No product that has Teflon or any
non-stick coating belongs in a house with a bird. Teflon - and any
non-stick coating - is very serious business for birds. Non-stick coatings
are everywhere - space heaters, irons, bread machines, ovens and racks,
ironing board covers, waffle irons, burner pans or grills, etc. Be sure that
any product you apply heat to does not have a non-stick coating. Open a
window and run the range fan on high when you cook - in case there is a
non-stick coating on the grills.
Some oven and oven components are coated with a shipping resin
that can be fatal to a bird. Cook stove grills can be heated to a high
temperature in an outdoor grill so make sure there is no resin on them. It
doesn't matter how careful you will be so that food doesn't burn; it
doesn't matter if food sticks in aluminum or stainless steel pots and
pans; it doesn't matter what the exact temperature is that non-stick
coatings kill; it just doesn't matter. For the sake of the life of your
bird - do not use any product or buy any item that has a non-stick
Don't run the self-cleaning cycle with
your birds in the house. If you have a new oven, run the self-cleaning
cycle several times (with the racks in the oven) after removing your birds
from the house. The high temperature generated by the self-cleaning
feature will burn away the shipping resin if one is present. If you have
not used the self cleaning feature in an existing oven, run it several
times (with the racks in the oven) after removing your birds from the
house to make sure that all the shipping resin, if one is present, is
Pick a summer day and take the bird from the house to use the
self-cleaning feature if you need to use it or want to use it in the
future. The stench from the shipping resin on the oven interior in the
self cleaning mode in my new home was enough to drive us from the house. I
can well believe it would have killed my birds had they been in the house.
A coating - meant to be burned away during use - on ceramic
stovetop surfaces has been implicated in the deaths of birds. Take
precautions, open windows, run the stovetop fan on high and keep your
birds out of the kitchen, during the early weeks and months if you have a
ceramic cooking surface. Will this save your bird? I don't know. An
attempt to burn off the coating before the bird is present will certainly
TOXIC FOODS, PLANTS, CHEMICALS AND TOY SAFETY
There are many
substances - foods, plants and chemicals - that can cause injury and death
to our birds. Birds have also been injured and even died from poorly made
toys and cages. Of equal danger are electrical cords and outlets.
Childproof your outlets and restrict roaming. Please read some of the
articles below to learn more about protecting your bird.
Zinc of Zinc Poisoning
Bangles and Beads... Toys FAQ
Liners: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
of Soft PVC Toys & Vinyl Products!
and Winter Hazards
Physician III - Parrots, Produce & Pesticides
Safe Plants & Trees
Hazards & Precautions
Toxic Foods, Metals and Compounds
Roaming is dangerous for our slow-moving, clipped
birds. Crushing injuries in birds are very difficult to repair should a
bird be stepped on. The bird should be returned to his playstand or cage
each time he roams. It may take 10,000 times until he learns he is not
allowed to roam. The return should be matter-of-fact. No drama, no reward,
no scolding - just a matter-of-fact return. Do not leave the room for
extended periods of time when your bird is uncaged. Even the best trained
bird will come off the cage and roam
When you have guests, make sure they understand that
your bird is to be given nothing to
eat without your approval. Non-bird people may not understand there are
foods that are toxic to birds. If you can't supervise guests, put the bird
in another room. Never leave the bird unattended with the children of
guests. Don't allow guests to handle the bird unless they are instructed
in the proper way to handle him. It can be an important socializing tool
for a pet bird to be handled by strangers, but avoid bad experiences.
OTHER COMPANION ANIMALS
It is vital that other companion
animals never be allowed physical contact with birds. Horror stories
abound on the bird mailing lists regarding confrontations or interacting
between birds and other companion animals.
Never leave your bird alone with other
companion animals. Never allow the slightest physical contact with another
companion animal. In any confrontation, the bird always
loses....eventually. The bird may be fearless - he doesn't know his life
may be in grave danger. Cage or crate other companion animals when you are
away if they have the free rein of the house. They should never have
access to the room where the bird is caged - whether you are home or away.
YOUR BIRD IN ANOTHER'S CARE
Be sure that a pet sitter or other
caregiver is aware of the dangers our birds face in our homes. Along with
detailed instructions for routine care and feeding, alert the sitter to
the manifold opportunities for escape or injury. Inspect the bird's wing
clipping and do any necessary grooming before you leave your birds in
another's care. Write down some of the warning signs of potential illness
for the sitter - loss of appetite, tail bobbing, sleeping with on both
feet on the perch, respiratory sounds, blood anywhere, changes in the
appearance, volume or color of the feces, fluffed, excessive daytime
sleeping, etc. Make arrangements with your vet for promised payment of any
emergency care. Include the vet's name, phone number and address (as well
as directions to his clinic or office) in your care instructions. If the
vet will give you his pager number or other emergency contact information,
include this for the sitter too.
Keep the bird's wings clipped - for his safety
indoors. Clipped wings do not guarantee that a bird will not escape on a
gust of wind. Never take the bird out of doors unless he is in a cage or
carrier. Continue to have the bird clipped or better yet, clip him
yourself in the manner described in previous articles. Ankle tethers
shouldn't be used on a bird.
OUT OF DOORS
Never leave your bird unattended in a cage,
enclosure or carrier out of doors. Predators (such as possums and
raccoons) live in even urban settings. Snakes, cats, dogs and biting
insects are also of concern.
WINDOWS AND MIRRORS
Clipping your bird and keeping him clipped
will avoid injury, head trauma and death that can occur when a bird flies
full tilt into glass. Birds don't understand about glass and mirrors -
they think it is a passage to the outside they see beyond it. If your bird
is learning to fly, draw sheers across the windows or tilt-close
mini-blinds or verticals to soften the impact with glass. Paste temporary
decals on mirrors. After your bird is flight proficient, clip him and keep
him clipped. A bird who escapes is usually a dead bird - death by
starvation, from a predator, the elements, autos, theft, etc. Do not open
doors or windows to the outside unless the bird is locked in his cage.
Take the few seconds it requires to cage your bird before answering the
door. Make it a practice to open any door to the outside with your back to
it and the bird in plain sight to be sure you have put him in his cage at
the sound of the door bell.
VET VISITS AND MEDICATIONS
Don't permit any procedure unless
you are present. Birds do not need to be anesthetized for routine
grooming. Anesthesia can be risky for birds. Their respiratory systems
function very differently than those of mammals. Air (and anesthesia) is
circulated throughout the entire body - not just the lungs. If a vet wants
to anesthetize your bird for a routine procedure, leave. Choose a vet who
sees only birds - preferably a board certified one. There are many
competent vets who are not board certified, but one who is may be a safer
Don't give your bird antibiotics or other medications without a
reason. Don't give your bird over-the-counter medications for some fancied
malady. These are, for the most part, worthless. Be sure you understand
the reason and the need for any medication. There is no reason to give a
bird antibiotics in the absence of evidence of a disease process or an
infection. Antibiotics kill bacteria - not viruses.
Have the blood calcium level checked at each annual exam.
Youngsters typically have a lower concentration than older birds. The
level can change over time. African greys, unlike many other species, are
very sensitive to inadequate levels of calcium in the blood. They will
have seizures or falling episodes, whereas other species may suffer
fractures from inadequate calcium in their bones. Don't give calcium
supplements routinely or just in case. Never give a calcium supplement in
the absence of a diagnosis of abnormally low blood levels of calcium. A
bird who is on a pelleted diet shouldn't require additional calcium -
except the calcium in the foods he gets.
BIRD FAIRS, EXPOS, MARTS, PET STORES, BIRD CLUBS
Some of the
really dangerous and life threatening diseases that affect birds are
brought home to them after contact - peripheral or otherwise - with birds
of unknown health status. If a toy can't be run through the dishwasher,
don't buy it. Leave the bags and package wrapping that you bring from a
fair outside the house - do not bring them into the house. Put any toys
you buy in the dishwasher after you
have disrobed in the garage, put your clothes in the washer, showered and
washed your hair. Take these precautions any time you have contact with
the birds of others. Needless to say - do not take your bird to gatherings
where he will be exposed to the birds of others.
PBFD apparently does
not cause disease in birds over 3 year of age. Dr. Branson Ritchie was
unable to experimentally infect a bird over 3 years of age when he was
doing PBFD research.
Until and unless there are vaccines for the life threatening and
death dealing diseases that affect our birds, we must guard them carefully
from exposure. Most older birds do not die from polyoma but some do. Don't
let your bird be one of those.
Baths are important for the health and well-being of
your bird. Our homes are, for the most part, a desert environment. Heating
dries out our homes in the winter; air conditioning removes the moisture
from the air in the summer. Many parrots evolved in the tropical regions
of the world and require adequate skin and feather hydration.
Molting is often a time when a bird begins to pluck. They are
itchy and uncomfortable with the emergence of new feathers. If they are
accustomed to daily baths, this period will be easier for them and for
you. Some like it, some hate it, some tolerate it and some huddle in
misery waiting for it to be over. Bathing is one of life's little miseries
for some birds, but it is important and must be done. Make an effort to
discover your bird's bathing preference. Some tolerate spray bathing, some
like to go in the shower with you, some will bathe in the sink, some like
a pan of water. If they like none of these, choose the one they hate the
ROPE & FABRIC TOYS
Entanglement is a very real threat to our
birds. Entanglement in frayed fabric or rope can cause the lost of a toe,
leg, wing.....even death. Rope and fabric items should be supervised only
items. These toys or items shouldn't be left in the cage unsupervised or
overnight. Deaths and infections from obstruction of the digestive system
of rope and fabric fibers, especially the fabric sleeping huts, have been
reported. The Cotton Candy preening toy has been implicated in reported
deaths and injury on the bird mailing lists. Inspect rope toys and other
fabric items frequently. Trim off any raveled fibers or threads. One of my
former Cockatoo babies got frayed rope threads wrapped around his ankle.
The blood supply to the foot was cut off and the bird lost his toes. At
present, the only rope toy components I consider safe are short pieces of
sisal. Dangling ropes, chains, thin rawhide laces, etc. also present an
entanglement danger when hung from the cage bars.
CAGE CROCK/BOWL HOLDERS
Do not leave crock or bowl holders
empty in the cage. These rings are an invitation to exploration and
entrapment. Serious injuries can occur - to the bird and to the owner who
attempts to extricate the bird.
Buy spare crock or bowls and put them in the rings immediately
when you remove the used crocks or bowls - fill them with foot toys or
Birds of dissimilar size, age,
disposition or species should not be allowed to share a play area or
interact. The life of the smaller, less aggressive, younger bird is in
danger in these kinds of situations. While interaction may proceed without
harm for months or years, the potential for injury is very real. Each bird
needs his own cage and own play area.
SLEEPING WITH BIRDS
Sleeping or napping with a bird presents a
mortal danger to birds who have neither the strength nor stamina to save
themselves when a sleeping human rolls over onto them. Suffocation is the
result when a bird's chest is constricted.
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