Although birds are not as popular or prevalent among pet owners in the state of Virginia as cats or dogs, there are still many stores that cater specifically to bird owners and pet owners. needs of their pets.
One place, right in Falls Church, is the American Bird Company. Located along Lee Highway at 7219 Lee Hwy, Falls Church, the local pet store has been serving the Washington, DC area for over 20 years.
Carrie, one of the sitters, told me about what it’s like to own and care for a caged bird like a parakeet, macaw or cockatoo (birds that fill the inside of the store, back and forth, in a variety of colors and sizes).
The first thing to do is to make sure the bird gets “fresh water, fresh food” daily. Speaking about her own routine with American Bird Company birds and her own pets, Carrie said the cages need to be cleaned “every day”.
While cleaning up bird droppings, she explained that it’s important for an owner to “watch the poo, making sure that [the bird] eat enough.
For larger birds, like parrots, “fresh vegetables are really good.” Papaya is also a good option for bird food, as it is “good for their gut.” As for the baby birds, Carrie says, “We feed them a lot of formula. After [the] formula, we use pellets. She mentioned that ZuPreem is their favorite brand in the store.
Many of the birds in the shop can be seen clinging to or chewing on various toys inside their cages. Carrie explained that toys – those made of “balsa wood, pine or dragon wood”, which birds like to “chew and destroy” or the cholla cactus, abundant in “nooks and crannies” – are an element key to a bird’s daily life. . The toys are “perfect for their beaks and their brains,” says Carrie.
She added that “a lot of birds like things that make noise”, like bells. There is also a kind of concrete perch that can be placed in a cage and on which the birds can “file their nails”.
It is helpful to have several toys and to “alternate [them] so that [the birds] don’t be bored. In addition to the types of toys already mentioned, Carrie noted that “children’s foam, shredded paper [and] dried corn husks” are also good items for a bird to play with.
Besides all the colorful birds – which fill the shop with their cacophonous but bubbly “bird talk” – another obvious feature of American Bird Company is humidity. According to the Best Friends Resource Center, a national animal welfare organization, it is “important to purchase a humidifier for each room in which” a bird will be kept. Having a humidifier with a built-in hygrometer is essential, making sure not to exceed 60% humidity, as this is usually when mold starts to grow.
Setting the humidifier “to 55% humidity will ensure” that the bird “will live in as humid an environment as possible without mold.” Humidity is a care requirement for all types of parrots, which helps keep their skin and feathers healthy.
American Bird Company, in addition to selling birds and bird supplies, also provides grooming and boarding services with professional care that includes wing trimming and nail trimming.
Another store in the area, a bit further afield, is Wild Birds Unlimited, located at 2437 N Harrison St, Arlington. Michael Zuiker has owned and operated this franchise store since 1991.
Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in selling bird food, feeders, bird baths and houses and a variety of posts and baffles – which act as blockers that help prevent squirrels from jumping on the feeder to birds; they also help keep birdseed in one place.
For those looking to expand their parameters and engage with other bird owners and birders, there is a statewide group called the Pet Bird Association of Virginia, based at 5652 Haden Road, Virginia Beach. . The PBAV – which began as a club in 1982 – helps promote education, research, conservation and responsible breeding practices for exotic birds such as finches, canaries, parakeets and parrots.
The organization is made up of pet bird owners and veterinarians, pet store owners, rehabilitators, shelter owners and breeders, working to support bird education and conservation.
According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, it is important “before introducing any wild or exotic bird to Virginia” to “check with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to ensure that the possession of the bird is not prohibited or restricted”.
If you are a resident of Virginia or moving to Virginia, there are no entry requirements for you to bring your personal pet birds.
“If the bird is intended to be used for purposes other than being a personal pet (such as offering it for sale or adoption, breeding it, or using it for promotional purposes), the bird will need to be accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinarian Inspection (CVI) issued within 10 days of entering Virginia.
To learn more about American Bird Company, visit americanbirdcompany.com; to learn more about Wild Birds Unlimited—Arlington, visit arlingtonva.wbu.com. To learn more about the Pet Bird Association of Virginia, visit pbav.org.