Guide To Owning A Pet Bird – Questions & Answers By Expert!


Ask the Lazi Birds!

Steve and Diane Lazicki have been rescuing and working with birds for over 8 years, as well as raising them as pets since childhood. They live with over 150 birds in their “birdhouse,” so they have a wealth of bird expertise. Direct your bird-related questions to the Lazi Birds.


Dear bird lovers,

With the holidays coming up I would like to take this opportunity to offer some precautions which may be a help to you in keeping your “fids” safe and stress-free. We can all agree that this is probably the busiest time of year. We have meal planning, holiday shopping, traveling, and all kinds of arrangements and physical activities to plan and execute. At times, our pet’s needs can be overlooked. Unfortunately, this can and has caused devastating results. My dear mom always said, “An ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure”. That being said, I’ll begin.

Although your bird may not understand “holidays”, they can certainly sense and feel the stress levels rise. Stress to an animal is an indication of danger. While we may be enjoying the festivities, our birds may be in a compromising position. There are exceptions. If your bird is used to a lot of traffic and activities, there are still areas of concern for them. A lot of company with the doors opening often can startle the flighted bird. Many birds have flown, for the first time, out the door. The safe alternative is to keep your bird in the cage until the company has left. Wrapping paper is another danger. Your bird can become involved with unwrapping gifts and decide to ‘hide’ in the paper. The unthinkable has been known to happen in such cases. If your bird is not used to a lot of activity in the home, you may want to relocate the bird to another room through the holidays. If this is your plan, please remember to ‘spend time’ in the room with your pet. Also, be sure there is adequate heat and light, as well as something for stimulation. (radio, TV, or toys). We at Lazicki’s Bird House & Rescue wish you safety, peace, love, and happiness at this joyous time of year.

Lazibirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

My parakeet has a rough time with the molt. Is there anything I can do to make him more comfortable? What kinds of foods are best for him at this time?

Concerned Parakeet Owner

A: Dear Concerned Parakeet Owner,

Yes, you can help your little buddy. First, daily misting is important. The rain is one of the things that help birds in the ‘wild.’ Secondly, feeding high protein at this time is a good thing. Egg yolks are great and most birds love them (hard-boiled) also, make sure you remove what isn’t eaten after an hour or so. They also sell a molting supplement in most pet stores.

The next thing that will help is sunlight. Birds get the vitamin D that they need from it. NOT filtered through a window, which will block the UV rays. Through a screen is OK.
Thank you for being on top of the problem birds have with molting. So many human Moms & Dads don’t notice and birdies just have to struggle through it the best way they can.
I hope this helps the little guy.

Love, LaziBirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

I have a few pet birds and I am putting together a first aid kit for them for when our pet sitter is here. What do you recommend I include? Is there somewhere I can purchase one already put together?

Asianah

A: Hi Asianah,

Yes, there is a kit that you can purchase at just about any pet store that sells bird supplies. We also carry them. It is called the VSI Bird First Aid Kit. It is good for emergency temporary care. Depending on how many birds you have, you may want to put your own together as you said.

This little kit has quite a bit in it and runs anywhere from $19.99 to $24.00 as a rule.

This is what it contains: 1 bottle Styptic Powder (toenail/feather bleeding); 1 pair Latex Gloves (personal protection); 1 bottle Eye & Skin Wash 20 ml. (flush eyes or wounds); 1 1″ X 6 yd. Sterile Gauze Bandage (wrap around areas); 1 pair Scissors (trim feather, cut bandaged tape); 1 Pair Locking Forceps (remove broken blood feathers); 2 PVP Iodine Antiseptic Swabs (sterilization); 2 Antiseptic Towelettes (clean wound or hands); 2 Packages 2″ X 2″ Gauze Pads (apply to wound area); 5 Cotton Swabs (apply ointment or creams); 1 Roll 1/2″ X 1/2 yard Adhesive Tape (secure bandage); 1 Hand Wipe (personal cleanup) – 1 Bird Emergency Card (record birding information vet phone number); 1 Bird Kit Case; 1 Bird Kit Direction Card.

As you can see, it is pretty complete and could handle most ‘small flock’ situations. It would be worth having the kit even if you put a larger one together for home use. The kit travels easily for vacations etc. We have one with us whenever we take a bird or bird to shows, presentations, bird club meetings, etc.
I hope this is helpful to you, LaziBirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

What is Foraging and is it important for my parrot?

Jerome

A: Hi Jerome,

Foraging in the classic sense is the time in which a bird spends its day flying to and looking for food.

Little of its time is actually spent eating. Most of the time is spent in the process of looking for food.

Foraging is a great way to stimulate the parrot’s mind and also encourages more movement and exercise.  

As you can see, foraging is quite beneficial to the captive bird. There are so many ways that you can ‘set up’ a foraging situation inside a cage. 

One thing that I like to do is wrap (nonperishable) treats inside of dried cornhusks, found in the produce section of most supermarkets. Tie the ends closed with cotton rope. You can use these as foot toys or hang them in the cage. You can also wrap treats in plain paper and do the same thing. Use non-wax paper cups to fill with a combination of treats and shredding material. You can also use the cardboard toilet paper rolls to fill and secure the ends or, wrap it on paper and secure both ends of the paper.

The possibilities are endless. As your bird becomes more familiar with foraging, make it a little more challenging. Take a small plastic baby bottle and put both small (bird safe) toys and treats inside. Instead of putting the nipple back on the bottle, put the paper on the top and then the nipple ring to secure it. Once the bird realizes that he/she has to tear the paper, use a couple of layers of cheesecloth. The idea is to provide a challenge. You do need to start simple until your bird gets the ‘hang’ of it.

Have fun as you create,

The LaziBirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

Someone told me that their bird loved to shred a roll of toilet paper. It seems like it would keep my conure busy for quite a while. I want to give it a try but would like to hear what you have to say about it first.

Just Checking Mom

A: Hi Just Checking,

I’m so glad you decided to check first. Shredding paper is a great pastime for birds and they seem to just love making the mess. Toilet paper, however, is dangerous. It wasn’t all that long ago we heard of a bird choking on it. It’s so thin and can easily become caught in the bird’s throat. Also, the glue on the cardboard roll could be in question.  A telephone book with the heavily colored pages removed is a much better idea. The ink is soy-based and safe. You could drill a hole in the upper left corner for hanging and let ‘er rip…

The mess in the bottom of the cage actually helps quicken clean-up time as it catches all the poop and is easily removed without having to scrape and scrub the grates.

Another idea is to use register tape rolls. We find them at tag sales often. Remove the plastic center by pushing a dowel through, string, and hang. Start to unroll the paper a little so it’s hanging and your curious birdie will soon be in shredding heaven.

We have a lot of shredders here and another inexpensive stimulation is to roll newspaper and weave it through the cage bars. Start rolling at the corner so that you have a long roll when you’re ready to weave. One over, one under then, do another row under the first row alternating under and over. You can weave as far as you want. You might want to start with one row at first until your bird is used to the new ‘game.’

These are birdie versions of ‘paper trails’…

LaziBirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day for birds?

Jason

A: Dear Jason,

Well, it has been documented that for humans it is. I will not say that it is not important for birds. When you consider that it is “the early bird that gets the worm”… We are reminded that, in the wild, birds have to forage for their food. Thus you snooze, you lose. However, in captivity, birds have absolutely no control over what they eat or when they eat. As long as they have variety and balance, they should be fine.  Breakfast is the start of our day. If your birds are a part of your ‘family’ (which they should be), Then a great, or, jump start, should be your goal. Birds forage for most of the day. For that reason, variety is the key. We are aware that exotic birds have specific dietary needs. This is where a pellet diet comes in. The birds at Lazicki’s Bird House & Rescue are all on Harrison’s diet. There are other pellets on the market that are also a healthy choice. The rest of their foods consist of fruits, veggies, and home-baked goods. Variety is important, as that is what they would have in the wild.

LaziBirds


Q: Dear Lazi Birds,

I am interested in getting a pet bird. What do you recommend I do to start working with my new bird?

Joe, New Haven

A: Dear Joe,

First, do your homework. Make sure you choose a species of bird that is good for you and your situation. Then make sure you have all the proper equipment, housing, and supplies. When you bring your new bird home bring him to the vet for a checkup and get his nails and wings clipped. A flying bird is an authoritative bird. When taking him out of his cage use a towel or a stick. This is how you start the step-up command. Take him out of eyesight of the cage so he relies on you. Remember that any bird will bite. Try not to pull away if this happens and no matter what, don’t hit the bird. Good luck with your new bird!

Steve and Diane


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

Can I give my bird an old telephone book to shred?

Thank you, Hilary

A: Dear Hilary,

Definitely. The ink is soy-based and safe. However, there is some question as to the pages that have a lot of color on them. I would tear them out. You may want to drill a hole in the upper left corner so the book can be hung. You will have a lot of shredded paper to clean but your bird will have hours of occupied fun.

If you have a grate in your bird’s cage, you can put a layer of newspaper on the grate so that all you will have to do is roll the newspaper with the shreds inside for faster, easier cleanup. There is many ‘ homemade’ toys that keep birds content and they are of little or no expense.

LaziBirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

Can I give my bird an old telephone book to shred?

Thank you, Hilary

A: Dear Hilary,

Definitely. The ink is soy-based and safe. However, there is some question as to the pages that have a lot of color on them. I would tear them out. You may want to drill a hole in the upper left corner so the book can be hung. You will have a lot of shredded paper to clean but your bird will have hours of occupied fun.

If you have a grate in your bird’s cage, you can put a layer of newspaper on the grate so that all you will have to do is roll the newspaper with the shreds inside for faster, easier cleanup. There is many ‘ homemade’ toys that keep birds content and they are of little or no expense.

LaziBirds


Q: Dear Lazi Birds,

My aunt has quite a few finches. She said they are Zebras? They range from mostly white to different shades of grayish brown. They all have these little orange circles on the sides of their cheeks and are adorable. She has each one in a separate little cage because she doesn’t want babies. She must have six of them and they are each in a tiny cage. I asked her why she had so many and she said she loves the little sounds they make. My question is: could they possibly be happy in tiny cages? They don’t get to come out and fly around. Are having the cages side by side enough? Is there a better way not to have babies?

Thank you, Pam

A: Well Pam,

I have GREAT news for you, your aunt, and especially the finches. The orange circles on their cheeks indicate they are all males… There is no need to have to clean six cages daily. They can all go into one good size cage together. Your aunt will need to be careful with bar spacing on a larger cage. The spacing shouldn’t be wider than 1/2 inch to be safe. I recommend the largest cage she can afford and will fit nicely into her home. It’s a true joy to see them flying. We put artificial plants in our flight. Greens that hang like vines, a few silk flowers for color (which we change with the seasons), and little finch nests. Our little guys are so happy and the overall ‘look’ is pleasing to all. Even with all the birds, we have here, I still go in and watch them. I really enjoy ‘finding’ each finch. A lonely little finch sitting in a tiny cage isn’t pleasing to anyone, especially the finch! Allowing them to have each other and some cool ‘hiding’ places, not to mention flight, and you have a total entertainment center.

I hope this helps.

Grammie & Pa


Q: Dear Lazi Birds,

When can I put a new young canary in the same cage with my 2-year-old female canary? And by putting them together, will that stop him from singing? How soon can I expect babies?

Thank you, Ray

A: Well, Ray, our area of birding is ‘rescue,’ we never intentionally breed. We do know some reputable bird breeders. I contacted Richard Klubek of North Windham, who is a canary breeder, for his help. Richard was happy to help in any way that he could.

Your male needs to be a good singer as that attracts the female. He will spread his wings (display) while he sings. This should start occurring anywhere between 9 and 11 months old.

Although your male may not sing as often, he should still sing occasionally. (I don’t put on makeup as often as before I was married but I still do at times) wink!

Expecting babies… That is up to your female. When she is ready, she will start building a nest. My understanding is that there is no ‘set’ rule as to how long the courting ritual and acceptance will take. However, there ARE some basic steps to take in the introduction process that will give you a better rate of success.

First, keep your male away from your female, preferably in another room until he is singing well. Once he’s a good singer, you can put his cage next to hers. You’ll need to stay on your toes once you put them into the same cage. They may squabble a little here and there and that’s pretty much to be expected. If it gets too intense, SEPARATE them. Wait a few days and try again. You may have to repeat this more than once. She will start to build her nest when she’s ready. You can leave your male with her throughout the hatching as he will help her to care for the chicks.

Richard Klubek has made himself available for any further canary breeding questions you or anyone else may have. He would prefer to be called after 3 pm at 860-423-9030.

I hope I have been of some help to you.

Grammie & Pa


Q: Dear Diane and Steve,

During the recent quaker parrot capture and killing the United Illuminating utility company claimed that the quakers, or monks as they are sometime called, are responsible for as many as 8 to 12 power outages a month and that the birds are an invasive species.  Are these birds as dangerous as these claims make them out to be or is there some way to live peaceably with these wonderful creatures?

An animal lover

A: Dear Animal Lover,

There are efforts being made as I write, headed by a dear friend of ours, Marc Johnson. This sad situation has gone national. As far as the power outages, we’ve yet to see any documentation. I contacted Marc as he has been making trips every few days, to CT in an effort to rally help in saving “OUR” Quakers. Here is his answer.

Quaker or “monk” parakeets come from the cool mountain climates of northern Argentina and southern Brazil and along with this ability to endure colder temperatures they are also the only parrot that builds an external (as opposed to a cavity nest in the trunks of trees) nest made of twigs.  They spend days constructing the intricate homes that shield them from the cold nighttime temperatures and thus are able to survive, albeit barely, our extreme winters here in New England.  They have been part of our ecosystem for some thirty years now and the evidence shows that far from being an invasive species, they barely manage to hold on to their population numbers over the course of each year.  These parrots pose no threats to any native species (there is evidence that some native species might even benefit from the shelter provided by the nest complexes) nor do they pose any threat to agriculture or native flora.  It would seem that rather than face a regular maintenance program on the power poles where the Quakers build their nests, it is far easier to attempt an eradication every 8 years or so. Concerned citizens are now mounting an effort to “privatize” the quaker population by offering alternative nesting poles that will offer homes to any birds displaced by the nest teardowns now going on in CT.  If you would like to help in this effort you can contact Marc Johnson of Foster Parrots (Massachusetts) at 781 878-3733 or by email at [email protected]

Grammie & Pa


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

We are a working couple and thinking about getting a bird. We would like to know how long a bird will live normally. My girlfriend had a Cockateil that lived for almost 10 years! We are thinking of getting a Cockatoo or, African Grey. Should we look for a hand fed baby?

Thank you, Curious George & Caring Cathy

A: Dear George & Cathy

I’m so glad you are asking questions unlike those who don’t ask until it’s too late for both them and an unfortunate bird. KUDOS to you. I’m sorry to say, your friend’s teil died young. A healthy teil can live in excess of 17 years! Parakeets average 10 years. Conures vary, but you can expect a range of 30 to 40 years. Cockatoo’s up to 80 (having second thoughts yet)? African Greys live 60 to 80 years. If you want a bird that will live a “long” time, a macaw can live in excess of 100 years.

These figures are based on several factors, such as proper diet, exposure to natural sunlight, regular veterinarian checkups, out-of-cage time/interaction and a ‘bird safe’ home. These are just the basics…

More important than a hand-fed baby is a bird that has had a lot of human handling and interaction.

I am giving you my opinion based on a ‘rescue’ viewpoint. We take in birds from finches to macaws. Some of these guys have never been handled or, were handled improperly. The word ‘rescue’ says it all. Some are even wild-caught. We have been able to turn the majority of the most aggressive birds around. Don’t get an aggressive bird with the intention of ‘taming’ it. Exotic birds are wild animals! Success can take years, if at all successful. If a bird was handled properly as a chick, I find it similar to a hand-fed baby.

Love, LaziBirds


Q. Dear Lazi Birds,

We are a working couple and thinking about getting a bird. We would like to know how long a bird will live normally. My girlfriend had a cockateil that lived for almost TEN years! We are thinking of getting a cockatoo or, african grey. Should we look for a hand fed baby? 

Thank you, Curious George & Caring Cathy

A. Dear George & Caring Cathy

I’m so glad you are asking questions unlike those who don’t ask until it’s too late for both them and an unfortunate bird. KUDOS to you. I’m sorry to say, your friend’s teil died young… A healthy teil can live in excess of 17 years!  Parakeets average 10 years. Conures vary but you can expect a range of 30 to 40 yrs. Cockatoo’s up to 80 (having second thoughts yet)? African greys – 60 to 80 years. If you want a bird that will live a “long” time, a macaw can live in excess of 100 yrs. These figures are based on several factors such as proper diet, exposure to natural sunlight, regular vet checkups, out-of-cage time/interaction, and a ‘bird safe’ home. These are just the basics…

More important than a hand-fed baby is a bird that has had a lot of human handling and interaction. I am giving you my opinion based on a ‘rescue’ viewpoint.  We take in birds from finches to macaws. Some of these guys have never been handled or, were handled improperly. The word ‘rescue’ says it all. Some are even wild-caught.  We have been able to turn the majority of the most aggressive birds around.  DON’T get an aggressive bird with the intention of ‘taming’ it. Exotic birds are WILD ANIMALS! Success can take years if at all.  If a bird was handled properly as a chick, I find it similar to a hand-fed baby.

Good luck, Lazi Birds


Q: Are toys necessary for birds? Our bird just kind-of sits there on his perch and seems OK just to have us in the room with him. He whistles at us and I think he’s happy.

A: DEFINITELY! In the wild birds are on the go and foraging constantly, they need the stimulation for one thing. As far as your bird seeming happy, I’m sure he is while you are there with him. Have you ever wondered what he does when nobody is there? I’ll tell you, he’s bored, bored, bored. When bored some species will start to pluck feathers and even go to the point of self-mutilation. Birds are intelligent, curious, and playful. We actually have the TV on for our guys and they seem to prefer cartoons. A radio is also good. Hookbills NEED to chew. Even the softbills need stimulation. You can actually make toys that will stimulate. A roll of toilet paper that your bird can shred (larger birds) provides satisfaction. Also, you can take paper towels, roll them and weave them through the cage bars. Birds LOVE to weave. It’s a natural instinct for weaving nests. Foot toys are also enjoyed by many birdies. Birds also see in color and like bright primary colors, but you’ll need to be careful in regard to dye, some are toxic to your birds. You can also get clothespins at just about any dollar store. You don’t want the kind you have to open, the old-fashioned, one-piece, slip-on is what you want. You can use food coloring and slip them onto the cage bars. If your bird is not used to toys, you will have to introduce them slowly. You can start by playing with the toy yourself, your bird will be curious. Lay the toy down near the cage for a few days, each day playing with it and laying it back down a little closer to the cage each time. Then you can attach it to the outside of the cage, when you see your bird trying to get it, put it inside. You also need to inspect toys for frayed edges that your bird can get caught in. Regular inspection of all toys is very important! It is also very entertaining for all to see a birdie playing with toys.

PS You can buy toys at pet stores that are brightly colored and bird safe. Regular inspections are still necessary and the introduction is the same. “A busy bird is a happy bird”

Love, Grammie & Pa www.LaziBirds.com


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

My Parakeets always have a cuddle bone in their cage and it lasts for months, until recently… For the past couple of weeks I will put a cuddle bone in and within a few hours it is gone! What is going on?

Cuddle Bone Caper

A: Cuddle Bone Caper,

I have to be honest, although I had my suspicions, this one stumped me. I called the most reliable source I knew which is Kensington Bird & Animal Hospital. They felt as I did

that the birds probably just decided it was fun to chew on. Birds seem to love to destroy and when you consider the size of a parakeet, they are limited as to what they can ‘kill’ quickly. They didn’t feel as if it meant a mineral or vitamin deficiency. (That would have been my main concern).

So let’s examine their situation. First, are their wings clipped so they can enjoy the safe out-of-cage time? Second, do they have enough toys for stimulation, and are the toys rotated to avoid boredom? Have you made any recent changes that they are not used to such as moving the cage to a different location in the house? Some birds are just fine with change whereas others react to it.

On the bright side, when you consider the cost of safe bird toys, cuddle bones are an inexpensive way to keep your guys entertained and happy. The main thing is that it will not harm them and seems there are no detrimental reasons for their new hobby.

If you are concerned, I would recommend a visit to your vet.

I hope this helps,

LaziBirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

Is there a big difference in personalities between Congo greys and Timneh greys?

Interested bird lover

A: Dear bird lover,

For the most part, they are quite different.

1. The Congo’s are larger birds with lighter gray coloring and brighter red tail feathers.
2. The smaller Timneh’s are darker gray and their tail feathers are more of a burgundy coloring.
3. The Congo’s are known for being more affectionate as well as better talkers.

There are exceptions to every rule. Our Timneh, Timmy, was a wild-caught 16 years ago. A sad day for him. Even more sad is the fact that he sat in a small cage without anyone even looking at him or talking to him for over THIRTEEN YEARS!! Too many birds end up being ornaments! Anyway, Timmy came to live at our nest, which was the best thing that could have happened to him and us. He really loved music and would dance when we sang to him. Eventually, he would step into our hand and dance and whistle. What a happy day!!! Today, he actually converses and loves to be held and loved… The only bad thing is that he rules the roost, by ordering everybody around. So I guess a good rule of thumb is “Never judge a nest by its feather count”

LaziBirds


Q: Dear LaziBirds,

What fruits should I offer my finches and canaries? I was told that they can eat the same things but that seeds are not enough for them.

Thank you, A Bird Lover

A: Dear Lover,

Your information is correct. First yes, basically they can share the same foods. Diet happens to be the first, in most cases ‘problem,’ that we tackle with any new bird. We do not advocate a seed-only diet for any bird. They should be offered a variety of foods daily. We strive for a pellet diet. BOTH fruits and vegetables are an important part of healthy, well-balanced cuisine.

Here are some foods that will be fun to try.
1. Every day birds should get high protein food. You can offer a chopped egg (chicken) as well as a ‘nestling food (found in pet food supply stores). Offer separately or mix together. One half-teaspoon per bird, per day, is sufficient. Eggs spoil quickly, please take extra care in warm weather.

2. Any fruit, vegetable, or greens eaten by humans are healthy to offer to canaries and finches. Avocado is the toxic exception!

3. Bite-sized fruits and vegetables should be approximately 5 – 10% of the diet for these little guys.

4. Offer such things as grapes (broken or cut in half), bananas, apples, and the like. Also, dazzle them with dandelion greens, shredded carrots, broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, and sweet potatoes.

Variety is the ‘spice’ of life. Birds have taste buds and can distinguish many different flavors. Although not as many as there are in mammals nor are they all located on the tongue. Most taste buds in birds are located on the back of the roof of the mouth and at the base of the tongue in the throat.

Always keep a cuttlebone available in the cage.

This information was found in The Birdie Boutique.
Enjoy discovering your birdies’ pleasures.

-LaziBirds

😻 😻 Here Are Some Popular Items for the Pet Lovers. Click the Images to See the Current Prices on Amazon!! 😻 😻

Recent Posts

%d bloggers like this: