When we talk about pet bird care, the living environment of birds is a very important factor that should be taken seriously. By environment we mean the wider residence-rearing space but also the cages of birds themselves.
The place that will be designated for the placement of the cage, its equipment, the lighting, the cleaning-disinfection, are the key aspects of this issue. Also the cleanliness of the birds themselves with bathing, it’s a habit that we should not neglect.
The suitable bird cage
The cage in which we will house a pet bird should basically be large enough so that its tenant can be able to move in all directions without restrictions. Its dimensions should start from 35cm length x 25cm depth x 30cm height and bigger. The rule in this case says that the larger the cage, the better for the bird.
Prefer cages which have a rectangular shape without unnecessary curves which leave untapped space and a detachable base (bottom) with an integrated or detachable rack for easier cleaning.
Each cage (in the dimensions mentioned) should have at least two perchers, two feeding troughs, a watering bowl and one or two removable internal feeding troughs to offer them egg-egg food, fruits, health seeds or grit . Any other accessory is not considered necessary and even some of them such as swings, mirrors etc. are good to be avoided because they limit the movement range of the bird.
Cages that are rusted or have frayed colours should be replaced because they are dangerous to the health of the birds. Also, prefer cages stainless steel or painted with special paint, which can are accompanied with plastic components.
Avoid wooden cages because apart from aesthetic issue which is purely subjective, can become a hub for microbes and parasites due to the difficulty in cleaning the material which they are made of.
Bird Cage Perches
The perchers should be washed and disinfected often because the pet birds tread on them while cleaning their beak and face with the risk of infection.
The perchers can be either plastic or wood. Especially in the latter case the cleaning and disinfection should be done more often because the nature of the material promotes growth of harmful microorganisms and mites. Some of the characteristics of the wooden or plastic perchers which may help you in your selection.
The living space of birds
The lighting is in my view one of the most important factors involved in maintaining the good health and the natural behavior of the birds. With the term lighting we mean the quality but also the daily amount of light received by the birds.
If we house our birds outdoors, then we do not need to do anything special other than making sure that the position they will be located comes in direct contact with sunlight, while at the same time providing them a place to be protected from this when they wish so.
If the birds are indoors, then as mentioned above we should make sure also for the quality and for the duration of illumination. Fluorescent lamps and especially those that emit light in full range are preferred over incandescent lamps. The UV radiation produced by full spectrum lamps is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D3 from the birds’ bodies.
Even more important is the duration of the light received by the birds. The illumination duration within the day its what determines the perception of the birds on the time and seasons. It is simply put their calendar. If the length of time we have the lights on is around 9:30 hours per day, then the birds realize they are at the heart of winter. If the illumination in the area is 14 hours or more, then they realize that they are at the heart of summer.
Based on the above we can easily realize as well, why there are problems in breeding when the length of the interior lighting is 10 hours a day, even if we are in the month of May or why birds have moulting in the heart of winter, when they receive more than 15 hours of light per day.
Something else that needs attention is the constant opening and closing hours of the light. That means that the light must be turned on a specific time in the morning and switched off at a specific time each night. We can not turn on the light one time 7 am and another at 10 and turn it off either at 9 in the evening or at 2 am according to the time we go to bed ourselves. In this way we completely disorganize the biological clock of the birds and generally all their biological functions with the result of sometimes ending up erroneously giving medicines for problems that can not be considered as diseases.
I realize that we have pet birds to keep us company, but we should respect at least their biological needs in order for them to have a good quality of life and be able to keep us company for a long time
Temperature of the living space
Birds have the ability to adapt to environmental conditions and particularly at ambient temperature, when there are no sudden fluctuations. The birds that are housed outdoors can survive in temperatures ranging from a few degrees below zero up to more than 35 degrees above zero, as long as there is care for certain key issues.
The birds should be fully protected from air currents. At the location where they are housed they must be fully kept safe from wind. It is very important for preventing respiratory diseases. It’s not the low temperature that damages the birds as much as the air currents so they should be taken seriously into account.
Very low temperatures
In cases where the temperature drops 1-2 degrees below zero, we must ensure that the diet of the birds is enhanced, rich in fatty seeds. Also we should monitor very often the water in the drinking bowls so it does not freeze. In cases where the temperature drops more than 1-2 degrees below zero, then we have to cover the cages somehow (nylon or chipboard) from the sides and the back side and place special heat emitting lamps which prevent the temperature from dropping too low.
During the summer months that the temperature rises above 30 degrees Celsius,we must ensure that the cages – birds do not come into direct contact with the sun, at least after ten in the morning. Also, we have to give the birds the opportunity to bathe very often or we can spray them lightly with a little water several times a day.
In this case things are somewhat simpler. The temperature of the room should also not exhibit large fluctuations something that is easier to achieve indoors.
The cage(s) must be located away from heat sources (radiators, stoves, air conditioners). In the case of air conditioners the direct exposure of birds in hot or cold air emitted by them in space should be avoided. Also, we should avoid placing birds near vents or between two open windows or doors, so they are not exposed to air currents.
Places like kitchens, bathrooms, etc. are the worst places to keep our birds. The high temperatures developed in these areas combined with the emissions and the gas fumes from cooking utensils, the odors and the fumes from the preparation of food, are very dangerous to the health of birds. Remember that Teflon can kill your birds with the fumes generated by heating it.
Cleanliness Hygiene Disinfection
The cleanliness of the area that the birds are living in, either the cages or the wider surrounding space, is crucial in the prevention and transmission of diseases. Many of the diseases that occur in birds could have been avoided or prevented if their space was clean and the rules of hygiene were meticulously kept.
The bottom of the cage is the one that receives all the dirt including bird droppings. On the bottom surface therefore we should put some material that is absorbent, retaining moisture and odours. This material should be replaced frequently.
There are several options commercially some of which are sanitary sand for birds, wood trimmings or plain paper. In the case of paper, you should avoid newspaper because it contains substances like lead, which are harmful to birds. The selection of the appropriate material is that which best suits your needs. You can watch a debate concerning the selection of products for the hygiene of birds.
Food and water utensils
The food and water utensils should be washed thoroughly and disinfected at least once a week, especially the drinking bowls. Water favors the growth of microorganisms and that is why the drinking bowls must be replaced daily and carefully cleaned.
The sight of drinking bowls which have greenery inside is unacceptable and if anything it indicates irresponsible people who either do not have knowledge of basic hygiene or bird care rules, or either they completely ignore the concept of care.