MACAW University






When you bring a beautiful bird into your life, your home, and your family,
there are things you may want to know, things such as...


Where can I learn more about my new friend?
Book stores, libraries and bird clubs are good sources of information about your bird. The internet chat rooms offer advice and message boards for questions. Do a search in Google for your type of bird and see what comes up. You can also send me an email and I can ask around.


What are the nutritional needs?
This depends on the species of bird you have. There are some nutritional needs that all species require such as fresh greens like leafy lettuce, broccoli, carrots with the tops still on. Be sure to wash your fresh vegetables to clean them of any harmful pesticides. Pellets are good in that they provide most of the vitamins and nutrition your bird needs, but you can add some seeds along with those fresh veggies too to give your bird good variety. Birds also enjoy an occasional hard boiled egg broken up with the shell.


What  hazards lurk around the corner to my bird?
One word - many. Certain foods like avocados and chocolate are very poisonous. Aerosol sprays, cigarette smoke, Teflon, paint, and many airborne chemicals are extremely harmful to the bird's delicate respiratory system. Lead paint on a window seal that they may chew on when left alone, ceiling fans, open and closed windows and mirrors if your bird can fly, boiling water, dirty food, and dirty water bowls are just a few.


What are the behavioral requirements?
Birds, especially the size larger than a finch, require a lot of attention and time with you. Birds are very social animals. They need to feel a part of your flock. They are happiest in big cages, given a lot of love, lots of different toys to chew on and toys that challenge them. Birds kept in solitary confinement because they are too loud, too messy or bite, only slowly get worse. Birds mistreated of given poor nutrition can start bad behavior habits like screaming all the time or pulling out all their feathers and begin to look sickly. Many birds and humans have a falling out when the birds needs are not fully understood. Ideally, those needs should be understood or begun to be understood, the day the bird comes into your life. There have been many birds that were surrendered to avian rescues that have recovered and been re-adopted successfully. There's always hope that the bad behavior you may see can be corrected with a little patience, education and proper nutrition. It all begins by understanding  the needs of your new friend. Keep in mind that many birds can live over 60 years, and some over 100 years. That's a lifetime!


What do I do with a misbehaving bird?
First step is to make sure you understand your bird's needs. Is the diet one with good sources of vitamin A, like leafy vegetables, carrots, pellets and seeds? Is your bird being harassed by another member of the family, a dog or cat? Is the cage too small? Does your bird get 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night? If the question has still not been answered, try and find some books on bird behavior, talk with someone in a bird club, or talk with your avian vet. There are people who specialize in working with you and your bird in teaching bird behavior whose services you may need.


Why are so many birds surrendered to avian rescues and shelters?
Mainly because the person buying the bird didn't understand the special needs of their new friend from the start or realized how long the bird will live. Some people when confronted with problems with their bird decide the bird no longer fits in their life, so they let it go, rather than work with the bird. Bird rescues are full of heartbreaking stories. The bird rescue in Madison, WI took in over 300 birds within their first year. 300 birds!


What kinds of questions do you get at MACAW?
People will ask if I know someone who would be interested in buying their birds and cages because for one reason or another, that they can't keep them anymore. I usually refer them to an avian rescue in Wisconsin and I also ask around the club to see if anyone would be interested. Sometimes I get a call about a lost or found bird in the area and try and help out as best I can. Some of the hardest things to hear are the stories of where the person's bird escaped and thy are heartbroken trying to find their bird. Sometimes I get an email asking where they can take their bird for vet care, to find a bird sitter, and where there are upcoming bird fairs. I answer them as the questions come in because things are constantly changing. Another good resource for information on birds in our area is the Dane County Humane Society. More links to resources and services can be found on our links page.

Additional Learning Opportunities
The Niles Animal Hospital has some very well written articles on bird care. Many of our club members know one of the vets on staff there, Dr. Peter Sakas who has given many talks on the care of birds. Here is a link to their web page...

I hope this has helped you learn something new. Remember, we have monthly meetings too that offer you many opportunities to learn new things about your bird. If you have a question, you can always send me a note too. Thank you for visiting.  Steve




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