Many consumers are under the mistaken impression that birds are low-maintenance pets that don’t require a lot of special attention and care. In reality, however, birds are very social and intelligent creatures. They are complex animals with a surprising range of likes, dislikes and needs. Much like all other pets, they need proper nutrition, routine veterinary care, and plenty of opportunity for socialization. If you’ve recently bought a bird or plan on bringing one home soon, the four tips that follow will help you keep your bird happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.

Establish A Plan For Routine Veterinary Care

Your bird’s first visit to the vet should occur immediately before or after you bring him or her home. This is the perfect time for a baseline exam to identify your pet’s current level of health and any unique, nutritional needs. If you’ve never cared for a bird before and need species-specific guidance, this is also your chance to get it. Following this initial visit, your bird will need annual check-ups to ensure proper development, and to identify any minor health issues before these have the chance to spiral out of control. Rather than working with a general veterinarian, you may even want to consider the benefits of working with an avian specialist.

Create A Balanced And Nutrient-Dense Diet For Your Bird

Many bird owners make the mistake of only feeding their pets seed. Birdseed is definitely an important part of your pet’s diet, but it should never be the only food type that’s being offered. Birds should eat approximately 50 percent pellets and 50 percent grains, vegetables and fruits. Before you shop for bird products online, however, ask your vet for recommendations on food types. If you do choose to work with an avian specialist, you should be able to get species-specific recommendations for ensuring optimum, nutritional support and health.

Maintain A Clean, Comfortable Cage That Offers Plenty Of Room For Movement

Never line your bird’s cage with bark shavings or substrate. These materials can grow fungi and bacteria whenever they become moist. They are also incredibly difficult to clean. It’s far better to use either plain newsprint or newspapers instead. These papers should be replaced each day given that the average bird will relieve his or herself three to four times every hour. When relining your cage, go ahead and give your bird fresh water as well. If you make sure to keep the water dish in an elevated location, you can prevent your bird from going to the bathroom in it. You also want to make sure that your pet’s cage offers plenty of room for movement. Confining any animal in an overly small space for an extended period of time can result in socialization and behavioral issues.

Let Your Bird Out Of The Cage From Time To Time

No matter how spacious your bird’s cage may be, it’s important for this animal to have plenty of time out in the open. Just like cats, dogs, rabbits and other pets, birds need plenty of interaction and lots of opportunities to get out and move freely. If your bird starts biting or plucking at his or her own feathers, this likely means that there isn’t enough time being spent out of the cage or socializing with others.

Given their small sizes, birds might seem like low-maintenance pets, but they actually require a lot of attention and care. Creating a clean, comfortable and spacious environment for your pet is important for ensuring his or her mental and emotional well-being. With routine vet visits and a properly balanced diet, your bird can enjoy a long, happy, and ultimately healthy life.