Birds are smart creatures—some species of parrots have been shown to have the emotional complexity of a 5-year-old-child. It’s important to keep these intelligent animals happy and healthy. By knowing the basics of your bird’s needs—just three major elements—it can make it much easier to keep them content and healthy.

Keep them healthy

  • Good nutrition and variety is important to a bird’s diet. Offer seed, pellets, and treats to keep your bird healthy.
  • Daily access to unfiltered sunlight—birds need access to UVA and UVB rays direct sunlight or full-spectrum lighting to synthesize vitamin D necessary for bone health. Window glass blocks necessary UV rays.
  • Grooming—your bird should be given regular opportunities to bathe. A bird bath and even bird bath spray can be found at your local Pet Supermarket.
  • Temperature regulation—protect them from extreme heat or cold.

Appropriate accommodations

  • They need a spacious cage, big enough to accommodate perches, bird toys and several food dishes; as well as allowing for exercise—maybe even short flights from one perch to another. The larger, the better.
  • Make it fun. Include natural perches (set up as they might be in the wild), foraging opportunities, and adequate nature—safe, edible plants and non-toxic wood.
  • Add indoor plants if possible. These increase oxygen flow and help clean the air indoors, and also provide privacy, which can alleviate some behavioral problems, such as feather plucking.

Spreading their wings

  • Social time. By nature, birds are social creatures and enjoy the company of other living beings. If it is an only bird, make sure to spend quality time with your bird. Place multiple perches throughout your house so your bird can “hang out” with you.
  • Daily exercise. Your bird needs out-of-cage time at least once a day to allow for sufficient physical and mental stimulation, preferably including free-flying in a safe, supervised environment.
  • Offer a variety of toys and enrichment activities, or work on teaching your bird a few tricks. This will have the added benefit of strengthening the bond between you and your bird. For maximum benefit, rotate toys periodically.