Critter Culture
10 Tactics for Keeping Pet Birds Safe
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10 Tactics for Keeping Pet Birds Safe

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jan 17, 2023

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Birds are known for being some of the most long-lived pets, but this is only true if they're well cared for and their living environment doesn't shave years off their life.

Sometimes perils like pest traps are obviously dangerous, but a rough stucco ceiling, for example, might not even register as a hazard to a new bird owner.

Taking the time to learn is the key to a long-lasting birdy relationship.

1

Pets

Hairless cat is crouching very close by the bird cage with a lovebird, watching every move Petra Richli/ Getty Images

Domestic and feral cats are among the leading causes of bird deaths, and dogs are also predators that can pose a danger to a bird. A flying bird may be seen as an invitation to play fetch, and this can cause your winged buddy stress.

If a cat or dog scratches or bites a bird, infection is likely and can be fatal. Ensure your cage doesn't have gaps wide enough for probing paws and that it's impossible to push over.

Be careful with toddlers too. They may accidentally squeeze or drop a bird with lethal consequences.

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2

Fans, mirrors, and windows

Pet bird sitting on a fan fotofritz16/ Getty Images

One of the biggest issues with flighted birds is that they can fly straight into a window or mirror, believing it's another area to explore.

Have you ever walked into a sliding glass door? Collisions can be painful and cause serious injury in some cases. If windows and doors are open, your bird may fly away or be crushed if they're perched and the door slams shut. Plus, birds can get territorial with themselves if they spot their reflection in the mirror.

Standing fans and ceiling fans that are switched on can also lead to a nightmare situation because birds can't see the blades when they're moving. Always supervise flight time or get a temporary wing clipping.

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3

Impermissible foods

African gray parrot eating apple seeds from the human hand egon69/ Getty Images

Several foods should be kept far away from hungry birds.

Avocado is top of the list, and it's best to avoid exposure of any kind. The cyanide-containing seeds from apples and stone fruits like peaches and cherries are problematic too. Dried beans will cause gastric upset.

Don't let a bird near onions and garlic in any form, and leave salty foods, chocolate, mushrooms, rhubarb, alcohol, and caffeine off the menu. These foods can all have terrible effects on your avian bestie's health, from heart issues and anemia to organ failure.

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4

Poisonous plants

Baby budgie eating from human hand kumikomini/ Getty Images

Your beautiful house plants may elevate your home decor, but they could kill your bird. You need to green-light an even broader inventory if you have a garden.

Azaleas, daffodils, lilies, festive poinsettias, philodendrons, and tulips are just some of the plants that can do damage if ingested. New non-toxic plants may have pesticide residues that can be harmful, so be aware of that.

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5

Medications

Parakeets in Veterinarian Office Corbis/VCG/ Getty Images

Meds and vitamins look a bit like colorful fruits, so they can tempt curious birds to explore. Drugs are also often stored in the kind of plastic that pet birds love to chew.

Painkillers, cold medicines, antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, supplements, and birth control may be a boon for you but can be highly detrimental to a small-bodied bird.

We're talking ulcers, kidney failure, bone marrow suppression, and death depending on the drug. Keep your medications safely stored in places your bird can't access.

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6

Human bacteria

 girl kissing and playing with her little bird. Gins Wang/ Getty Images

You've read stories about mother birds regurgitating food and giving it to their babies. It occurs to you that doing something similar may facilitate bonding between you and your new bird, and you consider chewing up some fruit to feed your feathered friend during its out-of-cage time.

Ixnay on that thought bubble. Your oral bacteria and environment differ from a bird's and can cause lethal infections. Even exposure to saliva on cutlery and crockery can be harmful, so it's important to be aware and careful of what's lying around.

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7

Airborne toxins

Friendly Cockatiel Parrot Sitting On Owners Finger Pawzi/ Getty Images

You know those plug-in air fresheners that make entire rooms smell like clean laundry? Your bird won't have such a high opinion of them, not when the essential oils make them ill.

Cigarette smoke and gas from your kitchen are no-nos, and hair sprays, perfumes, cooking sprays, insect sprays, and similar aerosols release nasty chemicals that can kill your birdy. Even fumes from using non-stick Teflon cookware can cause trouble breathing and sudden death.

Check appliances like hair dryers and irons too. If you suspect exposure, rush your bird to an emergency vet who can try and control lung inflammation.

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8

Heavy metals

Domestic budgie sitting with his toy friend. Lusyaya/ Getty Images

Birds like shiny objects. Unfortunately, these are often made of materials that are toxic for them. Lead and zinc are heavy metals, but you might recognize the latter from your multimineral supplement. You'll also find zinc in candle wicks, linoleum floors, metallic objects, and certain rubber products you may be inclined to use as chew toys.

High concentrations of zinc are harmful to you and your bird. Lead is toxic, period. You'll find it in stained glass, old paint, drinking water if your pipes are made of lead, consumables stored in crystal, and jewelry. Look for cages that are free of heavy metals too.

Birds also like to chew, and electrical chords contain copper and other metals. Heavy metal toxicity can present with low appetite, gastric issues, and seizures and eventually cause death.

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9

New household products

happy smiling mature woman during fitness workout on exercise mat at home looking at her animal friend pet bird amriphoto/ Getty Images

Perhaps you're renovating and are excited about new furniture, carpets, and wooden floors. These items can release chemicals or "off-gas" for weeks after installation, and you may not notice anything in the air, but your bird's sensitive respiratory system most certainly will.

Always aim to keep your bird's living area well-ventilated or keep your bird in another home until the dust settles on a redesign project.

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10

Hot surfaces

Senior woman playing with her pet birds in a birdcage. Luis Alvarez/ Getty Images

If you sit down and think about it, you could probably rattle off more than a few places in your home where your bird stands to get burned. Hot stoves are an obvious one, as are the boiling pots that might be sitting on them.

Toasters, heaters, fireplaces, and newly run baths all pose a danger. Bottom line—walk around your home and make sure the coast is clear before releasing your bird from its cage.

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