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Bird Parasites, Cage Litter & the Great Wing Clipping Debate

Posted by on 5/17/2014 to Bird & Parrot Care

How do you know if your bird has mites? Excessive scratching could be the first clue, but but that could also be attributed to dry skin. The simplest method is to take a piece of white computer paper and hold it under your bird's main perch. Then tap, tap, tap hard on the perch with something like a wooden spoon. If you see small red dot "crawly things" on the paper, those would be mites. If you're in doubt a visit to the vet would be in order.

Parrot lice will look like tiny brownish insects that are visible crawling throughout your bird feathers. Sometimes lice are so small you will not be able to see them with your naked eye. Once again excessive scratching may be the first indicator

There are treatments out there in the form of "dust" with instructions that the dust be applied "under the wings and tail but avoid the head and face". Good luck with the squirming bird. We recommend Dyna-Mite from Mango Pet. It will not only kill the lice but will make your bird feel better in the process. This soothing formula is a natural, non-toxic, non-irritating hypoallergenic blend of aloe, organic oils, diatomeceous earth and only non toxic organics. It kills mites and lice by physical action and not by chemicals, so no harm can come to birds or humans.

Can you get lice from your bird? Fortunately bird lice are exclusive to birds and will not invade human hair. That said lice can still be a repository of the number of diseases and can make for nasty itchy bites on humans.

Unless you really have a handle on this parasite situation we suggest that you don't touch your bird a lot until the parasites are gone or you've met with your veterinarian.

 We get requests for bedding and litter to place on the bottom of bird cages on a regular basis. We don't recommend using litter in bird cages because
  • it retains odors and bacteria
  • it makes it harder to monitor your birds poop
  • it traps moisture in the birdcage which will promote rust in a bird cage with a metal pan.
Newspaper is cheap and plentiful. It is perfectly bird safe since Congress mandated that all ink use of the United States be safe for our children thus our birds.

Blue & Gold Macaw Parrot flying directly at you

You know that I am a proponent for keeping birds flighted But in fairness we presented the arguments for wing clipping last week. I posted articles for and against wing clipping our Facebook fan page. What I'm not hearing in the discussion is those parts of a bird that it spends 99.99% on - their feet! Why aren't we talking bird foot health?

Here's a sampling of our Facebook Fan Page of comments and wing clipping:

Annelie Johansson 
There is NO benefits with clipped wings. If u cant handle a pet that fly---do not buy it. I had many parrots parrotlets and African greys, and I have never clipped their wings and I never will.

Dodi McClellan Nolly 
Sorry, that's just ignorance on your part. Birds will fly into windows and mirrors a quite a good speed and can break their necks. They can also end up in a pot of boiling water on your stove. There are all sorts of dangers from not clipping. If you love your bird you will keep your bird safe

Sean David Raney 
If i wanted something that wouldn't fly I would have a dog. Don't buy or adopt something and change its body to fit your lack of time or training skill. These birds are meant to fly. It is our job/duty to train them to do it safely. If we do not know how then we get lessons from trainers like we would any other pet. We take them out harnessed so they are safe when out. We do recall training with them. These birds take a lot of time and patience. We make sure our birds do not have unsupervised direct access to the outside. If you cant to this then you are better off with a goldfish.

Windy Moore 
That's why years ago my late husband and I took our cockatoo and cockatiel to our avian vet for wing clipping. He always did a beautiful job.

Kay King
We have ten birds at this time, all flighted. We have configured our home with flight paths and doors in mind. We put sheer curtains in doorways to prevent access to outside doors. We are VERY careful with the birds whenever anyone is around. If the birds are in the kitchen (usually during breakfast prep - NOT cooking!) the back door remains double dead-bolted. I have clipped wings on the budgies when they are first taken in and prone to panic flying into walls and furniture. But as soon as this initial panic is over the wings are allowed to grow out and they are given flight time EVERY day. Flight is necessary for emotional, mental and physical well being. A flighted bird is more relaxed and confident because it knows it can fly from danger. Having birds is not for everyone. It takes far more work and sacrifice to give a bird proper care than most other pets.

Joseph Mccourt
I have done mine for years because I take him out every day the weather permits. It is amazing how fast they look like hell because of the way they grow back. This bird here can take flight any time it wants. I have taken the entire bottom portion off except for three on the tip and still had to chase him three blocks, and had to climb a tree to get him down. This is after several years of walking him up the boardwalk and beach. You bring one home, know the responsibilities you are taking on.

manysmall birds on electrical wires with a single macaw parrot

written by Mitch Rezman
approved by Catherine Tobsing
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