Owners are often concerned that their birds are lonely and opt to get a mirror instead of a second bird. While their intentions are good, mirrors are not always a very healthy option for your pet bird. Mirrors can actually be psychologically damaging to your bird.
While some birds do well with mirrors, others can become obsessed. The mirror creates a false perception of reality where the bird thinks it’s seeing and interacting with another bird. If the bird uses the mirror sparingly, it can be a good addition to your bird’s life.
It should be noted that birds who are taking care of properly should not need any artificial interaction. Birds who are engaged with often, given plenty of toys to play with, and given a variety of toys on a rotation should not need a mirror.
Reasons to keep mirrors out of bird cages
First, we’ll start off by getting all the reasons why you should get rid of mirrors in your bird’s cage out of the way.
Some birds may get into a fight with the “other bird” in the mirror. This could be caused by imaginative play or the idea that the mirror bird is invading your bird’s space. Either way, this causes unnecessary stress on your bird.
On the other hand, your bird could become very attached and defensive of the mirror bird. This can cause aggression directed towards you, making it difficult to interact with your bird. Your bird may isolate itself from you, or become stressed and aggressive if you try to remove the mirror from its cage.
Birds tend to be very social animals, which can lead to issues with feeding when a mirror is present. Your bird may attempt to feed with mirror bird, foregoing its own meal altogether. Alternatively, your bird might regurgitate its food to feed the mirror bird. Both of these scenarios can cause health issues. Although, the latter will cause more serious, possibly life-threatening, issues like throat irritation and major weight loss.
Keep a careful eye on your bird when you’re using a mirror for enrichment purposes. What can start out as harmless fun can quickly become an obsession which causes your bird to become isolated or aggressive.
Most birds benefit from time outside of their cage and fresh air. An obsession with a mirror can cause your bird to avoid time spent away from their mirror bird friend. This can cause a lack of social interaction and fresh air.
Your bird can also mistake the mirror bird to be its mate. If your bird tries to mate with the mirror bird, it will be unsuccessful and cause stress on your bird. This stress from unsuccessful mating can lead to the feeding problems we mentioned previously as well as isolation and psychological issues.
Birds do not have the abstract (or critical) thinking skills to understand that a mirror is made of glass and is fragile. Birds will often jump, pick at, and bite mirrors with no regard to the fragility of the item. There are also type of mirrors with dangerous chemicals which can cause serious illnesses if ingested by your bird.
If the mirror breaks, it can not only physically harm your bird, but this can be very confusing for your bird as well. They do not understand the concept of the mirror and therefore, will be very stressed that their mirror bird just shattered into pieces.
If you are like most adults in today’s world, you probably don’t have a whole lot of free time. You’re probably pretty busy with school, work, family and friends, and finding the time to care for yourself. So how are you supposed to find time to interact with your bird?
If you do not think you can find the time in your day to properly care for a bird, the simple answer is, don’t get one. Neglect is unfair to the bird and to you as an owner. A bird without the proper amount of stimulation can be very destructive and even aggressive.
Toys are a great option for entertainment and stimulation for your bird when you are not able to provide it. They should not be used as an alternative to your interactions, but they can be used to supplement for the times when you are busy. The type of toy and safety of the toy for your particular bird is important so make sure you do your research. You can read more about what kind of toys are best for your bird here.
Foraging toys are hit among many bird breeds, they allow your bird to be physically and mentally active. These toys can be filled with treats for your bird to figure out how to eat. Make sure that the material and durability of the toy match your bird’s strength. Replace any toys that are deteriorating.
Consider getting a bird playground that incorporates the function of many different toys. Ropes, swings, ladders, and chewable toys allow for chewing, climbing, and exploring. Some playgrounds are too large to fit inside of a cage but can be mounted on top of your existing birdcage.
The most important factor to keep in mind with toys is to keep a variety of toys in rotation. Birds, just like humans, will get bored of the same toy day in and day out. Make sure that you swap out toys often to keep your bird feeling stimulated and engaged.
While this option is not always practical for everyone, it is the best way to ensure that your bird is truly entertained and happy. Most birds are flock creatures and enjoy being in the company of their own. So, it’s a no-brainer that another bird will make your bird happy.
This may sound like more work for you, but it is actually the opposite. By allowing your bird to have a companion or playmate, you’ll be eliminating a lot of time you would otherwise be spending entertaining your bird. You will need more food, and to keep up with cleaning, but these things certainly do not outweigh the benefits.
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