Did you know that …
… budgerigars can perceive more than 150 frames per second, while humans only have 16?
… you can read the mood of a cockatiel by looking at the bonnet of a cockatiel?
… the oldest known cockatoo is over 80 years old?
The list goes on and on – birds are fascinating animals, which explains their popularity as ‘pets’, but also means that keeping them is more complicated than meets the eye. If you want to give the animals an animal-friendly life, a few things should be considered.
Principles and choosing the suitable bird species
Before you buy birds, find out exactly about the keeping conditions and consider whether and how you can give the animals an animal-friendly life. You should get information about:
- the age that the respective species can reach,
- the minimum dimensions of cages or aviaries,
- feeding and care,
- Species-appropriate employment and suitable accessories.
In our profiles we introduce you to various bird species and their special features. Basically, birds have very different housing requirements depending on their species, which must be taken into account in order to counteract diseases and behavioral problems.
Almost all commercially available bird species are social animals, which should therefore never be kept individually, but always at least in pairs or in a small flock. Individually kept birds wither, become ill and almost invariably develop behavioral problems and stereotypes such as feather picking. As a human you can never replace a bird’s social partner.
Important: Incidentally, it is a misconception that birds kept in pairs or in flocks cannot be tamed. Birds that can basically be tamed also become tame when kept in pairs or flocks.
Suitable cage or aviary
The choice of cage depends on the species of bird. You can find recommendations on the minimum sizes in the checklists of the “Veterinarian Association for Animal Welfare e. V.” (TVT). Here z. B. for 2 – 6 canaries or budgerigars a minimum cage size of 150 x 60 x 100 cm (L x W x H) is recommended, for a corresponding number of cockatiels the minimum size is 200 x 60 x 150 cm (L x W x H) . It should be noted that the birds in cages need a free flight of several hours a day in order to be able to live out their urge to move and not to wither. The specified minimum dimensions are just that: minimum dimensions that should not be undercut and reflect the minimum of space.
Basically, the trend in bird keeping is moving away from cages with free flight to so-called bird rooms. Here the birds have an aviary or a sleeping cage as a retreat and can otherwise use the space as they wish. Be careful with poisonous indoor plants and electrical cables that the birds could nibble on.
Material and construction of the bird home
The cage or the aviary itself must be rectangular. Round cages should be rejected for animal welfare reasons, as they do not offer the birds sufficient freedom of movement. The bars should be level so that the bird can climb them and move about. Plastic-coated bars should be avoided, as gnawing species in particular can nibble off the covering and become poisoned as a result. You should also stay away from white bars, as they severely limit the birds’ perception of their surroundings.
Location of aviary or cage
The cage or aviary should be in a quiet room with natural light but not direct sunlight. The optimal temperature for most bird species is around 18 to 25 degrees. The location should be free of drafts and not subject to sudden temperature changes. Unlike humans, birds can perceive UV light as a color of their own, but this is “blocked” by window panes. It is therefore advisable to offer the birds a daylight lamp with the appropriate UVA and UVB proportions if they are kept indoors. Most birds are diurnal and need around 10 to 12 hours of light. It is also important to ensure a night’s rest of around 10 hours.
Containers for feed and water
Depending on the bird species, different features have to be taken into account. In general, all birds need at least one bowl for food and one for water. Grain eaters need a third bowl of grit, which they consume to digest the grains in what is known as the gizzard. The bowls should be shaped and sized to allow for easy food and water intake. For this purpose z. B. round or oval stainless steel bowls. Care must be taken that the bowls are positioned in such a way that they cannot be spilled by urine or faeces