Daily Archives: April 5, 2017


Birds have excellent vision; better than mammals. However, the range of motion is very limited. This is compensated for by a great ability to move the head and neck.

The iris regulates the amount of light entering the eye. It also gives the characteristic color. In many parrots, the iris is dark in young birds and lighter and more pigmented as they get older. In cockatoos, the iris color usually indicates gender. In males it is black or very dark brown and in females, it is reddish or burnt orange. This iris gender determination is unique to cockatoos.

Birds have ears; however, they are not as apparently visible as in mammals. A bird’s ears are located behind and below the eye. Feathers lie over the ears and there are no ear flaps as in humans. The small opening in birds is actually the beginning of the external ear canal.

Birds can discriminate sounds; however, they are less sensitive to higher and lower vocal tones as compared to humans. On the other hand, their ability to differentiate various sounds is 10 times faster than humans. For instance, before a human could identify all the notes of a canary’s song, it would have to be slowed down 10 times!

Birds have a poorly developed sense of smell. Odors quickly fade above the ground where birds fly so, a strong sense of smell was not a necessary adaptation.

Birds also have a rather poor sense of taste because they have fewer taste buds in the mouth – taste buds are found on the roof of the mouth, not on the tongue.

A bird’s skin is very thin and appears somewhat transparent. The red hue you see on feathers areas is the underlying muscle being seen through the skin. During nesting time, a bird loses its lower chest feathers. This areas thickens and develops an enriched supply of blood to provide extra warmth to the eggs.

Feathers are like hair on mammals. A budgie has approximately 3,000 feathers! The primary purpose of feathers is to insulate and help maintain proper body temperature. They are also used in courtship displays, signs of aggression, as nest material, and flight.

Feathers are arranged in rows called pterlae, as opposed to mammal hair that grows randomly. The bare areas between the rows are called apteria.

When old feathers fall out, new feathers come in to replace them. The first sign of a new feather is a thickened, pointed projection of skin. Soon, the emerging feather, wrapped in its own protective sheath appears and is called a blood feather. If one of these feathers is damaged, bleeding will occur and must be stopped. Do NOT use styptic powder, as this will damage skin. Use flour or cornstarch to stop bleeding from a blood feather. Once the new feather has fully grown in, the sheath falls off or is removed by the bird and the new fully developed feather is a dead structure.



Some criteria to consider when purchasing a cage:
1. Is it spacious?
2. Is it comfortable?
3. Is it safe?
4. Is it easy to clean?
5. Does it have proper bar spacing to prevent a bird from getting its head stuck between the bars?
6. Will the cage material hold up to the beak strength?
7. Is it mobile?
8. Are doors secure to prevent a bird from escaping?

The dimensions of the cage must be adequate for the size of the bird. Macaws have a large wingspan and so their cage should have opposing sides greater than that of their wingspan. If your bird has a long tail, the cage should accommodate that tail so when the bird turns 360 degrees, the tail fully clears the sides of the cage.
The activity level of the bird should be taken into consideration. For instance, caiques and parrotlets, although smaller birds, are highly active and require cages with plenty of room to run around and expend their energy.
Canaries and other finches require wide cages so they can fly back and forth. Long, rectangular cages are much preferred over tall cages without much flying room.
Never put a bird in a round cage – they need corners for orientation.
All bird cages should be lead and zinc free. Do not use decorative cages, as those found in antique stores, as these are for aesthetics only and not to be used as functional bird cages.
Proper bar spacing is very important and a crucial safety concern. The general rule is to purchase the largest cage possible; however, be aware of the bar spacing. Larger cages usually have wider bar spacing. No bird should be able to fit its head through the cage bars. This can be life threatening.
Rule of thumb is: Parakeets and Lovebirds 3/8”
Cockatiels and small Conures ½” to ¾”
Amazons, African Greys, and similar size birds ¾” to 1”
Macaws and large Cockatoos ¾” to 1 ½”
The security of the food and entry door(s) is important, especially when larger birds are concerned. Birds such as cockatoos and macaws can be masters of escape. Also, it is common for cages meant for smaller birds like parakeets and cockatiels to have doors that slide up and down. Bird like conures and larger should have doors with locking mechanisms.
Bird Paradise and our on-line store at mybirdstore.com carries the full line of A&E cages. These are all toxicity tested and with the exception of those cages geared to the small birds, all come with secure locks on food and entry door(s).
Owning several birds of my own from cockatiels to macaws, all of my cages are A&E. They hold up to the strength of a hyacinth as well as the “Houdini” tendencies of a cockatoo! Shop A&E with confidence.