Thursday, June 30, 2016

Keep your Pets Safe During the 4th of July Holiday

With 4th of July Independence Day celebrations this weekend, please remember you pets may not love all the people and sounds of the celebration.  The pops and bangs of fireworks can be quite unnerving to many furred and feathered friends.

The sound of fireworks make my own birds nervous.  Some get flighty, especially the cockatiels, and some get very quiet, usually the amazons.   Even my little dog is nervous and yappy at all the loud pops and sizzles and extra family and friends visiting for the holiday.

It's easier for me to calm my dog than it is to calm my birds.  I can snuggle the pup up to me and partially cover with her blanket, and walk outside with her when necessary.  However, some of my birds are not snugglers, and even the sweet ones may become nippy when unsettled by loud noises and extra people in their home.

I partially or fully cover the cage of any bird that gets very upset and that helps them feel more protected and they settle down better.  I include special treats in everyone's dish in the hope that getting a special treat helps distract them from the goings on.  I'm lucky that my birds are in their own bird sun room so it's easy to keep visitors out of their room.  If you bird is usually where people gather, you may want to consider moving the cage into a quiet bedroom until after the fireworks and visitors are gone.  If the cage is too big to move, a sleep cage or even a travel carrier can work just as well.

A little planning ahead of time for the feathered and furred family members will help make your July 4th weekend a fun celebration for all.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Importance of Water


Water, refreshing, energizing, fun, and absolutely necessary for life.

A lack of water can quickly cause dehydration and can have serious and sometimes even fatal results for your bird.

How long a bird can live without water can vary greatly among the different species, and can actually be as short as only a few hours for very small birds such as finches and canaries.  Females often drink more water than males, and breeding females require even more water.  Older birds or birds with any health issues may require even more access to water.  Birds who eat more pellets than seed diets also usually drink more water.  

Using open water bowls have both pros and cons.  Many birds just love to splash around in their dishes and all that splashing and bathing can add needed moisture to their feathers, especially during molts.  Birds are also notorious for soaking their foods, especially pellets, in their water dishes preferring a softer food or creating that interesting birdie soup as we like to call it.   Unfortunately, the above fun activities also keep their humans busy trying hard to keep clean water in the dish.

Water bottles provide clean drinking water for our birds, but can also take away the fun baths and soup mixtures.  If you prefer to use a water bottle instead of an open water dish, always always be sure your bird is drinking from the bottle before removing the familiar open dish.  Placing the bottle over the regular water dish may help your bird discover the bottle tube easier and give it a try quicker.
However even using a water bottle for cleaner water can also present issues as some bird learn how fun it is to shower under the water bottle tube.  Some also discover how much fun it is to push seeds and other foods (and even a small toy part or two) up the tube.  Unfortunately, all these fun activities can result in an empty water bottle, or a tube that has been stopped up and unable to release water to your bird.

When using water bottles it is so very important to check at a minimum of once daily that the bottle is not stopped up, and contains plenty of water.  Never assume just because a bottle looks full, it is working properly.

Even in a water bottle, bacteria can also begin to grow within 24 hours so it also needs to be changed regularly for freshness.  Sometimes using both an open water dish, and a water bottle will provide both fun, and clean water for your bird.  

Don't forget about those refreshing baths and showers and how important water is for your bird's feather health.  Doesn't matter if your bird enjoys bathing in a dish, sink, shower, or fun water bottle spray bath.  Water helps soften new feather shafts, refreshes feathers, helps control dander, adds moisture to the skin and just plain makes those feathers gorgeous.

Overpreeners often do much less damage to wet feathers as can be done to dry feathers, so regular bathing lets them preen thoroughly without as much damage to the feathers.  Overpreening also seems to be less in birds who bathe on a regular basis.   Feathers are healthier and stronger and hold up better to a bird who is a little more aggressive in preening.  

Not to mention the sheer joy of a bathing bird.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Vacationing without your Bird

Planning a fun vacation or other trip this summer and can't take your bird with you?

If you take a little time to plan for your bird, he or she can be well taken care of while you are away.

First, decide where your bird will spend vacation time.  Most veterinarians  provide boarding facilities just make sure your vet boards birds as well as other animals.  If you are lucky enough to have an avian vet that boards, then your bird will be staying where people understand their special needs.  This might also be a good time to get a health checkup if it's been a while.

Some local pet stores may also provide boarding, there again, don't wait until the last minute to book your reservations.  Don't be afraid to ask about safety and how they make sure your bird is not exposed to other boarders to prevent any illness or cross contamination.

As a safety precaution, many vets and pet stores require birds be feather clipped while boarding.  If you do not normally clip your bird's flight feathers, this may or may not be an issue for you.  You can ask if a junior clip is an option.  With a junior clip your bird will still have limited flight until the new flights grow back, but may still meet the safety requirements of the boarding facility.  Unless the facility can provide a safe room for your bird when out of the cage if fully flighted, your bird may not be able to come out of the cage while there, or may have limited time outside the cage.  These are things to consider and know beforehand.

Most places that board birds do so by appointment, so call early and make sure there is room, find out all costs, and be sure to ask if they provide a cage or if you will need a travel cage for your bird.  Also, ask if food is included, and if so what do they feed.  If it's the same diet you feed, great, if not, then you will need to plan on packing food to send with your bird.

Include at least a couple of bird toys your bird really likes, as well as a few fun new toys to occupy your bird's away time.  Don't forget some favorite treats too.

If you do not have a place to safely board your bird, or if you prefer your bird remain at home where he or she might feel the most comfortable, think about asking a neighbor, friend, or relative if they might be able to take care of your bird while you are away.  At least twice a day check-ins are best.

The person will need to be able to feed and water your bird, change any cage papers, turn lights on or off, turn on and off the tv or radio for your bird, and do a visual check of your bird daily.

Set up a few things near your bird before you leave for the caretaker in case of an emergency.  A towel large enough to scoop your bird up in if needed, carrier, first aid kit, and the name and phone number of your bird's vet, as well as the name and phone number of someone other than the vet they can call on for help if they are not experienced with birds.  Don't forget to leave a phone number where you can be reached as well.

There are professional pet sitters as well, just make sure to get references and then actually call the references and ask questions about the services they received and whether they felt their bird was well taken care of.  Pet sitters may also provide other services as well such as bringing in the mail or newspapers, watering plants if necessary, taking care of other pets, and checking to make sure your home is locked and secure.  Of course, your neighbor or friend might also do this if you ask very nicely.

If your bird does not like being alone, then consider asking that neighbor, relative, or friend, to let your bird come stay with them while you are away.  Just make sure they are ok with it, can handle all safety issues, and then be sure to provide all the items mentioned above.

There is no right or wrong way to vacation without your bird, just choose what works best for your bird and you.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Summer Travel Tips

Summertime and the living is easy.  

Well, that is unless you are planning a vacation or trip.  In that case, you may be busy planning, packing, and trying to figure out what to do about the bird.

Here are a few tips that might help you with the planning and packing.

It really is possible to vacation or travel with your bird in many circumstances.  Just do a little planning ahead and be as prepared as you can for just about anything.

If you will be driving on your trip, know that most birds travel well in cars.  You will need a travel carrier or small cage for the trip.  Some birds do experience motion sickness, either caused by the actual motion, or by the stress of what's happening, so if your bird is one that does, you may want to practice short drives around town in preparation for the longer trip.  A few trips around the block may be all you need to do.

Decide whether your bird travels best in a covered carrier where he or she cannot see any objects moving by the windows.  Lay down a small towel inside the carrier with some layers of paper towels on top for the trip.  If you feel you need a perch, a  free standing small perch, or a dowel type perch attached to the sides of the carrier are better.  Keep them low so if an unexpected quick brake happens, your bird won't fall causing injury or panic.  If you can use a seat belt with the carrier, even better.

Long trips are better without a water dish inside the carrier as that will probably just slosh around getting everything wet.  Better to provide juicy fruits such as orange, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, peach, even apple slices will provide moisture as needed.  Add some spray millet, a small dish of favorite seeds and/or pellets.  If you bird doesn't like juicy fruits, better get started training him or her to like them, or you will need to stop every couple of hours to offer a small dish of water.  Just remember every time you need to open the door to the carrier, a possible escape can occur, causing a bird to panic, fly into the window, or worst case scenario, escape through an open window or door.

If you bird does not willingly go into the carrier, start practicing now.  Set the carrier next to the cage on a table top or secure stool,  Place very special treats just inside the door and act like you don't know it's there.  As your bird gathers up courage to snatch the treat, move the next one a little farther into the carrier.  The goal is for your bird to associate the carrier with a fun place to visit that holds extra special treats.

I highly recommend you never ever leave your bird alone in the car.  Cars heat up fast and a bird can have a heat stroke within minutes if it reaches too high a temperature.  Not to mention, birds do get kidnapped from cars.  Someone should stay with the bird at all times.  If you are traveling alone, you will need to take the bird with you when you leave the car.

Make sure your hotel, condo, etc. allows pets when you call to make reservations.  As well as any friends or relatives you might be staying with.  Make sure they are ok with a feathered visitor too.  Double check your vacation spot and specifically ask if they spray pesticides inside the room in-between visitors.  Practice all safety regimens that you would naturally at home.  

Once settled in, set up a play area for your bird, whether it's a small travel cage with toys or a play gym set on top of the carrier, make it your bird's vacation area.

Wherever your bird will be spending time, cover all furniture surfaces where your bird's cage or play area will be with paper towels, newspapers, or bed sheets to help keep the area clean of food and poop.   Don't forget the floor area too.  Remember your bird is going to be just as messy on vacation as at home.

You may also want to remember to put out the do not disturb sign whenever you are not in the hotel room.  Just a precaution to make sure no one disturbs or scares your bird when you are not there to supervise.  In fact, you may even want to ask family members who your bird does not know to only interact with the bird when you are also present.

Here is a list of a few things to pack in your bird's suitcase.

Paper Towels (lots of them)
Newspappers (lots of them)
Bed Sheet
Wash cloth (for quick cleanups)
Wet ones (for even quicker cleanups)
Night or car cover (even if you only use it as a partial cover)
Container of food
Container of water brought from home
Bird First Aid Kit
extra set of dishes
A hand held vacuum or hand broom & dustpan
A few new fun toys
And lots of special treats
(If you plan to feed fresh foods you may also want to include a small cooler)

I hope this helps give you some ideas on planning and preparation for a fun family vacation that includes your bird.  Maybe next week we will discuss vacationing without your bird as many people just can't take their bird along.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Recycling Bird Cages in the Garden

Don't throw away those old bird cages, just roll them out into the garden or patio area, and repurpose as a beautiful new garden accessory.

Pictured left is a large wrought iron cage that was painted white and filled with large pots inside the cage, and smaller planters on top with wave petunias.

Here we used an old flight cage with small bar spacing as a great seed starter protection area.  With small bar spacing, it helped keep the chipmunks, squirrels, and birds from enjoying our tender plants before they had a chance to grow.

 Especially good for sunflower seedlings.

A small plastic lightweight cage was used here for a beautiful cage full of flowering Mandevilla vine.

 An old large amazon cage was used to grow hummingbird vines, trumpet vines, and honeysuckle along a fence line.

 An old large iron cage is used here as an arbor of sorts for Mandevilla, Alamanda, and Bogenvilla plants.

Notice in the left bottom area, an old Prevue 123 cage is used to place large planters on for varied heights of the plantings.

We also used a second prevue 125 cage as an umbrella stand with a hanging basket of potato vine inside to dress it up.

For more inspiration visit our Pinterest Board Bird Cages in the Garden

Big, small, or in-between, old recycled bird cages can add interest and great design to any garden area.