Well-socialized birds who are accustomed to human interaction can make for wonderful pets. However, unlike dogs and cats, some birds may not prefer or receive the same amount of daily attention from their owners as other pets.
Birds can suffer from depression and anxiety if their living conditions are not optimal. Birds can become irritable thanks to illness, boredom, cage position, and many other factors. Unhappy birds may engage in self-destructive behaviors, such as plucking out their feathers. Bird owners concerned that their birds may be unhappy or unhealthy should take the bird to the veterinarian for an examination, taking steps to improve the birds’ quality of life if necessary.
The organization Born Free USA does not advocate for keeping birds in captivity, but does agree that if birds are cage-kept, their conditions should be made as ideal as possible. Here are some suggestions to keep birds healthy and happy, courtesy of Born Free USA and other animal welfare and healthcare resources.
1 Feed birds nutritious diets. BeautyofBirds.com states that seed-only diets are the most common cause of premature death in companion birds. Birds need more variety to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Fruits, vegetables (including leafy greens) and sprouted seeds should account for between 20 and 25 percent of a bird’s diet.
2 Offer the largest enclosure possible. While it may not be possible to devote an entire room to a companion bird, shop for the largest cage available. This will give the bird more room to exercise and spread its wings.
3 Keep sunlight flowing. Birds need access to unfiltered sunlight and/or full-spectrum lighting so they can synthesize vitamin D. Window glass blocks necessary UV rays. On nice days, take birds outside to enjoy time outdoors with fresh air and plenty of sunlight.
4 Provide enrichment activities. Birds can become bored, so stave off boredom with activities that enable them to use their brains. Birds might enjoy foraging for treats or playing treasure hunt games. Offer a variety of toys to keep them stimulated.
5 Provide time to spend outside of the cage. Birds may benefit from a change of scenery to improve their moods. Let the bird out of its cage so it can safely explore its surroundings. Make sure there are no breakable items, close drapes so the bird will not fly into window glass, and be certain ceiling fans are turned off.
6 Provide natural perches. Offer living branches that will be more comfortable on birds’ feet than other perches. Birds need a variety of textures and sizes in their perches to keep them healthy. Birds’ happiness as companion animals is strongest when their needs are met. Employing various strategies that promote their health and provide mental stimulation can improve birds’ quality of life.