All About Marie
- Marie Hulett
- Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at www.blogtalkradio.com/petplace; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.
Monday, January 5, 2015
Lovebirds - care and feeding
I am interested in lovebirds. I need to know how to take care of them. What do they eat? What do you do if they start pulling out their feathers? Basically, I need to know about basic maintenance, etc.
Dear. Ms. Clark,
The Lovebird, when full grown, is about six inches in body length and is classified as a small parrot. They tend to be very sociable. In the wild, they feed on various seeds and greens. They form small nesting-colonies and build homes in the knots of trees. They lay three to six eggs and incubate these for twenty-three days.
In captivity, you can feed them a variety of packaged grains, foxtail-millet, seeds, and pieces of leafy vegetables and fruits. You can also give lovebirds dry dog food intended for small dogs. A good diet is essential to maintaining a bird’s health. Malnutrition is one of the major causes of illness in birds and may lead to reduced immune responses to infections or infestations.
Don’t be fooled by packaged grains that say they are "vitamin enriched." The vitamins have been sprayed on the outside of the seed hulls which are ultimately not eaten. Plan on making the majority of your bird’s diet from fresh food. Choose from the four food groups; however, limit the amount of fruit offered because it is largely water and therefore not a good source of calories. Be sure to wash all fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly before feeding and remove any leftovers within 2-3 hours. Avoid giving avocado to your pet. They are toxic to birds.
Vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals. For vitamin A, offer carrots. For calcium, offer broccoli. Refrain from feeding you pet Iceberg lettuce. It has no nutritional value. In a pinch, you can thaw and serve frozen mixed vegetables.
Dairy products, such as yogurt and cottage cheese, are good sources of calcium and protein. Believe it or not, birds do have a sense of taste and love a variety of foods. Further, if you continually offer different foods, your bird is not likely to become finicky.
Give your bird fresh water daily. Also, place a mineral block or oyster shell in your bird’s cage for extra calcium. Do NOT use cuttle bones as these come from amazing, sentient LIVING fish who are killed simply to provide calcium to birds. (Learn more about the cuttle fish here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/kings-of-camouflage.html)
Keep your bird’s cage in the hub of your home. They need a lot of attention and social stimulation. However, make sure the cage is not in a drafty area. Do not let the temperature of his room drop below 65 degrees or rise above 95 degrees.
Allow your bird 10-12 hours of sleep each night. If necessary cover his cage to allow for this sleeping schedule.
Give your bird the chance to exercise outside of his cage but check first for hazards such as cats, open doors and windows with frayed screens, ceiling fans and other dangers. Also keep in mind that birds love to chew on things they find around the house. Keep him away from plants that may be toxic or electrical wires.
Feather Picking is a behavior in birds that is a both troubling and baffling. Frequently, no one can ever determine what is causing a bird to do this. In some birds internal or external parasites are the cause. In other cases, psychological problems such as stress or boredom lead to feather picking. Regardless of the cause, if your bird begins this behavior, a tip to the vet is warranted.