Ten Tips to Keep Your Pet Birds Safe This Holiday Season

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My pet Female Solomon Islands Eclectus parrot,
Eclectus roratus solomonensis, April 2008.

Image: GrrlScientist 2008 [larger view].

This message was emailed to me, and I am posting it here as a public service. With the Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and the New Year's holidays upon us, we are all busy planning our family gatherings, gift giving and decorations. The season brings with it unique hazards that we all need to be mindful of so that we can ensure that our feathered family members are protected:

  1. Pine and fir Christmas trees with soft needles are the safest. Avoid sharp needle trees and artificial tees with metallic needles. Also be aware that many trees are treated with pesticides as well as chemically treated so that they will last longer.
  2. Colorful ornaments and dreidels can attract the attention of our curious and playful companions. Birds should be kept away from metallic ornaments that can break into sharp pieces resulting in cuts and wood ornaments that often contain lead paint.
  3. Tinsel and angel hair can present entanglement and GI blockage hazards for birds.
  4. Decorative electrical lights and cords are used in abundance during the season. Make sure the cords are well hidden and keep your bird away from them. Chewing the cords can result in burns and electrocution.
  5. Holiday plants such as Poinsettia, Mistletoe berries, Holly berries and Christmas Cactus are all known to be either toxic or at a minimum severe irritants to birds.
  6. The yule logs that provide us with colorful flames contain heavy metal salts that are toxic if ingested.
  7. Candles, potpourri and incense can contain volatile oils that are toxic to birds. Flight into a burning candle can result in injury and or a tragic fire. Keep flighted birds caged when open flames are present and purchase bird safe, unscented candles. Boil simple herbs such as mint, cloves or cinnamon to scent your house.
  8. Avoid using metallic gift wraps and bows as they may contain toxic metals. If you give your bird wrapped presents use non-glossy, non-metallic paper, cellophane or tissue.
  9. We humans tend to overindulge in food during the holidays. Avoid the temptation to share fatty, sugary and salty treats with your bird.
  10. Be aware that large numbers of guests and parties can be a source of significant stress for your birds. If having a party make sure your birds have a place to escape from the noise, smoke, late night activities and the people who may not understand and respect their needs.

With all of the things we have to keep our parrots away from this season why not allow them to participate in the festivity of the season by decorating their cages with safe holidays toys?


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If you give your bird wrapped presents use non-glossy, non-metallic paper, cellophane or tissue.

Hm, maybe newspaper, so they have have fun ripping it up, whilst ignoring the present.

My parakeet died last year on Christmas day, no idea why. None of the above hazards applied- he was a cage only bird, we didn't burn any scented candles, didn't have any guests over, and had an artificial tree. Guess maybe it was just his time.

By GoatRider (not verified) on 13 Dec 2009 #permalink

So I assume birds have the same problem as people do re obesity. Do birds get type II diabetes? If so it reinforces my theory that the problem is an evolutionary one, related to sugar and its addicting tendancies, along with the fact that until farily recently one had to worry about where the next meal was coming from, so if you had food you ate it just in case. This type of problem is see in cats dogs and horses as well as people.

Birds should be kept away from metallic ornaments that can break into sharp pieces

Also, those "classic" globe ornaments are hollow glass -- the same applies to them. (There are probably plastic ones available these days, but I suspect glass ones are still being sold, and certainly many families will have "heirloom" ornaments.)

By David Harmon (not verified) on 13 Dec 2009 #permalink

I love that picture. Thanks for showing it.

I hope my cat doesn't totally kill my (artificial) Christmas tree while I'm at work. At least he hasn't shown any interest in eating the tinsel.

By Katherine (not verified) on 13 Dec 2009 #permalink

A beautiful bird. Got to love the blue mascara!!

i am not sure if all birds can get diabetes, but i know that some parrot species can get it .. not sure about type 2 diabetes, but they can get type 1.