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Caring for a Disabled Bird

Caring for a disabled bird can be a challenge for its human companions. The degree of disability and whether the disability is permanent or temporary can affect how much of an impact caring for the disabled bird will have on your household. Some disabilities can come on gradually, such as the hearing or vision loss associated with older birds. Other disabilities have a much more abrupt onset, often as a result of a serious illness or accident. Caring for a disabled bird who has a disability that has come on gradually can require almost unnoticeable changes in care. You may notice that your aging bird has begun to spend more time on his perch and less time flying, or may limit his out-of-cage ventures to a small area, which can be signs of diminishing eyesight. An older bird slowly developing hearing loss may respond less frequently when spoken to, or may not always notice right away when his favorite people enter a room. Caring for a disabled bird who has experienced an acute-onset disability can be quite different. It is important to remember that the bird may not understand the full extent of his limitations, and it is up to his human companions to help keep him safe. If your bird’s disability requires him not to fly, offer him additional opportunities to climb or perch in his cage. Continue to take him out of his cage for regular, albeit more quiet, play times, but sit on the floor with him and encourage him to hop around by placing a variety of toys on the floor around him. Birds can be very resilient animals, but sudden onset disability can be frightening to them. When caring for a disabled bird, provide him with plenty of affection and positive attention. As he adjusts to his disability, however, be sure you are forcing him to become as independent as possible. Avoid carrying a bird with an amputated leg everywhere; he needs to learn to hop, or fly and safely land, on his own. Caring for a disabled bird may require patience, knowledge, and special accommodations. Depending on the needs of the bird, you may need to change and update these accommodations as the needs of your bird change. Most owners of disabled birds report that the animals are quite adept at becoming accustomed to and overcoming their own disabilities in order to lead full and happy lives.