Often times we talk and write about the importance of having a good diet, proper socialization, and good veterinary care for a bird, but when we talk about exercise, we must realize what a crucial part it has in the longevity of every birds life span.
Good aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to ensure that our birds lead a long and healthy life.
What Exactly are the Benefits of Exercise for your Bird?
Just like people, exercise in birds plays a significant role in their overall health and well-being. Good aerobic exercise lowers their cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of natural fat.
It also helps decrease body fat, increase muscle mass, increase endorphins (A chemical in the brain that helps create a feeling of well being), and decreases excessive hormonal overload for your bird. It may be hard to believe that simple exercise can help birds in that many ways, but similar to people, birds benefit greatly from exercise.
When birds get high levels of cholesterol and excess weight, it can lead to heart, kidney, and liver disease. This is why it is crucial to implement exercises into your birds daily life style. A healthy cholesterol level in a companion bird is less than 200.
When spoken to an avian veterinarian about cholesterol levels, she told a story of a recent Blue and Gold Macaw that she had recently seen who had a cholesterol level of over 6000. The blood was so thick that it was difficult to draw. She also told that she had seen several parrots, many being African Greys, dying of heart disease at 7 years of age.
This is truly unacceptable for an animal that should normally have a lifespan comparable to a human. Of course there are many factors, such as diet and genetics that also play a part in these numbers, but one of the most crucial things that we can do in order to keep our birds healthy and happy is to exercise them as much as possible.
So how exactly do we exercise our feathery companions? There are many ways that exercise can be fun for both you and your bird. Whether it is exercising inside the cage or exercising in play areas outside of the cage.
Exercise In The Cage
Allow plenty of room in the cage for wing flapping. Place some perches high enough to allow your bird to hang upside down and flap.
Some birds really like swings and the motion of a swing is very good for keeping the feet and ankles exercised. Place food and water dishes on opposite sides of the cage so that your bird needs to move back and forth to eat and drink.
Many birds love to soak their food in their water so having the bowls farther apart gives them a good bit of exercise going back and forth between the bowls. Hide food in the cage in different areas so that your bird can forage and search out food. This helps to prevent boredom and is excellent fun for the natural curiosity of a bird.
There are many ways that you can ensure that your bird gets proper exercise. These are just a few ideas to help you along the way.
For those of you with flighted birds, many of these exercises can still be done as long as proper caution is taken. If your bird is flighted, do not be of the false opinion that they are getting plenty of exercise already.
Many flighted birds do not fly very often, and when they do it is simply from point A to point B. My guess is that our birds do not give any more thought to how much aerobic exercise they get each day then we do.
As many of us promise ourselves healthier diets and more exercise, let’s include the same promise for our birds this year. You will both be a lot better off for it.