Bird Behaviour

Behaviour problems in aviary birds can include biting, screeching, feather picking and other phobias. These behavioural problems usually occur when the bird’s needs are not being met. The basic needs of birds include food, water, shelter, rest and appropriate social interaction.

Some factors which might contribute to behavioural problems can be:

  • Cage size – The cage needs to be large enough for the bird to comfortable. As a general rule, cage sizes should be a minimum of 1-1/2 times larger than the bird’s wingspan.
  • Cage location – This will depend on the nature of the bird. If it is a very gregarious bird it should be in a position where it is near family activity. If it is a timid bird, place it in a position where it is near a wall so it feels that it can hide if necessary.
  • Cage height – ensure cages are not on the ground as this can make birds feel extremely vulnerable.
  • Boredom – if the family members are away from the house for extended periods of time, it is important to provide a bird with toys and to rotate these toys regularly to relieve boredom.
  • Sleep deprivation – birds can require up to 12 hours sleep per night. Due to artificial lighting in homes this may not always occur. The best thing to do is to move the bird to a quiet part of the house at night to help with sleep.
  • Social interaction – there are various ways in which to interact with the bird to modify anti-social behaviour. These can include changing the tone of voice, being more expressive with the bird so it understands the consequences of certain behaviours. Ensure that whatever method you use that you are consistent. It is a good idea to consult a veterinary expert of bird behaviourist for the best advice on how to treat serious behavioural problems.

Feeding Behaviours

Different types of birds have doifferent feeding requirements and behaviours. If feeding is not properly catered to; other behaviours can be affected.

For many types of pet birds:

  • Within the pet enclosure, a cuttlefish should be available for the parrot to gnaw on and to prevent hypocalcaemia.  A mineral block can also be provided and this help prevent deficiencies as well as providing some stimulation.

  • Fresh, clean drinking water should be available at all times.  It should washed daily to avoid algae build up and bacteria.

Example: Parrots
Remember these should be cut into small chunks or grated and the pits or large seeds should be removed.  Avocado is toxic to birds so should not be given.  Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value and can cause diarrhea.  

Parrots originate from varying areas of the world, especially where thick bushes and shrubs grow.  They are omnivorous birds who will feed on plant buds, weeds, nuts, shrubs, insects, fruits and berries.    

A parrot’s diet can be complex and around a quarter of their intake should be from seed and the rest should include grains, legumes, nuts, fruit and vegetables.  Commercial parrot seed mixes and pelleted mixes are available and again there is much controversy over which has the best nutritional value.  It is a good idea to offer both seed and pellet form, remembering to follow guidelines on each food and not overfeed.  Be particularly careful that seed mixes do not contain a high volume of sunflower seeds.  These can cause obesity and lead to behavioural issues such as the parrot becoming greedy and picky, and only eating the sunflower seeds.  

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