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General Pet care tips

BSPCA offers pet care tips and advice as looking after any animal is a huge commitment and takes time, money and patience. Make sure you plan ahead for your pet's health and happiness.

Caring for bird budgies & canaries

Pet care bird

Birds like Budgies or canaries are colourful and friendly companions. They need to live with other birds in a large aviary. Keeping just a few birds together in cramped bird cages is unfair to the birds.

What do budgies and canaries need?

  • Companionship - to be with other budgies or canaries and to have human company.
  • Daily exercise. There must be plenty of space for flying in the aviary.
  • Lots of wooden perches for sleeping on. Did you know that Budgies like to perch high up and all at the same level, while Canaries need bark-covered twigs to perch on.
  • A balanced diet of bird food, seed shaken through a fine sieve to get rid of dust, and regular treats like fresh washed lettuce, carrots and apple.
  • A constant supply of fresh, clean water.
  • An aviary, safe from predators.
  • Sleeping areas or nesting boxes to give protection from cold, wind and direct sunlight.
  • Branches and vegetation in the aviary to create an interesting environment.
  • Clean water for bathing.
  • Grit to help digestion.
  • A cuttlefish bone to peck at.
  • A clean aviary.
  • To be taken to a vet if they are ill or injured.
  • To be looked after when you are holidaying.

Life span

Budgies can live for up to 10 years, canaries for 5 to 6 years.

Behaviour

In the wild, budgies and canaries live in large groups so it is unkind to have just one bird. Get a pair or a group of male or female birds at the same time to avoid jealousy. Canaries and budgies should not be kept in the same aviary as canaries are smaller and may be bullied. All captive birds need a stimulating environment and space to fly around.

Handling

Pet care bird - Handling

Budgies can be trained to land on your finger and can be handled quite frequently without stress. Canaries should be handled as little as possible. To pick up a bird, place one hand over its back. The tail should lie along the inside of your wrist and the head should rest between the first and second fingers, while the thumb and other fingers restrain the wings. Relax your fingers to make your grip as gentle as possible.

Breeding

The BSPCA strongly advises that you do not breed from budgies or canaries, as it is very difficult to find good homes for the young. The best way is to keep males and females apart. Female budgies come into season from early spring until autumn, and will lay up to six eggs in one clutch.

Health

Pet care bird - Health

If your budgie or canary is huddled on its perch, wheezing and gasping for breath, it may have an infection that could lead to bronchitis or pneumonia. Keep the bird warm and seek veterinary advice straight away.

Budgies may suffer from an overgrown beak or claws. The beak can usually be kept in trim by pecking at a cuttlefish bone, but it may need to be trimmed by a vet. Claws can be kept short by providing perches with a rough or bark-covered surface. If they need clipping, a vet should do this.

A budgie may develop a contagious condition called scaly face, a grey crust that spreads around the beak and face. It is caused by a tiny parasite and can be treated with medicine from your vet.

Canaries may suffer from digestive disorders, causing listlessness, sleepiness and loss of appetite. If a canary has constipation, diarrhea or blood in its droppings, keep it away from the others, make sure it is warm and seek veterinary advice straight away.

Feather plucking can be a sign of boredom or stress. Make sure your budgie or canary has suitable companions, lots of room to fly and plenty of interesting toys and perches.

If you have any concerns about your animal's/ pet's health, ask your Vet for advice.

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