What size cage is best for my bird?

I often get asked about the correct size of cages for parrots, and other small birds, for breeding.

Many years ago, when parrots weren’t hand reared in such great numbers, it was said that the biggest cage you could get would be the best thing for the parrot. If you have a very tame hand reared parrot, in many households they spent a lot of time outside of the cage in the house – and they also tend to get very tired as well. Therefore the parrot being in the largest cage possible is not so important anymore. If the parrot is being naughty, it can be put away, but many customers I speak to say that their parrots spend up to eight hours a day outside of their cage and will only sleep inside the cage because they are not very active at night.

I also get asked about cages for breeding, and this is a vast subject. Most parrots, when it comes to breeding, want a large area, but that’s being very general. Species like African Grey parrots actually breed better in small areas. In my previous role as a travelling Avian Consultant, I once came across a large number of breeding pairs of African Greys that had a large inside area, and a large outside area – however after two years, only a very small number had actually bred. I designed some much smaller enclosures and in a very short space of time a large number of pairs were breeding. This is the exception to the rule for breeding birds, and I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have about this topic.

When it comes to breeding smaller species of birds such as finches and canaries, often a large cage is better, but birds do all have slightly different requirements and many will breed in smaller cages too.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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Pest control at this time of year

At this time of year I often get questions about pest control, not just mites and ticks, but the other things that affect birds too.

With outside aviaries, you can get a sudden build up of rats or mice, and rats can actually kill your birds, let alone bring in disease. This is the time of year to do something about it – as the nights start getting colder, it’s a good idea to start putting out poison (of course in the correct way that the manufacturer suggests) for rats and mice. These pests will tend to come in to warmer areas during the months leading up to winter. Although you may have no rodent problems outside at the moment, if you have an aviary with food outside, you may start to attract them. I can remember many years ago my Father telling me that if you see one rat during the day, it probably means you’ve got 30, so this is the time of year to keep on top of any rodent problems that you may have.

With ticks it can also be a problem, especially with parrots, and I have come across several situations where a tick – the same kind that you may get on your cat or dog – has got on to a parrot. If you get one on the head area, the tick can cause the parrot to die as a result of blood clots, inflammation and disease. This is not a very common problem, but I would suggest that if you are worried about mites and ticks, the best thing to do is remove your bird from the room, get a product like Ardrap, spray round the skirting board and around the window, and once the smell has gone it is safe to reintroduce your birds to the room. This type of product will last for six weeks, killing any pest that is crawling around the room.

In an aviary situation as well, if you have mites, we would recommend that you use Mite Predator, so there’s no chemicals at all if you can’t remove all your birds.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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Putting your parrot outside

I’m often asked at this time of year about putting birds outside, for example if someone has a parrot in the house whether they can put the bird outside, and they imagine there won’t be any problems at all. With taking some care, there shouldn’t be.

The bird might be used to being inside, in a nice constant temperature of 20 degrees centigrade, and not being in a draft or in the sun. This bird could have been inside for many years, and to suddenly take that bird and put it outside we have to consider several things.

First of all, make sure the bird is not in full sunlight, if it’s not used to it. The bird may be a species that lives in the tropical rainforest or places that are used to sun, but it won’t have had sun for a long time and a sudden change in environment can be very dangerous.

Also, they’re not used to drafts and the weather outside, if there’s constant breeze from one direction they can catch a chill and do themselves some harm. Make sure the aviary is partly covered from the breeze and make sure half of the roof is covered as well, as a sudden downpour from a storm of something like that can actually kill a bird even in warm weather. The wind and the rain tends to cause so much more damage to a bird than just having a low temperature.

The other thing to keep in mind is cats, dogs and foxes. You might think they won’t get problems during the day, but this isn’t the case because foxes, for example, are now out during the day and don’t actually have to get hold of your bird to kill it – and cats can be even worse. They only have to run round the aviary, or climb over the top of it, and this can be enough to scare your bird to death.

Please don’t think I’m trying to put you off putting your bird outside, but it is far better to tell you about all the problems you can have, so that when you do move your bird outside you are aware of these so nothing goes wrong. In the next few months, we will have some very strong aviaries designed by Rob Harvey Specialist Feeds available to buy, which will be perfect for outdoor use, and they also come with a cover – watch this space for further details!

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

Rob Harvey on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest

 

Should I spray my parrot with water?

A recent question, and a very common question I get asked is how often should I spray my parrot, or should I spray my parrot with water?

This is something that I wouldn’t really recommend at all, but it seems to be common knowledge on the internet that it’s good for parrots. After travelling around the world as an avian consultant and visiting many of the largest parrot collections, of birds that are in perfect condition, with a lot of these collections the birds are never sprayed at all. Also some parrots, if they suddenly get sprayed get very scared indeed, especially nervous parrot species like African Greys. If African Greys, and some of the Cockatoo species get suddenly shocked by being sprayed by water, this can cause feather problems. Many times at Bird World we had African Greys come in, and other parrots, and the cause of their feather problems was because they got scared by someone suddenly spraying them two or three times a week, because they’d heard that it was a good thing for their parrot.

If you spray your parrot now, and it’s enjoying it and loving it, there is no need to stop. But, your parrots don’t need to be sprayed with water, so don’t start suddenly doing it and scaring them, because rather than making their plumage better (which is maybe what you were hoping to do), you can stress them so much that they start losing some of their feathers.

If you think your parrot would like a bath, by all means put a large bowl of water in the cage, and if they need to preen or soak themselves with water they will probably make an awful mess and thoroughly enjoy it.  If you can cope with that, that won’t do them any harm at all.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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What can you do if you have a noisy parrot at home?

A question we get commonly asked by people is what they can do if they have a noisy parrot at home, and it’s nearly always for the same reason.

It can be a new parrot, or a parrot that someone has had for years and their behaviour seems to have changed. These are very intelligent birds and often it starts by accident. We’ll get phone calls where the bird is screaming, talking, shouting a lot, various things going on when the owner isn’t in the room. Now what’s happening with this situation is quite simple – the parrot wants attention, having similar intelligence to that of a young child. At some point the parrot realises that when the owner leaves the room, and it is by itself, if they start screeching and making as much noise as they can, then the owner comes back into the room to see what’s wrong with the parrot – and this can be the start of the problem.

As soon as the bird clicks, and with their intelligence it’s very quickly, that they can do this and the owner comes back in the room, they’ve got the attention that they were looking for – and then this happens all the time. Unfortunately the only thing you can do about it is try to retrain your parrot. So the first part of it is to completely ignore your bird when they’re screaming and shouting, until the point that they give up. When they stop screaming, and it all goes quiet, it can be time to walk back into the room perhaps – just to say hello to your bird and give them a treat. This retraining programme can take a very, very long time – so be warned that if your bird suddenly starts to make a noise, it’s not always a good idea to go and see if their ok as it could be the start of a very long and noisy process.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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Dried fruit or fresh fruit – which is best for your birds?

I am commonly asked whether people can feed dried fruit  to soft bills and parrots instead of fresh fruit – read on to find out the answer in my latest blog post.

Why choose dried fruit?

Many zoos and bird parks feed their birds dried fruit on a very large scale and often it’s much easier to do.

Dried fruit is almost as good as fresh fruit, and it can be bought in bulk, which is a very useful tool if you’re busy and want to give your birds something different to eat. Some people feed both as some dried fruit not easily available. The most common dried fruit to feed to birds would be raisins, which can be fed as they are to parrot species, or soaked overnight before being fed to soft bills.

Raisins 3

The main benefit of feeding your birds dried fruit is that it can give variety. In my days at Bird World, I found that variety in the diet is what birds prefer – it keeps them happy, and the more variety they have, the more likely they are to breed during breeding season.

Which option is best?

With all of that said, if you have the choice and money’s not an option, fresh fruit is always best when fed on a daily basis in my opinion, but dried fruit provides a good alternative to add variety.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

Rob Harvey on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest

Bird room Temperature

What temperature to keep my birds in bird room customer asks?  Not too hot as this can be fatal. All birds will acclimatize down to lower temperatures. With all the inside areas where I kept all types of birds from parrots to hornbills the temperature was only kept up to 6 degrees centigrade. This way if you get a power cut your birds will not get suddenly chilled and die. Also costs much less to run. This does not mean suddenly drop the temperature in your bird rooms. Lower temperature over a few weeks. Of course if you spend a lot of time in your bird room you may want it at room temperature which is fine for you and them. Fresh air is always good for birds but drafts are not so try to keep bird room dust free if you can as good for them and you.  On a warm day open a window if you can.  Always call me if you are worried or need advice.