Small pet birds and anything related by Pete Etheridge – aka – 'Stanton Birdman'

Posts tagged ‘tropical pet birds’

Is keeping birds in captivity justified?

Received an email recently from a fellow who was somewhat objective to keeping birds in captivity for which I promptly submitted the following reply.

I always respect other peoples opinions, irrespective of whether they clash with my own opinions or not. Everybody is entitled to an opinion and so should be.
In general I too disagree with wild animals being kept in captivity; they should have the opportunity to live out their life in the most natural way possible, as nature intended, in the wild running free. With regards however to animals kept in captivity, whether birds or anything else I do have my own opinions that go some way to justifying such things… long waffle coming up.

Many of the animal establishments around the world, zoos, safari parks etc. most often work together in captive breeding programs. For example the breeding of endangered species such as the Bengal tiger and giant panda in captivity can help to some extent to assuring such breeds remain on this earth for years to come; however this only goes part way and should be undertaken with the intention of returning healthy animals to the wild – of course some type of ‘close to wild as possible’ upbringing would be the only way to make it work.
Of course the most feasible option is for authorities around the globe to focus their attentions on protecting the natural wild habitat of these animals instead of allowing their destruction, and of course stop the indiscriminate hunting of such species.

The best way without a doubt to see wildlife – including birds – is within its natural environment, totally free for all to see if only they’d get off their respective posteriors and go and take a look.
Idleness is the downfall of society.
As for my speciality, exotic birds, if kept in captivity I believe they should be allowed to live as close to their natural habitat as is possible in a domestic situation and as such a large aviary with lots of space is the most suitable option. I do not keep any birds in cages (apart from the aviary which is just a big cage really) as I think it is cruel and unethical and should only happen on the rare occasion when some type of quarantine or hospitalization is required for their own well-being.

I do think however that to release an animal into the wild that has only ever known the confines of captivity would be both mentally and physically cruel to that animal, who would perhaps not survive for very long in the wild as a result. On the other hand to take a previously caged bird and introduce it to an aviary can work (and often does) in favour of the bird who would be elated with the new environment, but this should be done through the correct procedure of gradual introduction that progresses a little each day and does take a little time.
To then take that bird who has now got used to the relative freedom of the aviary and then put it in a cage is undoubtedly wrong, like a prison sentence that would most likely have a dramatic effect on the birds mental and physical health. The same would naturally apply to any bird that has only ever known aviary life, or any other animal in similar circumstances for that matter.

Agreed, the best way is to not have them in captivity in the first place.
It is a sad fact that most small animals kept in domesticity as pets for example in the UK are of tropical origin and as such their chance of survival in the wilds of Britain is somewhat limited, we are neither desert or rain-forest and any native species from such areas would find it very hard going in our temperate climate (global warming aside, we’re not tropical yet, although it’s only a matter of time) and would most likely find themselves suffering a long painful death as a consequence.
Yes there are feral communities of exotic or tropical birds in the UK and many other western societies but their fortune is a result of their sheer volume of numbers and any solo animal of exotic origin wouldn’t last very long.’

What do you think on the matter?


Keeping your birds warm in winter

I had an email today in response to my article on ‘Article Base’ enquiring about more information; here is the answer I gave:

In answer to your enquiry you’ll be pleased to know that it is not the cold that causes problems for your birds but wet and draughty conditions certainly will.

To give you some idea of what I’m on about my birds have nothing more than a standard 6 x 4 shed as their night shelter, but I have made a few minor alterations for their comfort during the winter.

Firstly I lined the inside of the shed, between the supports, with old carpet underlay which I stuck on with ‘No Nails’ adhesive but any decent adhesive will do. You don’t have to use carpet underlay as I did but any old foam, old carpet or anything you have or can get hold of will do to act as insulation.
I then boarded out the whole of the inside with 6mm ply board, this was reasonably cheap and was easy to cut to shape with either a jigsaw or standard saw, I attached it with normal nails.

That’s basically the only alterations I made, the shed already had felt on the roof so this made it waterproof. I use no form of artificial heating whatsoever.

I noticed that you have finches and canaries; as small birds by comparison to the others these need to eat more often to build up their fat reserves to help their bodies stay warm so it is vitally important that you make sure their is always a plentiful supply of food, and of course fresh water, for them at all times, and the chances are they will eat considerably more than in the summer to help them to stay warm.

I also find it helps to provide some type of artificial lighting in the winter evenings; it gets dark by 5 pm and then does not start to lighten until 7 am the following morning, that’s a massive 14 hours without light and your birds will only eat if there is enough light for them to see what they are doing. As small birds like finches and canaries need to eat more often to ask them to go 14 hours without food can and often will cause problems.

Install the light in such a position so as to get light into the night shelter without your birds being able to make contact with the hot bulb and burn themselves; if you have a security area between your access point to the night shelter and the access point to the birds area then install it there, if the barrier is solid then remove some of it and replace it with aviary mesh or clear Perspex so the light will penetrate into the birds dorm. If not then install the bulb in the dorm but fence it off with some aviary mesh to stop them getting to it and of course make sure any power cables are out of their reach too, you know they are bound to chew such things if they can.

Allow your birds about 7 to 8 hours of darkness to let them sleep by switching the light on and off manually or fit a timer to do it automatically; this is what I do. I bought a cheap electronic timer (only cost me £3) and set it to switch the light on as it gets dark (about 4.30 pm in the height of winter) and off about 7 to 8 hours before dawn (about 11 pm to 12 midnight in the height of winter).

Of course you will need to get rid of the ice that should be their water and replace it with fresh water about 2 or 3 times a day, and keep checking the food supply. Also try and close off their access points to the outside once they are all in the night shelter if you can, this will help prevent draughts and keep them inside where it’s dry and draught free til you let them out in the morning.

To summarise in the clearest way; I’m sure you have noticed that even when it is bitterly cold if you have your winter gear on in still and dry conditions you’re quite comfortable, and it’s only when it’s windy or wet do you feel cold. It’s exactly the same for your birds.

The above things might seem like a lot of work but they’re not really, and are just a few basic and easily achieved precautions, and well worth that bit of extra effort for your birds’ sake.

Last winter we recorded some of the lowest winter temperatures on record, often below minus 10 degrees. With the added precautions above I had no winter casualties whatsoever, and I also have finches (plus budgies, cockatiels and Java sparrows) in my exposed outdoor aviary.

I know this has seemed quite exhaustive but I sincerely hope the information helps to ensure you have a casualty-free and successful winter of bird-keeping.

If you’d like a bit more information then please do not hesitate to contact me at or
More info about bird keeping can be found on my website at
or any of my blog sites:
and also

To your success!
‘Stanton Birdman’

Pet birds – Wing clipping

Today I received an interesting email from someone who bought a budgie from me recently asking about wing clipping and if I knew how to do it.

Although I am aware of the procedure, wing clipping is something I have never actually done in practice.  I’ve kept birds for well over ten years and never actually clipped any wings.  It suddenly dawned on me that for such a simple procedure I wondered myself why I have never actually tried it in over a decade of bird keeping as a main hobby.

The simple answer is most of my birds are housed in a large outdoor aviary so I’ve never had to, and although I have kept a number of birds in cages as household pets I have never considered actually clipping their wings.

Some would argue that the procedure is cruel and unnecessary, whereas some would argue that all pet birds should have their wings clipped.

All I can say is it is a matter of personal preference, the bird feels no pain or loss whatsoever apparently and it does prevent them from flying away as with clipped wings they are unable to get any lift, and also if attempting to fly from a height they’ve climbed would simply glide to the ground with no pain or injury incurred.  If they attempt to fly it would go some way to preventing injury by crashing into windows and other inanimate objects.

So it’s up to you.  If you wish to tame your bird then wing clipping will help but if like mine your birds live in an aviary in a semi-wild state then there is no need.

The procedure is simple with just a trimming of the middle section of the primary feathers on each wing.  It would be quite easy to do yourself but if you are unsure then the best bet is to call in the professionals.

Below is a few videos I’ve found that will show you the procedure, just click on any or all of the links to access them, the diagram above will also show you where to clip.


‘Stanton Birdman’ – aka – Pete