Bird Food Recipes - Laurelwood Animal Hospital
Check out these tasty recipes to meet the nutritional needs of your birds. A seed-only diet lacks essential vitamins and minerals key for long-term avian health. The secret? Variety. But what’s the real recipe for a well-balanced bird diet?

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How to tell if baby animals are orphaned, injured, or perfectly fine—and what to do if they need your help

  • It’s common to see baby wild animals outside during spring, as a new generation makes its way into the world. Continue reading to find out when and how you should help a baby wild animal.

Unless the animal appears injured or in distress, there may be no need to rescue them. 

Nestlings are baby birds who are too young to be away from the nest. If the nest is intact, gently place the bird back inside.


Signs that a wild animal needs your help

  1. A cat or dog presents the wild animal to you
  2. Evidence of bleeding
  3. An apparent or obvious broken limb
  4. A featherless or nearly featherless bird on the ground
  5. Shivering
  6. A dead parent nearby

If you observe the above signs, find help for the animal and safely capture and transport him or her to the appropriate place for treatment.

How else can you tell if the baby animal needs help?

Determining whether an animal is an orphan and needs your help depends upon the animal’s age, species, and natural behaviors.

Baby Deer

People often mistakenly assume that a baby deer (a fawn) is orphaned when found alone. If he is calm and quiet, he is OK, and his mother deer (the doe) is probably nearby. A doe only visits and nurses her fawn a few times a day to avoid attracting predators. Unless you know the mother is dead, leave the fawn alone.

Mother deer are wary of human smells, so if you have already handled the fawn, take a towel, rub it in the grass, and then wipe down the fawn to remove all human scent. Then return the fawn to the place where you found him.

Only if the fawn is lying on his side, or wandering and crying incessantly, is he likely to need help. If this is the case, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Baby Birds

Unlike deer and some other animals, birds will not abandon their young if a person touches them. If baby birds have fallen from their nest and you can put them back without danger to yourself, you should do so.

If the original nest was destroyed or is too high to reach, hang a small, shallow basket close to where the original nest was. Woven stick baskets work well—they resemble natural nests and allow rain to pass through so the birds won’t drown. Adult birds won’t jump into anything they cannot see out of, so make sure the basket is not too deep.

Keep watch from a distance for an hour to make sure the parent birds return to the new nest to feed their chicks. If they do not return, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Birds with fully feathered bodies but short tail feathers may be fledglings (adolescent birds). You may see them hopping about on the ground, unable to fly. This is normal; birds learn to fly from the ground up!

Fledglings may remain on the ground for a few days, supervised and fed by their parents a few times per hour before they get the hang of flying.

Keep pets away from the area—dogs should be leashed, and cats should be kept indoors. If there are stray pets in the area, put the fledglings in a small basket and hang it securely from a nearby tree limb to keep the birds off the ground for the few extra days they need before they can fly.

However, if baby birds appear injured, alone, or in imminent danger, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Baby Foxes

Often fox kits will appear unsupervised for long periods of time while their parents are out hunting for food. Observe the kits from a distance; if they seem energetic and healthy, leave them alone. If they appear sickly or weak, or if you have reason to believe both parents are dead, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Baby Opossums

Baby opossums are born as embryos, barely larger than a bee, and spend about two months nursing within their mother’s pouch. When they get to be about 3-4 inches long and start riding around on her back, they may fall off without her noticing. As a general rule, if an opossum found alone is over 7 inches long (not including the tail), he’s old enough to be on his own; if less than 7 inches long (not including the tail), he is an orphan, and you should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Baby Rabbits

A rabbit who is four inches long with open eyes and erect ears is independent from his mother and should be allowed to fend for himself. Uninjured baby rabbits in a nest that is intact should also be left alone. Mother rabbits only visit their dependent young to nurse them 2-3 times a day to avoid attracting predators.

If the rabbit nest has been disturbed, though, or if you think the babies are orphaned, cover the nest with surrounding natural materials such as grass and leaves, and follow these steps.

  1. Keep all pets out of the area, as they may harm the young rabbits.
  2. Avoid touching the babies, as foreign smells may cause the mother to abandon her young.
  3. Make an “X” with sticks or yarn over the nest to assess if the mother is returning to nurse her young.
  4. If the “X” is moved but the nest is still covered by the next day, the mother has returned to nurse the babies.
  5. If the “X” remains undisturbed for 24 hours, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Baby Raccoons

If a baby raccoon has been seen alone for more than a few hours, he is probably an orphan, because mother raccoons closely supervise their young and don’t let them out of their sight. You can put an upside-down laundry basket over the baby (with a light weight on top so he cannot push his way out) and monitor him for a few hours. If the mother does not return, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Baby skunks

If you see a baby skunk—or a line of baby skunks, nose-to-tail—running around without a mother in sight, he (or they) may be orphaned. Skunks have poor eyesight, so if something scares a mother skunk and she runs off, her babies can quickly lose sight of her.

Monitor the situation for an hour or two to see if the mother rejoins her young. You can also put on gloves and slowly place a plastic laundry basket upside down over the baby skunks to keep them in one spot and make it easier for the mother to find them.

If the mother returns to her young and you need to lift the basket to let them out, remember that moving quickly may frighten them, causing them to use their spray defense. If you move slowly and speak softly, though, it’s unlikely that you will be sprayed. If she does not stamp her front feet to show that she is alarmed, you should be safe to proceed. If no mother comes to retrieve her young, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Baby squirrels

A squirrel who is nearly full-sized, has a full and fluffy tail, and is able to run, jump, and climb is independent. However, if a squirrel nest falls or a younger baby squirrel falls from a nest, you may need to intervene.

If you don’t think the babies fell from the tree today, or if they appear injured, immediatelycontact a wildlife rehabilitator.

If you are certain the baby squirrels fell from the tree today, give the mother squirrel a chance to reclaim her young. If the baby is uninjured, leave him where he is, leave the area, keep people and pets away, and monitor him from a safe distance.

If it’s chilly outside, or the baby isn’t fully furred, place him in a shallow box with something warm underneath (like a heating pad on a low setting or a hot water bottle). Do not cover him with leaves or blankets, as the mother may not be able to find him. If the babies are not retrieved within a few hours, take these steps to warm them.

Wearing thick gloves, gather the squirrels and place them inside a thick, soft cloth, such as a cloth diaper or fleece scarf or hat.

Provide immediate warmth by placing one of the following beneath the cloth: chemical hand warmers, a hot water bottle (replace the hot water every 30 minutes), or a heating pad set on the lowest setting. (If the heating pad has no cover, put it inside a pillow case.)

Place the baby squirrels, cloth, and warmer inside a small cardboard box. Call a wildlife rehabilitator. You can also try calling your local humane society. Many shelters and humane societies can provide emergency care for wildlife.

Finding help for the animal

Once you’re sure the animal needs your help, call a wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. If you’re unable to locate a rehabilitator, try contacting one of the following:

  1. Local animal shelter or humane society
  2. Animal control agency
  3. Nature center
  4. Veterinarian

Capturing and transporting the animal

Once you’ve contacted someone who can help, describe the animal and his physical condition as accurately as possible.

Unless you are told otherwise, here’s how you can make an animal more comfortable for transport or while you’re waiting for help to arrive:

  1. Never handle an adult animal without first consulting with a wildlife professional. Even small animals can injure you.
  2. Put the animal in a safe container. For most songbirds, a paper bag may be used for transport. For larger birds or other animals, use a cardboard box or similar container. First, punch holes for air, from the inside out, and line the box with an old T-shirt or other soft cloth.
  3. Put on thick gloves and use a towel or pillowcase to cover the animal as you scoop him up gently and place him in the container.
  4. Do not give the animal food or water: it may cause him to choke, develop digestive problems, or drown. Also, many injured animals are in shock, and eating or drinking can make it worse.
  5. Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children, and noise—until you can transport the animal. Be sure to keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning, or heat.
  6. Transport the animal as soon as possible.
  7. While transporting the animal, leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum.

Vaux’s Swifts

Natural History

Vaux's Swift
Vaux’s Swift – Richard B. Forbes

Vaux’s Swifts are truly amazing aerialists. They spend much of the time in the air and forage, drink, court, collect nesting materials and copulate all in flight. They have a voracious appetite for flying insects and ballooning spiders. Vaux’s Swifts arrive in Oregon in late April, court their mates in May and June, and have their 4-6 eggs laid and hatched by July.


In the fall, swifts congregate in large groups as they prepare for their migration southward to Central America and Venezuela. During September, large groups of swifts pass through the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region.

It is not uncommon for these migrating swifts to use chimneys to roost in during the night, and once a population of swifts locates an appropriate chimney, they are likely to return year after year. Groups of roosting swifts can range in size from just a few individuals to as many as 35,000 in some larger smokestacks.

Chapman Elementary School in northwest Portland houses the largest known roost of migrating Vaux’s Swifts in the world! Typically the swifts will only stay a couple of weeks before continuing their migratory journey.


Vaux’s Swifts typically nest in old growth forests in hollow tree snags. Because of dwindling old-growth forest stands, Vaux’s Swifts have begun substituting chimneys for snags. Their nests are made of twigs that have been pasted together with saliva on the side of the snag or chimney. Adults access the nest by flying in and out of the top of the chimney. Swift nests disintegrate soon after they are abandoned and do not pose a fire hazard.

Vaux's Swift Nest - Paul Campbell


Vaux’s Swifts look like small, dark, fast-flying cigars with wings. Their small bodies are 4-5 inches in length. Their wings are crescent-shaped and beat with swift, rapid, bat-like movements. Swifts do not “perch,” and are found flying or clinging to vertical surfaces such as trees and chimneys.

Situations and Solutions

There’s a baby bird in my fireplace!

After hatching, the young are cared for in the nest for just over two weeks. As they develop, the nestlings become adventurous and begin to cling to the wall near the nest and take short flights. Sometimes they become a bit too adventurous and end up in your fireplace. If you find a young swift in your fireplace, gently reach up into your chimney and attach it to the chimney wall. Swifts have “Velcro”-like feet and will inch their way back up to their nests. Remember to close your flue as soon as you have returned the bird to the chimney interior.

There’s a nest of young birds in my fireplace!

If a nest of young has fallen into your fireplace, place the nest in small box or berry basket. Attach the basket near the top of a piece of wood that is at least 5 inches wide and 3 or 4 feet long. Carefully raise the board into the chimney, rest the board on the damper and lean it against the inside chimney wall. The nest should be as high as possible in the chimney, allowing the parents to fly down the chimney and feed the young. Wait a few hours for the parents to locate the nest, then listen for the loud chattering of the young as a parent enters the chimney with food. When the adult leaves it is silent again until the parent returns with food.

The swifts in my chimney are so noisy, what can I do about them?

The best thing to do is just have patience. Both during nesting and migration swifts are unlikely to remain in a chimney for more than 2-3 weeks. Removal of nesting swifts from a chimney is almost certain to lead to the death of the nestlings. Swifts are highly specialized birds, and it is almost impossible to raise them in captivity. Their only chance for survival is to be left inside the chimney to be cared for by their parents.

What You Can Do to Help Vaux’s Swifts

If you know you have a nest of Vaux’s Swifts in you chimney (usually known by the loud chattering of the young as the parents enter with food), here are some things you can do to help them. Delay starting a fire in your fireplace or having your chimney swept until the parents and the young have left the nest, usually by September or October.

Where Can I See and Learn More About Vaux’s Swifts?

Each September, thousands of migrating Vaux’s Swifts use Chapman Elementary School’s chimney as their nightly roost before continuing their journey to southern Central America and parts of Venezuela. For four weeks in September, the Audubon Society of Portland hosts Swift Watch, an amazing opportunity to see the swifts in their nightly aerial performance and learn more about the special creatures. More information on Swift Watch.

Download a Brochure on Living with Vaux’s Swifts


August 15 is Check the Chip Day

Check the Chip DayMicrochips greatly increase the chances that you’ll get your pet back if he/she is lost or stolen…but a microchip only works if its registration information is accurate.

To remind pet owners to have their pets microchipped and to keep the registration information up-to-date, AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) joined together to create “Check the Chip Day.”

Take advantage of this reminder:

1) Make an appointment with your veterinarian for microchipping if your pet isn’t already microchipped (then make sure that your pet’s chip is immediately registered); and
2) Check your already-microchipped pet’s registration information in the microchip manufacturer’s database, and make sure it’s up-to-date.

Updating your pet’s microchip registration

To update your pet’s registration, you’ll need your pet’s microchip number. If you haven’t already created an account with the manufacturer, you’ll need to do that as well so you can access the registration in the future to update the information. Make sure that all of the information, particularly your phone number(s) and address, are correct.
There are many databases that allow you to register your pet’s microchip, but the one that really counts – the one that animal shelters and veterinarians will search – is the database maintained by the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip. AAHA’sUniversal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool, an internet-based application, is linked to the registries of the majority of microchip manufacturers and allows a quick database search of any microchip made by these manufacturers. In addition, a number of public microchip registries have also been linked to the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool to make it easier to find a microchip’s registration.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Are you and your pet outside hiking, swimming &  running all day? Please make sure your pet stays current with all their vaccinations. 

Vaccinations are beneficial to your family, not just your pet. Leptospirosis and Rabies are contagious to all family members. 

Call or stop by today for a free vaccination schedule. 

LW August Poster

Tips, resources for feeding, housing, enrichment, and more for parrots and other birds kept as pets.

Parrots and other birds kept as pets (like canaries and finches) have very specialized needs.

Studying up will help ensure you’re providing the best life possible for your feathered friend.

What follows are general guidelines and tips, but you’ll be most successful if you grab a book or two on the subject (suggestions below)and always, always regularly consult with a board-certified avian veterinarian (see below for more on that, too), especially if you’re new to birds.

Get to Know your bird

This might seem to go without saying, but it’s foundational to creating a positive life for your animal.

Birds aren’t decoration; they’re highly intelligent, social, and demanding, so expect to have a close relationship with your bird. This is important so you can assess her likes and dislikes, fears and safety zones, and how to detect if she’s not feeling well. Barbara Heidenreich’s bird body language DVD is also helpful.

Get to Know Birds in General

Parrots and other birds kept as pets are very different from any other pet you’ve had. Take the time to learn about how to optimize their lives with a brief introduction to captive birds in the home; then check out books, DVD’s, and training classes.

Provide as much out-of-cage time as possible—this will mean bird proofing your house

Birds don’t want to live in cages any more than we do. If you have the space, consider dedicating a room in your house as your bird’s room so she has to spend as little time in her cage as possible. If a bird room isn’t in your near future, commit to having the bird out of her cage, in a safe, always supervised space, whenever possible when you’re at home. This is important for enrichment and the opportunity to fly. Birds will chew anything in sight: wires, cords, the wall (most paint is hazardous), furniture, etc. Remove or adequately cover any of these materials, and ensure that all windows and doors are closed. Keep your bird away from other pets in your home if you’re unsure of their dynamic (cats and dogs are obvious ones). And familiarize yourself with the list of the most hazardous household materials (air fresheners, scented candles, and Teflon cookware are the biggies).

Let your bird fly—don’t clip her wings

Everything about a bird’s physiology is designed for flight. They have wings, hollow bones, and specialized respiratory systems that allows them to use air differently than we do. Because they’re prey species, they need flight as a means to feel safe and normal.

Find a board-certified, avian veterinarian

See her or him at least once a year; call whenever something seems off.

Most dog and cat veterinarians don’t treat birds. Among those who treat/see birds, very few are board-certified in avian medicine. But finding one who is can make all the difference in supporting a long, healthy life for your bird. A board-certified avian vet. knows parrots’ nutritional and behavioral needs better than most, and he or she will be your partner in providing optimal care for your pet. Plus, birds are flock animals so mask their symptoms when they’re sick. It’s critical to know your bird so well that you can detect the most minor of shifts in his behavior, then immediately contact the vet. Often, this is the only opportunity you’ll get to save his life. The basic rule with birds is that you can never be too cautious. When in doubt, call the vet.  Find an avian vet at the Association of Avian Veterinarians’ website.

Consider adopting more than one bird

Parrots and other birds kept as pets are flock animals. At a minimum they need a close relationship with you, but they’ll thrive if they have a good relationship with another bird with whom they live (to understand, imagine living your life without seeing another human). Talk to your local avian rescue organization to learn about other birds who might get along with yours.

Feed Your Bird Well

Did you know that most parrots and birds kept as pets should eat very little seed? It’s fattening and not health-supporting in high quantities. Most birds should be on a diet of ahigh-quality, organic pellet and a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Talk to your avian veterinarian about diet, check out the diet resources from Phoenix Landing(“Nourish to Flourish” book and “Feeding our Parrots Well” DVD). The two most reputable, commercial bird food companies are Harrison’s Bird Foods and Roudybush.

Provide the biggest cage you can afford and design it for fun, safety, comfort

A cage can never be too big for an animal who has wings. As your bird will likely spend a good amount of her time in her cage, you’ll want to design it for comfort (vary the perch heights; make sure food and water access is easy, etc.) and stimulation (great toys!). Check out the Bird-Safe Store for cages, toys, perches, and more. This is definitely an area in which you’ll benefit from reading some good parrot primers (there are entire books, DVD’s dedicated to creating a fun environment for your parrot) and attending workshops where you can swap ideas with other bird owners.

Original Article


Birds can suffer from many different eye disorders. They can be due to an eye injury, or possibly an infection to the area. Occasionally, eye disorders are symptoms of another underlying medical problem. Therefore, if your bird has an eye problem, it should be considered serious and you should consult a veterinarian to rule out any major internal disease.

Symptom and Types

Conjunctivitis, a common eye disorder, is usually caused by bacteria and can be identified as red and swollen eyelids, and may lead to photosensitivity (avoidance of light) in the bird. Conjunctivitis is also a symptom of many other medical problems, including respiratory infections.

Uveitis causes an inflammation of the inner parts of the eye. However, it is commonly associated with symptoms of other internal diseases in the bird. This particular disorder needs to be treated quickly to avoid cataracts from forming.

Cataracts develop in the bird’s eye when there is a deficiency in vitamin E, an infection with encephalomyelitis, or even from continuous exposure to some artificial lights.

Marek’s disease is a particular type of eye disorder that is caused by a viral infection. This medical condition can lead to irregularly shaped pupils, iris problems blindness, and can progress into cancer. Vaccination can prevent this eye disorder from occurring. However, a bird that is already infected with the virus, cannot be cured.

Avian Pox is another eye disorder which is found in birds, and is due to a viral infection. Though it is a generalized disease, the eye symptoms include swelling of the eyelids with blister-like formations, and partial or total loss of vision. However, the eyeball is not affected by the infection and the vision usually returns after the infection is treated.


Many eye disorders are caused by bacterial infections (i.e., salmonella). This particular bacteria causes both conjunctivitis and ophthalmitis — inflammation with pus in the eyeball and conjunctiva — and possible blindness. In addition, salmonella is contagious and often spread from parent to your bird, or genetically through the egg yolk.

Fungal infections of the eye can also lead to bird eye disorders, usually because of moldy feed. One common fungi, Aspergillus, infects the bird’s respiratory system, but can also affect brain and eyes. The infected eye will show yellow plaques under the eyelid. The eye will also have inflammation, and if left untreated, this infection can result in severe eye damage.

Vitamin deficiency is another cause of eye disorders in birds. For instance, a deficiency in vitamin E in the parent can lead to the birth of a blind chick. And vitamin A is required for proper pigmentation and tearing of the eyes. To prevent such deficiencies, give your bird commercial feed.


If your bird show signs of discomfort or symptoms of any eye disorder — such as the eyes close, swell, become red, discharge a substance, or blink more than usual — be sure to get the bird checked by the veterinarian for immediate treatment. Antibiotic eye drops or other medicines can help in dealing with the eye disorder at an early stage.


Prevention of certain types of eye disorders are dependent on the symptoms found in the bird. But, timely medical intervention can save the bird from suffering, as well as any serious eye damage.

Answers to your top questions about how and what to feed your bird neighbors

From The Humane Society of the United States website

  • Although they are often seen at bird feeders, red-bellied wood peckers primarily eat insects.

One of the best ways to enjoy wildlife in the comfort of your home is to watch birds at a feeder. You’ll be amazed at the variety of birds that will come to your feeder throughout the year.

Experts disagree about whether backyard bird feeding will significantly help bird populations. But feeding certainly can help individual birds in your neighborhood.

The general rule for feeding of any wild animal is: do not feed when it might cause harm. With birds there are few situations in which we can imagine harm being caused, so we say, go ahead! These answers to common questions will help you get started.

Should I feed birds year-round?

It’s not necessary. Bird feeding is most helpful at times of when birds need the most energy, such as during temperature extremes, migration, and in late winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted.

Most birds don’t need your help in the summer. When they are nesting and rearing their young, many birds focus on eating insects, so feeding is less necessary at those times. It is also important for young birds to learn how to find naturally occurring foods, so take a break from filling feeders in summer.

Two exceptions to this rule are hummingbirds and goldfinches. Offer your summer hummers nectar in feeders to help fuel their high metabolism, and provide nyjer seed to your goldfinches—who nest later than other birds—until thistles go to seed.

What if I have to leave town?

Don’t worry if you must stop feeding briefly—while traveling, for example. In all but the most severe weather conditions, wild birds will find other food in your absence, particularly in suburban areas where other birdfeeders are just a short flight away. If you live in a rural or isolated area, however, try to arrange to have a neighbor maintain the feeders during winter absences.

Where should I put birdfeeders?

Birds are most likely to eat where they feel safe from predators, including free-roaming cats. Place feeders twelve feet from a brush pile, evergreen tree, or bush. Birds can quickly fly twelve feet to reach the safe cover, yet predators cannot use it to hide within striking range of the feeder. As further protection, place chicken wire or thorny branches around ground-level feeders.

How do I keep birds from colliding with windows?

Windows that reflect the sky and trees around them or that are very transparent can confuse birds, causing them to see a clear flight path, rather than an obstruction.

Prevent collisions by placing feeders either more than 30 feet from a window or closer than 3 feet. A feeder that is 30 feet or more from a window is a safe distance from confusing reflections, while one within 3 feet prevents a bird from building up enough momentum for a fatal collision.

Altering the appearance of your window helps, too. On the outside of the window, hang streamers, place static-cling bird strike prevention decals—especially those that reflect ultraviolet light that is visible to birds, but not to humans—about four inches apart—or paint a scene with soap. If collisions still occur, cover your windows with thin plastic garden netting, which will give a bird who still makes a wrong turn a better chance of surviving.

What bird foods should I offer?

Winter suggestions

  • Black-oil sunflower seed: high in fat so it provides good energy; seeds are small and thin-shelled enough for small birds to crack open.
  • White Proso Millet: high in protein content.
  • Peanuts: offer in tube-shaped metal mesh feeders designed for peanuts; use a feeder with smaller openings for peanut hearts.
  • Suet cakes: commercially made suet cakes fit the standard-size suet feeder (you can even find vegetarian options).
  • Nyjer seed: use a tube feeder with tiny holes to keep the seeds from spilling out.
  • Cracked corn: choose medium-sized cracked corn, as fine will quickly turn to mush and coarse is too large for small-beaked birds.

Suggestions for other seasons

    • Spring feeding: offer fruit, baked and crushed eggshells, and nesting materials, such as human hair, pet fur, bits of string or yarn, and small strips of cloth to help nesting birds
    • Summer feeding: limit to nectar for hummingbirds and nyjer seed for goldfinches’
    • Autumn feeding: offer millet, peanuts, peanut butter, and suet cakes

 Are any human foods UNSAFE to feed birds?

Yes. Birds should not be offered many of the foods humans eat.

  • Bread (fresh or stale): provides no real nutritional value for birds; moldy bread can harm birds.
  • Chocolate: toxic to birds, just as it is to dogs and cats (it contains theobromine); never offer birds any foods containing chocolate.
  • Table scraps: some may not be safe or healthy for birds; most table scraps will attract mice or rats.

 Why are different feeders placed at different levels?

Many birds will feed at more than one level, but some species have preferences.

  • Ground level: mourning doves, sparrows, towhees, and juncos.
  • Table level: cardinals, finches, and jays.
  • Hanging feeders: titmice, goldfinches, and chickadees.
  • Tree trunks: woodpeckers, nuthatches, and wrens.

How do I choose a birdfeeder?

When searching for that perfect feeder keep the following tips in mind.

  • Plastic, steel, or glass feeders are easier to clean than are feeders with porous surfaces, such as wood or clay.
  • Small feeders empty quickly, leaving less time for seeds to get wet or spoiled.
  • Choose feeders with no sharp edges or points; the design should allow birds to perch away from the food to keep it from becoming soiled.
  • Set up more than one feeder and allow ample space between them to avoid crowding.
  • Choose a feeder with drainage holes, and add a plastic dome to keep seed dry.

Create a Humane Backyard

A place that offers food, shelter, water, refuge from toxic sprays, and safety from mowers—it’s what every creature wants, right? They want a Humane Backyard. By making simple changes, you can create that haven of comfort and security for local wildlife. And you can do it anywhere: in the city, suburbs, or country. So look around–at your backyard, balcony, or the park down the street—then let us teach you how to make your own Humane Backyard. Once you’ve learned how, take our Humane Backyard pledge.

Regular wellness exams allow your veterinarian to evaluate your pet’s general health and become aware of any health problems before they become serious illnesses. Since your pet cannot vocalize his feelings, you must rely on regular physical examinations by a veterinarian and your at-home observations to assess your pet’s health. Your veterinarian may also wish to perform diagnostic tests, including blood tests and/or x-rays, to evaluate your pet’s health.

Routine blood testing, urinalysis (urine testing) and other tests are recommended for all pets in their “senior years.” Your veterinarian may recommend routine blood testing and urinalysis for younger pets to establish baseline values, which can be used for comparison as pets age.

How often does my pet need a wellness exam?

Every year for a dog or cat is equivalent to five to seven human years, so it is important that your pet receives a wellness exam at least every year, and more often when he enters his senior years. Many aspects of your pet’s health can change in a short amount of time, so make sure your pet does not miss even one exam!

Similar to people, pets need to visit the veterinarian more often as they get older in order to prevent and treat illnesses that come with age (visitSenior Pet Care for more information). AAHA recommends that healthy dogs and cats visit the veterinarian once a year for a complete exam and laboratory testing. Healthy senior dogs and cats should receive a wellness exam and lab testing every six months. Depending on your pet’s age and health, your veterinarian will suggest an appropriate physical examination schedule to help keep your pet in tip-top shape.

What can I expect during my pet’s wellness examination?

Your veterinarian will request a complete history of your pet’s health. Don’t forget to mention any unusual behavior that you have noticed in your pet, including:

  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Eating more than usual
  • Excessive drinking of water, panting, scratching or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain or weight loss

Your veterinarian will also want to know about your pet’s daily behavior, including his diet, how much water he drinks and his exercise routine. Your veterinarian may ask:

  • Does your pet have trouble getting up in the morning?
  • Does your pet show signs of weakness or unbalance?
  • Does your pet show an unwillingness to exercise?

Depending on where you live, your pet’s lifestyle and age, and other factors, your veterinarian may also ask about your pet’s exposure to fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites. He or she will develop an individualized treatment and/or preventative plan to address these issues.

Vital Statistics

Usually at the beginning of the exam, your veterinarian, a veterinary technician or an assistant will take your pet’s temperature, pulse, respiration (breathing) rate and body weight. If your pet has lost weight since his last physical exam, he may be experiencing the early stages of metabolic disease, such as kidney disease or diabetes. If your pet has gained weight since his last exam, your veterinarian will work with you to develop an appropriate diet and exercise plan to return your pet to a healthier weight. Weight is an important consideration in your pet’s health — an extra two or three pounds could mean the difference between your pet being fit and healthy or obese.


Your veterinarian may ask if your pet has been shaking his head or scratching at his ears, and if you have noticed an odor coming from your pet’s ears. Your pet’s ear canals protect his inner ear, but can also become a home for parasites and other foreign objects. Your veterinarian will closely examine your pet’s ears to make sure they are healthy.


Eye examinations often reveal many health issues, including anemia, infections, glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, jaundice, kidney problems and allergies, in addition to eye injuries and ulcers. Your veterinarian may examine your cat’s eyes to evaluate her past and present nutritional condition. Observation of the inner structures and outward appearances of the eyes will be included in an eye examination.


Your veterinarian will inspect your pet’s gums, teeth, tongue and palate (roof of the mouth) for tartar buildup, dental abnormalities, fractures, loose teeth, tumors, infection and other problems. For example, similar to people, a lack of red or pink color in your pet’s gums or lining of his lips could signal anemia. Your veterinarian will discuss the importance of regular at-home and professional teeth cleaning to prevent periodontal disease, which can cause bad breath and tooth loss.

Heart and Lungs

Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet’s heart and lungs for early signs of heart and respiratory disease.

Reproductive Organs

If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, your veterinarian may discuss with you the many health benefits of spaying/neutering beyond just birth control. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s reproductive system for swellings, discharges and breast lumps.


Your pet’s skin is his largest organ and a good gauge of his health. Your veterinarian will check your pet’s skin and hair for fleas, ticks, other external parasites, tumors and wounds, as well as signs of allergies, infection, warts and tumors.

From Head to Toe

Your veterinarian will feel your pet’s abdomen for abnormalities, including enlarged organs, masses or painful areas, to detect problems with the stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver and other organs. Your veterinarian will also examine your pet’s legs and feet and the condition of your pet’s joints, muscles, lymph nodes and nose.

Your veterinarian may recommend additional testing to diagnose or verify a health problem if he finds any abnormalities during your pet’s examination.


Vaccinations are one of the most important preventive measure you can take for the health of your pet. Dogs can be immunized against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, coronavirus, Bordetella, rabies, and Lyme disease. Cats can be immunized against feline panleukopenia (distemper), rabies, feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, chlamydia, feline leukemia, and FIP.

How frequently you should have your pet vaccinated against certain diseases depends on many factors, so talk to your veterinarian to understand what is recommended for your pet’s unique environment and lifestyle. Visit the Healthypet article Vaccinations for more information.

Do not underestimate the importance of taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular wellness examinations. These regular examinations will help your pet live a longer and healthier life, so do your part to care for your furry friend!

Article pulled from

Unraveling the Mystery of Raw vs. Cooked

Original Article

Feeding your pet can sometimes seem overwhelming. And even though your bird might be able to say “Polly wants a cracker,” an all-cracker diet may not be the best thing for our feathered friends.

In this day in age, it’s all about variety. Bird feed is no different. Go to any pet store and you’ll see a vast array of commercially made pellets and seeds available, many of which your vet or local aviary will recommend. However, you can also supplement a bird’s diet with fresh foods, too.

Just don’t start feeding your pet whatever you happen to have in the house — birds are delicate creatures. Research the foods and consult your vet or an aviary employee so you don’t accidentally harm your little feathered friend.

Raw vs. Cooked

Many experts recommend feeding your bird raw items rather than cooked food, as cooking will often remove the food of vital nutrients.

But if you do decide to serve your bird cooked food, avoid using non-stick pans, as they contain a substance that’s toxic for birds. Instead, use pans made of stainless steel. Some excellent foods to cook:

Brown rice
Legumes (e.g., beans, lentils, peas)

Raw vegetables and fruits, meanwhile, are an excellent source of nutrients. However, they should be introduced slowly; this allows your bird to adjust to the change in diet. A sudden change can lead to an anorexic bird, and no one wants that. Of course, you should still let the bird have access to its regular food, and fresh, clean water should always be made available.

For vegetables, try to stick to the dark yellow and leafy green kind (just no avocados, which are poisonous to birds!), such as:

Sugar snaps
Snow peas
Romaine lettuce

Its hard to match the sweetness and nutritious qualities of fruits, but they should only be a small portion of the diet (and the pits of the fruit should be removed prior to feeding). Some favorites among birds include:

Apple (remove seeds)

When you first try to introduce fresh food, though, you might find yourself with a fussy bird on your hands — regardless of whether it is a fruit or vegetable. Don’t despair. Remain patient and keep on trying. Eat the food yourself in front of your bird (hey, if it works with kids, why not with birds?).

Eventually the bird will realize this food must be good and take the food right from your fingers. After all, no one likes to miss out on some tasty grub.