What does it mean to #GiveTheBarWings? You’ve probably heard the saying “raising the bar” used in reference to raising goals or standards. We want to not only “raise the bar” for the standards of care for companion birds, but we want to “give it wings” – we want to far exceed “accepted” standards of care for companion birds.
How can YOU #GiveTheBarWings for YOUR companion birds?
- Research diet and look beyond the “recommended” offerings. A good place to start is by joining this Facebook group, founded by Dr. Jason Crean for more information on feeding a raw, natural diet. Sprouting is a key to providing complete nutrition without artificial supplementation. Here is an excellent resource for sprouting mixes for birds. The entire site – SproutPeople.org, has lots of free information to help you sprout successfully. As our blog continues to grow, look for lots of information on healthy ways to feed your feathered companions.
- Spend time getting to know your bird by engaging in what I like to call active observation (a mostly-visual form of “active listening”). Engage your bird without any preconceived notions of what their behaviours might mean. Consider the bird who has flown to the top of the curtain rod and is meeting your raised hand and “Step up” with an open beak. Are they being “dominant” or are they just saying “I like it up here and I am not ready to come down. Your hand, in my opinion, is not my preferred option at this time”? When offered a better option (such as a treat), they will often readily give up their perch atop the curtains – but only when they make the personal judgment that the value of the treat exceeds the value of a cool view of their surroundings from on high. Active listening – in human terms – means to listen attentively with focus on what is being said with the goal of better understanding. Of course, even though our parrots can speak in our language, often their communication is largely accomplished through other means such as body language or gestures, so I prefer the term “observation” to “listening” as listening implies that we are focusing primarily on data we hear. If you observe them with an open mind and a desire to learn from them, you will be amazed at how quickly your relationship blossoms.
- Change for them, don’t force them to change for you. You have invited a creature into your life that was created to live in a very large environment and engineered for flight. Trying to turn them into a puppy with feathers means a very limited (compared to natural) existence. We can expand that existence by doing all we can to provide them as much freedom – within the confines of safety – as possible. For some good tips on safety in the home, visit this page.
- Locate and build a relationship with a good avian vet. Have your bird seen before something goes wrong. Establishing a baseline while your bird is healthy makes test results far more revealing when something does go wrong. While many board-certified vets will try to convince you that the certification should be a requirement for choosing a vet, we’ve found that it is more important to find a competent and compassionate vet. There are many excellent avian vets practicing that don’t pursue the certification. Do some research, read reviews, and don’t be afraid to call and ask questions. “How many avian patients do you see each week, on average?” is a good place to start. Ask what kind of services they offer. Do they have any point-of-care testing? Can they do tests like CT or ultrasound, or will they have to refer you? Can they compound medications on-site? Having these services available will save time, money and often lives because treatment is not delayed. Often, bird clubs are a good source of referrals to qualified avian vets. The word gets around among bird owners, and good vets usually have a following of satisfied customers. Ask your friends who have birds for recommendations.
- Be willing to learn. There are many resources available, from books to classes to free materials online. Just be wary of the sources, and always test by asking the question: “Do they have the birds’ best interests at heart?” One Facebook group we recommend is Budgiepedia . It’s a moderated group run by admins who are passionate about the welfare of companion parrots. YOU MUST ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS TO BE APPROVED.The group is supportive of rescues and rescued birds and does not allow selling of birds.
- Make your bird a priority in your life. One of the easiest ways to #GiveTheBarWings for your bird is to set aside time to be spent interacting with them.