Safety Precautions for Bird Owners

FOODS that are dangerous to birds include onions, mushrooms, avocado, guacamole, chocolate, cocoa, alcohol, caffeine, the pits of apricots, peaches, plums, prunes, and seeds of the cherimoya fruit, apple seeds, as well as foods containing large amounts of salt, sugar, grease, preservatives, artificial coloring, and other additives. Moldy foods and under-cooked or raw meat should be avoided as well. Birds are also lactose intolerant so milk products should be limited to very small amounts of cheese and yogurt. Peanuts in the shell can be contaminated with Aspergillus fungus, which can cause respiratory illness as well as producing a toxin (aflatoxin, a potent carcinogen).

PTFE treated products, such as Teflon and other name brands of non-stick cookware kill birds by releasing odorless, deadly gases when overheated. PTFE is used in some space heaters, ranges, ovens, stove-top burner bibs or liners, heat lamps, irons, griddles, bread makers, woks, waffle makers, electric skillets, crock pots, popcorn poppers, coffee makers, roasters, curling irons, hair dryers, and more. Check labels before purchasing these items.

SELF CLEANING OVENS use extremely high heat to burn off oven debris, and in the process create toxic fumes that can harm or kill parrots.

COOKING BAGS, especially those treated with PTFE emit harmful fumes during cooking that can kill birds. Any substance that releases smoke and/or fumes when heated should be avoided.

KITCHENS, especially when cooking is in progress, are unsafe for birds. The hazards of open flames, hot stoves, open pots of hot food or boiling water are as deadly as smoke or other toxic fumes. Dishwashers can be extremely toxic if a plastic item falls into a heating element during the dry cycle.

FLOORS Some birds love to walk on the floor and pick up carpet yarn, lick dust, or just march around on the floor. You don't want to step on your feathered friend, so watch where you walk. Recliners or sofas chairs that revolve or recline can also pose a danger to birds. The bird may be walking under the foot-rest and if you should pull it back upright suddenly without looking, you may squash your bird in between the foot-rest of the chair.

COLD & DRAFTS Keep the bird away from drafty doors, windows, and fans since they easily can become sick if a draft blows on them. A draft is different from just cold air. It cuts a path through warmer air. This is what is hard on birds. If your bird is near a window, make sure it's well insulated. To check it, hold your hand around the edges of the glass to feel for any "threads" of cooler air. Do this a number of times, particularly when it is windy outside, to make sure you haven't missed a drafty spot.

HEAT STROKE Even though many of our birds originate from very warm climates, over exposure to heat can be very harmful. If they are left in the sun with no place to escape the heat, they could easily become dehydrated and die. If you want to take your bird out for some fresh air, do not leave him out for long periods of time. As the sun goes across the sky, your bird may become trapped in direct sunlight. Also, you should never leave your bird alone in a vehicle in warm weather.

GRIT is not necessary for parrots and can cause impaction of the digestive system.

IMPORTED CERAMIC CROCKS often contain toxic metals that can leach into bird food and water. Stainless steel, Pyrex and other glass is safer to use HALOGEN LIGHT FIXTURES create extreme heat and can kill birds that land on them. Choose only bird-safe light fixtures for your home.

LITTER made of walnut shells or corn cobs can cause life-threatening impaction if ingested by your birds. They also harbor fungal spores and mold when soiled or wet. Newspaper is safer.

METALS such as zinc, lead, copper, and iron can cause metal toxicosis if ingested by birds. Some sources include house keys, (especially gold colored keys), galvanized wire, lead-based paints, metallic paints, paints containing zinc, linoleum, vinyl mini-blinds, foil, lead weights, bells with lead clappers, stained glass, some improperly-glazed ceramics, costume jewelry, mirror backing, copper pennies, zinc oxide, artist paints containing cadmium, and cardboard or paper with high gloss inks. Aviary wire treated with zinc is also dangerous.

QUIK-STOP and other styptic products should never be applied to avian skin. They are safe for bleeding toenails when broken or cut too short, but they destroy skin. For broken or pulled blood feathers, either cornstarch or flour are safer. Aloe gel can be applied first to help the flour or cornstarch to adhere to the wound and to help with pain and healing.

CATS (and many other pets) are a danger to birds. Cats commonly have Pasteurella bacteria as part of their natural flora. Even if your cat just bats your bird with its paw or gets saliva on your bird, you could end up with a dead bird. The slightest cat scratch can infect birds with the Pasteurella bacteria and immediate vet treatment is required to save the bird's life. Never allow birds to interact with ANY pet without close supervision.

FLEA COLLARS AND SPRAYS for dogs and cats emit toxins into the air and should not be used in bird homes. Lice shampoo also contains dangerous toxins and should never be used on birds.

PESTICIDE SPRAYS, NO-PEST STRIPS, AND FOGGERS poison the air and can kill birds. Safer solutions are roach traps, ant bait, and other solid insect poisons that can be safely secured in the back of cabinets and other areas that are inaccessible to birds.

STICKY STRIPS for flying insects should always be enclosed in old cages or other containers accessible to insects but out of the reach of birds and other pets. Citrus oil or peanut butter can be used to safely remove sticky substances from feathers.

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FOODS that are dangerous to birds include onions, mushrooms, avocado, guacamole, chocolate, cocoa, alcohol, caffeine, the pits of apricots, peaches, plums, prunes, and seeds of the cherimoya fruit, apple seeds, as well as foods containing large amounts of salt, sugar, grease, preservatives, artificial coloring, and other additives. Moldy foods and under-cooked or raw meat should be avoided as well. Birds are also lactose intolerant so milk products should be limited to... Read more...

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