Archive for March, 2015

Toys for Your Bird’s Happiness

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Dear Parrot Lover,

Let’s face it: bird toys are pricy…and the bigger your parrot is, the bigger the toy is and the bigger the price tag will be.

But parrot toys don’t necessarily need to be expensive. Sure, you can hop on down to your local pet store and purchase a shiny new parrot toy. But you have no guarantee whether your parrot will like that toy or not. You also do not have any guarantee on where that toy was made, or where the parts were sourced.

An alternative here is to make your own natural bird toys for your parrot to enjoy. Allow your creativity to run wild!

Who better to provide your parrot with a fun, and safe, toy, than you – the parrot toy maker!

Regardless of the size or species, all parrots enjoy chewing up and climbing up natural branches and twigs. Take a stroll along a nearby nature trail, venture through a national forest, or simply take a walk through your backyard. You’ll be sure to find many different sizes of branches, twigs, and sticks that have fallen off the trees due to high winds or age.

There are only two simple rules here: 1. Be very sure that the trees have never been sprayed with any type of noxious pesticide; 2. Be very sure of the type of tree before selecting a branch to take home.

Here is a partial list of commonly found trees that are also safe for parrots and birds to chew and play with:

Apple

Dogwood

Arbutus

Elm

Ash

Fir

Aspen

Hawthorn

Beech

Larch

Birch

Pine

Cottonwood

Poplar

Crab-apple

Willow

Branches from these trees make great perches. Parrots should have at least three different sized perches in their cages. Having varying sizes will help exercise and strengthen a parrot’s toes, feet, and leg muscles. Natural knobs and twists add to the exercise.

Foraging parrots can be given any of these safe tree branches with its leaves and bark still attached. Just be sure to thoroughly wash the branches in water with a little non-toxic soap. They can be laid outside in the sun to dry for a few hours. If you are worried about diseases, or you just want to play it especially safe, you can disinfect the branches by immersing them in a 1:10 solution of bleach and water, before thoroughly rinsing them and laying them out to dry in the sun as well. You may even want to place smaller branches onto a baking sheet and dry them out in the oven on a low heat setting.

Do stay away from any of the trees that fall within the Prunus family as they are made up of cyanogenic glycosides which release cyanide when ingested. These trees include:

Apricot

Cherry

Nectarine

Peach

Prune

Toys for Your Bird’s Happiness


Toys are a vital element in a bird’s life

Click here to see how easy it is to keep your bird happy

You can’t underestimate how important toys are in your bird’s daily life. They provide him with much of his entertainment when left alone in his cage and when you’re not there. Without this mental stimulation and enrichment your bird can easily develop behavioral problems that are undesirable and can be dangerous to his health.

There are a few primary factors when selecting toys for your bird:

  • Textures of the toy and the ability to chew. Birds love to chew on their toys and varying textures can help stimulate this natural behavior.
  • The appearance of it. This isn’t about if we find it attractive. Instead, the colors of a toy can draw a bird in since birds can see a very wide spectrum of colors.
  • The mental stimulation factor of the toy. Toys that allow for enrichment where the bird can use natural behaviors are best. Can you hide food within the toy to encourage foraging behavior, for example?
  • The safety of the toy. Can the bird damage the toy, ingest pieces of it, or otherwise endanger himself with the toy? For example, toys with a lot of rope can entangle a bird’s feet or can unravel.

Click here to learn about other factors in bird toys

Making sure toys are safe

While it’s important for your bird to have toys, you do want the toys to be safe. You want to make sure the size is appropriate for your individual bird, and you want to make sure no toxic materials are incorporated into the toy.

You also want to make sure that the toy stimulates natural behaviors for your bird because this creates the best scenario for mental health. Shredding and pulling at toys are natural behaviors so some of the best natural materials for a toy are things like leather, bamboo, cuttle bone, coconut shell, and sisal.

It is always important to routinely rotate your bird’s toys to make sure your bird doesn’t tire of any one toy, and this also gives you an opportunity to inspect toys for damage and remove any that are.

Learn more about toxin-free options in bird toys

Parrots Toys by Mail Club

Parrots Toys by Mail is a great option for toxin-free toys that are readily available and shipped right to you. It’s a mail club that is so simple you won’t believe it. Every month the club will send you brand new toys that are specially selected just for your bird. This way you know the size and materials of each toy are exactly what you need. They are also free of toxins, made of natural materials, and ready for your bird’s enjoyment.

Click here to read more about the Parrot Toys by Mail Club and how to join

Regards, Nathalie Roberts

Keeping Your Pet Bird Healthy

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Dear Parrot Lover,

Just as with human beings, parrots rely on their livers to help detoxify their bodies by breaking down harmful fat. But when their livers become unhealthy, they develop a condition known as Hepatic Lipidosis – otherwise referred to as Fatty Liver Disease.

Fatty Liver Disease occurs when the normal cells of a parrot’s liver begin to fill up with fat. These healthy cells slowly start to be become abnormal and discontinue their ability to perform at their optimal level. Over time, these once healthy liver cells are destroyed. Once these liver cells die off, scar tissue will replace them.

There are quite a few causes of Fatty Liver Disease in Parrots. But the most common cause is obesity due to a diet that is mostly seed based. This is because seed-only diets have a rather high fat content, whilst simultaneously being low in important nutrients such as methionine, choline, and biotin. The more seeds a parrot eats, the less active he will become, and the higher his chances are of having a fatty liver. Eating too much can also wreak havoc on a parrot’s liver.

Other causes of Fatty Liver Disease include long-term exposure to certain types of toxins. These include mycotoxins that are found in some seeds, including peanuts in shells, plant toxins, aflatoxins, and chemical toxins such as those found in common household cleaners, deodorizers, pesticides, aerosols, and insecticides.

Diabetes Mellitus and Thyroid Dysfunction, as well as other types of metabolic disorders, can also lead to Fatty Liver Disease in parrots.

Obviously, one of the most common signs of Fatty Liver Disease in a parrot is obesity. Parrots that are truly overweight will actually have fatty or lumpy deposits that you can feel on their chest and abdomen.

Physical symptoms also include a beak that grows abnormally rapid; and black areas that are found on their toenails and beaks. These black areas are actually tiny hemorrhages, or bruises. Also, a parrot’s primary feathers may change to a different colored hue.

A physical examination by a board certified Avian Vet will also determine whether the bird has an enlarged fatty liver; although sometimes this can be visible seen as a distended abdomen, with the liver discernable right below the parrot’s keel.

The parrot may also have breathing difficulties as the liver begins to take up more room. Yellowish diarrhea is also a sign of Fatty Liver Disease.

The best prevention, and cure, is to change your parrot’s diet to one that is more organic, wholesome, and complete. A perfect parrot diet is one that is low in fat, rich in fiber, and that has reduced protein content. It is important to feed organic, as it is best not to overload the
liver with any pesticides used on food that is conventionally grown.

Finally, make sure that a parrot with Fatty Liver Disease gets plenty of quiet sleep as this will help restore their liver.

The staple diet should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables with a good quality dry food mix (that doesn’t contain any chemicals, artificial flavors or colors). Foods to focus on are those that will help the liver detoxify.

Foods and nutrients that aid in the detoxification process include: Magnesium, Vitamin C, foods rich in Vitamin B2, B5, B6, B12, walnuts, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, citrus peel, egg yolks, garlic, red peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, animal protein, whole unprocessed grains, some legumes, and turmeric.

Fiber is important for cleansing the intestines of toxins. Encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and unlimited amounts of fresh vegetables adds fiber and nutrients.

Sprouted seeds are an excellent option. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat stored in the seed to start the growing process - thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds. Also, the texture is more vegetable-like, which may encourage a bird to begin eating veggies. Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables.

Do not feed peanuts or food items that could contain mycotoxins, which could further damage the liver.

Keeping Your Pet Bird Healthy

Taking care of a bird can be tricky

Click here to read what you should be feeding
your bird for optimal health

Birds aren’t like cats and dogs. There isn’t a vet on every street corner, and the information written about them is more limited. It’s hard to know exactly how to care for a bird or how to keep him healthy.

Stress is one of the most important parts of the bird health equation, but it’s often easily overlooked. If a bird is under constant stress he will be more susceptible to disease, parasites, behavioral issues, and potentially a shortened lifespan.

Understanding what stress looks like in your bird can help you quickly change the situation to help your bird. Loss of appetite, changes in behavior including fear or aggression, as well as destructive behavior can all be symptoms of stress.

Click here to learn more stress in birds and how it affects their health

Understanding disease

Even trickier than understanding stress in birds is knowing some of the more common and potentially life-threatening health problems that occur in birds. For example, do you know what Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) is? It’s a highly contagious virus that doesn’t have a current treatment or cure. Knowing the signs of the disease, and many others, is essential to preventing disease in your bird and others around it.

There are many other common health problems that every bird owner needs to be informed about, but how can you know it all?

Click here to read more about health problems in parrots

Professional know-how for your bird’s health

Dr. Joel Murphy is a bird professional and avian veterinarian with 21 years of clinical experience with The Animal & Bird Medical Center of Palm Harbor. He knows how frustrating it can be for a parrot owner to have all the information one needs. His experience with birds and their owners has helped him to create a reference guide for good health care.

How to Care for Your Pet Bird has 22 chapters that share key information with more information than you can imagine! This is a book you’ll want to have on hand. Inside you’ll find information about:

Choosing the right bird

Pet bird nutrition

Pet bird misconceptions

Selecting a veterinarian

Bird care

Bird illness

Emergencies

Beak issues

Feather plucking

Infectious diseases, fungal problems, and viruses from minor to severe

Parasites

Baby birds

Aviary management

Click here to read more about How to Care for Your Pet Bird

Regards,
Nathalie Roberts