Dear Rex,
Ask Rex: Better care for feathered friends 071713 AE 1 Capital City Weekly Dear Rex,
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Story last updated at 7/18/2013 - 1:11 pm

Ask Rex: Better care for feathered friends

Dear Rex,

I know you usually deal with dogs and cats, but I have no one else to turn to. I am a bird and I need your help. I am frankly ready to fly the coop - literally. My home is dirty, all I get to eat are seeds, seeds and more seeds, my water dish hasn't been cleaned in weeks, and I can't remember the last time my nails were clipped. I lay egg and after egg and no babies and that makes me so frustrated I pluck out all my feathers. The next time the door is open I am out of here!


Featherless Feathered Friend

Dear 3F,

You are right, I do mostly deal with dogs and cats so I contacted my friend The Big Bird and told him your problem and asked for his advice. Here is what he said: "Your humans needs a little "Come to The Big Bird" talk. First, birds are naturally clean animals. We groom ourselves and want to keep our feathers clean. In the wild we would use environmental things to keep our beaks and nails from becoming overgrown. Overgrown toenails can actually grow so long they turn back on themselves and grow into the skin. And overgrown beak can also curl back on itself and impede our ability to eat. It's also dangerous if we decide to bite someone. A cuttle bone will fix that. As for eating only seeds: seeds are to birds what French fries are to humans: A little bit is yummy, but a diet of seeds (or French fries) is not good. We need fresh fruits and vegetables to be as healthy as we can be. It sounds like you live alone, so of course the eggs will not hatch into babies. Someone has explained the birds and the bees to you - right? Hopefully they will just leave the eggs in the nest you have created. That usually works to stop the laying of any more eggs. You mentioned you were stuck in your cage. I hope you do have a chance to get out and literally stretch your wings. Andy and E at Wee Fishee are great resources. They know a ton about us. Just go in and ask for help.

You and I know that anyone who has a bird or birds is one lucky person. They get to listen to our chatter and if they are patient, we will even grace them with our presence on their finger or shoulder. But like all animals, we need special care if we are going to be kept in captivity. It doesn't take a huge amount of time to keep us happy and healthy, but it does take time. So to all you humans out there, if you are going to "own" us, take the time to educate yourself in how to care for us. Clean our cage often. Feed us the right food, don't let us sit in a draft, and spend some time with us. We too can be your best friend.

Good luck 3F. We hope this helps,

Rex and (guest columnist) The Big Bird

Rex is a Border Collie who is employed by the Gastineau Humane Society. He works part time as an advice columnist and pet detective.

To reach Rex with pet questions send them c/o Gastineau Humane Society: 7705 Glacier Highway, Juneau, or call 789-0260.