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Piu-Piu, a birdie from the sky
To give you some tips on how to take care of birds, my bird mate Piu-Piu is the right guy.

Piu-Piu is a greenfinch that fell from his nest, and my "boss" (that lady who is always at the computer writing for kids and updating my website Barry4kids) fed and raised him.

Follow then Piu-Piuís tips, and youíll soon discover what joy your feathered friends bring Ė either they live free in the wild, or at home in a (big) cage.

CARING FOR BIRDS

Birds living free in the wild: Portugal is a country with a mild climate, and wild birds donít suffer very much in the winter. If you wish however to help them cross the best possible the cold season, you can feed them and give them some shelter.

But donít forget that you must follow a few rules!

You should feed them at regular hours Ė for exemple in the morning Ė and always at the same place, but ensure it is somewhere they will feed safely. On the other side, be aware that not all birds eat the same kind of food. So, give them different kinds of grains. The best would be to buy ready-to-serve mixes for species in the wild ; they are available at special pet shops.

Regarding shelters protecting them from bad weather, and sometimes even allowing them to nest there, you also find a large choice at special pet shops. But if you are a little "bricoleur" and wish to build a shelter for wild birds coming to your garden, you can do so with an adultís help.

Donít forget to provide birds with clean water you renews regularly ; they need a dependable supply of fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing. To have a pond or another source of water in your garden is something wild birds will love. An alternative solution would be that you make your own birdbath with a trashcan lid, a shallow pan, or old frying pan, and that you place it in a safe place in the shade, near trees or shrubs.

Birds in a cage: You would like to have a bird at home. Then buy him the largest cage you can accommodate there. The cag needs to be wider than it is tall so that your bird can stretch his wings. Birds were born to fly freely in the open skies, and being confined in a small cage is like living in a prison.

Clean his cage regularly, change the water everyday, and check if he has enough food. It is also convenient to place a cuttlebone in his cage ; cuttlebones are commonly used as calcium-rich dietary supplements for caged birds that are unable to get it directly from nature.

If you buy a male and a female birds, they will most likely mate and try to build a nest at the beginning of spring. You may help them by putting a few twigs and some straw in their cage ; they will know how to use this material to build their nest.

And remember to cover the cage of your pet bird with a piece of cloth, preferrably in a dark colour, every evening. This will give him some privacy and he will feel more comfortable during his sleep.

Last but not least, a very important advice : always place the cage far from air drafts that are a deadly danger for your pet bird.

Moulting: birds will naturally shed their old feathers at least once a year, usually at the end of summer. When autumn arrives, the moulting process should be over so that birds have new feathers ready to regulate their body temperature and protect them from the cold winter.

Moulting is a natural process that occurs without further ado in birds living in the wild. But with caged birds, moulting can bring some danger, birds can even become ill. It takes a lot of energy to build new feathers, and caged birds cannot undergo moult in the same way as birds in the wild.

You should therefore not be surprised if your pet bird stops singing, or shows signs of stress during moult. Make sure that your bird has the nutritional diet that it needs. You should increase the amount of food that you give him. It is also important to make sure that your pet birdís environment is quiet and warm during molting. Feathers function as insulation, and the loss of even a few feathers can make your pet more vulnerable to drafts. Put some twigs of rosemary or of lavander at the bottom of his cage ; he will love it and be grateful to you.
 
 
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    All Texts and Illustrations © Dulce Rodrigues, 2009. All rights reserved