Winter Season Bird Challenges

As each season is unique, each season also brings with it unique challenges to a bird owner. Winter is no exception, and brings some holiday dilemmas with it, as well. An awareness of the following potentially harmful situations will help ensure that you and your bird’s holiday season remains happy and bright.

Fires In The Fireplace – A fire adds warmth and atmosphere to a cold winter day, but it’s probably in your bird’s best interests to keep him away from the flame. Smoke is an irritant to us, and is surely to our feathered friend’s delicate breathing passages. Also, avoid using yule logs and color additives – they contain heavy metals that can be harmful or even fatal to your bird.

Bathing – Winter temperatures mean running furnaces, which often lead to dry air. Increasing the humidity near your birds, by using a humidifier, frequent bathing, or both, will decrease the chances of dry skin and breathing passages.

Drafts – Obviously, it’s cold outside. While birds can efficiently cope with lower temperatures, a cold draft can make your bird sick. Check your windows and doors for leaks; if you find any, fix them or move your bird’s cage out of the wind.

Teflon Heaters and Appliances – Teflon has become the wonder product of the world – it is frequently used in lamps, heaters, irons, stoves and cookware. When heated, Teflon gives off poisonous fumes which can quickly kill unsuspecting birds. Do not buy appliances which use Teflon, and check ones you already own.

Power Outages – Winter weather sometimes means power outages. Bird owners need to plan on how they will provide light, heat and food for their birds in case of power failure. A backup power supply, flashlights, carriers, heating pads, bottled water and prepared foods are all great to have on hand. An evacuation plan is also good to have in case of a dire emergency.   

Incense and Candles – Fragrant houses are not in the best interests of your bird. Scented candles, air fresheners, carpet fresheners and other scents contain volatile oils which are poisonous to birds. Try boiling herbs, such as cinnamon, cloves or mint, instead.

Lots Of Cooking In The Kitchen – No holiday is complete without a good meal. What smells appetizing to you smells good to your bird, too! Keep an eye on inquisitive birds who may fly or jump into a bowl or pan, they can be burned, or even drown. It may be best to keep your bird out of the kitchen when preparing for a holiday meal.

Holiday Plants – Many of our favorite holiday plants are harmful to birds. Poinsettias contain a milky sap that irritates eyes and the digestive tract, Christmas Cactuses are spiny, Holly Berries cause stomach upset and Mistletoe is toxic.  

Trees And Decorations – Birds + Christmas Tree = Potential Disaster. Although Pine and Fir Trees are non-toxic, the needles on all trees are sharp and can cause trauma, especially if ingested. Decorations, especially ones made of plastic, can cause intestinal blockages should they be accidentally consumed. Keep your birds away from your Christmas tree as there are many ways that our feathered friends can be hurt from them. Do your best to make your tree bird safe. Glass and metallic ornaments and lights can be broken, causing internal or external cuts. Wooden ornaments and garlands made of popcorn, cranberries or paper are safer alternatives for bird lovers.

Visitors – Late nights, visitors and noise all can be disturbing for your bird. If you think your bird will be stressed, move his cage or play gym to a quieter area while you’re entertaining. He will appreciate the quietness, and will be happy to come out once everyone’s gone home.

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