One of the worst things you can do to your pet bird is to subject him to stress. Stress can literally kill a bird that would otherwise live a long and healthy life. How can you avoid stressing your bird and what can you do for him if he does become stressed?
You should be sure that you recognize signs of stress in birds so that you can alleviate stressful situations immediately. Obviously, a bird that has his mouth open and seems to be struggling for breath is stressed. However, he can also show less obvious signs of stress, such as standing very tall and skinny on his perch or eating less than he normally would.
Since identifying signs of mild stress can be a bit challenging, you should look for things that could cause everyday stress and remove them from your bird’s environment. That cartoon where Tweetie is fluttering about his cage in alarm just because the cat has walked into the room is pretty accurate. Cats can stress caged birds to death by simply staring at them. Dogs barking constantly beside a bird’s cage or jumping at the cage and yapping can also be quite stressful.
Vermin, such as mice, are especially dangerous, since they cause stress by startling birds when they run across the room at night and can carry diseases. If your bird is a messy eater and drops food in the bottom of his tray, mice may actually climb into the cage. If you see signs of a rodent problem, you will need to eradicate it immediately. However, be sure your exterminator is aware of how to kill pests without killing your birds.
Sometimes the things you do for your bird can stress him. While you may think you are providing a wonderful new toy, your bird may be under the impression that you have placed a scary predator in his cage. Never place new toys in the cage immediately. Instead, let your bird become accustomed to the toy by hanging it outside the cage. When you notice him trying to play with the toy through the bars, it is time to move it into the cage.
Of course, it goes without saying that moving to a new cage can be stressful for a bird. After all, even people get stressed out by a move to a new home. Instead of putting your bird directly in his new cage, introduce him to it gradually. Place the new cage beside the old cage and let your bird out of his cage. Allow him to walk over to the new cage and explore the outside of it. If he doesn’t go to the cage, place his favorite treat on it to tempt him.
Once he is comfortable with the outside of the cage, place treats inside the cage to coax him in. Let him explore the inside of the cage for a few days before you finally switch him over to the new cage permanently.
Finally, don’t chase your bird and pick him up over and over if he flutters down from your arm. After you catch him two or three times, put him back in his cage. Being pursued and caught is very stressful for birds.