|Let's Celebrate Pet Birds!|
T.J. Lafeber D.V.M.
The Thirsty Bird
Pet birds' size and fast metabolic rate may confuse owners as to their requirements for life and health. For example, parakeets in the average home at 75 '1 F will drink 2.5 to 5 ml. or one half to one teaspoon of water daily. This volume hardly drops the level of water in the dish and easily could be brushed aside as almost unimportant. However, it a comparison is made between a 1 ounce parakeet and a 150 pound human, the 1/2 teaspoonful of water would suddenly become approximately 10 gallons.
Birds are thirsty animals, and in proportion to their size, require large volumes of water. Depriving birds of water is more dangerous to their health than a person would think.
No life exists without water. The availability and quality of water influences to a large degree the vitality of life.
Being the largest single component of the body, water enters into almost all the body functions and acts as the main substance in the transportation of nutrients, chemicals, and waste to and from all the billions of body cells. It forms the common denominator to all life processes.
The Need for Fresh, Clean Water
For optimum growth, maintenance of health and efficiency of food utilization, a constant supply of pure water is required. The value of having clean, fresh, wholesome water available for birds should not be underestimated. Although not ordinarily considered a food, water must be recognized as one of the most important foods a body requires for life.
Survival in the wild has taught birds to be on constant vigil for anything that might endanger their life or health. Thus, any change in the color, transparency or flavor may cause them to be suspicious of their water and to avoid it. In effect, this deprives birds of water almost as though the water wasn't there or frightens birds sufficiently that only a minimum amount of water is consumed.
When adding anything to birds' water, a change in the taste or color may cause birds to stop drinking.
Medicines, tonics, and even some vitamins when added to the water can act as a major hindrance to normal water consumption. If anything is ever added to the drinking water, birds' water consumption needs to be measured.
The Value of Water
As compared in importance to other foods, a starving animal can burn up all of it's carbohydrates and fat, half of its body protein, and 40% of its body weight and still survive. However, the loss of 10% of the body water causes serious disorders, and 20% causes death.
When shortages of water occur, the body tries to conserve by excreting drier feces and less watery urine. The make-up of the kidney allows the bird to excrete solid urine, this being white crystals of uric acid. Owners will note this as the white portion of the droppings.
Water shortages discourage breeding, affect the general health, decrease food consumption and utilization, handicap the circulation of blood and other fluids, and, in general, create a hazardous situation.
Water Consumption Will Vary
When birds are supplied fresh water and are allowed to drink as much as they desire, the volume consumed will be noted to vary upon a wide range of environmental and psychological needs. Birds normally require increased amounts of water during exercise, courtship, egg laying, feeding their young, and in warm weather.
For the serious pet owner or breeder, the message seems clear-ample supplies of pure, wholesome water in a clean, protected and readily accessible container. Chlorine added to water by cities as a purifier will not harm birds.