BAD HABITS FOR BIRDS THAT MAY END IN TRAGEDY
Some people allow their birds to get into bad habits. Sadly, these bad habits often result in horrific accidents, these include:
Allowing birds to sit on top of doors- heads, wings, toes and feet have been chopped straight off when the door is slammed shut by a person or by a draft.
Allowing birds to chew on wires; like rodents they can chew through a wire in seconds. An electric shock can kill a bird instantly.
Allowing birds hang out in cupboards- this causes nesting behaviour and egg laying.
Allowing birds to hang out in bathrooms. A bathroom is one of the most unhygienic places for a bird, resulting in bacterial and fungal infections. Birds have drowned in filled bath tubs, sinks and toilets. Many have died from eating toxic soaps and other toiletries as well as medication.
Allowing birds to play in washing machines and tumble-dryers. Many have been killed by being washed and tumble-dried alive.
Allowing birds to play in fridges- the change of temperature can be a shock to their system, not to mention, if accidentally locked inside the bird will suffer from hypothermia and suffocate to death.
BIRDS CAN DROWN IN STANDING WATER
Parrots should never have access to standing water, so many have drowned this way. Clipped parrots especially, aren't as balanced or agile as flighted parrots, and can easily slip into standing water.
- Toilet bowls- always make sure the lid remains down.
- Pools and Jacuzzis - make sure pools have a net and Jacuzzis covered if your parrot can have access to them.
- Dog bowls - can't tell you how many stories I've heard of parrots especially small ones like budgies drowning in dog and cat bowls.
- Fish tanks - must always have a lid on it.
- Drinking glasses - This is another tragic way so many parrots, especially smaller ones, have drowned in half empty drinking glasses. Imagine, walking away for a second, coming back and seeing your bird dead in your drink?. You can buy glass covers; a lot of parents buy them when drinking alcohol, it reduces the risk of toddlers stealing a cheeky sip thinking its a soft drink.
- Water in kitchen sinks - Parrots shouldn't be allowed in the kitchen unsupervised, Period.
CAT SALIVA WARNING
Cats carry bacteria in their mouth called Pasteurella bacteria that is a deadly to birds. If a cat even nicks a bird with its tooth and breaks the skin it's lethal to the bird if the bird isn't rushed to the vet immediately. That said it's not guaranteed the bird will survive and most die within 24hrs.
Please keep cats and birds separated as accidents can happen in the blink of an eye!
Ceiling fans should always be turned off before your parrot is let out of its cage; one whoosh of the spinning blade can kill your bird. Small parrots such as budgies and cockatiels ,for example, have been known to be decapitated this way. Regardless if the fan is on a low setting, it can still badly injure your bird.
Ceiling fans can cause birds to be in a CONSTANT state of stress. Ceiling fans should not be used in the same room as birds; either it should be never turned on, or removed completely. The motion of the blades instinctively tells the parrots that there is a bird of prey above them, such as a hawk.
DANGERS AT CHRISTMAS FOR PET BIRDS
Christmas is a joyful time of the year, a season we all look forward to. However, it can also be a very dangerous time for our feathered family. With many veterinary offices closed over the holidays it is important to be extra cautious.
Below is a list of potential dangers and toxins we must be aware of:
Candy and chocolate.
Dips made with avocado.
Plug in air fresheners.
Christmas trees (these are sprayed with pesticides, additionally, pines can cause eye injuries). Fake plastic trees can give off fumes when next to a heat source.
Christmas decorations (these are often painted and contain heavy metals). Baubles can shatter when bitten and lacerate tongue and throat.
Tinsel (birds have choked to death on tinsel) Additionally, tinsel is made of plastic, PVC, and then layered with metal, such as aluminium.
Christmas tree lights (an electric shock can kill a bird outright).
Wine bottle tops are made with heavy metals.
Candy wrappers are often made with heavy metals.
Bake in the bag turkey (the bags contain non-stick coating which is highly toxic to birds).
Overheated oils and burning foods (these fumes are toxic to birds).
Many plants we have in our homes over this season are toxic to birds, such as
Chrysanthemum, English Ivy (Hedera helix), Holly (Ilex spp.), Mistletoe (Viscum album), Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), Yew (Cephalotaxus sp.), etc.
Guests may bring their own pets into your home which can be a danger to your birds.
Doors and windows maybe left open with guests coming in and out.
Children feeding unsafe foods.
Mishandling of the birds by guests.
DANGERS OF FLEA SPRAYS AND COLLARS
Flea collars and sprays that owners use on their dogs and cats are highly toxic to birds, and they give off toxins. They should never be used in a home with parrots. Lice and flea shampoos that owners wash their dogs with should NEVER be used on parrots, they're highly toxic to birds.
FIREWORKS AND PARROTS
- Make sure someone is home with your pets! They will find comfort with a family member being there. If there was an emergency someone would be able to deal with it immediately!
- Don’t have your birds out their cage once the fireworks start! A sudden bang can lead to injury with your pet flying into walls , windows, ornaments etc (this includes clipped birds)
- Get your birds ready for the evening early! Clean cages and give fresh food and water in good time; doing so enables you to return birds to their cages before the fireworks start!
- Cover cages this a blanket on 3 sides, leaving one side uncovered; this gives a sense of security. It also help to prevent night frights, especially for birds such as cockatiels!
- Leave a night light on for your birds once you put them to bed.
- Move bird cages away from windows; this helps reduce the noise, and prevents your birds seeing flashing lights.
- Close all windows to reduce noise and prevent toxic smoke coming into the home. Close the curtains and blinds.
- Close bedroom doors; you’ll be surprised how much more noise a closed door can drown out, even with windows closed!
- Play music, or have a television on to drown out the noise.
- Comfort your birds if they on edge by softy speaking or whistling to them - reassuring them.
NOTE: BEHAVE NORMALLY! This is the most important tip! Birds and other animals will feel YOUR anxiety! If you are completely relaxed and behave as if what is happening outside is totally normal, that in itself will relax your birds. Get on with your evening as you would do any other night!
HARNESS TRAINING A PARROT WARNING
Many birds have been injured, flown away, started feather plucking and even died whilst harnessed. It can be incredibly stressful for some birds, and they may start feather plucking due to this. The harness must fit perfectly, or the bird can injure itself internally and externally; it is not uncommon for birds to break wings, legs, and receive organ damage when the harness is the wrong size and training is done incorrectly. It is unnatural for a bird to be pulled back suddenly when attached to a harness which can cause internal damage. If you are thinking about harness training a bird, it must be done safely in a padded environment first; this type of training must be done slowly which can take weeks, months and even years. It is not as simple as attaching a lead to a dog and off you go. Owners should buy books, watch videos, and do extensive research first before they even buy the harness. Numerous birds have flown away too, especially, small birds that can wiggle out of a harness in seconds. It is recommended to have a wellness check with an avian vet before any harness training is done to ensure the bird is physically fit to undergo such stressful training.
GOLDEN RULE - "IF YOU CAN SMELL IT ASSUME IT IS TOXIC AND CAN KILL YOUR BIRD."
It is not recommended to use chemicals of any kind in a home with birds, to have these beautiful creatures there are sacrifices one has to make for their safety and well-being.
HOW CHEMICALS EFFECT PARROTS
Unlike humans, parrots do not have expanding lungs, instead they have air sacs. Any poisons they inhale such as chemicals they can NOT filter out of their bodies! Owners need to adopt a new way of living once parrots become part of their lives. Certain changes need to be made around the home to accommodate these birds, such as: house hold cleaners, use of Teflon, air fresheners, candles, perfume etc, cannot be used in the home. Instead, research needs to be done on natural SAFE cleaning alternatives.
Never smoke around birds; smoking is highly toxic to birds and lets off around 4000 chemicals into your parrot's body.
Please note; burning candles in a home is not only toxic to birds, it removes oxygen from the air and can kill parrots in the process! A parrot's respiratory system is much faster than humans, so they need to take in a lot more oxygen!
IS YOUR KITCHEN TEFLON FREE?
Many kitchen appliances and cookware are Teflon coated (PTFE or PFAO) and highly toxic to birds. Bird owners should do research on kitchen appliances and cookware before purchasing them. Smaller birds such as budgies, cockatiels, canaries, etc, seem to be more at risk because of their tiny size according to many veterinarian sources, however, the fumes can of course be fatal to all parrot/ bird species. Teflon poisoning results in an excruciating death; the bird drowns and suffocates to death in their own fluids due to their lungs haemorrhaging. Death usually comes too quickly to save the bird, and by chance if the bird does survive it will often have on going lung problems probably for the rest of its life. Please do not assume that a large home or closed doors will stop birds inhaling the fumes. It is recommended that if Teflon (non-stick products) are used in a home, then birds should not be present in that house to prevent any risk of exposure. Note: Teflon (non-stick) products are not limited to cookware, many house hold appliances are also coated with Teflon such as some brands of hair dryers, non-stick ironing boards and irons, heat lamps and space heaters, etc.
Below, I have listed a few symptoms of Teflon poisoning to be aware of…
· Open mouth breathing
· Raspy breath
· Tail bopping
· Agitated movements
· Falling off the perch
· Quick death
MITE DISCS FOR PARROTS ARE DANGEROUS
Many pet stores sell mite discs that hang on cages, these are supposed to kill mites. These discs seldom kill the mites, but they may definitely kill your bird!! They are highly toxic especially if ingested, and should never ever see the inside of your home, let alone a parrot cage. PLEASE NEVER EVER BUY THEM!
If you suspect that your bird has mites have a vet check. The vet will be able to prescribe the correct and safe medication to use on the bird!
AUTHOURS NOTE: Many people buy over the counter mite sprays. Please note, that most of these sprays are NOT FDA approved, they are weaker than prescription medication, and doses are often not accurate. Birds on over the counter medications are either under-dosed or over-dosed. Save yourself a lot of money and time and see your vet.
MY PARROT FLEW INTO THE WINDOW
If this happens, and you see one of your beloved birds fly head long into a glass panel, and drop to the floor, here is what to do:
1.) DO NOT PANIC! Remain as calm as possible. If you scream and start panicking, you are telling an already startled (and possibly injured bird) there is something to be frightened of and making them want to flee/attempt to take flight.
2.) Approach your bird calmly and with your hand beside them, give them the step-up command. You are acting completely normally, and this will help them to start to calm down.
a) If they able to step up, this is a good sign. In addition, it is a way to observe them. They heard you and were able to respond. How are they standing? How are they holding their wings, tail, and head? Are they balancing well? Are there any signs of bleeding that need to be attended to? Are their eyes normal? If your bird appears to not need immediate veterinary care, place them back in their cage, and observe them carefully. Allowing for a period of shock and quiet, are they perching okay, and going about normal activities as they normally would? As there are no signs of external injury that need attention, you are looking for neurological damage. This could be evidenced with something as simple as changing to being right-footed when using toys/tools.
b) If when you approach them, it is obvious that they cannot step up, or they are knocked out, pick them up gently. The avian vet needs to be contacted immediately and told that you are on your way, asking for any appropriate first aid advice.
Keep talking calmly to your bird, which will help them to calm and may bring them round. If they are unconscious, note how long this is for. Gently examine them if you are able, checking for broken wings/ legs/neck damage/broken beak. Stem any bleeding. Use your first aid kit to splint any breakages and a towel to wrap them, for warmth and to restrict movements of damaged limbs (this is very difficult to do with your hands alone). Keeping them warm and calm is of the utmost importance. If you live alone with your bird, contact your emergency person, who will contact the vet for you and assist you in getting your parrot to the vets.
3.) Once your bird is safe and well, attend to glass panel safety procedures (such as window clings) to prevent a recurrence.
NEW STOVE TOXIC FUMES
New stoves/ovens give off toxic fumes that CAN KILL your bird! These fumes can be given off for a week or longer! Local dealers often allow customers to run their stoves in their stores first for a few days to burn off the insulation binder that gives off these toxic fumes. You may pay a little extra for this service, but it’s worth it to keep your birds safe.
Self-cleaning ovens also give off toxic fumes that can kill birds.
PARROTS CHEWING FURNITURE DANGERS
Parrots love to chew on furniture, however, some furniture is made from cedar and cherry which are both toxic to parrots. The varnish that the furniture is coated with is highly toxic to parrots; to overcome this use thick PVC to protect the legs of tables and chairs, or simply train your parrot that furniture is off limits!
POPCORN BAG WARNING.
Owners often buy microwavable popcorn to share with their birds. The lining of popcorn bags contains PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) when heated it gives off toxic chemicals as used on non-stick cookware etc. Please NEVER use these bags in your home with parrots! Instead make your own homemade popcorn.
SAFE FLOWERS FOR PARROTS
In the list below are some flowers and plants which are reportedly safe for parrots to have in their cages and aviaries. Flowers should NOT be used as part of your bird’s daily diet; they are there for enrichment. If in doubt, please consult with your avian vet. Only ever feed flowers marked safe for human consumption or that you have grown yourself at home. Make sure they are 100% pesticide free.
· African violets
· Cape honeysuckle
· Milk thistle
· Passionflower (Granadilla)
SAFE HABITS AND BIRDS
You are bringing home a flying miniature toddler! Give some considered thought to developing simple habits that will avoid many accidents. Here are some examples:
·DOORS- Lock external door and shut bathroom and bird room doors. Locked external door allows time to think where the birds are before it is opened. The dangers of the bathroom are out of bounds. Many accidents occur when a parrot sits on top of a door. Someone doesn’t see them and shuts the door. When leaving my bird’s room, the closed door makes me stop and think are the birds safe? I always close the door behind me, because on occasion a bird WILL get out of what you thought was a safely locked cage. If everyone in a house gets into this habit, it can avoid your parrot being let to fly free downstairs, and doors are left open upstairs, with access to a full hot bath or an open window.
·OPEN AND CLOSED WINDOWS -Keeping them locked stops you long enough to check first if the birds are safe. No one opens a window before checking where the birds are and if it is safe to do so. Before birds are released from cages, doors and windows are checked.
·FLOOR/SOFA SEAT WALKING - I do not encourage my birds to play/explore anything below my sitting eye line. I made this decision because they are very small, and I am very big relatively, being trodden on by me would be fatal and I am unsteady on my feet. Birds rarely survive being trodden on. I do not allow them on the seats, so they cannot accidently be sat on.
AUTHORS NOTE: When visitors are in my home, my birds are not allowed out for the reasons covered. I cannot expect them to have the same bird safety awareness.
SAFE PLANT AND SOIL WARNING
When it comes to adding “safe plants” in your birds enviroment, ensure that the “entire” plant is safe if sampled. In some plants only the leaves are edible, however, the stalks, vine, roots etc are toxic. The plant of course has to be 100% free from chemicals. The soil in which the plant is growing has to be 100% chemical free too , with no added quick grow fertilisers etc, should be used or the soil then would have to be 100% inaccessible to the birds.The soil is often full of bacteria and fungal spores. Damp soil is a breeding ground for fungus growth such as aspergillosis. Therefore, the soil in plants which birds have access to should be covered with a netting (fine netting so feet can not get caught) or clean rocks. Birds should not be allowed to play in or eat the soil. As a preventative of fungal growth in plants; when watering your plants add 10-15 drops of GSE per gallon) (grapefruit seed extract) every 2-3 weeks. However this is a preventative and is not a 100% guarantee it will be safe for your birds to have access to the soil. Remember, fungal spores are also airborne, so if your plants and looking mouldy don’t have them in the same airspace as your birds. Additionally, the plant pots themselves should be avian safe if chewed. Please remember that many terracotta pots contain lead, so if chewed, can lead to heavy metal toxicity!
SLEEPING WITH YOUR PARROT
It is never recommended to sleep with a bird, so many birds have been killed this way by their owners rolling on top of them and suffocating them either with their own bodies or with a pillow/ blanket. Some birds have suffocated by being tangled up in bed linen. The only safe place for a parrot to sleep is in their cage at night with their cage door closed.
Styrofoam containers or styrofoam packaging.
Styrofoam is DEADLY to birds. It can’t be broken down in the stomach causing blockage and it creates a static mass in the bird’s throat and mouth! Please never ever give your birds any cups, plates or anything made of this stuff!
- DO choose a variety of toys of different types at first, until you are sure of your own parrot's preferences. Include items that make them climb, forage, swing, hang upside down....toys are for keeping busy beaks and minds occupied AND exercise.
- DO have enough toys to rotate on a regular basis. Your bird will show you how often to give them something new.
- DO offer only a few toys at a time so as not to overwhelm and clutter their cage.
- DO regularly check over the toys for safety, loose threads/splinters and so on. Each time they are cleaned is a good time for a thorough check over, and a quick check when putting in the cage.
- DO source safe toys from a reputable retailer, trying to use those recommended by people you trust.
- DO check the new toy when it first arrives to ensure it is safe, rather than take the manufacturer's word for it. Check for hidden plastic wire, toxic metal holding it together, gaps big enough to get feet/beaks trapped and so on.
- DO recycle toy parts if at all possible, removing damaged/well chewed parts that could cause injury and harbour bacteria. This stock of toy parts can then be used to make new creations.
- DO be prepared the more expensive the toy, the higher the likelihood they will hate it! Often, brightly coloured toys are made that way to appeal to the owners but frighten birds.
USING ESSENTIAL OILS IN A HOME WITH BIRDS
The vast majority of essential oils are toxic to parrots. It is not recommended to use them around birds. One essential oil in particular, is tea tree oil which is highly toxic to birds, and even when highly diluted can be fatal. Please, always double check with you avian vet before use any essential oils around your pets.
Many products may state that they are "animal safe"; but because of how highly sensitive a birds respiratory system is, what may be deemed animal safe, is not always "bird safe."