Keep Your Parrots Safe This Holiday Season


It’s that time of year once again. Christmas and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. How quickly time passes! Here’s a gentle reminder to keep your parrots safe as we approach the Christmas season. Don’t forget to tell your friends about it!

A little forethought, monitoring, and awareness of potential hazards may go a long way toward ensuring that both you and your bird have a joyful Christmas. If I’ve missed something, please let me know and I’ll update this page for next year!

Stress

We are all aware that Christmas can be a stressful time for people. Our parrots must think we’ve gone insane. Strange decorations, new people, and so forth. Stick to your bird’s usual routine as much as possible, but don’t forget to include plenty of love and playfulness. Oh, and leave enough time for both you and your bird to have a decent night’s sleep.

Decorations

Angel Hair should be avoided since it is made of spun glass, which cannot be beneficial for anybody who consumes it. Tinsel and garland are another major source of worry since they may create intestinal blockages if consumed. I’m not sure what sorts of decorations you have, but be mindful that they are unusual to your bird, and they may or may not worry when they see some of them. Many decorations include harmful or possibly dangerous components such as various plastics, scented pinecones, concealed cables made of who knows what, and stuff that is sprayed on to keep decorations looking “fresh” longer. Don’t forget about typical household items that might create issues, such as rubber bands, thread, ribbon, tape, tacks, small nails, glue, and so on.

Candles and Smelly Stuff aka Fragrances

Candles with lead wicks are poisonous and are often found in low-cost imported candles. Fragrant candles are very unpleasant to your bird’s delicate respiratory system. When burned, those candles with “essential oils” in them that smell wonderful are HIGHLY TOXIC. Instead, use 100% beeswax candles. They cost more, but they last five to seven times longer, are unscented, and burn cleaner. Another word of caution: burns and wax spills have been known to occur when a stray bird collides with a candle, so ALWAYS keep an eye on your candles and your bird, and never leave any of them alone. I have a rule that if I burn a candle, it must be 100% beeswax and the parrots must be in their cages.

Potpourri, air fresheners, and a variety of other scented spraying items upset your bird in a variety of ways. (They bother me as well, so it’s not an issue for my birds since I don’t keep them at home.) If you feel the need to “scent” your home, go for something more natural. Heat some water in a skillet on the stove and add a few organic cinnamon sticks for a delicious aroma. Oh, and don’t forget: NO SMOKING AROUND THE BIRDS – PERIOD!

Lights and Electrical Cords

Make sure things are as well hidden as possible so that tiny birdie minds don’t grow clever and want to play with them. By biting on them, they might be shocked (and hence likely killed) or burnt. They may get entangled if they are too slack.

Plants

Most parrot owners are aware that Poinsettias and Holly are poisonous if eaten, but did you know that Philodendron, Ivy, and Mistletoe are as well? There’s no excuse now if you didn’t. If eaten, these plants might create life-threatening complications for your parrot!

Dressing up Birdie

Not that you’d do it, but keep an eye on those kids. They seem to believe it’s a good idea to put bows on (painful) or wrap ribbon over and around birds. What a strangling danger. If they ingest the ribbon or thread, it may create digestive blockages.

Food and Drink

Christmas drinks include alcoholic beverages, hot chocolate, coffee, and the ever-present eggnog. If your house is anything like mine, there are delicious fatty human goods like cookies, sweets, cakes, and desserts all over the place. Make sure your birdie does not get into the festive spirit in this manner! I like to put some water in a dark coffee mug (a copy of mine) and offer the fids sips from it. I’m not sure what they believe it is, but it’s in a coffee cup similar to mine, and they’re content to drink it. Keep some tasty fresh goodies on available for your feathered friends. I like pea pods, birdie bread, almonds, and a little amount of fruit. So they don’t feel left out, and I don’t have to prevent Zeke (African Grey) from shouting “Mmmm, want some?” all night.

Non-Stick Coated Surfaces

Avoid overheating any nonstick cookware or anything with a nonstick surface! Those poisonous vapors may quickly kill birds. I know this caution has been around for a while, but with all of the extra cooking happening on, I thought I’d remind you all one more.

People

Are you having visitors? I know you’d never give your bird something it shouldn’t have or put it through unnecessary stress, but keep an eye on your visitors. Make certain that they do not offer your bird anything that might create a problem. Of course, for us bird enthusiasts, it practically goes without saying that kids should not be creating unnecessary stress to the bird by sticking their fingers in the cage or otherwise bothering your bird. Show them where the approved bird goodies are and go through the rules for being friendly to parrots.

Fire

Do you like a pleasant toasty fire in your fireplace? Is your fireplace in fine working order, or will you be utilizing it for the first time this year? What kind of wood are you using? Is the damper turned on? Make sure those “instant fire logs” don’t contain lead or arsenic. NEVER EVER BURN WRAPPING PAPER OR PRESSURE TREATED WOOD! It’s acceptable to have a fire as long as your fireplace works correctly, has a guard across the front, and is properly ventilated.

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping “paper” is an exaggeration. Many of these seemingly harmless colored sheets contain dangerous chemicals. Do not feed it to your bird, and do not burn it in your fireplace. Please use simple paper when wrapping a gift for your bird. If all else fails, use a sheet of a black and white newspaper section.

Trees

Your feathery companion may be scared to death. Take it slowly and never put the tree in a spot where your parrot may gnaw on it.

Artificial Snow or Flocking

I couldn’t find anyplace that claimed they were certainly dangerous, but they aren’t supposed to be consumed, and I’m fairly sure they’re not healthy for your bird if they inhale the fumes of that thing either. If in doubt, just skip it. It’s just not worth it.

Open Doors / Windows

With all of the additional excitement around the holidays, a little extra care about open doors seemed to be in order. People coming and departing, goods and food being taken in and out, the point is that your door will most likely be used. Not only that, but new items, such as trees or large boxes, may shock your bird, causing it to fear and fly away. Just make sure your tiny feathery buddy is safe and not in the path of the cold air.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

Please don’t tell me about any mishaps this Christmas season. You’ve all figured it out. And a note to your bird: (It isn’t you. For a handful of weeks each year, people really are insane.) Remember that a little forethought and monitoring may go a long way toward keeping everyone safe and happy!

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