Pet birds, like all pets, rely upon us to raise them in a comfortable, healthy, and safe environment. Birds are delicate and fragile and the owners of their forever home must consider all of the additional hazards that can lead to serious and permanent injury, or worse. Even though birds are proven to have high intelligence, it is the owner’s complete responsibility to protect them from the dangers that are in the common household.
WINDOWS & MIRRORS
Letting your parrot out of its cage for freedom and playtime is the most important activity an owner should allow. One of the most common injuries to a bird in flight are windows and mirrors. A flying parrot cannot tell that a window or mirror is a barrier and will fly head first, expecting to cross through. When your parrot is out, It’s important to close all blinds and keep an eye on your parrot if he’s flighted, to ensure it’s aware of the barrier.
OPEN DOORS & WINDOWS
While it might seem obvious to close all windows (aforementioned) and doors so the parrot doesn’t escape, a bigger danger presents itself to open doors inside of the household. If a free-flying bird perches on top of a door, unknowingly by the owner, severe feet and leg injuries can occur. It is important to have all of the doors closed and that everyone in the household is aware that the bird is out. Severe bodily injuries can also occur if a bird is walking next to a door being swung open.
While this might seem obvious, an owner should quickly get into the habit of turning off all ceiling and ground fans, especially if you have low ceilings. This seems obvious, but occurs more frequently than you may think. Many ceiling fans turn on when the room’s light is turned on and it’s pretty easy to forget about this hazard. A free flying bird may attempt to fly from one perch to another, without regard to the ceiling fan and occurs more frequently in small birds.
While loud noises may startle a bird and cause them to fly, increasing their chance of injury, it also plays a part in their emotional health. Birds have sensitive hearing and this can lead to stress, which can make them more prone to infection as well as other emotional-response driven habits such as feather-picking.
Other pets in the household are a very common cause of injury. We’ve heard that a cat scratch or bite can be lethal to birds, but it isn’t always quick. Unless properly treated, bacteria can cause slow-growing infections which can lead to severe diseases. Always take your bird to a veterinary for prompt medical attention and examination. Injuries from dogs are usually due to physical trauma, and whether you’re thinking about getting a dog or own one, it’s imperative that an owner does their research to ensure that the dog’s breed can bond with birds. Ferrets, while friendly in nature, are occasionally found responsible for causing death in pet birds. Birds, large or small, may not be able to defend itself from a tenacious attacker. Aggressive or jealous birds may also be responsible for serious injuries. Beaks can be chipped or even bitten off - toe fractures and amputations are commonly seen, however. Even though it may seem like your multi-pet or parrot household lives in harmony, an owner must always be on guard for potential confrontations.
Birds have an incredible respiratory system that converts the oxygen they breathe into their system. Because of their size and efficient respiratory system, this makes them more susceptible to toxicities in the air (more detail later in this post). Their respiratory system is also more sensitive to being harmed from toxic fumes and chemicals within the air.
Birds which are exposed to these toxic fumes can quickly begin showing signs of the fumes taking a toll on them. These include respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and exhaustion. Additional symptoms includes ocular injury from tightening of the blood vessels and damage to their skin and feathers.
While most of these are able to away without intervention after the odor and fumes are removed, it is important to remove the bird from any rooms or areas where smoke and fumes are present. Since most household fumes occur from heat, these mainly come from the kitchen and can be as simple as heating butter in a pan. This is why the most dangerous place in the house to keep a bird is in the kitchen and extreme precautions must be taken.
This is the most important and overlooked safety precaution for all bird owners and this can’t be reiterated enough by the bird community. Teflon Toxicosis is a silent, lethal killer for birds with no specific test to confirm a bird is positive for it. Usually by the time the symptoms appear, it’s too late and is usually confirmed post-mortem.
Teflon Toxicosis is caused by Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is a synthetic polymer used on non-stick cooking surfaces - most commonly used in non-stick cookware and pans. Certain names that use PTFE are Teflon, Silverstone, and Supra. When a non-stick pan is heated above 530 degrees (sometimes found to occur at lower temperatures), it emits a toxic fume that causes Teflon Toxicosis. It is of the owner’s utmost importance to confirm that the pans they own or buy in the future are PTFE free, which all manufacturers can confirm for you if you’re unsure.