Your Bird, Your World: Decorate The Tropical Way


According to the National Gardening Association, 83 percent of U.S. families (91 million houses) set up one or more do-it-yourself indoor and outdoor lawn and garden projects last year. That’s a new high, and many of those customers may have been seeking for tropical plants. Many of these plants thrive in potted pots, making it very simple to construct a tiny jungle in one’s own house or on a backyard patio.

This might be a trend that bird owners will like. Jeff Radzak, the creator of the JWR Exotic Bird Environment Air System, prepared a study titled Domestic and Tropical Plants in Aviaries in December. Radzak discovered that birds performed better in a planted habitat after analyzing two groups of birds, one of which lived in a planted environment and the other in a barren flight. “I observed the birds’ behavior, metabolism, hunger, and general condition,” Radzak said. “The birds who were surrounded by tropical flora appeared to behave more naturally.” They washed more often, ate more, and were generally more active.”

Tropical plants are an excellent complement to an aviary or may be placed to the side of your bird’s cage. Outdoors, rain, wind, and sunshine assist to preserve plant health and, depending on the region, restrict the formation of mold and germs.

Although fully planted aviaries are stunning, they are not practical in most houses. Hook-billed birds may swiftly devastate a well cultivated area. Insects and maybe rodents will be attracted to flung seed, pellets, and soft meals. Mold and bacteria thrive in the soil, on wasted food, and on rotting plants. Bird droppings easily collect on soil or foliage. Mealy bugs, whiteflies, and even fruit flies might infiltrate the room. There are, however, methods to bring the outside in.

Plant A Jungle Indoors

Choose plants that are not poisonous to birds if you bring them inside (see sidebar). Flora produced from bulbs and other plants frequently connected with holidays should be avoided. Mistletoe, holly, yews, lilies, amaryllis, daffodils, and hyacinths are all poisonous. Although ficus trees are regarded as safe on some plant lists, they are members of the rubber tree family and contain an irritating sap that may harm birds who gnaw on stems or leaves. If you have any doubts regarding the safety of a plant, do not purchase it.

“There is no true way to know how’safe’ is decided, particularly for a less common plant,” said Donna Muscarella, Ph.D., of Cornell University’s Veterinary Medical Center’s Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology. “I’m sure no one feeds plants to birds to test their toxicity.”

“Toxicity relies on so many aspects,” Muscarella stated, “the dosage, or quantity of plant, swallowed, the section of the plant ingested, variances in the capacity of particular birds to metabolize and detoxify.” This is also true for humans, and it explains the often substantial variances in side effects that different individuals experience while taking a prescription, as well as the major changes in chemical metabolism across species. “I just maintain spider plants, ferns, and bamboo.”

In medium light, the common spider plant grows fast and is simple to spread from plantlets that form on runners after the plant has become container bound. Spider plants may be hung from ceiling hooks, displayed on pedestals, or clustered together for a dramatic impact. They’re cheap, and leaves with beak damage may be cut away without harming the plant’s appearance.

Umbrella trees, areca palms, bamboo, eucalyptus, and dracaena are low-maintenance tropical plants that look great in an aviary.

Play It Safe

Take some measures when it comes to plants in your bird’s habitat. Although most nurseries do not use systemic insecticides on their plants, it never hurts to inquire. Systemic pesticides are often blended with water or soil and absorbed into the plant’s structure, making the plant toxic to insects and perhaps birds.

Rinse the foliage to eliminate any dust or pesticide residue. Use a clean planter and sterile potting soil to repot the plant. If you are worried about pesticide residue, allow the plant to mature for many months before putting it near your bird. If your plants are being attacked by tiny flying insects, whiteflies, or aphids, look into nontoxic pest control treatments. SpringStar, www.springstar.net, (800)769-1043, and Todd Marcus, www.thebirdstore.com, (800) 628-BIRD, also sell some.

My Amazons aren’t really interested in the potted plants in their sunroom, but they do like digging in the dirt. I oppose this practice because I am concerned about mold and bacterial contamination. A layer of smooth stones or marbles that are too big for birds to break or swallow on top of potting soil keeps birds away and is an appealing alternative. For a more flamboyant appearance, use marbles. Wood mulch may attract mildew and insects, and birds should not be allowed to consume any non-food components.

Active microorganisms such as bacteria, mold spores, and yeast off-gassing may be found in potting soil. If you have a lot of potted plants, you may wish to invest in a bird-specific air filtering device that protects the environment from airborne microorganisms.

“Molds that are common in the environment, like as the Aspergillus fungus, might represent a concern under specific conditions,” Muscarella says of mold in potting soil. “Some bacteria, or their spores, may persist in soil, such as Mycobacterium avian, which causes avian TB.” I would avoid exposing our dogs to dirt directly. There’s also a chance that trace minerals and heavy metals like lead are present in the soil.”

The Old Country Animal Clinic in New York’s Robert Monaco, DVM, Dip. ABVP — Avian, advises taking additional precautions. “Ask the potting soil manufacturer about additions and see what they say.” Examine the components to check if there are any poisons or compounds.”

Think Outside The Cage

You may go beyond tropical plants and enhance your bird habitat with other accessories. Plant a background for your bird’s cage or play area by fencing off a space directly outside a window or glass door. Install accent lighting, a fountain, a small fish pond, and perhaps some sculpture in addition to lush flora. Your bird should be protected from the garden while yet enjoying the magnificent visual effects.

Place potted plants on varied height pedestals near your bird’s cage but out of reach of its beak. Both birds and plants will benefit from a full-spectrum light that is shone for many hours each day.

Fill an old bird cage with rapidly growing potted plants or silk flowers and foliage and paint it. It may be hung under a skylight or placed on a pedestal or table.

Put up jungle-themed wallpaper or stencil jungle vegetation on the wall behind your bird’s cage. Water-based paints and materials should be used.

Clean air and meticulous cleaning prevent mold, germs, and insects Spritz the soil in pots with white vinegar on a regular basis. Mold will be inhibited by the acidity. Open a window at least once a day. Install skylights that open to let in fresh air. Every day, remove any uneaten bird food and fallen plant materials from the area or cage. Plants should be carefully chosen and strategically placed. Being green will come naturally to you.

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