Summer is officially here! That means warmer weather, more time outdoors and, for some, a more flexible schedule. Make sure to let your pet bird in on the summer fun! To get you started, here are three things you can do for your feathered companion to improve his health and well being, as well as add some summer-inspired fun to his day.
1. Deep Clean The Cage
Roll your bird’s cage outside and give the cage a thorough wash. If you don’t already have one, consider buying a power-washer attachment for your hose (I got mine for $14). Not only is a power washer great for blasting dirt and debris off of your patio, it has that extra “whomp” needed to dislodge wedged-in-the-weld seed hulls and food bits that find their way in virtually every corner of the cage. Even if you are diligent about changing the cage liner and wiping your bird’s cage down, you’ll be surprised by how much gunk can accumulate in the corners and spaces in between the cage grate, food-door hinges and the playtop area.
Take the removable parts of the cage out like the cage grate, food cups, perches, toys, swings, and then open anything that has hinges, such as the food doors and playtop area, and blast away at the cage. Wipe the cage bars down with a sponge and then spray it down again. The cage grate can also be water blasted, as well as the wood perches (then wiped clean). Allow the cage to thoroughly dry in the sun before putting it back together.
Tips to pass the time while you wait for your bird’s cage to dry in the sun:
- Watch an episode or two of your favorite TV show while cuddling with your bird or with your bird perched near by.
- Place your bird in a travel cage or on a bird-safe harness, and enjoy time together outdoors.
- If your bird enjoys mirror time (cockatiel, anyone?), take him into the bathroom for some serenade time. Pull up a chair (or sit on the closed toilet) and be your bird’s captivated audience, or sing along. A closed bathroom can be a safe place to keep your bird while you clean the cage; however, you need to be smart about it. Make sure the toilet lid is down to prevent accidental drowning should your bird become startled and falls into it, and remove any items that could pose a hazard if ingested. Also, if there are others in your house, tape a sign to the bathroom door letting them know that the bird is inside to prevent your bird from being accidently stepped on or let loose if the door is opened. (When opening the door to any room that your bird has free roam in, always look down and walk carefully — birds don’t always stay where you perch them, so — until you see your bird — assume that he or she flew or hopped down to the floor.)
Most birds love an outdoor spray bath on a sunny day. If you have a smaller “backup cage,” a designated sleep cage or a travel cage with bars (as opposed to a mostly enclosed pet carrier), place your bird inside it, then take the carrier or cage outside and give your feathered friend a gentle spritzing with water. If your bird is accustomed to wearing a flight harness, place your bird on a surface he or she can get a good grip, like the back of a chair, and do the spray bath there. You can also give your bird an outside spray bath if he or she has a recent wing-feather trim, but be absolutely certain that your bird cannot gain enough lift off to clear a fence or otherwise fly away.
Years ago, I thought my Amazon parrot’s wing-feather trim was enough to keep him grounded but, when a sprinkler unexpectedly went off, he was startled and flew over the backyard fence. It took me over an hour to discover that he made his way to a patio six doors down. Amazons are heavy-bodied fliers when compared to a swift flier like a cockatiel, so your cockatiel, for example, might very well be able to fly off even if he or she had a wing-feather a few weeks prior.
3. A Summer Picnic
Summertime is filled with picnics and concerts in the park and movies on the lawn. Why not create a bird-friendly version for your feathered friend? You can improvise an indoor park by rolling out a blanket, and sitting on the ground with your bird for some playtime. Offer some fun foods and a few of your bird’s favorite toys. Food and toys that you can offer by hand are especially good for this bonding time — offer a Nutri-Berrie for your bird to hold and chew up or a foot toy for him to hold and destroy (or throw!). You might also discover that your bird enjoys chasing a ball toy around. Play some music and get your bird to sing along in your very own “music in the park.”