary measures to keep the feathered ones safe from becoming victims of their own curiosity.
The best advice you will get is to never get complacent, don’t assume that your bird understands (or cares about) house rules and always expect your bird to do the opposite of what you expect.
Your bird’s well-being is ENTIRELY in your hands. It’s a big job and a daunting responsibility. Educate yourself!