Bird Basics


Basic Care: Housing, Handling, and Feeding
There are many species of birds that can make good pets. Consider the specific needs of the type of bird you are considering before adding it to your family. How much space does your bird need? What will it eat? What exercise and stimulation will you provide to keep it happy and healthy?
Your bird’s food and water bowls, as well as its cage floor, should be cleaned daily to maintain hygiene. A more thorough cleaning should be done periodically, at least once per month.

Different bird species have different lifespans. Do your research before bringing a bird into your home. Be prepared for a commitment of ten or more years.

A bird’s cage should be a minimum of two wingspans wide so that the bird can stretch and flap its wings without hitting anything. Bigger is better, especially if you can’t provide your bird with daily time outside of its cage. A variety of perches and toys can help your bird stay physically and mentally active, but be sure not to overcrowd the cage.

Many species of birds are very smart and can be trained to do tricks. Some kinds of birds can even learn to speak. Training is a great way to bond with your bird, as well as provide it with exercise for its body and mind. Always be sure to handle your bird gently and safely.

Some birds may carry diseases that can affect humans, even if the bird shows no signs of illness. These diseases are uncommon due to federal restrictions on the importation of birds, but bird owners should still exercise caution. The spread of disease can be prevented with proper hygiene, including regular cage cleanings and washing your hands after handling your bird.

Different species of birds have unique nutritional requirements. Be sure to feed a diet that is complete and balanced for your bird. There are many commercial options available to meet your bird’s needs. Seed mixes are not necessarily the best choice because your bird can pick out only its favorite pieces and end up not eating a balanced diet overall. All birds need fresh, clean water.


Unlike dogs and cats, birds are not commonly vaccinated. However, this does not mean that birds do not need routine vet check-ups. A yearly wellness exam can help you catch a disease before it becomes too serious. Regular exams can also help you and your vet know what is normal for your bird, in order to more easily recognize when something is abnormal. As with any animal, be sure to contact your vet if you suspect your bird may be ill or injured.

Wing Clipping

Wing clipping is a controversial topic among bird owners. It is the practice of trimming a bird’s feathers to reduce its ability to fly. A bird with properly clipped wings can glide downwards, but will be unable to fly upwards or forwards for long distances. Because birds periodically grow new feathers, wing clipping is not a permanent procedure. It is not to be confused with pinioning, which is the amputation of part of a bird’s wing to permanently prevent flight.

Arguments in favor of wing clipping point out that, when done properly, it is a painless procedure with many benefits. Clipped birds may be easier to tame and may have a harder time getting into mischief outside of their cages. Opponents of wing clipping argue that birds need the natural behavior of flying to stay fit and escape dangerous situations, such as being chased by other pets.