Birds can be extremely time consuming pets. From cleaning up the constant barrage of molted feathers, feather dander, misplaced poop; to preparing, cooking, and feeding a well rounded diet. For people like myself that own multiple birds, it is sometimes easy to get disenchanted with your bird(s), and get caught up in the stress of constantly keeping on top of things. Recently I made a few changes to my methods that have saved me a lot of time and trouble.
I used to spend about twenty minutes or more a day changing water and cleaning water dishes. Each of my birds had an open water dish, in which they dunked everything, from leather scraps to food in. The water quickly got cruddy and gross and needed to be cleaned several times a day. When I switched my birds to Harrisons, I got fed up of my caiques dunking each small pellet into the water and letting it go to waste. I invested in the glass Lixit water bottles, and installed one water bottle on each bird cage. The caiques, and conure got the bottle with the small tip, my cockatoo got a bottle with a large tip. I made sure to install each bottle right over a perch so that each bird could easily access the bottle, and showed the birds how to use the bottle. All of the birds had previously used water bottles at some point in time, so I didn’t have to worry about a transition process of teaching them how to use it. Once the bottle was installed, I completely removed the water dishes from the cages.
The result? No pellet wasting, no contaminated birdie soup, and no excessive cleaning required! I clean the bottles once a day and refill with fresh water daily. I found a baby bottle brush at the dollar store and use it to clean the inside of the spout. Instead of requiring 20-30 minutes of cleaning each day, it takes perhaps 10 minutes total to completely sanitize, refill, and install the bottles back on the cage each day. Not to mention, no more expensive pellet waste!
Speaking of pellets, that is another change I implemented into my bird care routine. Previously I was feeding a couple of different pellets in various sizes to my birds. After awhile they got disenchanted with the pellets which would send me off to the pet store to seek a different pellet to give them in an attempt to reduce the pellet throwing behavior that inevitably followed. I got some Harrisons samples from the vet, and gave them to my birds. Imagine my surprise when each bird buried their head in their dish and dug in with delight.
With other pellets I was having extreme waste issues. The caiques would grab a pellet with their foot, bite down, and grind away about half a pellet before actually taking and swallowing a bite. The cockatoo would throw out pellets that weren’t the right color, and I would be walking on crunchy carpet, no matter how many times I vacuumed. With Harrisons, I started feeding my caiques the same size of pellet as my greencheek conure is eating – the fine sized pellet. Since the pellets are suprisingly small, there is little to no waste in the cages – the caiques eat the pellets instead of playing with them and grinding them down. My cockatoo gets the coarse size pellets, and is such a dainty eater that he doesn’t waste any bite.
Switching pellet size saved me valuable cleaning time. Additionally, I also adapted a feeding schedule, where the birds get fed twice a day. They get pellets in the morning, and fresh food in the afternoon. This also is a great time saver, and is healthier for my pets. Birds that constantly have food in their dishes tend to gorge themselves on whatever is available.
My last change was putting all of my full spectrum lights on timers. In a previous blog entry I showed you my full spectrum lighting setup. Previously I just would wake up, turn the lights on, and then turn the lights off whenever at night. This posed several problems, however. If I slept in late, or came home late, the birds were at the mercy of my schedule. A solid lighting schedule is very important to parrots, and me winging it just wasn’t working. I bought some cheap timers and set them up. Now the lights turn on automatically at eight am, and go off at nine. I’m sure that the birds appreciate the consistency of the schedule, and I appreciate that it is one more thing marked off my daily to do list!