General Avian information

***The following information has been compiled from www.lifelearn-cliented.com
and www.vin.com (the veterinary information network) ***

Vital statistics:





Body length: 12.5 in.
Body weight: 75-100 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 6-12 mos.
Maximum life span: 32 yr.

Budgies (parakeets)
Body length: 7 in.
Body weight: 30 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 4 mos.
Maximum life span: 18 yr

Body length: 5-7 in.
Body weight: 38-56 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 8-12 mos.
Maximum life span: 12 yr.

Body length: 10-18 in.
Body weight: 350-600 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 4-6 yr.
Maximum life span: 80 yr.

Body length: 12-28 in.
Body weight: 300-1000 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 1-6 yr
Maximum life span: 80 yr.

African Grey
Body length: 13 in
Body weight: 300-500 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 3-6 yrs
Maximum life span: 50 yrs
Body length: 9-12 in.
Body weight: 80-200 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 1-3 yrs
Maximum life span: 35 yrs

Body length: 11 in
Body weight: 127-140 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 1-2 yrs
Life span: 25-30 yrs

Body length: 4-7 in.
Body weight: 12-30 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 5 mos.
Life span: 20-25 yrs

Body length: 3-8 in.
Body weight: 10-30 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 2 mos.
Maximum life span: 17 yrs

Body length: 12-39 in.
Body weight: 200-1500 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 4-7 yrs
Maximum life span: 50 yrs

Body length: 6-13 in.
Body weight: 100-300 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 1-3 yrs
Maximum life span: 15 yrs

"It is insufficient to feed a bird just to maintain life; instead,
your goal should be to help it thrive and flourish" -- www.lifelearn.com

Avian nutrition

"One of the most important things you could do for your pet bird is to feed it an excellent diet. This includes a daily serving of avian pellets, handful of dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, table foods and a small amount of seed mixture.

Contrary to popular belief, birds are not supposed to eat a seed-only diet. This common misconception has led to several health problems that can be easily prevented with an excellent, well-rounded diet. 'It is insufficient to feed a bird just to maintain life; instead, your goal should be to help it thrive and flourish'." -- www.lifelearn.com

Top recommended pellet brands

These foods can be found online and in Petco, Petsmart and animal specialty stores. They are not sold in supermarkets.

Top recommended seed brands

Harrison's           Golden feast           Higgins

"It is recommended that 20 -30% of the diet should be
fruits and vegetables" -- www.lifelearn.com

Offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day

  • Dark, leafy greens, and yellow and red fruits and vegetables have the best nutritional value.
  • Iceberg or head lettuce is not recommended, as it is mostly water and has little nutritional value.
  • Avocados should be avoided because of the high fat content and because some of its parts are known to be toxic.
  • Wash all produce well, as birds are very sensitive to pesticides and other sprays.
  • Organic foods are preferred.
No to a food item one day does not mean no forever – KEEP TRYING!

Provide a total of 10-12 hours of light

Your bird's environment is crucial to its overall health and well being.

How to choose the right cage and accessories for your pet bird


The cage living area should be a minimum of 1-1/2 times your bird's adult wingspan in width, depth, and height. This allows comfortable movement and may reduce the risk of feather damage. For smaller birds such as finches & canaries, they require a cage big enough to provide ample room for flying. In order to avoid exposure to cold drafts do not place your birdcage by a window. Fluctuating temperatures can lead to illness, so be sure to provide a consistent room temperature without dramatic changes.

Bird Size Species Examples Bar Spacing Perch Diameter
Small Finches, canaries, parrotlets, parakeets (budgies), lovebirds < 1/2" 3/8" to 3/4"
Medium Cockatiels, conures, lories, senegals 1/2" to no more than 3/4" 5/8" to 1-1/4"
Large African Greys, Amazons, macaws, cockatoos 3/4" to no more than 1-1/4" 1" to 2"

Offering multiple size perches is very important for the health of your bird.


Good perches are essential since birds spend the majority of their time on their feet. They are used for standing, rubbing and cleaning beaks, chewing and entertainment. Please refer to the following information when choosing a perch.

DO NOT USE SANDPAPER COVERED PERCHES! These can do damage to the bottom of your bird's feet. They can lacerate the skin on the feet and can lead to ulcerations.

Size matters. You should provide several different diameter perches for your bird to wrap its feet around. Varying sized perches provide better exercise for the bird's feet and allow the individual bird to choose what is comfortable. Birds can get sore feet if the perch diameter is the same all the time.

Perch placement: When placing perches, locate one by the food and water dishes, one by the toys, and elsewhere in the cage for grooming. Place the perches so they do not inhibit bird movement or cause damage to the feathers as the bird moves around the cage. Perches should be placed so the bird's tail will not touch the side of the cage when the bird is sitting on the perch. Avoid placing perches directly over food and water dishes.

There are several different types of perches available: Concrete or mineral perches
Manmade perches: Plastic, wooden, hemp, or ceramic
Natural tree branches free of pesticide:
All citrus trees, almond, apple, Apricot, Arbutus, Ash, Beech, birch, Grape vines, Guava, Cottonwood, Crab Apple, Dogwood, Elm, Fir, Hawthorn, Magnolia, Mulberry, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Pine(without sap!), Plum, Poplar, Prune, Thurlow, Vine Maple, and Willow


Providing proper lighting is an essential aspect of caring for your bird. It's often overlooked, and leads to health and behavior problems when it's lacking in your birds environment. UV light aids in the synthesis of Vitamin D, which is important for strong bone health.

Provide 12 hrs of daylight.
If sunlight is insufficient, artificial full spectrum UV lighting is available to use on or near the birds cage. Positioning the lighting at least 12 inches above the cage helps to stimulate natural sunlight shining on your bird.

Provide 12 hours of darkness in a quiet environment. Darkness can be achieved by covering the cage with a dark blanket or bird cage cover. Covering the bird's cage is strongly recommended because it reduces the chances of the bird seeing shadows which can lead to "night fright”.

"Night fright” often occurs when the bird takes flight in the cage all of a sudden due to being awakened by a noise or movement. Providing a white noise machine or air purifier, covering the cage completely and providing a dark environment can reduce the occurrence of "night fright”

The bottom of the cage should be lined with a disposable paper such as newspaper or paper
towel that can be thrown away every day and is inaccessible to your bird.

Cage Hygiene

Safety is the most important thing to remember when it comes to keeping a birds home clean. They have a VERY sensitive respiratory system and fumes from harsh cleaners can be fatal if inhaled or consumed.

  • Wash perches, bowls and toys with hot soapy water or run the bowls through the dishwasher daily.
  • There are some cleaning products for birds available on the market, but remember they should always be used away from the bird and allowed to completely air dry before returning them to the cage. Remember to rinse well whenever you use a disinfectant.
  • For a disinfectant mix one cup of household chlorine bleach in one gallon of water. This is considered effective against many organisms. The entire cage and contents should be disinfected at least monthly.
  • The bottom of the cage should be lined with a disposable paper such as newspaper or paper towel that can be thrown away every day. Newsprint is now free of lead so should be of little concern.
  • Wood chips and shavings, clay, shredded or recycled paper and corncob bedding are not highly recommended for many reasons. The dust can be a potential respiratory irritant, especially aromatic pines and cedars.

A bored bird has a higher risk of developing
behavioral problems such as feather picking


Birds are highly intelligent animals. Toys are an important part of their mental health as well as their mental and physical well being.

  • Toys encourage exercise and provide good wear for the beak and nails.
  • A good collection of toys will provide hours of entertainment and exercise for your inquisitive pet.
  • Toys can be rotated in and out of the cage every couple of days so that the bird does not get bored.
  • Do not crowd a cage with too many toys.
  • Birds need an ever-changing variety of interesting, motivating and safely destructible toys.
Other bird accessories you should consider include:
  • A carrier cage for visits to the veterinarian and other travel, and/or a "sleep" cage
  • A play area for the larger birds
  • Bird baths, misters and showers
  • Good reference books
  • Air filters and humidifiers if your bird lives in an environment in which these may be necessary
  • UV full spectrum lighting for birds

Teflon-coated cooking appliances and self-cleaning ovens release a colorless, odorless gaseous toxin and cause death to a bird within 24 hours

Household Hazards

It is crucial that you "bird-proof” your home! Birds are mischievous, sensitive creatures. There may be many household hazards that you are unaware of in your home.

Temperature, Humidity, and Drafts

Moderate and gradual changes ranging from 10 - 20 F (2 - 5 C) in temperature are usually tolerated very well by a healthy bird. Sick birds will need a more consistently warm temperature. Humidity in the range of 40 - 50% is ideal for most birds. It is better to have too much humidity than have the environment too dry. Never place your bird's cage near a window where it may be drafty and/or too sunny.


Over-heated Teflon-coated cooking appliances and self-cleaning ovens release a colorless, odorless gaseous toxin (PTFE) that does not seem to affect mammals but can cause death to a bird within 24 hours. Your bird does NOT have to be near the kitchen for this to happen. Birds affected by Teflon fumes need immediate veterinary attention.

Air Pollution

Birds have a very efficient respiratory system and are very sensitive to pollutants in the air. Birds are exceptionally susceptible to second-hand smoke. Cigarettes, cigars and pipes should not be used around your bird. Go outside, as smoking in "the other room" is NOT enough, smoke travels. Cooking fumes, gases such as carbon monoxide, volatile cleaning products, paints, varnishes, fire place fumes and dirty household air ducts may lead to respiratory problems.

Paints, Varnishes, etc.

Generally, if you can smell it, then consider it unsafe for the bird. Remove the bird from the environment and ventilate the environment well after use of any of these products before returning the bird to the area. Contact the company that produces the product for specific safety recommendations.

"It is unwise to house a bird in the kitchen."


Generally, it is unwise to house a bird in the kitchen, as there are too many potential hazards. Teflon as described above is a priority concern. Hot stove elements, open pots of hot water, soups or sauces and even a sink full of water may be possible dangers. There are many sharp and dangerous items for curious birds to hurt themselves on in the kitchen. All cleaning products present possible hazards. In addition, bird waste and debris should not be anywhere in contact with human food or cooking surfaces.


Open toilet bowls and full sinks or bathtubs are possible hazards to a bird unless you have a duck. Pet birds do not swim well and excessively hot water may severely burn a bird. There are often dangerous cleaning products in a bathroom as well. Various drugs that are kept around most households are potential dangers to your bird. Keep these products locked up and away from your bird. Many drugs and chemicals are stored in containers made of plastic that birds love to chew.

Oil or Grease

Whether hot or cold, oil and feathers do not mix. Do not use oil or grease based medicines on a bird for any reason. Oils will mat down feathers, decrease their insulation qualities and make a bird susceptible to chills potentially leading to other health problems. Examples of products to avoid include Vaseline®, mineral oil, oil based ointments or salves (including many sold in pet stores), cooking oils, vitamin E oils, cod liver oil and certainly motor oils.

Other Pets

Cats, dogs, ferrets, snakes and lizards can be a potential danger to your bird. These animals have a natural hunting instinct and your bird may become the victim. Never leave these animals alone together unattended.

Mirrors and Windows

Birds may not ever master the concept of glass or mirrors. To the bird, there is nothing solid there. No barriers are perceived. Curtains, sheers, an object in front of, or something stuck to these surfaces will provide some objectivity for the bird.

Fish Bowls

Any open container of water should be considered a danger zone. If the bird should land in it, it may drown.

Noise Pollution

Birds generally seem to enjoy a certain amount of commotion and may become vocal and playfully excited by vacuuming, the sound of an electric razor or the normal activities of people about the house. Excessively loud noise from televisions, stereos, construction or even appliances such as vacuum cleaners or food processors may cause undue stress to some birds. Remember the bird is captive in your home and cannot freely escape these sounds. Exposure to any reasonable noise should be limited to the bird's normal waking hours.


(See - Poisonous plants information sheet)


Never allow a bird to fly while a fan of any sort is running (particularly ceiling fans). The bird cannot see the blades while they are in motion. Serious Injury can be incurred.

Stucco Ceilings

Although normally very skilled and graceful at flight, a bird may occasionally strike objects or surfaces while exercising. Stucco ceilings may act like sandpaper on the top of the bird's head as it moves along at high speeds. Try to make these rooms "out of bounds".

Electrical Cords

Birds love to chew and the soft, rubbery, chewable coating of electrical cords may be a very enticing play toy for your bird. Due to the potential danger of electrocution, facial burns and even a serious fire hazard, electrical cords must be hidden away or unplugged.

Open Windows, Doors

Either you should have your bird's wings clipped or you should keep all windows and doors closed all the time. Once a bird escapes and is sitting at the top of a neighbor's tree, even the friendliest bird may have a difficult time finding a reason to come home. Do not take chances.

Lead and Zinc Poisoning

If lead is around, your bird will find it! Lead is commonly found in many places around the house. Examples include curtain weights, fishing weights, solder on cages or plumbing, older paints, certain types of putty, plaster or ceramic glazes, batteries, pellets from air rifles, certain linoleum, stained glass windows, Tiffany lamps, the leaded foil from wine bottles, some costume jewelry and zipper teeth. Lead is soft, fun to chew on and easily swallowed. Also known as heavy metal toxicosis, lead or zinc poisoning is life threatening and needs immediate veterinary attention. Contrary to some beliefs, there is NO lead in today's pencils or newspaper inks.


"Most pet bird toys are considered safe for you bird. It is important that you check all toys for loose or open clasps, removable or chewable parts, peeling paint, peeling metal and sharp edges before offering them to a bird."


It is likely the exploration and the attempt to play with the container that leads to exposure to dangerous products. Cleaning agents, insecticides, pesticides, mothballs, deodorizers, paints, solvents, makeup, personal hygiene products and chemicals, pharmaceutical products, matches, and automotive products are just some of the products that must be locked away from an inquisitive bird.

Signs of Illness

  • Sitting on the bottom of the cage or not perching
  • Showing little to no interest in its surroundings
  • Decreased appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Tail bobbing
  • Crusted feathers
  • Feather loss
  • Weakness
  • Falling
  • Decreased droppings
  • Wet feathers around the face and head

  • Sitting with its feathers "fluffed up"
  • Head tilt
  • Sneezing excessively
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal beak texture or color
  • Lumps, cuts, bruises, or trauma
  • Prolonged molt
  • Eye discharges
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Labored breathing or open mouthed breathing
  • Protrusions from vent
  • Seizures

Caring for a Sick Bird

Give all medications as directed
  • Finish all medications
  • If you have any questions about a medication please contact our veterinarians for further assistance.
Keep your bird warm and free from drafts
  • The upper normal temperature for a bird's environment should be kept at 75-80 degrees F.
  • An increased body temperature helps with digestion and appetite. It also stimulates the body's defenses to fight infection.
Supply normal amounts of light
  • Provide 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness in a quiet environment.
  • A cage cover may be necessary to provide adequate darkness in an open room.
  • Leaving a light on for 24 hours may increase your birds stress.
Make sure your bird is eating and drinking
  • A sick bird burns off calories quicker and dehydrates easier.
  • Encourage your bird to eat and drink. If it is not, contact our veterinarians immediately
Avoid stress
  • Avoid sudden diet or environmental changes
  • Minimize handling. Even though you may want to play with your bird, minimal handling is necessary in recuperating.
  • Don't wake a sleeping bird. It needs its rest!
  • Avoid loud noises. If your bird is in a highly trafficked area in your home you may need to adjust your lifestyle while he recovers. For example, if you have your bird in your TV room, you may need to avoid watching TV.
Separate sick birds
  • To avoid your other pet bird(s) getting ill, isolate your bird(s) from one another preferably in another room. Respiratory conditions are particularly a concern because they are usually contagious through respiratory secretions such as sneezing or coughing.
  • This is also not a time to bring a new bird into the household
  • Notify your personal physician if you become ill
  • Some bird illnesses are contagious and can be transmitted to people. Your veterinarian should be able to tell you whether your bird has a zoonotic disease

When traveling with your bird make sure it is in a secure travel cage and covered with a blanket to avoid drafts.

If you have any questions at all about your bird's condition or care, please contact your veterinarian.