March is Avian Awareness Month

By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW

“It’s for the birds”, so they say! But since March heralds the arrival of spring, what could be a better time of the year in which we honor our magnificent feathered friends by setting aside and celebrating March as Avian Awareness Month.

Bird lovers who share their hearts and homes with these delightful winged wonders definitely have something about which to warble. Birds make remarkable pets and give their owners so much pleasure.

When it comes to the care and health of pet birds, avians have very special veterinary needs. We highly recommended that your bird is cared for by a veterinary avian specialist who has studied extensively about this branch of veterinary medicine. Their expertise helps assure your bird’s robust health.

Avian veterinary specialists also keep abreast of all the latest information. They recommend during the initial visit to the practice following any new bird purchase that blood work is done to create both a baseline for the bird and to be able to assess and follow your bird's health over the years.

Since birds hide any overt signs of physical illness, it's important for owners to be on the lookout for anything that may indicate that their pet bird is under the weather. Some of these signs are abnormal sleep habits, acting unusually irritable or overly passive, sitting at the bottom of the cage, puffed up appearance, labored breathing, coughing or sneezing, discharge or excessive moisture from the nares, swelling of the eyes, change in color or white content in the stool, diarrhea or black stool, scaling or crusting of the skin, weight loss, increased temperature of the feet or beak.

Although a bird appears perfectly healthy; it may in fact harbor a serious disease which is not readily apparent. Since many avian illnesses do not show outward signs, blood work is the most reliable way to detect any hidden medical conditions and/or problems. This can mean the difference between a bird’s life and death. Depending on the results of these blood tests and physical examination, bird owners and their veterinarians can work together to optimize the health of their beloved avian companion.

It goes without saying that an essential ways to keep pet birds healthy and happy is to provide them with the best possible nutrition. If the food that we eat is nutritious, generally it will also be nourishing to pet birds. For example; birds enjoy eating dried fruits, veggies, herbs, greens and even bee pollen. At the same time, it is just as important to know the foods and plants that are toxic to birds (

Birds are social creatures and truly enjoy their guardians’ company. Spending time playing with your bird, giving them time out of the cage is essential to their emotional health. Keeping your bird entertained, stimulated and interactive with their human companions creates a win-win situation for both birds and their caretakers.

Provide your bird with a variety of enrichment activities and toys and lots of socialization with their human caretakers. Give your pet bird ample out of the cage time which includes free flying time in a safe and supervised environment. A safe environment includes keeping your bird away from toxic items that contain lead and zinc, from paint chips, electrical cords, open windows, ceiling fans and, of course cats and dogs.

Being owned by a pet bird is a treat. Caring for them carefully and correctly will help ensure your bird a long and happy lifetime.

Bird owners: Leave a comment telling us about what you love the most about living with your feathered friends.

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