Should a new bird be checked by a vet?
It should be standard procedure for any new bird
entering your home to be checked by your vet. If you got a health
guarantee with your bird, it may even demand that you get the bird vet-checked.
The cost will vary. Some people just get their
birds looked at by the vet and that's it. Others do varying types
of tests that can go a long way towards determining the health of your
bird, but of course they can be expensive. How much or how little
you want done should be discussed with your vet.
How do I find a vet for my bird?
It should be made clear that not every vet is any
good, and many good cat and dog vets don't know much about birds.
First tip - if your vet doesn't know what a green cheek conure is, consider
going to a different vet!
If possible you should go to an avian vet, which
is one which belongs to the Association of Avian Veterinarians. Many
specialize in birds. You can find one by going to the AAVs homepage
(http://www.aav.org). There are more and more popping up, you should
be able to find one near you.
I have other birds at home, should I quarantine the
new green cheek?
As a general rule, yes. Any new bird entering
the home should be kept away from the other birds for a period of 4-6 weeks.
They should be in a seperate room, and you should wash your hands between
handling the new and resident birds.
Quarantine is especially important if you got your
bird from a pet shops. There are all kinds of people and birds going
in and out of pet shops - who knows what kinds of germs they may be carrying
with them? This is also true of birds from bird fairs. When
you yourself go to pet shops or bird fairs and handle the birds, I recommend
washing your hands or even changing your clothing before handling your
own birds at home - for all you know, you may have picked something up
from the other birds you were handling.
I think the only time I'd make an exception to the
quarantine rule is when buying birds from a closed aviary, which is an
aviary which has not had any new birds enter the aviary until they have
been strictly quarantined themselves.
Is Teflon cookware safe? What about other non-stick
Unfortunately, Teflon and other non-stick pans are
NOT safe. When the surface is overheated (above 500 f), or if the
surface is scratched or damaged and heated to normal temperatures, it releases
fumes which are harmless to humans but WILL kill your birds within a matter
of minutes. Very rarely do the birds survive long enough for their
owners to rush them to the vet, but those that do usually have permanent
Although, with a great deal of caution, non-stick
cookware can be used in a household with birds, I wouldn't use it and I
recommend not doing so. If you do, please take all precautions -
make sure everyone in the household is aware of the danger. Never
leave a pan on the burner, and throw away any pan that is scratched or
Are there other potential fumes that are harmful to
Birds have very sensitive respiratory systems, and
this makes them especially susceptible to many dangers that their owners
often never thought to think of. Paint fumes can harm birds - if
you're painting your home, keep your bird in a seperate, well-ventilated
room or even ask a friend to bird-sit until the paint is dry. Spray-on
deoderant and spray-can air freshener should never be sprayed near the
bird. In fact, be cautious of anything that comes in a spray can.
Those carpet powders, even those specifically marketed for pets such as
dogs and cats, can be dangerous to birds.
There are even reported problems with things like
certain types of scented candles, or even permanent markers used too close
to the bird. Use common sense. If you're at all unsure of a
product, don't use it, or use it well away from the bird.
There are some more obvious ones, too. Second-hand
smoke is very harmful towards birds. If you do smoke, don't smoke
around your bird! And wash your hands after you smoke and before
you handle your bird - the nicotine on your hands can cause your bird's
feet to itch.
Carbon monoxide is even more dangerous to birds
than it is to humans, and will sometimes kill them before the humans in
the household even experience any symptoms.
What are some other common household dangers I should
be aware of?
Probably the number one killer of birds is just
simple household accidents. These can usually be prevented if you're
aware of the dangers and take reasonable steps to prevent any accidents.
First, keep your bird's wings clipped, and keep a very close eye on any
new feathers growing in so you are aware of when your bird may be able
to fly again.
Be careful about allowing your bird in the kitchen.
Hot burners and boiling water can pose serious damage. So could cleaning
products if the bird is able to swallow any.
Any standing water in the house should be covered
or in a room unavailable to the bird. This includes toilets and fish
It's best to never allow your bird on the floor.
They are easily stepped on, especially small birds like green cheeks.
Green cheeks and other conures are also especially prone to being sat on
because they like dark spaces and may crawl under a blanket or pillow where
they aren't seen.
Don't allow your bird to chew on anything that isn't
approved as completely bird-safe. Birds have died of metal toxicity
after chewing on things like curtain rods and the metal edging around a
Probably the most important thing you can do to
prevent accidents is simply supervise your bird whenever it's not in the
cage. Most accidents happen after the owners look away!
Beyond that, use common sense. Most dangers
are apparent if you think about them first!
How long do green cheeks live?
This isn't as simple a question as it sounds.
Unfortunately, more parrots die because of accidents, bad diet, or other
problems than they do of old age. However, assuming none of this
happens first, green cheeks can be expected to live 20-30 years or even
more. I have emailed with owners of green cheeks who were in their
teens, and one owner with a green cheeks who was 21 and still laying eggs!
Do my green cheek's wings need to be clipped?
How do I do that?
Wing-clipping is highly recommended for the safety
of your bird. Keeping a bird fully flighted is a big risk, due to
dangers they can get into around the home, and the possibility of them
escaping outdoors. Clipping wings can also help curb aggression that
can be caused when the bird knows that you have no control over where he
Clipping wings is a simple procedure that has almost
no danger involved. People invariably warn against the risk of clipping
blood feathers (new feathers that still have a blood supply), but so long
as you clip above the coverts this is not a problem, because the blood
supply only extents a little ways up from the base of the feather; never
past the coverts. Are you lost yet? If so, you may want to
study up on your wing anatomy. Or, have your veterinarian or pet
store clip your bird's wings to show you how, and hopefully you can do
it yourself from then on out.
Now, let's get down to business. Some green
cheeks will let their owners extend their wings and clip them without fussing,
but may need to be toweled. Get a bird used to being gently towelled
while young and you won't have as many problems when they get older.
It helps to have one person hold the bird while the other clips the wings.
When extending the wing you want to grasp the "thumb" part, not the feathers.
Clip the first 6-9 primary feathers, about a half inch above the coverts.
Don't leave the outer one or two primaries; this was a common practice
in the past, but it isn't a very effective clip. Also, do NOT clip
just one wing; birds need to be equally clipped on both sides.
Do my green cheek's nails need to be clipped?
How do I do that?
Some people seem to have the notion that ALL birds
nails need to be trimmed periodically, but this isn't the case. Some
birds do need to have their nails trimmed, but many do not. It helps
if you have natural branches as perches, or one of those cement perches
(although these should not be the bird's main perching spot). The
growth of the nails may also be related to diet.
As a general idea of whether your bird's nails are
too long, set him on a flat surface. If the nails are so long that
they lift the tip of the toe off the surface, then they need trimming back.
Also, many birds can use their nails trimmed just for their owner's comfort,
if they grow sharp little tips which dig into hands.
Like wing clipping, nail clipping may require you
to towel your bird. Always have everything you need on hand.
Bird nail clippers are sold in pet shops, but human nail clippers work
just as well. It's also a good idea to have a styptic powder on hand,
such as the one marketed as Kwik-Stop. It is all too easy to clip
just a little bit too far and draw blood, and a little bit of powder on
the nail will stop the bleeding; although it should be noted that you have
to be careful not to get this in the bird's eyes or mouth. It is
interesting that so many people are afraid to clip their bird's wings but
more comfortable doing their nails, when in fact it's easier to "mess up"
when doing the nails!
Just clip off the sharp tip if you're clipping for
your comfort. If your bird's nails are overgrown, carefully clip
back a tiny bit at a time, being careful never to clip too much at one
time. Stop when the bird's nails look like they're at a comfortable
length. When in doubt, err on the side of caution!
Does my green cheek's beak need trimming?
Beaks should never need trimming. Beaks that
do become overgrown are usually the result of an imbalance in the diet.
If your bird's beak does become overgrown, you should see a veterinarian.
Hopefully the vet will be able to help you find out what is causing the
overgrowth, as well as safely trim the beak.
Do you have to bathe green cheeks? How do you
go about doing that?
Baths are a very necessary but often neglected part
of bird care. Green cheeks often solve this on their own by bathing
in their water dish, but this isn't the ideal solution. Green cheeks
usually love to bathe in a dish of water; long and wide enough for them
to fit their tail in and spread their wings. I have used dog dishes,
Tupperware containers and frying pans just to name a few ideas! The
water should be about 1"-1 1/2" deep, although first-time bathers may feel
more comfortable with shallower water. Some green cheeks prefer slightly
warm water, but many prefer cool water. My family's pet green cheek
would try to bathe in glasses of ice water!
First-time bathers may need a little coaxing.
It helps if you bathe them in an area they're familiar with, perhaps around
their cage. Set them on the edge of the dish and wiggle your fingers
in the water. If the bird seems unafraid, you can try gently setting
him in the water, but if he doesn't want to go in don't push him.
The last thing you want to do is make him afraid! Older birds may
need a few tries before they figure the whole bathing thing out.
It has been my experience that green cheeks prefer
this "tub-style" bathing, but some birds also like "showers" with a spray-bottle
such as those sold for misting plants. Spray over the bird so the
mist falls down like rain.
Many people have asked me how often they should
bathe their bird. The answer is, as often as the bird wants!
I've heard of a few green cheeks who take several baths a day, and this
is just fine. More commonly birds will take baths every couple of
days. Just keep in mind that wet birds get cold easily, so try to
bathe earlier in the day so the bird has time to dry off before night.
to the FAQ | Next Section