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  #1  
Old 01-07-2017, 11:59 PM
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Default A list of bird newbie questions

I am completely new to keeping birds, but am planning on getting a pair of budgies, probably at some point in the next several months. I have so many questions! I just don't want to do anything that might hurt my future feathered friends, and I really do want to take the best care of them. I'm sorry in advance that there are so many questions.

Questions on safety:

I hate nonstick cookware, but my mother-in-law just bought us a brand new set of cookware for Christmas and its ALL nonstick (even, inexplicably, the soup pot). My budgies won't be kept near the kitchen - can we still use the new cookware or do we need to replace it all?

For cleaning the house, I use white vinegar for general cleaning, and bleach for areas of the kitchen and bathroom where bacterial growth is a concern. Can I continue using bleach to clean these two rooms or will the fumes potentially harm my budgies?

Should I leave their wings unclipped? I'm leaning towards not clipping, but would like opinions. I have a cat (who is not permitted in the room the budgie cage will be kept in), and clearly never ever intend for them to come anywhere near each other. When I open the doors of the cage I plan to use, the entire front side of the cage is open. I'm nervous about the budgies getting out before they are comfortable with me, and me struggling to get them back in the cage without scaring them. I'm even more nervous about what might happen if my cat slipped into the room with them and they couldn't fly away from her. I just want them to be safe.

Questions on diet:

Is this the correct diet: Unlimited pellets, limited seed mix, daily vegetables, occasional healthy treats? What is the best pellet? I had someone recommend Harrison's to me and I can buy it online. What is the best seed mix? I found a recipe here for a seed mix, but is it best to buy one premade or to make your own? I'm not worried about the cost - I want the diet that is best for my birds.

What should a budgie's dish of veggies look like? More greens or more other vegetables? Are "sweet" vegetables like carrots and sweet potato fine? Is there are specific structure their "salads" should follow or is it more important to just have variety over time?

Are dehydrated vegetables safe for budgies? (Not as an alternative to fresh veg, but because I use them as treats with other pets so already have them on hand)

What are the best treats for winning the trust of budgies? Is there something healthy that budgies really enjoy?

Questions on housing:

I am planning on using a Double Critter Nation as my budgie cage (removing the shelves and the center platform). Is this acceptable for a pair of budgies? It has 1/2" bar spacing, the front doors completely open, and the cage is 36"L x 24"W x 48"H. Should I start them out in just the top portion (a 24"H cage) and then remove the center platform or will they still be able to get used to me in the full cage?

I am away from home quite a bit. I typically am gone 10-12 hours a day, but am home during the mornings (usually until after noon - I realistically have two hours most days that I could dedicate to my budgies). I am planning to get two budgies so that they can keep each other company when I'm not there. Is it best to get them both at the same time, or to get one used to me and then get the other?

Is there a shopping list somewhere on how much to buy of what? I know the basic things I need, but I'm not sure how many perches are right for my cage size, or how many toys I should have right from the start, or things like that. I don't want to crowd the cage but I don't want them to go without something, either.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read through all of these questions and help me!

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  #2  
Old 01-08-2017, 12:48 AM
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This is a great list of questions. I'm sure the site experts and moderators can give you insightful responses, really helpful links & information.

I found all of the stickies in each section great to read. It's a lot to take in, so I find myself revisiting them. Re. some of your cage questions, re. toys etc. ....I found the sticky that Deborah included below very helpful when I was outfitting my cage. ('Essentials to a Great Cage')

Re. non-stick.... personally, it terrifies me. All it takes is to read a few stories of teflon gone wrong, & you may realize you will want to return/exchange that gift for something else. Teflon is one of the most toxic things for birds and will kill them almost instantaneously. I read somewhere where someone lost their entire house full of birds (including macaws) & it was devastating. It affected the marriage and the kids were very troubled by it. The birds were upstairs and the kitchen was downstairs.

I think with all the great holiday return policies, & all the other great options for cookware, in my humble opinion, it's not worth the risk of having it in the house. The fumes can be invisible and are very dangerous & lethal to birds.

For example, a major space heater company I wrote let me know that they don't recommend any of their products for bird owners because there might be Teflon. They don't know for sure, but don't want to risk it with their consumers. And I don't think space heaters get as hot as non-stick cookware can & does get.

The moderators can confirm, but my understanding is that homes with birds need to be entirely teflon-free. (That includes irons, ironing board covers, curling irons, hair dryers, any appliances of any kind that has any teflon.) Very toxic / lethal.

You can search the word "teflon" on this site and I know you will find some very sad stories. :'( I believe I read one very recently.

I hope that helps.

Otherwise... that's exciting you're going to bring home two budgies. They're wonderful little creatures and lots of fun. I have my first and wish I had bought one years ago.

Best wishes...


[p.s. - I found these cage clips made my life a lot easier when it came to feeding vegetables to my budgie: https://www.amazon.com/Prevue-Pet-Pi.../dp/B005FTLSA2

I clip all sorts of vegetables onto the side of the cage (kale, bok choy, thinly sliced carrots, etc.) -- and my bird really likes chewing into them that way. It's easier for me because it's fast, no chopping & less mess.

Last edited by BlueBirdNYC; 01-08-2017 at 09:08 AM. Reason: *Deborah included the link I was referencing. (And many other great links.)
  #3  
Old 01-08-2017, 06:35 AM
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Let me try to address your questions in order.

Safety

I would contact the manufacturer about the cookware to see if there are any PTFEs used in the coating. If so, then return it.
Teflon Toxicity (PTFE Toxicosis) in Birds: Signs and Prevention

How Toxic is Teflon?

If you are using white vinegar in general for cleaning that is great!
Bleach can be used in the kitchen and bathroom but be sure you have the areas well-ventilated and that the budgies are not near those rooms when you are cleaning.

Wing clipping is a very personal decision and I'd prefer this thread not become a discussion on that topic. I believe it best to have your birds fully flighted .I do understand your concern about them getting out of the cage when you are cleaning it and/or changing food and water. My suggestion would be to drape a towel over the entrance to the cage to block it and just pull one side over a bit to access the cage. That will deter them from trying to escape. Move slowly and talk to them calmly and reassuringly the entire time you are accessing their cage area.

https://talkbudgies.com/articles-gene...-not-clip.html

With regard to your cats, you will need to be super-vigilant whenever the door to the birds' room is opened to ensure there is no way the cat(s) can sneak inside.

https://talkbudgies.com/general-budgi...irds-prey.html

Diet

The diet you've described is excellent.
Dr. Harveys and Volkman Seed Mixes are great and there is no need to make your own mix. I use Volkman Seed for all of my birds.

A variety of vegetables is best. You can give one vegetable one day and a different vegetable the next if you wish to do so. There is no set proportions for their vegetables or "salad" on any given day.
Dehydrated vegetables are OK and you can also purchase a dried "Herb Salad" mix that my birds love. Overall, a good variety is what you are striving for.

Millet is fine to use as a treat. It isn't unhealthy you just don't want to give them unlimited quantities as millet seeds are higher in fat content. When you've had your budgies for awhile and determine which vegetables or fruits they like best, you can also try using those as a treat/training aid.

Housing

The Critter Nation cage will be an excellent choice for your budgies
The only drawback is that it does not have the smaller doors to access food and water dishes.

Birds usually gravitate toward the top of their cages and often have to be taught to use the bottom portion of the cage.
I would recommend using the entire cage from day one rather than dividing it so your budgies have a better chance of becoming used to the space from the beginning. You can help them learn to utilize the lower cage by putting your food and water dishes down lower, serving treats in the bottom section, etc.

It is easier to tame/bond with one budgie at a time but if you are gone 10-12 hours a day then getting two at once would be best for the budgies. It will be nice for them to have company when you are not around. They will bond to one another and you will have a longer process in taming but that should be secondary to their well-being.

I would suggest you get two males as they can become best buddies and you will have no worries about discouraging egg laying.

If you decide to get one budgie to work with it first, then you will want to wait a minimum of 6 months before getting the second. At that time you will need a second cage for quarantine. After quarantine the two budgies would need to be introduced slowly and preferably in neutral territory to ensure they get along well.

Why Quarantine?

I know you've read the list of essentials for a great cage so I won't re-iterate that information.

In addition to the basic necessities, I would recommend starting with:

Grapevine Perches (2)
Multi-branch Manzanite Perches (2)
Swings (2)

Hanging wooden or shredder toys are good options
I'd start with 2-4.

You can always buy more and rotate the toys in and out of the
cage.

https://talkbudgies.com/housing-budgi...reat-cage.html

Health

I'd recommend looking for a good Avian Vet prior to bringing your budgies home.
Avian Vets have special training to determine the cause of symptoms resulting from illness or trauma.
This is important as "regular" vets will often overlook symptoms that are quickly obvious to an Avian Vet.
When you rely on anyone who has not had training in Avian diagnosis and care, you may be delaying effective treatment.
This can prolong suffering that may be avoidable.
The bird will often require a more intense, prolonged treatment with a poorer chance of full recovery than it would have if you seek prompt professional diagnosis and treatment at the first sign of illness.

Distinction between an Avian Vet and a Vet that "Will See Birds"

Having your new budgie examined by an Avian Vet allows you to develop a good relationship with the vet in case your bird needs care for an injury or illness in the future. Additionally, it is always helpful for the vet to have a baseline for your bird to refer to should it need future treatment.

If I've missed anything and/or you have other questions, please post them in this thread.


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Last edited by FaeryBee; 01-08-2017 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 01-08-2017, 08:42 AM
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Angelheart, I would recommend having a spray bottle filled with water on hand in case your cat ever attempts to attack your budgie(s). If he/she looks like she's about to pounce (or does pounce!) spray him/her with the water. However, keeping the cat out of the room is a very good idea too.
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Old 01-08-2017, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bparakeets View Post
Angelheart, I would recommend having a spray bottle filled with water on hand in case your cat ever attempts to attack your budgie(s). If he/she looks like she's about to pounce (or does pounce!) spray him/her with the water. However, keeping the cat out of the room is a very good idea too.
Keeping the cat out of the room isn't just a "good idea" it is a necessity when one follows best practices.
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Old 01-08-2017, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaeryBee View Post


Keeping the cat out of the room isn't just a "good idea" it is a necessity when one follows best practices.

Not to be doom & gloom, however my brother lost his budgie of 8 years, when he got a cat. Cats have instincts that they cannot control. That is what happened in this case. The cat had an opportunity -- the first & only opportunity --- and the cat took it. And that's where that story ended.

Only sharing because the reality of these facts cannot be emphasized enough.

It only took one time that the cat had a chance to get to bird. And I can tell you that the cat wasn't even that close. The cat jumped higher than they've ever seen him jump. (That's what instincts can do.)

My brother learned the hard way there is no room for error when it comes to pet cats & pet birds.
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:59 AM
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Angelheart, you've been given great advice

I look forward to meeting your two boys when you do bring them home!
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Old 01-08-2017, 01:07 PM
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Please do not misunderstand me, Faery, it is necessary. It is slightly more difficult to relate because Ernie's cage is in the dining room, which is the only place where it could be, and there are no doors protecting him from kitty; so we had to make do with what we had. But back on topic, I agree with Star. Faery and BlueBird gave wonderful advice.
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Old 01-09-2017, 04:01 PM
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Thank you all for your detailed replies! We will replace the cookware before getting birds. I very much appreciate the idea of using a towel to help prevent my budgies from flying out of the cage before they are comfortable with me - I will definitely do that.

I very much understand that there is no room for error when it comes to safety with cats and potential prey animals. I have kept small rodents as pets for around 15 years - I have no doubt that my cat would attack them if she had even the slightest opportunity. Cage doors are never, ever permitted to be open unless kitty is on the other side of a securely closed door, and the budgies will be kept in an entirely cat-free room of our house.

Oh - and I luckily have access to two different vet clinics with vets who are experienced with birds. One of them has an avian specialist on call 24 hours a day in case of emergencies. (I've heard that they are very expensive, but in an emergency the cost is really not what matters).
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Old 01-09-2017, 05:12 PM
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Excellent! It sounds like you are all set for your new budgies.

I'm going to close your thread at this time.

If you want the thread reopened to ask additional questions, simply send me a Private Message and I will be happy to take care of that for you.

Best wishes!
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