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Birds + Care & Wellness

  • Most people are well-educated about the dangers of smoking. But do they know that second-hand smoke can similarly affect their cats, dogs, and birds?

  • Toucans and toucanettes have a high moisture diet and a relatively short digestive tract, which make for a very quick transit time of food through their digestive tract. Hemochromatosis, or iron storage disease, in toucans and toucanettes has long been suspected to be related to high dietary iron. Current dietary recommendations are for diets low in iron. In addition to a low-iron containing pellet, toucans and toucanettes should be offered a large variety of diced fruits. Fresh clean water must be available at all times.

  • There are approximately 35 (or more) species of Toucans and Toucanettes (family Ramphastidae) including the smaller, slender Aracaris. They are found in Central and South America.

  • In the wild, most birds forage for food for hours at a time, and when they are not resting, they are playing. These activities occupy huge amounts of the bird's day. In captivity, they have food served to them on a silver platter with no effort or work.

  • Birds can be great travelers. Most tolerate cars and airplanes very well, and some actually love the excitement of travel; however, some birds may be very stressed by travel. It is not safe (for you or your bird) for your bird to be roaming freely in the car while you are driving. Airlines vary in their regulations for travel with birds. You must contact the airline you are using to determine their specific policies regarding pet travel. Tranquilizers or sedatives should not be used during travel due to potential risk of reaction. Before making any travel plans, contact the consulate or border authorities of the country you are planning to enter to determine the kind of health certificates and medical testing your bird will need prior to travel. Your bird will likely need a physical examination and written health certificate from a federally accredited veterinarian within a certain number of days of travel, depending on the airlines and on the destination.

  • New birds should be examined by an avian veterinarian within the first couple of days after purchase or adoption. Pet birds should receive routine annual veterinary examinations. A physical examination allows a veterinarian to pick up subtle signs of disease before they are obvious. From the time you walk into the exam room, your veterinarian will observe your bird in his cage and note his attitude, posture, feathering, vocalizations, and physical condition. Your bird will then be gently but securely restrained in a towel to prevent injury and physically examined. Your veterinarian will discuss the need for testing with you depending on the findings of the physical examination. Tests, including blood tests and fecal analysis, are performed routinely on apparently healthy birds to monitor the current state of health of the bird. The specific tests your veterinarian suggests will depend on your bird’s age, size, species, and health status.

  • Many bird owners are surprised to learn that all pets, including their birds, need an initial visit by an avian veterinarian and at least an annual checkup (many veterinarians recommend checkups at least twice a year, to allow for early detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening diseases.)

  • Veterinary care seems expensive. Here are some of the reasons behind the costs of veterinary care, and some things that you, as a pet owner, can do to help make it affordable.

  • In the spring and summer, it is not unusual to encounter a baby bird on the ground. The immediate response of a kind-hearted human is to take the little orphan home and then try to figure out what to do with it.

  • The purpose of clipping a bird's wings is not to prevent flight completely but to ensure the bird is unable to achieve or sustain upward flight and to prevent escape, unwanted roaming, and exposure to dangerous situations. After a wing clip, the idea is for birds to be able to flutter to the floor safely. Typically, the primary feathers are trimmed about half way from the base of the feather to the tip. The secondary feathers should not be clipped, and no feathers should be clipped shorter than midway from base to tip. While some people prefer the more cosmetic appearance when the outermost 1-2 feathers are left untouched, many small birds, like budgies and cockatiels, may fly when these feathers are left at the end. Newly growing pin or blood feathers (that retain blood in the shaft until the feather matures) will bleed quite profusely if accidentally cut. Before attempting wing clipping yourself, have your veterinarian show you exactly how to clip and the correct feathers to cut.