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Getting Started

Before you can bring a bird into your home, you must purchase everything you will require for his care. Fortunately, all the items your pet will need should be available from your local pet store. The following are the basic must-have supplies.

Bird Bath
Birds will bathe in a water dish, but it’s best if you offer yours a daily bath in a flat, shallow dish instead to prevent him from fouling his water supply. You can use the clay or plastic dish that sits underneath a flowerpot; a clean ashtray; or a shallow bathing dish purchased from a pet shop.

Cage
The size of the cage you need will depend on the bird (or birds) you plan to keep, but a good rule of thumb is to house your bird in the largest cage that you can afford and have room for in your home. (If you can’t purchase or place a very large cage, you shouldn’t acquire a large bird.)

Your cage should be square or rectangular rather than round to provide your pet with more room to fly. Also, the bars should be evenly spaced, not tapered toward the top. In a cage with tapered bars, a bird can get his toe, wing, or even his head caught where the bars come together, causing serious injury. The cage should also have a removable grate at the bottom (usually made of metal) that catches the bird’s waste and prevents him from getting to it.
The cage itself should be made of metal or a combination of metal and plastic. Stainless steel, powder-coated steel, and wrought iron make suitable cage materials—other metals may contain harmful toxins that your bird could ingest. Acrylic cages can also work well because the solid walls prevent mess, but moisture can build up in the cage if it doesn’t have adequate ventilation. Never keep your bird in a wooden cage—the wood is likely to become moist and harbor bacteria.

Bedding/Cage Lining
You can use a variety of materials to line your bird’s cage, an excellent choice is Kaytee's Bird Cage Litter. It is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, and is super absorbent while being safe and friendly to the environment. Other options are newspaper or paper towels. These are safe, inexpensive, easy to replace, and clearly show a bird’s droppings, which can be important for monitoring his health. (A change in droppings may indicate a potential health problem.)

Food and Water Bowls
Food and water dishes for birds are often called “coop cups.” Stainless steel is the ideal material for these cups because it’s easy to scrub and disinfect. Although your cage may come with a couple plastic cups, these can become scratched, allowing bacteria to grow in the crevices.

Mineral Block/Cuttlebone
These items provide much-needed calcium to your bird’s diet, and he’ll also have fun chewing and destroying them to keep his beak trim. Make sure that he has at least one of each, and replace them when he soils or consumes them.

Perches
Perches can be made of concrete, plastic, rope, or wood, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Offer your bird various perches of assorted materials in many different dimensions. A bird who stands on the same perch consistently may develop foot disorders.

Seed Catcher
Unless you keep your bird in an acrylic cage, you will need some kind of seed and debris catcher to prevent debris in the cage from reaching your floor. Some cages come with these already attached or as an accessory option, or you may have to buy one separately. You can also use a thin layer of plastic attached to the bottom half of the cage or a “birdie bloomer,” a kind of fabric that slips over the bottom of the cage.

Toys
Most birds benefit from having items in their cage to keep them active and entertained. A wide variety of toys is available, and different species of birds enjoy different types of toys.
To ensure a good variety of toy types for your bird, consider placing one or two of each of these types in your bird’s normal cage setup: thinking toys (items that stimulate his mind); action toys (items that make a lot of noise or require your bird to move); comfort toys (items that your bird can enjoy calmly and quietly); and toys to destroy (items he can chew to keep his beak in good condition).

Travel Carrier
A travel carrier is necessary for taking your bird to the vet’s office and other places. A typical carrier for a bird has a grating and door on the top so that the bird can see up instead of just out of one door. A door on the top also makes it easier to catch a bird who is reluctant to leave the carrier.  The carrier should be easy to clean and small enough to fit beneath the seat of an airplane. It should also have adequate ventilation and a place to put food and water dishes.