do love birds drink water

When you’re setting up the cage which should ideally be set up, washed and ready before you even get the bird home, I suggest this. What I do is I arrange the cage so that no matter where the bird is perched, for 98% of everything in the cage, wherever he’s perched, if he decides to poop, there’s nothing in the way and it will fall straight down on to the tray with paper on it. That way you’re not constantly scraping poop off things that you’ll probably have to remove and take out of the cage to wash which is a real hassle. This way nothing gets pooped on and a simple wet paper towel will do the trick for cleaning. The product Poop-Off works great but it has a very heavy fragrance and is still way too much work when one very carefully set up cage can save you so much time.

So find the perfect set up for the cage and take a picture of all the angles so you don’t forget…. And then… switch it up. You heard me right. Switch things around. It doesn’t have to be perfect when you switch things because this is just to get him used to changes. You may even want to change it so when he poops he gets it on things below so you will see how beneficial a well-planned cages setup is.

Now the 2 things you’re probably never going to change is the placement of the food dish, especially if you have the Tidy Seed feeder (Literally THE BEST $20 you’ll EVER spend on your bird) and if you have the JW – Insight water silo water dispenser. When a bird is little, if he gets too used to things then all of a sudden there is a change in the pattern, that’s when behavior issues like plucking can start. Aside from Holly coming into maturity, changes we made in our schedules could have also lead to Herbie’s plucking. Right around that time frame, I was working and my wife was unemployed but in a matter of a couple of weeks, I ended up unemployed and she started a new job. Herbie and Holly have had 7 clutches of birds. We kept 2. Hank from the 6th and Larry from the 7th. Larry ended up being a Larri and they’ve had babies but *WBDL. But Hank never had any issues with plucking before. Then when I went hunting, even though I’d done it the year before and even though I only went for 5 days instead of my usual 10, when I came back he had begun picking at his shoulders. When I returned he stopped. So birds can be very sensitive creatures.

First let’s address the food and water dishes. For all bird but especially lovebirds and cockatiels, spend the $20 and get the Tidy Seed food dish. www.tidyseed.com

This will be the best item you ever purchase. Tidy Seed food dish is THE BEST $20 you’ll ever spend on your bird. It’s easy to change the food, it allows for more room in the cage, it allows the bird to see 180 degrees outside the cage (perfect if the cage is near your dining room table as birds like to eat with their “flock”), its mess free and if you shake it back and forth the big Roudybush Crumble chunks come to the top, saving food costs. If you drop it and it cracks you can use Gorilla Super Glue. (don’t even try other brands) Make sure you use it only on the outside as they might pick at it from the inside, apply it in another room and let it dry for a full 24 hours before you use it again and make sure you wash it first.

First off… no dish. For the water, using water dishes and bowls get messy and gross VERY fast. The best solution to this is to use the JW – Insight water silo. Note: If you do put vitamins, medicine, Avi-Calm or any powder or any other substance for that matter, into the water, it can get pretty bleh pretty fast. You really shouldn’t be adding anything to their water unless directed by a vet or someone with a great deal of experience with your bird’s breed. Either way, the water silo will be the best setup you can have as you’ll soon see.

This is a pic of the tall version. If you have 2 birds to a cage this should do just fine. If you are raising babies you may want the tall but it’s also harder to clean. You also should get a water silo brush just in case or if you have hard water or if your bird backwashes and leaves an excessive amount of gunk in the silo. They will usually sell them at the big box pet stores or online. They have very soft brushes specifically made for that purpose so if you decide to MacGuyver it and use another type of brush, be forewarned that brush bristles that are harsh can leave scratches. Plastic is usually molded smooth. Smooth equals less gunk sticking to it because it can’t get a good grip even at the microscopic level. Less gunk means less bacteria. Less bacteria equals a healthier environment and a healthier bird. $7 brush or a $700 vet bill? Exactly. Most of the time, using a paper towel does just fine for the regular size but it doesn’t hurt to have a brush especially for the tall silos. Cheap paper towel can be abrasive so be cautious. This attaches to your cage and all you need to do is lift up and the silo detaches from the base making it easy to rinse and add new water.

I know that I may be “writing for Jethro” or sound like I’m insulting peoples’ intelligence but there are tricks to every trade. That’s why no one can ever seem to duplicate grandma’s pies or Thanksgiving turkey. When you use these silos its best to change the water every day but with these you can do it every other day with no issue. Granted, it literally takes 2 minutes so there’s really no excuse for not doing it every day but having this setup you don’t get poop or food or feathers in this. You will however, get backwash and that is what you need to be concerned with. Most pet birds are hookbills and due to the curve of their beak they grind up their food and like Twizzlers or peanut butter to us, it gets coated in the inner beak dome. When they take a drink they use gravity to swallow. Having this setup actually helps flush out the top of their beak like milk after cookies to humans.

Due to this, you want to use cold cold water, just like with bath water. They love cold water (at least ours do) and cold water out of the tap has less contaminants, metals and bacteria. You also want to let it run for at least 5 seconds. Same with humans. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands before you deal with their drinking water. Any germs on your hands will multiply in the water that WILL be at room temperature within a few hours. Aspergillosis is an incurable fungal disease that can hide in dirt. So if you plan on gardening, change the bird’s water first, then go green thumbin’. As for the silo, you pour out the old water and sometimes you have to press on one of the three prongs on the silo cap to keep the water flowing out. Rinse it out at least 3 times and put new water back in. Put it back in the base and you’re done. That’s if you have no backwash. Herbie and Holly almost never have backwash but Hank and Larri are goober machines. The finger shaped slide that juts out from the silo which is the water trough is the part you really need to check. If you look at it in the proper angle of light and you see smooth plastic, it’s good to go. If you see a layer of gunk it’s time to clean it out. The water dispenser will at least once a week need to be cleaned with a Q-tip and/or a toothpick to get the gunk out of there to be on the safe side. This goes for the dispenser part and the 3 prong cap to the water silo. Clean it out thoroughly. You will also be able to stick your finger in the silo and feel it. If it feels slippery then there’s a film that’s there and needs to be cleaned. You won’t see the film so you have to feel it. This too will take 5 minutes. Not a lot of time for a happy healthy bird.

You’ll notice, the way I have it setup both for the long green one and the regular yellow one, I have it near the top of the cage in a top corner. Basically you want it so that the bird almost can’t hop up on the dispenser finger as a perch without being uncomfortably hunched over. If they can’t climb on top of it, they can’t poop on it, thus keeping the water fresher. This also keeps it farther from the ground where wing flaps can stir up feathers, dust and other things that can land in the dispenser finger. You’ll also notice a sand perch or combination smooth and sand perch under the water. Supposedly sand perches help keep nails trimmed. I don’t know if I buy it but I put it by the water so the bird is at least forced to go on a sand perch at least for a few seconds on a regular basis to get the water. I also have the water at about chest height of the bird as it would stand on the perch. That way it doesn’t have to bend down for water. This does 2 things. This is what helps clean out the inner beak curve of gunk, kind of like how humans would take a sport bottle or hose and flush out our mouths and doing this they don’t have to scoop their necks for gravity to work the water down their throat. Sort of like having a tube connected to a water pouch by your bed instead of a cup of water for late night dry mouth. There is also just enough room for the bird to perch there to sleep if it wants to but that corner is for a very specific purpose and mere inches from that is the sleeping hut. That way if the bird has midnight dry mouth, it is close by to the water source. Perfect cage setup. Discussion on perches sand perches and water and how birds use gravity will be discussed in the anatomy section.

Try to keep your water out of the sunlight. There are 2 schools of thought on sunlight and water. If you watch survival videos, there are people who say that if you leave a container of water in direct hot sunlight that the temperature and duration of doing so will help sterilize your drinking water. That may be the case but bird cages aren’t sitting on concrete, outside, in direct sunlight where every day is mid-July. That being said, I recommend not doing so if possible. Why? If you have ever worked, or know someone who works in the food service or HVAC industries they’ll tell you that the cliché of “life begins at 40” is hands down true. At 32 degrees, water freezes. At 40 degrees, bacteria have their threshold of being able to reproduce. That’s only 8 degrees but that’s also why your refrigerator is always under 40 degrees. You should change your bird’s water every day. Use should start out using the coldest water possible. This usually helps to inhibit the ability for bacteria and other microbial nasties to form. Birds are sloppy eaters and drinkers but if you control certain environmental factors you can help slow down microbe growth and make it safer for your bird’s environment. Think of that communal family rinse cup on the bathroom sink. At least there you’re brushing your teeth and using mouthwash. Birds are backwashing their food to aid in digestion. You can get away with changing your bird’s water every other day… IF… you use the JW water silos, keep it out of the sunlight, use the coldest water you can and if you see a buildup of residue, clean it with tooth picks, cotton swabs and hydrogen peroxide if need be. Otherwise, not changing your birds water every day can be a gamble.

UNSALTED nuts are great. Herbie loves almond slivers. Any nut without salt. Plain rice (NEVER uncooked rice or pasta, it expands in their stomach and will kill them) and pasta are fine. However, I would try to find pasta that is made of quinoa or rice since there is a big problem with the gluten content in wheat products now days. There is a corn pasta (Sam Mills) that my wife and I eat ourselves but I don’t know their reaction to corn but I can’t imagine it being bad. Also, avoid anything with Anise. It’s what makes black licorice black licorice. (i.e. freakin’ nasty in my opinion) If it smells like licorice just throw the bag away, take the hit to the wallet and mark it down as to never buy it again. You’re best off reading the ingredients beforehand to save yourself that hassle. Anise is in some bird food but yet I’ve read story after story of people having numerous, not 1 but numerous, birds all die at the same time and they all have a black goo in their stomach. The food contained anise. So best to say away from it.

NO CHEESE. Cheese is a milk product. Milk comes from mammary glands (which is what makes those animals mammals) and since birds are not mammals they have no digestive enzymes to break down and digest milk products. Stay away from processed food or anything you wouldn’t eat if it were to sit out all afternoon. I.e. natural foods that would spoil due to lack of salt or preservatives. No raw meats. Plain cooked chicken and fish should be OK but make sure you stay away from red meat. Make sure any chicken or fish is FULLY cooked, better to err on the side of caution since birds don’t care if their chicken is juicy or not and especially with fish. I’d just as soon avoid it altogether and stick with chicken and hard boiled eggs. Tuna is up in the air but they use salt to preserve it so I would hands down say no. Lovebirds are desert creatures. Not a lot of fish (or chicken for that matter) where they come from.

Millet is one of the best things ever for bird owners. It’s our birdy crack and treat for Herbie and Holly. We use it when they’re good, and we also use it to test when they seem sick (if they won’t eat millet then we know there’s something wrong), we use it to train them to do things or coax them out of their cage. I would suggest refraining from leaving it in the cage all the time (like you see in the pet stores) so you have some leverage with a food item. Pet stores don’t have to worry about whether the bird has a go to food for all those things so they have the millet at the bottom of the cages at all times. It’s basically the food equivalent of a grandparent. If a grandparent had the kid all the time the kid would be a fat spoiled slob that never had to do anything. Millet is a seed, i.e. fatty and non-nutritious. WE take a (clean, and specifically for the birds) small fine point wire cutters (almost like something you can clip your nails with) and cut the millet into ½ inch nubs (a bud) and dispense them into their treat delivery toys/objects in their cage. We also take the shake from the bag and put it into a cleaned out orange prescription bottle. We use the shake to sprinkle over the treat seed on the jungle gym food dishes every once in a while or to coax them somewhere like out of there cage. They see that orange bottle and they start pacing back and forth. They know what it is.

Oat groats/oatie groats are great too, especially in the silos for when you put them back and they’ve been good birds twist the silo and dispense some oat groats. That way, since birds never want to go back in their cage, a place they for sure go when they’ve been bad, having a positive reinforcement for them when they have to go back in the cage but not for anything bad, they have something that tells them that there’s a different reason for having to go back in the cage for being bad vs just having to go back because we humans have other things to do. Otherwise your bird can possibly associate EVERY time they have to go back in the cage it’s because they did something bad. If they think that, the confusion will boggle their minds and could possibly develop psychological/behavior issues. If I have to leave the house I usually say “c’mon. Time to go in the cage. Daddy’s gotta go”. Then repeat “Daddy’s gotta go” until they’re in the cage. If I have stuff at home to do I’ll say “Daddy’s gotta work” instead. They’ll catch on. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes they will be stubborn but it’s like having to leave a party or last day of vacation. You don’t want to go back to that same ol’ place. And unlike a dog, you actually DON’T have to leave parties to wrap your hand in plastic and pick up steaming piles of stinky dog poop. And no… bird poop does not smell at all.

Once in the cage, praise them and give them a treat. Millet in the toys/dispensers/food dish, twist the silo to dispense oat groats, put a treat ball in the food dish. Do this less and less but always praise. Same with dogs. Soon they will accept that praise is good enough and if they’re really good or you want to spoil them randomly, give them a treat too.

I would recommend if you have 2 birds, have each side of the cage have 1 treat dispensing thing so they aren’t fighting over treats because one bird will become the alpha. A single food dish shouldn’t be a problem but treats will bring out the devil in birds. They make toys for treat dispensing that we’ll discuss in that section but have one for each side.

Also, things like Kaytee peanut and mango/papaya are good. Dried fruit and vegetables. If you have a dehydrator this could be used for bird treats. They also have recipes online for mashes, breads, etc. Birdie treat balls and cakes are great too. Lafeber makes treat balls and molasses cakes. Since I have the turkey serving tray with concave edges, I take a cat toy ball that’s about the size of a golf ball and clip one of the edges. That way I can lift up on that top flap like a Pez dispenser, take out the rattle ball and put treat balls in there. Sort of like a Kong toy for dogs. That way they will contort themselves trying to get at this treat ball inside the cat toy and the concave edges of the tray keep it from rolling off the table. Endless minutes of difficult pursuit. Birds have to forage in the wild for their food which takes up most of their day and a good portion of energy to do so. In captivity they don’t have to do that. So they need to have foraging, toys and play things to keep them entertained both for mental stimulation and exercise.

Reader Success Stories

  • Ann Marie “In my two palm trees in Mesa, Arizona, I have at least twenty wild peach-faced lovebirds.” wanted to know what kinds of vegetables and fruits I could give them three or four times a week. Thanks for the help. Great info. “. ” more .

The location of the food dish and the JW-Insight water silo water dispenser are the two things you’re probably never going to change, especially if you have the Tidy Seed feeder—literally THE BEST $20 you’ll ever spend on your bird. When a bird is young, behavior problems like plucking can arise if he becomes overly accustomed to something and the pattern suddenly changes. In addition to Holly growing up, our schedule adjustments might have resulted in Herbie being plucked. At that time, I was working and my wife was unemployed. However, within a few weeks, I lost my job and she started a new one. Herbie and Holly have had 7 clutches of birds. We kept 2. Hank from the 6th and Larry from the 7th. After all, Larry became a Larri, and the two had children, but *WBDL But Hank never had any issues with plucking before. When I returned from my hunting trip, which I had done the year before despite only staying for five days as opposed to my customary ten, he had started picking at his shoulders. When I returned he stopped. So birds can be very sensitive creatures.

This is a pic of the tall version. If you have 2 birds to a cage this should do just fine. If you are raising babies you may want the tall but it’s also harder to clean. You also should get a water silo brush just in case or if you have hard water or if your bird backwashes and leaves an excessive amount of gunk in the silo. They will usually sell them at the big box pet stores or online. They have very soft brushes specifically made for that purpose so if you decide to MacGuyver it and use another type of brush, be forewarned that brush bristles that are harsh can leave scratches. Plastic is usually molded smooth. Smooth equals less gunk sticking to it because it can’t get a good grip even at the microscopic level. Less gunk means less bacteria. Less bacteria equals a healthier environment and a healthier bird. $7 brush or a $700 vet bill? Exactly. Most of the time, using a paper towel does just fine for the regular size but it doesn’t hurt to have a brush especially for the tall silos. Cheap paper towel can be abrasive so be cautious. This attaches to your cage and all you need to do is lift up and the silo detaches from the base making it easy to rinse and add new water.

First off… no dish. Using water dishes and bowls for the water quickly becomes untidy and disgusting. Using the JW-Insight water silo is the best way to deal with this. It should be noted that adding vitamins, medications, Avi-Calm, powder, or any other substance to the water can quickly cause it to become unpleasant. It is actually best to avoid adding anything to their water unless a veterinarian or someone with extensive knowledge of your bird’s breed instructs you to do so. As you’ll soon see, the water silo will be the ideal configuration in either case.

Oat groats/oatie groats are great too, especially in the silos for when you put them back and they’ve been good birds twist the silo and dispense some oat groats. That way, since birds never want to go back in their cage, a place they for sure go when they’ve been bad, having a positive reinforcement for them when they have to go back in the cage but not for anything bad, they have something that tells them that there’s a different reason for having to go back in the cage for being bad vs just having to go back because we humans have other things to do. Otherwise your bird can possibly associate EVERY time they have to go back in the cage it’s because they did something bad. If they think that, the confusion will boggle their minds and could possibly develop psychological/behavior issues. If I have to leave the house I usually say “c’mon. Time to go in the cage. Daddy’s gotta go”. Then repeat “Daddy’s gotta go” until they’re in the cage. If I have stuff at home to do I’ll say “Daddy’s gotta work” instead. They’ll catch on. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes they will be stubborn but it’s like having to leave a party or last day of vacation. You don’t want to go back to that same ol’ place. And unlike a dog, you actually DON’T have to leave parties to wrap your hand in plastic and pick up steaming piles of stinky dog poop. And no… bird poop does not smell at all.

I recommend doing the following when you’re setting up the cage, which should ideally be ready, cleaned, and set up before you even bring the bird home: What I do is set up the cage so that, regardless of where the bird is perched, for 2098% of everything in the cage, wherever he is perched, if he decides to poop, there is nothing in the way and it will fall straight down onto the tray with paper on it. In this manner, you avoid having to remove excrement from items on a regular basis, which would require removing them from the cage and washing them, which can be quite inconvenient. This ensures that nothing gets soiled and that cleaning only requires a damp paper towel. Poop-Off is an excellent product, but it smells really strong and requires a lot of work when all you need is a well-built cage to save a ton of time.

StepsMethod

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Feed your lovebird once a day, one tablespoon of pellet food. Look for premium pellets designed for lovebirds that don’t contain any additives or preservatives. While 70% of your bird’s diet should consist of pellets, you should also feed it 30% of fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, bananas, apples, and carrots, as these foods contain the nutrients your bird needs. Give your lovebird small nuts as a treat in addition to its regular diet, such as acorns, hazelnuts, and brazil nuts. Continue reading for additional advice from our veterinary co-author, such as how to hand-feed young lovebirds!

FAQ

How often do lovebirds drink water?

Offer fresh water every day. Offer a variety of fresh foods, such as small amounts of fruits and vegetables, every day. Clean all food and water dishes daily. If your bird says no to a food item one day, it does not mean no forever – KEEP TRYING!

Do lovebirds need water?

Yup! Contrary to the human belief that water bowls/dishes are for drinking, in the mind of a lovebird, it’s the perfect place to bathe first and then take a drink if there’s any water left in the bowl! Water bowls are also the containers that lovebirds use to make “birdie soup”.

Can lovebirds have tap water?

What about birds? Yes, tap water will kill your birds. Use bottled or don’t keep a bird. Tap water is not for human consumption even though people use it.

Will birds drink water from a bowl?

Fortunately, there are other safe ways we can provide water for birds. Setting an unbreakable shallow bowl of water out, and bringing it in after ice forms, is one way. By setting your bowl out at the same time each day, you can help birds discover it quickly.