General Bird Safety

- By DeAnn Waggoner, Executive Director, Wings of Love Bird Haven

When it comes to bird safety, there is a mountain of information. This page is not designed to be a substitute for doing your own study. On this page I will highlight some of the most important things to remember concerning keeping your bird safe. Cigarette Smoke. Do not smoke, or allow others to smoke around your bird. We now know that tobacco smoke can kill humans, imagine what it will do to our smaller feathered friends. Even with ventilation, the smoke is still harmful. Most of the time you won't be able to tell that it is damaging your birds. It happens over a long period of time. For your bird's sake, just don't do it.

Teflon. This includes any non-stick cookware, curling irons, portable heaters, irons with non-stick plates, all Teflon baking utensils, and even some hair dryers. The fumes emitted from Teflon are deadly, both to humans and animals. It is best to get rid of any item that has this because sometimes we just aren't careful enough. How many times have you or someone in your house gone off and left the iron or curling iron plugged in? One too many. It takes only a few seconds to produce these fumes that will kill your bird. Please don't take this chance.

Toxic Foods. Yes, there are foods that are poisonous to your birds. The most toxic are chocolate, avocados, alcohol, caffeine and fruit pits. Other food items that are dangerous to your birds include sugar, salt, and greasy foods. Be sure to keep all of these items away from your birds reach.

Scented Items. Anything scented should send a "red flag" to you for the safety of your bird. Whether it is scented candles, potpourri, artificial (scented) flowers, scented soap, strong perfume, do not use them around the birds. Some people use them, just keep them in a separate area of the home. I feel the more you can eliminate of these items the better off your bird will be. There are some good substitutes that can be used for these items. Good, pure essential oils in minute amounts can sometimes be used safely, although they can still be dangerous. I use baking powder with a few drops of either lavender or lemongrass essential oil mixed into it as a substitute for Carpet Fresh. I also sometimes boil cloves or cinnamon on the stove in a pan of water. This gives a very nice holiday smell to your home. Please use these with caution even though they are natural oils. They can still be hazardous.

Also included in this list is all chemicals and cleaning supplies. If you can smell it, it is most likely toxic to your bird. Try using white vinegar as a basic cleaner. It is an exception to the rule and is bird-safe even though it does have a strong odor. There are special cleaners you can purchase to clean your birds cage with as well. One good one is called NOVOSAN. I offer it for sale here.

Drafts. Birds should not be kept in drafty areas all the time. They can have fresh air when they are outdoors, but not on a continual basis such as would be if their cage were placed in front of a door or window. Allow fresh air to enter the room from another area that is not directly in front of the bird's cage.

Doors and Windows. Be sure that you make certain that the bird is not out of its cage when opening a door or window. Fully flighted birds can be out in seconds-- never to be seen again. If your birds wings are clipped, they can still fly short distances, and walk out or be crushed in the door or window as it is being closed. Always exercise extreme caution.

Lead. Lead poisoning is a very serious problem. Most paints have some amount of lead in them, so anything painted is poisonous to your bird. Do not let your bird chew on anything such as paint, costume jewelry, foil, or linoleum. Even some cages unfortunately have been known to have lead in the paint. Be careful and do your homework. Lead poisoning causes nervous system disorders and seizures. It isn't a pretty sight and is something that can be avoided.

Other Pets in the Home. Not only are smaller birds at risk of being injured by larger birds, having other animals in the home can be even more dangerous. If you own a dog or cat or any other animal, make sure that they are never unsupervised in the same room as the birds. Their saliva is toxic to birds. Do not leave your bird outside the house unsupervised as well. Any outdoor area should have a covered top and side protection with bars that are very small so that no animal can touch them. Even short amounts of time in an unsafe cage can be potentially deadly if a cat or dog is around. Don't chance it.

Deep Water Areas. Your bird needs a bath often to keep his feathers in good condition. However, too much water is very dangerous. Once a bird's feathers get saturated, he can't swim. Leaving a sink full of water, or the toilet or washing machine opened, is a danger. Make sure that anything with water that is too deep for them to stand in is covered at all times.

There are three very safe ways to allow your bird the water time it needs: 1. Use a spray bottle and mist your bird. 2. Take your bird into the shower with you. 3. Set up a "bird bath" in the sink with a shallow bowl with only an inch or two of water. Not all birds LOVE to bathe. Two to three times a week is adequate unless you have one that just loves it. After a bath, gently towel off the excess water and avoid putting him in a drafty area. It is best NOT to blow dry the bird, but to let him use his preening instincts to care for his feathers properly.

Electric Wires. Even for a bird that has its wings clipped, there are many dangers around the house. Electric wires are one of them. All wires must be hidden and away from reach to prevent the bird from being shocked.

Leg Bands. Leg bands are meant to help, but many times they do more harm than good. They can get caught in open wires, or on toys in the cages. This has been fatal in many instances when someone isn't around to release it. Please be certain that all wires, toys, perches, et cetera, do not have any thin wires sticking out that the leg band can get hooked on.

Toys. Toys can be a great hazard as well. Be sure that the toys are the correct size for the bird you give it to. Make certain that the bird can't get its head caught in a ring and strangle himself. Do not use baby toys with birds unless you are certain they are too hard for the bird to crack. IF you present baby toys, be sure to do it while you are supervising. Make sure that there are no small pieces (such as clappers on bells) on any of their toys. They can eventually remove these and may swallow them.

Drinking Water. Most people don't consider drinking water a hazard, but it sure can be. Be sure to give your bird drinking water that is safe for human (and avian) consumption. It is best to serve purified, boiled, distilled or bottled water.I hope the above information has helped. Please don't stop here. Read all you can about bird safety so that you can offer the safest possible environment for your feathered friend.

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