Budgie parakeets > Diseases of cage birds

Diseases of cage birds

It has been frequently asserted that birds in their natural state are never sick, but this belief is unfounded, as there are many instances which are too well authenticated to admit of doubt, but like all tame animals, birds that are kept in confinement are exposed to more maladies than those which live at large. The trouble is caused largely by want of cleanliness, by lack of gravel in the cages, and by hanging the cage in such a location that the bird is in a draught of air, thus causing it to be affected by cold, loss of voice, asthma, etc. These maladies are greatly increased by giving birds various kinds of delicacies, such as candy, sugar, pastry, etc. In this connection we want to say that a bird's health and song depend largely upon the selection of seed or other food for it.

If properly fed and supplied with pure, fresh water and the cage is regularly cleaned and kept free from insects, disease will seldom make its appearance. One of the most frequent causes of trouble is hanging the bird close to the top of the window with the sash lowered about a foot, thus causing a strong draught of air, or putting the cage in a room which is kept very warm during the day and very cold at night.

When a bird is in good health his appearance is usually sleek and smooth, with the feathers lying closely to hills body. When you percieve him sitting dull and stupid and all bunched up, something is out of order. In this chapter we refer especially to diseases of canaries and other seed-eating birds.

There are many patent medicines sold by bird dealers for the various diseases and it is well to keep some on hand for emergency. Molting is a perfectly natural operation and still it is often attended with illness of various kinds, as the system of the bird seems to be deranged at that time. During this period the bird should have extraordinary good care. Their food should be of great variety so as to allow them to select that which they prefer. Avoid giving them sweetmeats or other heating delicacies which are injurious. It has been observed that wild birds always molt at the time when their food is most abundant.

Of course the nature of the canary has been somewhat changed by the long years of breeding this bird in confinement, and canaries molt at various seasons of the year. A little hemp seed may be given at this time; also stale white bread soaked in water, soaked seed, fresh fruit and half ripe plantain or other weed seed which the bird appears to like. Birds at this time are also quite fond of beet or carrot root, which should be grated or cut in small pieces. A little flax seed may be mixed with the other seed in the cage and small pieces of beef suet are appreciated by some birds during this season.

One of the best German breeders makes it a rule to keep the cage covered and semi-dark for several weeks during molting season. Cloth is much better to cower the cage than paper, which is apt to rattle and alarm the bird. Strong saffron tea may be put in the cage at this time, and it is said to have the effect of making the plumage of canaries more brilliant as has also the cayenne pepper food. Properly cared for, the birds will soon don their new suit of bright, fresh feathers to take the place of their old suit, which was becoming quite ragged and disreputable.

During molting season it is a good plan to have half an inch or so of dry sand in the bottom of your canary's cage, as frequently they enjoy dusting themselves in it.