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Last Post 29-04-2009 11:18 AM by  IrinaP
Branches as a natural toy and tonic
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IrinaP
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08-04-2009 5:50 PM

     Hello everyone,

    I am new to the forum, but already want to share a tip

    I am sure many people already do that, but for myself I have found out that a regular supply of fresh branches to our birds is one of the best toys you can give them. Not only it is a wonderful toy, but also the bark they strip and some of it they swallow is great for absorbing any possible toxins which could get somehow inside of them. Bark and wood also contain some trace minerals and elements, like we all know that willow contains salicylic acid, or aspirin, so can have mild anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effect. Unfortunately barks are not as studied as fruit and veg so it is hard to say what exactly they contain, but I am sure - lots of goodness!

    Moreover, much more appreciated will be branches with leaf buds. You can pick branches at any time in winter and then just place them in a vase with water and wait till the buds appear and plump up and then serve them to your bird. They will eat the buds happily, and again they are full of elements essential for their good health.

    Of course it is necessary to thoroughly clean the branches. I do it normally by scrubbing them with a brush, sometimes using just a drop of soap and rinsing it off quickly( to prevent it getting into the bark),  with plenty off water. I finish i all off with pouring boiling water all over the branch (if the buds started to open up or leaves are already present i just pour it on the branch but not on the leaves).

    The best branches to serve are - Willow (weeping, twisted, goat), apple (including crab apple) branches, hazel, mountain ash, and birch tree branches. They can be as large as you want. Once a month or two weeks I bring a very big branch and attach it to the wall next to their cage - they climb it, chew it, sleep on it and so on. And everyday I give them a new small but fresh branch to chew on (I have a supply in two vases). Pruning time is very much anticipated by me as I take all the big branches which were cut of the trees in our garden and bring them back home (store the supply in the bathroom in a big bowl) 

    They don't take much space as it may seem (well only bigs ones do take a bit space in the bathroom, but I even like it, they do lift that white boring room up abit  , and small branches in vases make for a nice decoration too! (imagine mountain ash branches with berries on them in autumn, or apple branches with apple blossom on them in your vase - pretty, isnt it? 

    I also pick up stems of roses from our own (well my mum-in-law's ) garden, where i Know they have never been sprayed with anything, remove the thorns with my fingers but leave rosehips on and a few leaves (flowers too if they are already in bloom), and give it to my birds. 

    Don't give to birds branches from plum, cherry, apricot, peach and pear trees, as their bark and leaves contain cyanides. 

    Pick the branches only where you know they weren't sprayed with any chemicals and away from the busy roads. 

    Don't pick branches of the trees you are not familiar with. 

    Birch is the easy one to spot because of it is white bark, so that is a safe option. Many people have apple trees in their gardens, so just go for those. Weeping willow is easy to recognize too. 

    I apologize for rambling on for so long, hope it helps anyone

     

     

    LesleyG
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    08-04-2009 7:24 PM

    Some very interesting points....I have (or rather my husband has) made perches out of our silver birch, different sizes and shapes so my U2 can walk his way across his cage at different levels. Will use some of your pointers to further enhance the environment...thanks...

    It's only through understanding the normal can you better understand the abnormal.....
    Victoria Whitfield
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    08-04-2009 7:25 PM
    No trees in my small but perfectly formed jundgle!! Lesley, care to make a donation???? LOL

    Are you going to the Berkshire show? Was hoping to talk to Sheila about a small team in the not so south!!
    IrinaP
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    09-04-2009 12:58 AM
    LesleyG, no problem
    If you use silver birch, you could also keep the leaves on it when giving it to you bird, and catkins and even nuts they get in late summer are edible
    LesleyG
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    09-04-2009 7:53 AM

    Ooohhh.....will be out picking catkins tomorrow then!!  Mind you, knowing Jake my U2, he will just toss it in the air as he does with most thingsI give him

    Yes, am going to Berkshire on  the Sat, will bring some bits of tree with me, wish I had realised earlier as had to prune loads of branches to put up fence.

    As for 'not so south'  team....I would love to be more active if there was something a little bit nearer, its very hard for me to do overnight stays as don't have anyone  to look after dogs etc. I am about 30mins from Peterborough (near Kings Lynn) where are you? Even Berksire will take me at least 3.5 hrs drive now we have moved and will have to be a day trip.

    It's only through understanding the normal can you better understand the abnormal.....
    IrinaP
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    09-04-2009 11:28 AM

     LesleyG, I know about not realising (all those hawthorn berries and mountain ash berries I could have picked last autumn but for some reason, I didn't think they would like them!) I wasn't sure how edible all these things were till I found out from a parrot owner/biologist the exact things allowed 

    Even if he tosses them up in the air he still might get some pollen from catkins (as they are really flowers). Pollen is very beneficial too (though after washing not much will be left, but still you never know, something stay in the flower . And just having fun is good for your health! 

     

    Jayne and Lee Cope
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    09-04-2009 4:52 PM
    ive just put a link for a good website that shows which wood is ok and not ok on another post but heres the website link again!
    http://www.mdvaden.com/bird_page.shtml
    Diane
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    09-04-2009 4:56 PM

    Just in case you have a tree that you don't know what it is this site is good for finding out using the leaves etc

    www-saps.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/trees/index2.htm  

     

     

    brierwoodbirds.piczo.com/

     

     

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    Jayne and Lee Cope
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    09-04-2009 4:59 PM
    oh thats ace! what a great website! im going on a leaf hunt now!! to see if i can catch the website out on any leaf it doesnt know!! lol
    IrinaP
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    09-04-2009 11:46 PM
    Diane, thank you very much for that link! Such a useful website!
    Steve
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    14-04-2009 9:26 PM

    Hi Just a quick question regarding trees and plants etc, i have been to a few places in the uk where they have birds free flying and living practically wild in the trees so how do we really no what trees are ok and what are not?? It really confuses me!!

    IrinaP
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    21-04-2009 11:15 PM

    The thing that we can't always judge if the trees, or fruit and grasses for that matter, suitable for captive birds, just because birds in the wild eat them.
    First of all wild birds have the ability to self-medicate and sometimes they would eat a berry which is considered poisonous, or nibble on the bark of an oak-tree, which is also not safe for captive birds. They know how much and what they should eat when they need it as they have the skills and knowledge. On the other hand, captive birds haven't got all that knowledge. I still believe that even captive birds sometimes know what herb or fruit or veg they need to eat to feel better. However the amount of knowledge differs from one bird to another and of course you can't say for sure if yours is among the knowledgeable ones. So providing your bird with potentially toxic items could actually do more harm than medicating!

    Also different trees have different properties. For example oak is not recommended because the bark contains too much tannic acid, which can cause kidney problems and gastroenteritis. However in small dosage it is used in humans as a cure for diarrhea for example. But it is dangerous to use it if you don't have enough knowledge and without an advice of a professional herbalist. Tannic acid for example is also present in pear trees in quite large amounts, so also not recommended. However some people reported using it and their birds were fine. Tannic acid can also be found in tea and many many other trees and plants. I remember from early childhood mum used to rinse my eyes with very strong tea if I had a minor infection in the eye and it always helped. In fact, the other day my rabbit had conjunctivitis on one eye and I used strongly brewed tea for his eye too - it worked a treat. Tannic acid has very strong anti-bacterial properties, but of course I wouldn't give strong tea to my birds or rabbit to drink!!! I used the method because i knew FOR SURE it was safe and effective.

    When people write lists of safe and unsafe trees they just use common sense. Of course every tree is not tested on each particular species of birds, and the toxicity of different trees varies a lot - from causing minor problems to death.
    You also have to take into account the size of your bird. For example, if Macaw eats an apple pip it is most likely to be ok, if a budgie does, it can die.
    Speaking of apple pips, they contain cyanides. Cyanides can also be found in most of the trees of Prunus genus, i.e plums, peaches, cherries, etc. That is why it is not recommended to use cherry or plum branches as perches. And again, I have heard that some people used them and their birds were ok but you just never know, so the main rule here - don't use if there is any potential danger! The toxic effect of some compounds might not be instant, but will cause deterioration of organs with time.

    So basically, not to be confused or endanger your bird you should just stick to the list of safe trees/plants/fruit/vegetables, if in doubt.

    If I want to know why a certain tree is toxic or considered toxic i just look it up in wikipedia. Most articles have information on toxicity of different foodstuffs and plants/trees.

    I know for sure that silver birch, linden tree, mountain ash, apple tree, all types of willows are safe, and can be found everywhere and are reasonably easy to recognise, so I just stick to those

    Hope it helps

    PS: another reason why birds in the wild eat something which could be poisonous to captive birds but seem alright - in the wild they consume many different absorbing substances like bark, clay, earth, roots of the plants, coal, etc. which absorb the toxins once they are inside of the body and prevent them from getting into the bloodstream

    Steve
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    28-04-2009 9:48 PM
    I didnt meant wild birds like sparrows and magpies i meant at zoos/birdlands parrots that live in avairies and free fly must eat british country side trees for example my cockatiels for 7 years now have chewed cherry tree leaves and branches but they are classed as not safe????
    IrinaP
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    29-04-2009 11:18 AM

    I didn't mean just wild birds either. There are so many factors you have to take into account. How healthy the bird is, how healthy its liver is, what foods it eats, how much roughage, like bark for example it chews on. One person who eats a piece of rotten food will be alright, the other one will go down for a week with diarrhea and vomiting. Same principle applies to birds. As I said before, it is always best not to risk, isnt it?!
    I have seen cherry on the safe trees lists too, but it is present on some toxic lists as well . How do you choose which list to go with? Surely, you won't want to risk if you don't know for sure how safe it is.
    Also, another thing with cherry trees and why they are not allowed is the cyanide content. Cyanide in the bark and pips of the tree is produced randomly, and normally the content of cyanides is higher in the older pips/bark, then in fresh ones. But because it is being produced randomly you can't know when it is going to be at its peak and can actually be harmful

    A bit more about cyanides

    From wikipedia: A hydrogen cyanide concentration of 300 mg/m3 in air will kill a human within about 10 minutes.

    100 g of crushed apple seeds can yield about 10 mg of HCN 

    Of course you are not going to feed apple pips your birds, but it just shows that they do contain enough cyanide to cause harm to your bird, which is many many times smaller than a human.

     

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