Colorful acrobats of the skies

Aviary birds and parrots are very popular pets because of their colorful appearance and melodious eclectic songs. Because of their small size and low noise levels, budgerigars, canary birds and wonderful finches are those birds to be found the most frequently in private homes. Linguistically talented (large) parrots, cockatoos and other parakeets are also kept as pets. Keeping birds as pets is, however, far from being a simple task.


Biology and behavior

Birds are specialized vertebrates – the only ones with a coat of feathers. Whereas their long swinging and tail feathers allow them to fly, their shorter cloth and down feathers protect them effectively against the cold – which is very important, given their high body temperature (approx. 40º C).


Contrary to most mammals, birds excrete their feces and urine via the same body opening.


Depending on their habitat, beaks and feet differ in line with the birds’ feeding and living habits.


Out in free nature, the birds have a huge living space at their disposal. Depending on the species, they will comb it alone or in flocks. As pets, however, they are all too often kept in cages that are too small.


Housing issues

What are referred to as cage birds are social animals that like to move a lot. However, they are often kept alone and lead lonely and boring lives. This leads to behavioral disturbances such as parrots pulling out their own feathers or budgerigars screaming or excessive feeding of their „mirror partners“.


A well-structured birdcage and various possibilities to keep busy help to prevent boredom and thus combat false behavior.


Health issues

The manner in which they are kept has a direct impact on the health of the birds. Husbandry mistakes can lead to the occurrence of different diseases, for instance:

  • Colds due to draught air
  • Deficiency syndromes or obesity due to false nutrition
  • Mites or other parasites due to a lack of hygiene
  • Feet injuries or deformations due to incorrect banding and the wrong cage equipment
  • Danger of injuries or poisoning in free flight

Special case „parrots“

Since September 1, 2002, you must hold an authorization to keep certain species of large parrots and cockatoos. Thanks to this obligation, parrots have become less fashionable pets. Holding parrots and cockatoos is a highly demanding task that calls for much space and tolerant neighbors willing to accept the loud cries of the birds.

Unfortunately, many parrots suffer from behavioral disorders because they are kept incorrectly, especially if they are kept in individual enclosures.


What to do with a lonely parrot?

The longer a parrot lives alone after the death of its partner, the harder it is for the bird to get used to a new partner. Therefore, rapid action is called for. Possibly, a new partner for your lonely parrot is waiting in an animal shelter? Ask an expert.


The new Swiss Animal Protection Act protects the birds from the worst - but only from that. Complying with the law is therefore only a minimum requirement and cannot be considered compatible with animal protection prerogatives. The new Animal Protection Ordinance no longer allows for birds to be kept on their own in individual enclosures. This is a major step towards improving upon the quality of life of aviary birds. However, in order to ensure species-appropriate housing, much more is necessary.


Appropriate Holding of Birds

Wellensittiche in einer Volière
© Gabi Trachsel

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