Food and water dishes, perches, nesting supplies, and other equipment can be expensive. Follow these tips to help you decide what to buy and where!
CAGE & CARE ACCESSORIES
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.
As with food dishes, watering devices also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are plastic and glass in a variety of sizes and for a variety of needs.
The picture at the right shows the variety of water bottles I use on a regular basis. The tiny drinkers are for show cages and work well for medication. I no longer keep the blue bottles as they are now out of production and sadly, I broke the last one years ago. The jar on the feeder/drinker is used for vacation feeding/watering. I use it any time I will be gone for more than one or two days. When I use this large jar, I add Citric Acid to the water to lower the pH and inhibit bacterial growth. I have 5 of those particular bottles. They will each water approximately 25 birds for a week. The drawback is that they are difficult to clean. They do not come clean in the dishwasher and must be washed by hand. The soda bottle is sitting on a dispenser called a Footsie. Those I sell are plastic, and I actually prefer the plastic to the metal ones.
If you use one of these metal dispensers to water your birds, be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN it does not contain zinc or lead. Zinc and lead poisoning is one of the biggest killers of pet birds. If you don't know if the device contains lead or zinc DON'T BUY IT!
The optional equipment list is just that...optional. Needing the items on this list really depends on whether your birds are merely pets, bred for sale, or bred for show! If your birds are merely pets, chances are you won't ever need many of them. There are a LOT of items on the list, and I keep them all - because I like to be prepared for ANYTHING! Click the highlighted header to go to the Optional Equipment page!
Food dishes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They may be plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel. When you are first starting out, the task of choosing the appropriate dishes can be daunting! But it's really not a difficult thing to decide. To make things easier, many retailers will sell cages that come complete with a couple of perches and food dishes. These food dishes are usually ample for a pair of birds, but you may decide - after watching your birds - that they need additional dishes in order to keep the foodstuff clean, and to be able to offer a variety of foods.
I use a combination of all of the dishes pictured at the right and keep multiples of each type - but I also keep and use many others not shown. I use the plastic dishes that come with the cages for seed and grit. I use ceramic for live insects and egg food, treat seed and powdered supplements (My children made the ceramic bowls just for my birds!). I also use everything I sell and know them to be top quality, so should you decide you want actual bird cage & care accessories, we can help you out!
I will also use shallow aluminum pie pans for seed. These larger pans allow the birds to feed as a flock. I never use them for wet foods, however. While it's never been said anywhere and I certainly can't prove it, I am always worried that the aluminum will be absorbed into the wetter foods or combine negatively with supplements. I just don't like to take chances with my "babies"!
The tube feeders (drip tubes) on the right are perfect for multiple birds. While it has been said that they keep the water cleaner, I have found this to be untrue. My birds love to bathe from the drip. I also find bits of food in the water that travels up when the bird drinks. These bottles, while convenient if you'll be away from home, take some time for the birds to learn how to use and are a pain in the patooty to clean! If you don't have the right tools for the job, you may make your birds sick if the bottles and/or tubes are not completely clean before using them. Bacteria and algae grow inside the actual tube if not cleaned properly.
An average healthy Gouldian will only drink 1/2 oz of water per day. My favorites for everyday use are the small 2oz drinkers (with the white bases). They are easy to clean and hold enough water for a pair of birds for 2 days. I change them daily, but sometimes I don't get into the bird room first thing in the morning, so the extra water holds them over until I can get in there. I also use 7oz drinkers on cages with more than 2 birds.
Healthy feet make for happy birds! Foot problems can be a real issue. Improper perch sizes can lead to overgrown nails, calluses, sores, and deformed feet. These issues can cause your bird to act sick even though it is his feet bugging him. I had to learn this the hard way when I was first starting out and using only the same size, too thin, smooth perches! If you use hardwood perches, be sure to select those that are appropriate for your bird's size and give them a good sanding with a heavy grit sandpaper to rough them up a bit.
The picture on the left only shows a mere fraction of the perches I use for my birds. At the time of this photo, many were in the dishwasher or in my many cages, however, this photo will give you some ideas for the variety of natural branch perches to their cage. I like to use majestic palm branches. The palm has an interesting texture and gives both young and adult birds something to pick at, play with, chew on, and hide in while exercising their feet and leg muscles. I find that using palm branches also forces the birds to learn to maneuver better while flying. They get very proficient at ducking through the branches as they traverse their large flight cage.
Another good natural perch source are fruit trees. It is important that branches be cleaned and scraped of any wild bird droppings and your bird will not be poisoned if they eat the wood or bark (again, as long as it hasn't been sprayed with pesticides). While most experienced bird keepers will tell you to strip the branches of leaves, I find that leaving them on - after a few precautions - gives the birds something more interesting in their cage.
When I use natural branches, I wash the leaves and branch parts with warm soapy water.
I then rinse thoroughly and allow to dry in the sun. After inspecting the branches for bird
droppings and/or feathers, I spray the entire thing with a bird-safe external parasite spray
(like Pestex or Scalex). After the spray dries, I place the branches in the cages. My birds love them!