Recognising and creating a safe bird environment
Tim Oldfield, an avian vet, discusses his experience with unwell pets and how many fall ill due to home hazards. Here he explains how to recognise home hazards, what to do to create a safe bird environment and how to maintain a healthy home for your bird.
Tim Oldfield writes, “While it is a common perception that birds are very susceptible to infections and diseases, many of my patients have become unwell due to exposures and toxins in the family home. What adds to the stress of these visits is that most of the time the cause of illness could have been prevented with a little knowledge and fore-thought on the part of the owner.”
The following list of items are several problems around households that have led to illness and even death of birds – especially since birds are so curious. In addition to curiosity, our pet birds are armed with some pretty powerful beaks, known to destroy and help them get into things they shouldn’t.
- Electrical Cords
- Chemicals (detergents, shampoo, fertilizers, tobacco, etc.)
- Heavy metals (fishing sinkers, electrical wires, lead paint, batteries)
- Plants (azalea, foxglove, castor oil plant)
- Open water (sinks, fish bowls, swimming pools, pots on stoves)
- Windows – allowing for crashing and/or escaping
- Fans (ceiling and pedestal)
- Doors – allowing for crushing and/or escaping
- Other pets – (dogs, cats, other birds)
Since birds have highly efficient respiratory systems, they are much more susceptible to any potential toxins in the air. Such as:
- Cleaning products
- Cigarette smoke
- Motor vehicle exhaust fumes
- Overheated cooking oils
Unfortunately, as bird owners, sometimes we do more harm than good. We can unintentionally place them in detrimental situations and put their well-being at risk. Here’s some examples:
- Chocolate – highly toxic to birds! The better quality, the more toxic.
- Seed – poor quality or badly stored seeds can cause illness.
- Ointments and creams – never use your own ointment on your bird. Many drugs that may be safe for you are toxic for your pet.
- Temperature – direct exposure to sunlight and without shade can be fatal.
- Wing clipping – excessive wing clips can lead to crash landing, damaging beaks and breastbone and tails.
- Underclipping – gives false sense of security, leading to escape.
Dr. Oldfield writes, “I am the first to admit that I have learned some of these lessons the hard way. My first pet parrot fell off my shoulder into dishwashing water, lost some tail-feathers jammed in a door, flew over the backyard fence and got hit by a car and vomited for 12 hours after help strip wallpaper during a renovation. Fortunately, I was always there to save him last minute.”
However, it’s important to remember not all illnesses and at home dangers are that easy to treat or prevent. Take these steps to create a safe bird environment in your home. The old cliche is very true – prevention is better than cure.
This article was originally published by World Parrot Trust.
For more parrot and bird care visit our Avian Vets section.