I read an article in Bird Talk magazine some time ago that just aggravated me. The author, whom I have always respected for her vast experience, went on to describe scenarios in which it is okay to lay back in the care of your bird. While I’m all about making the hard job of bird ownership as easy and simple as possible, it is not a good idea to tell your readers, many of whom are brand new to this experience, the ways in which it is okay to be lazy.
Mainly, it was her comments about slacking off in the area of diet that sent me over the edge. She suggested that it would be okay for your bird to go a few days with only pellets (and water) in the cage. Technically, that’s true. But to some new readers, that might mean that if it is okay to go a few days without fresh foods, the bird will survive a week, which it will. The real problem begins when a week turns into two, two turns into a month, and before long the new owner doesn’t bother with fresh foods at all because her bird is, after all, still alive. Though, perhaps, not for long.
I fully appreciate how trying a life with birds can be at times. If you are doing things correctly, a lot of your “free” time is spent sweeping, vacuuming, washing, toy making and cooking for your birds. Been there, done that, and will be doing it for many years to come. It is hard sometimes (okay, often), but there are areas where we can cut those corners, and areas where we absolutely cannot.
One such area is diet. While it is quite true that a bird is not going to die from a vitamin deficiency because of a few feedings that don’t include veggies, those of us who have had birds for a while now know how quickly the normally healthy appetite of a bird can fall by the wayside with just a short period of inappropriate feeding.
If your time is short (and whose isn’t?), it is simple to chop a few days' worth of produce at one time for easy service in the morning before work. It is simple to prepare freezable meals such as batches of mash and chop mixes. It is effortless for another caregiver to thaw and serve these meals in your absence. There really aren’t any excuses for your bird not to be eating properly all the time.
There are a lot of ways you CAN conserve your time and energy with bird cleaning duties:
- Place a shower curtain or drop cloth beneath play areas where food is served or toys dismantled. Or you could use my favorite, an office desk chair mat, which you can wipe down with a damp cloth, and which conveniently fits into the shower for a good cleaning.
- A hand held vacuum is a bird owner’s best friend.
- Placing papers on top of the grates, for those with birds who are not paper shredding fanatics, saves you the clean up of that cage part.
- Placing several layers of paper at the bottom of the cage will allow you to remove the dirty layers, exposing nice fresh ones in the tray.
- Misting the cage liners will trap dander at the cage bottom and cut down on airborne dust, reducing the mess throughout the home.
- Keeping a set of extra dishes per cage saves you from having to wash the dishes for immediate re-use.
We all would prefer to spend more time playing with our birds. These are just few ways to shortcut through the daily chores. What ways have you found to make the work easier for you?
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.