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The Ultimate Pet Bird Care Guide

Le guide ultime pour vous occuper de votre oiseau domestique

Birds are beautiful and intelligent animals that can make charming pets. Since they don’t need to be walked every day (like dogs) or brushed frequently (like cats) many people see them as being low-maintenance pets. However, birds do have special needs that may surprise you.

If you’re thinking of bringing a pet bird into your home, or you already have one, here are some handy instructions on how to care for your pet bird. 

Things To Consider

While birds can be relatively easy to care for, there are a few things to be aware of before you decide to bring one or more home with you.

Do Your Research

It may seem easy to walk into a pet store and leave with a new bird or two, but this is not the best way to become a pet owner.

Each species of bird has specific needs. Learn everything you can about the type of bird you’re considering before bringing one home. Many people are attracted to parrots as interesting and glamorous pets, for example, but once they bring them home, they realize some of their aggressive behaviours can cause problems.


Some birds, even smaller ones, can live a long time. Canaries, for example, can live up to 10 years. Larger birds can live even longer, with some types of parrots living 75 or even 100 years.

Before you head to the pet store, make sure you’re ready for the commitment involved.


It can be lovely to hear birdsong on a spring morning, but what about loud calls and whistles when you’re watching TV? Birds love to chatter to anything and everything they hear, and the amount of noise they make can get on people’s nerves.

Are you someone who needs a lot of quiet, or are you okay with some noise? If too much commotion frays your nerves, then you may need to consider a different kind of pet.


You may not need to walk a bird, as you would a dog, but birds do need to leave their cages to stretch their wings every day. They are also social animals that benefit from interaction with humans.

You will also need to budget time for other types of bird care such as feeding, bathing, and cleaning out the cage.


Pet birds ultimately have two habitats – their enclosures and your home. Consider both carefully.


Cages should be big enough for birds to stretch their wings and fly around a bit. If you are getting more than one bird, then make sure they will both have enough room for these activities. Generally, birds are happiest when they have a lot of space to flap their wings and exercise.

Some birds also sleep best when their cages are covered at night. Since most birds need 8-12 hours of sleep, a cage cover can help keep them healthy and happy. Check the care guide for your bird’s species to find out if a cage cover is recommended.

You will also need accessories for your bird cage such as comfortable perches, water and food dispensers, baths, and toys for stimulation. And don’t forget paper to line the bottom of the cage.

At Home

Since birds do need to leave their cages daily, you’ll need to make all or part of your home safe and available to your pet.

Consider the layout of your home, and decide how you want to go about this. Will you make all of your living space accessible, or allow the bird to fly in just one room? 

Remember that most birds aren’t toilet trained. Wherever you decide the bird should go, be sure to make the area bird-proof before opening the cage door. Mirrors, dangling electrical cords, open toilet bowls, ceiling fans, and open pots of water can all be dangerous. Some types of plants, such as philodendrons, can be poisonous to birds.

Since birds have delicate respiratory systems, you’ll also need to think about the air quality in your home. Cigarette smoke, overheated non-stick pots and pans, and self-cleaning ovens can all hurt birds.


Like humans, birds require a variety of foods to stay healthy. In addition to dry seeds or pellets, you’ll need to provide fresh fruits or vegetables daily. Some birds (like cockatoos) are omnivores, while others, like canaries and doves require grit in their diets. Check your bird care guide for information on the best diet for your bird’s species.

Some birds also require extra vitamins or minerals. And of course, birds also like treats from time to time. Keeping a few on hand will keep your pet’s diet interesting and varied. Water is another important part of a bird’s diet.

Birds need to drink plenty of fresh water every day. It is recommended to change water once or twice daily, especially for birds like parakeets that like to dunk their food in water before eating it.


Boredom Birds are intelligent creatures that require play and stimulation, like other animals. As previously mentioned, birds need time to fly outside their cages, and to spend time with you every day. Consider purchasing a few toys and rotating them on a regular basis. You can also create unique opportunities for your bird to test its skills.

Most birds have to forage for their food in the wild. Many birds enjoy foraging at home too. You can help your bird forage by hanging safe leaves or vegetables from the top bars of your bird’s cage. You could also provide a stimulating challenge by placing some of the bird’s food in paper cups, wrapped in paper, or under cardboard.

Many types of birds can also be taught tricks. This can be fun for you and your pet. Many types of parrots, of course, can be taught to mimic words or sounds. Birds can also be taught to step onto your finger on command, sit on your shoulder, and even spin in a circle.

Since most bird live in flocks, they often are happiest when housed with friends. If you know you won’t have time to interact with your bird on a daily basis, consider purchasing birds in pairs, or introducing a friend. If you do introduce a new bird to your current pet, be sure to go slowly, keeping them separate until you are sure they will get along.

Bird Care 

Pet birds also require regular care including bathing and nail trimming.

Some birds enjoy a small bath in their cages, while others prefer to be sprayed with a water bottle. You can also purchase specialized bird sprays that keep lice and mites under control. How often you bathe your bird will depend on its species and preferences. Check your care guide for more information.

Birds also have nails that need to be managed. When nails are overgrown, they can affect the alignment of your bird’s feet and make eating difficult. Grooming perches are made of rough material that can help keep your bird’s nails short. But even with these, you may need to trim your bird’s nails sometimes. Specialized clippers are a good way to trim nails without hurting your pet.

Beaks also grow continuously. If you provide chew toys such as cuttlebones for smaller birds or wooden chew toys for larger birds, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, sometimes a bird’s beak can overgrow due to disease. If your bird’s beak is overgrown, be sure to see a vet.


Your bird’s cage will also need to be cleaned regularly. Many bird owners keep newsprint or paper towel on the bottom of the cage to make this process as easy as possible. These papers should ideally be changed daily.

Wash your bird’s cage, food and water dishes, and toys with a non-toxic detergent once every week. Leave the detergent on for 15 minutes before thoroughly rinsing it off with hot water.

Toys made of other materials also need to be replaced on a regular basis to prevent bacteria from building up. Toys made of rawhide or fabric should be replaced every 2-6 months. Replace wood or bamboo toys every 6-12 months.

The Takeaway

Canadians owned roughly 2.51 million pet birds in 2020. With so many people choosing birds, it is clear that with some time and effort, they can make great pets.

Remember to provide your bird with a safe habitat with enough room to stretch their wings, and plenty of time to fly outside their cages every day. Provide a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep your bird stimulated with interesting toys and challenges. Set aside time for regular cage cleaning and bird care, like nail trimming.  

Looking for advice on cages, toys, or food? With over 40 years of experience, we can help you find what you need. Contact us today!

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