I pay close attention when life issues a wake-up call. I am always grateful for the forewarning that danger is lurking up ahead and I try to extract as much positive from the experience as I can. Sometimes these personal near misses drive home lessons that also help me to be a better parront.
I have a pretty good diet. I make healthy food choices and buy good products. My diet is not perfect – I allow myself the occasional indulgence foods, but I use moderation with everything I eat which has always served me well. Following recent blood work, however, I was floored to learn that my cholesterol has seriously skyrocketed.
Prior to this, the last discussion I had with my doctor about my cholesterol was that it was fine and didn’t need discussion. So what went wrong?
I work for Birdtricks.com part-time, which usually involves me sitting here at the computer blogging or answering questions. My other job was an active one which kept me moving all the time – until 2 years ago when I opted for a position that has me sitting in an office all day. In two short years, the lack of activity changed my health from a source of pride to one that is causing concern.
It isn’t an unreasonable stretch to relate this health scare to the birds all over the world that sit around in cages all day. The moral of the story is clear. A good diet is imperative, but it must be partnered with exercise.
Wild birds are intensely active. A bird’s body is designed for the expense of that amount of energy. Captive birds have much less opportunity or need for that level of activity because we tend to do everything for them. We really should not be thinking of ways to make their life easier, but ways to make them healthier. There are simple things we can do to help our birds be more active both in and out of the cage:
- Arrange the cage in a way that forces movement. Place food and water bowls on opposite sides of the cage. Hang toys and foragers in places that require climbing for access– and don’t place perches nearby.
- Stop transporting your bird. When it is time to come out of the cage, open the door and let your bird walk or fly to his destination on his own.
- Hang climbing ropes or nets from the floor to play stands or other favorite spots. Climbing is great exercise and your bird will benefit from the struggle – no helping!
We might barely notice how quickly time slips away from us when we are busy. Sometimes, when we come up for air, we are faced with harsh realities. I am going to make sure to maximize this opportunity to better myself AND my birds.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.