5 Low-Maintenance Pet Bird Species

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Birds are easier to care for than any four-legged pet. And while there is no such thing as a no-maintenance bird, some species are easier to care for than others. From doves to finches, canaries to parakeets, there are many cute, charming pet birds that won't put great demands on an owner's time but will still prove to be good companions.

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Plenty of Bird Species Make Good Pets and Are Easy to Care For

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FINCHES

As long as finches are provided with a proper flight cage and two or three flock-mates to interact with, they require zero handling and out-of-cage playtime. Finches tend to keep to themselves and would rather socialize with other finches than their human caretakers, so those who have little spare time can enjoy the company of birds in their home while only having to feed, water, and clean up after them.

However, a small flock of finches can be quite messy, so keep in mind the balance between allowing them to socialize with each other and having to clean up a big mess.

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PARAKEETS (BUDGIES)

Some bird lovers want a bird that they can hold, train, and that can even learn to talk, but that they don't have to spend every minute of every day holding. A parakeet, or budgie, is the ideal option for that scenario.

While Budgies do bond strongly with their owners, as most parrots do, they are easier to keep occupied than many larger species. A budgie in a spacious cage well-stocked with plenty of safe and interesting bird toys can thrive as long as their owners can devote an hour or two per day of socialization time to them.

This is a big contrast to many other parrot species, some of which need a minimum of four to six hours outside of the cage each day. Consider a budgie if you'd like all the perks of owning a parrot without the huge time commitment.

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DOVES

Doves are hardy, medium-sized birds that enjoy interacting with their owners but are also content to spend a good part of the day entertaining themselves. Unlike a larger bird like a cockatoo or a macaw, a dove isn't constantly in need of attention. 

Because doves are a little smaller than parrots and other popular pet birds, cleaning up after them is much easier. Although it's still important to form a bond with your pet dove, these quiet, pretty birds won't demand much of your time. Keep their cages clean, and you'll have a content, satisfied bird most of the time. 

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CANARIES

Canaries are another excellent choice for bird lovers who prefers a pet to be seen and heard instead of taken out and handled. Much like finches, canaries don't do well with human handling and prefer to stay within the comforting walls of their cages.

There are different types of canaries to choose from, and each variety has different care requirements. However, overall, these little birds are a good fit for those who don't have a lot of spare time to spend with a pet.

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COCKATIELS

Another parrot species, cockatiels are the highest-maintenance bird species on this list. Like budgies, cockatiels require a certain amount of handling and out-of-cage playtime on a daily basis.

However, cockatiels are nowhere near as demanding as some of the larger parrot species. They normally don't talk, but cockatiels are highly intelligent and can be trained to follow commands.

Cockatiels are a great choice for those who have the time to devote two or three hours per day to playing with their pets. As long as it has a large enough cage and a bird-proof area for it to play in, a cockatiel will be a good fit for a would-be bird owner.


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Rescuing a Sick or Injured Wild Bird & Bird Safety While Fishing

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You may encounter wild birds displaced by the latest bout of blistery, wet weather. As an overview, here are a quick list of temporary care instructions:

Temporary Care Instructions

  • Find a medium/large-sized box and place a folded towel at the bottom.

  • Ensure there are holes in the box big enough for airflow.

  • Place the bird in the box and keep in a dark, quiet place.

  • Keep the bird warm.

  • Please don’t feed the bird.

  • Leave the bird alone; don’t handle or bother it and always keep children and pets away.


Pelican & Bird Safety While Fishing

Catch fish, not pelicans! With just a little extra attention to your surroundings, you and your pelican friends can both have a great day out on the water.

Brown Pelicans are now the most commonly sighted bird on the coasts. Pelicans eat smaller fish that are not preferred by recreational fishermen and that are not commercially important. Pelicans are protected by both federal and state laws.

With their keen eyesight, brown pelicans will spot a fish from high in the air and dive-in. It’s their specialty, after all. After surfacing, they drain the water from their pouch and swallow their catch.

Entanglement in fishing gear may be their number one enemy, leading to a slow death from dehydration and starvation. Bony fish scraps are also a killer, tearing the pouch or lodging in the throat. Feeding pelicans draws them to fishing areas and puts them in danger. Shorebirds, storks, herons, terns, and gulls are also casualties. We can all help keep our pelican friends alive and healthy.

Casting near any bird only increases the chances of hooking one.

Birds focus on the injured fish in a school, which is your lure or baited fish. Pelicans dive for fish on the surface of the water or just below it. When fishing, never cast towards any bird.

Don’t feed the filleted boney carcasses to the birds, even if they are begging for them.

Pelicans and other fish-eating birds such as herons and egrets easily digest the bones of small fish, but can be severely injured by the stronger, sharp bones of the bigger fish you have caught. Carcass bones may puncture the pouch, throat, or intestines, leading to infection and a slow, painful death.

Don’t feed your extra bait fish to the birds.

Feeding attracts birds to fishing areas, where they are more likely to become hooked. It is also illegal to feed wildlife in all state parks.

Always discard your old or tangled fishing line in recycling bins or covered trash cans.

Birds and other wildlife become entangled leading to entrapment, strangulation, starvation, loss of limb, or subject to easy predation.

Lead or zinc weighted jigs, lures, and tackle are deadly toxic.

Instead, opt for stainless steel, tin, tungsten, copper, pewter, or brass, porcelain, or stone fishing gear.


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Salmonella Infection in Pets & People: Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

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Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can live in the intestinal tract of many different animals. Salmonellosis (sal-mohn-el-OH-sis) is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella.

Although Salmonella is most often spread when a person eats contaminated food, the bacteria also can be passed between people and animals. Many different animals and pets can carry these germs. Animals known to commonly spread Salmonella to humans include:

  • Reptiles (turtles, lizards, and snakes)

  • Amphibians (frogs and toads)

  • Poultry (chicks, chickens, ducklings, ducks, geese, and turkeys)

  • Other birds (parakeets, parrots, and wild birds)

  • Rodents (mice, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs)

  • Other small mammals (hedgehogs)

  • Farm animals (goats, calves, cows, sheep, and pigs)

  • Dogs

  • Cats

  • Horses

How do animals and people become infected?

Animals become infected with Salmonella through their environment, by eating contaminated food, or from their mothers before they are even born or hatched. Salmonella is naturally in the intestines of many different animals. Animals with Salmonella shed the bacteria in their stool which can easily contaminate their body parts (fur, feathers, or scales) and anything in areas where these animals live and roam (terrarium or aquarium, chicken coop, pen or fencing, countertops, sinks, etc.). It is important to know that many animals can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy and clean.

People can get a Salmonella infection if they do not wash their hands after contact with animals carrying Salmonella or their environment, such as their bedding, food, or tank water. For example, some pet products, like pet foods and treats, can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs. Pet food and treats that may be contaminated include dry dog or cat food, dog biscuits, pig ears, beef hooves, and rodents used to feed reptiles (including frozen feeder rodents). Additionally, reptiles and amphibians that live in tanks or aquariums can contaminate the water with Salmonella, which can make people sick even if they don’t touch the animal.

Who is most at risk for serious illness?

Anyone can get sick from Salmonella, but some people are more likely than others to get salmonellosis. People who are more likely to get salmonellosis include:

  • infants

  • children 5 years of age and younger

  • adults aged 65 and older

  • people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS, organ transplant patients, and people receiving chemotherapy.

Prevention

The best way to prevent getting Salmonella from animals is to always wash your hands with soap and running water right after contact with these animals, their environments, or their stool.

DO/

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and waterRight after touching animals.After touching your pet’s food (like dry dog or cat food, frozen feeder rodents) or treats (like rawhide bones, pig ears, biscuits).After touching the areas where they live and roam.

  • Use running water and soap, if possible.

  • Use hand sanitizer if running water and soap are not available.Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available.Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children.

  • Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with animals. Do not let children 5 years of age and younger do this task. Children 6 years of age and older can help with cleaning and disinfecting but only if they are supervised by an adult.

  • Clean your pet’s cage, terrarium, or aquarium and its contents (such as food and water bowls) outdoors, if possible. If you must clean your pet’s habitat indoors, use a bathtub or large sink that can be cleaned and disinfected afterward. Avoid using a kitchen sink if possible.

  • Use a bleach solution to clean and disinfect.

DO NOT/

  • Do not let children 5 years of age and younger, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems handle or touch animals that can spread Salmonella (like turtles, water frogs, or poultry). They should also try not to touch the water from the animals’ containers or aquariums.

  • Avoid keeping live poultry, amphibians, and reptiles in homes and facilities with children 5 years of age and younger or people with weakened immune systems.

  • Never eat or drink around high-risk animals (like turtles, water frogs, chicks, ducklings), or in areas where they live and roam.

  • Keep animals away from areas where food and drinks are prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

  • Do not ask children 5 years of age and younger, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems to clean pets’ habitats and their contents.

  • Persons 65 years of age and older and those with weak immune systems should wear disposable gloves if they have to clean their pet’s habitat.

  • Once you finish cleaning, throw out the dirty wash water in a toilet or sink that is not used for food preparation or for drinking water.

What are the symptoms of a Salmonella infection?

Salmonella Symptoms in People

People infected with Salmonella might have diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Infants, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. Please visit CDC’s Salmonella website for more information.

Salmonella Symptoms in Pets

Many animals with Salmonella have no signs of illness at all and appear healthy. Pets that become sick from Salmonella infection typically have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Sick animals may seem more tired than usual and may vomit or have a fever. If your pet has these signs of illness or you are concerned that your pet may have a Salmonella infection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian.

Since there have been several pet treats recalled due to contamination with Salmonella, you should tell your veterinarian if your pet recently consumed a product that has been recalled. Do not feed your pet any more of the recalled product. Throw the product away immediately.

How can Salmonella infections be diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosing Salmonella in People

Salmonella infections in people usually resolve within 5-7 days, and most do not require treatment other than drinking plenty of fluids. People with severe diarrhea may need to spend time in a hospital getting rehydrated with intravenous fluids. Lab tests are needed to determine if Salmonella is the cause of a person’s illness. For more information about diagnosis and treatment, please visit CDC’s Salmonella website.

Diagnosing Salmonella in Pets

If you suspect that your pet has Salmonella, see your veterinarian. Salmonella infections may require prompt treatment with supportive care and fluids. If your pet is very sick, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or be hospitalized in a veterinary clinic. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of advice on your pet’s health.

More Information

Learn more about salmonellosis at CDC’s Salmonella website, which includes answers to frequently asked questions, technical information, and additional resources.


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Signs of Illness in Poultry: Exotic Newcastle Disease (END)

What is Exotic Newcastle Disease (END)?

END, also known as virulent Newcastle Disease (vND), is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds.

END, also known as virulent Newcastle Disease (vND), is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds.

END is one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world and is so fatal that many birds die without showing any signs of disease. The death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. It can also infect and cause death even in vaccinated birds.

 

What are the signs?

Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is a deadly viral disease that can affect all species of birds. END spreads quickly and can infect and cause death even in poultry that is vaccinated. An infected bird may show the following signs:

  • Sudden death and increased death loss in flock
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea
  • Decreased activity, tremors, drooping wings, twisting of the head and neck, circling, complete stiffness
  • Swelling around the eyes and neck

 

How does END spread?

Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is spread mainly through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. The disease is transmitted through infected birds' droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. END spreads rapidly among birds kept in a confined space, such as commercially-raised chickens.

Virus-bearing material can be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one. The disease is often spread by vaccination and debeaking crews, manure haulers, rendering truck drivers, feed delivery personnel, poultry buyers, egg service people, and poultry farm owners and employees.

The END virus can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds' feathers, manure, and other materials. It can survive indefinitely in frozen material. However, the virus is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

 

Practice Backyard Biosecurity

To help prevent the disease from spreading: 

  • Restrict traffic onto and off of your property.
  • Disinfect shoes, clothes, hands, egg trays or flats, crates, vehicles, and tires.
  • Avoid visiting other poultry farms or bird owners. If you do, be sure to change clothes and clean your hands and shoes before entering your own bird area.

 

Vaccines

Vaccination is another tool to protect your birds against END. Your local agricultural extension office, veterinarian, or feed stores that sell vaccines in your area can give vital information on the proper vaccines for your birds. Good health for your birds benefits everyone.

 

Smart Practices When Buying Birds

To help be certain of your new birds are healthy, here are a few simple steps you can follow:

  • Buy from a reputable dealer.
  • Request certification from suppliers that birds were legally imported.
  • Maintain records of all sales and shipments of flocks.
  • Keep new birds separated from your flock for at least 30 days.
  • Keep young and old birds and birds of different species and from different sources apart.

 

Report Sick Birds

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If your birds are sick or dying call your agricultural extension agent, a local veterinarian (call us, River Landings Animal Clinic, at 941-755-4592), or the State Veterinarian, or call the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at 1-866-536-7593 to be in touch with a local contact.


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Don't forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for more recipes, articles, and clinic updates delivered to your inbox (here). Or, you can keep up to date by liking and following our Facebook page (here). We also have additional helpful articles under our new Avian category (here).

Signs of Illness in Poultry: Avian Influenza

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What is Avian Influenza (AI)?

Avian influenza viruses can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl, as well as a vast variety of other birds. Migratory waterfowl have proved to be a natural reservoir for the less infectious strains of the disease known as low pathogenicity avian influenza. Avian influenza viruses can be classified into low pathogenicity (LPAI) and higher pathogenicity (HPAI) based on the severity of the illness they cause. HPAI is an extremely infectious and fatal form of the disease that, once established, can spread rapidly from flock to flock. However, some LPAI virus strains are capable of mutating under field conditions into HPAI viruses.

 

Signs of Avian Influenza

  • Sudden death without clinical signs
  • Lack of energy and appetite
  • Decreased egg production
  • Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
  • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing, sneezing
  • Lack of coordination
  • Diarrhea

 

How is Avian Influenza spread?

The disease is spreadable to birds from contact with infected wild birds and their droppings. It is also spreadable from bird to bird direct contact. AI viruses can also be spread by manure, equipment, vehicles, egg flats, crates, and people whose clothing or shoes have come into contact with the virus or virus-infected birds. AI viruses can remain viable at moderate temperatures for long periods in the environment and can survive indefinitely in frozen material.

 

Practice backyard biosecurity

To help prevent disease from spreading:

  • Restrict traffic onto and off of your property.
  • Disinfect shoes, clothing, hands, egg trays or flats, crates, vehicles, and tires.
  • Avoid visiting other poultry farms or bird owners. If you do, be sure to change clothes and wash your hands and shoes before entering your  own bird area.

 

Vaccines

In the United States, vaccination against Avian Influenza is not routine, nor is it our first choice for dealing with an outbreak. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is not common in our country—it is considered an exotic disease in the United States. If HPAI is detected in U.S. poultry, APHIS will work with the States to respond and quickly eliminate it.

While AI vaccines reduce outward signs of the disease in birds, they do not prevent birds from becoming infected. If used, vaccines can help slow down the spread of the viruses to protect healthy birds outside the quarantined area. However, vaccines cannot eliminate the disease itself.

Vaccination is simply a tool we can use as part of our overall eradication strategy, along with many other actions needed to stop an HPAI outbreak: quarantines and animal movement restrictions, emergency euthanasia and depopulation of animals, cleaning and disinfection at affected locations, surveillance to detect any disease spread, and proper biosecurity.

 

Smart Practices When Buying Bird

To help be certain your new birds are healthy, here are a few simple steps you can follow:

  • Buy from a reputable dealer.
  • Request certification from suppliers that birds were legally imported.
  • Maintain records of all sales and shipments of flocks.
  • Keep new birds separated from your flock for at least 30 days.
  • Keep young and old birds and birds of different species and from different sources apart.

 

Report sick birds

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If your birds are sick or dying call your agricultural extension agent, a local veterinarian (call us, River Landings Animal Clinic, at 941-755-4592), or the State Veterinarian, or call the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at 1-866-536-7593 to be in touch with a local contact.

 


Hear From Us Again

Don't forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for more recipes, articles, and clinic updates delivered to your inbox (here). Or, you can keep up to date by liking and following our Facebook page (here). We also have additional helpful articles under our new Avian category (here).