Guest Author - Heather Thomas
Often, people with one pet bird, choose to add to their flock. There are some simple steps that should be taken to avoid the possible spread of illness and to socially prepare your new and existing birds to receive a new family member.
Ideally, all preparations should be done prior to bringing your new family member home. Set up the cage. Purchase appropriate food. Find an area in your home that is isolated from the other birds in your flock; a completely different room is best.
The First 24 Hours
Minimize interaction with your new bird for the first 24 hours. Allow it to adjust with the least amount of stimuli possible. Restrain other pets such as dogs, cats and other birds from entering the room. Stress is very physically taxing on birds and simply bringing the new bird into your home is stressful, thus you want to minimize any additional stressors. Do not place the cage next to a window or at the end of a hallway, where unexpected movement will constantly surprise the bird.
Many people skip the quarantine period and usually end up with no undesirable consequences. However, for the rare occasion that you do bring home a sick bird, not yet displaying symptoms, the quarantine period is literally a lifesaver. Since you have already set up a separate area for your new bird, keep the bird separate from the rest of your flock for 30 days. Observe the birdís eating and eliminating habits. Look for any changes in consistency of its droppings or behavior. Wash your hands thoroughly after interacting with your new bird prior to handling your existing flock. It would also be beneficial to have an old shirt or smock to put over your clothes when handling your new bird. Maintain as much separation as possible.
At the end of the 30-day quarantine period the new bird should be familiar with the sounds of your home, including other bird sounds. Gently move the birdís cage into the same room as your other birds. Allow some distance to remain between cages.
After about a week, place the new cage in its final location. Allow time for the new bird to get to know its neighbors through the safety of cage bars. If you possess compatible species, allow your existing bird to explore your new birdís cage on the outside. Observe how they react to one another. Speak to them in kind voices and let everyone know they are loved. Then allow your new bird to explore the outside of your existing birdís cage. Again, observe behavior. If their behavior is non-aggressive, allow them both to be out of their cage at the same time under close supervision.
By taking these steps to introduce a new bird to your existing flock you greatly reduce the risk of exposure to illness, limit stress and lay the foundation for healthy relationships between your new and existing birds.