Birds are naturally mischievous and will get into many predicaments. It is crucial that you “bird proof” your home. The bird’s cage is its house and the confines of your home, represents the bird’s environment. There are many dangers within these surroundings.
Temperature and Humidity
Moderate and gradual changes ranging from 10 – 20 F (2 – 5 C) in temperature are usually tolerated very well by a healthy bird. Sick birds will need a more consistently warm temperature. Humidity in the range of 40 – 50% is ideal for most birds. It is better to have too much humidity than have the environment too dry. If allowed to bathe in the hot sun, a bird must always have access to shade in the event it should become over-heated.
Over-heated Teflon-coated cooking appliances and self-cleaning ovens release a colorless, odorless gaseous toxin that does not seem to affect mammals but will cause death to a bird within 24 hours. Your bird does NOT have to be near the kitchen for this to happen. Birds affected by Teflon fumes need immediate veterinary attention.
Birds have a very efficient respiratory system and are very sensitive to pollutants in the air. Birds are exceptionally susceptible to the effects of second-hand smoke. Cigarettes, cigars and pipes should not be used around your bird. Not only does the smoke affect their lungs and respiratory passages but they can also develop severe skin irritation from contact with hands, clothing, or other items that are exposed to the smoke. If you do smoke, do not do it around your bird and always wash your hands and change your clothing between smoking and handling your bird. Tobacco users should consider smokeless options such as e-cigarettes. Cooking fumes, gases such as carbon monoxide, volatile cleaning products, paints, varnishes, fire place fumes and dirty household air ducts may lead to respiratory problems so use these products carefully and with plenty of ventilation or your birds removed until the fumes are cleared.
Generally speaking, it is unwise to house a bird in the kitchen, as there are too many potential hazards. Teflon as described above is a priority concern. Hot stove elements, open pots of hot soups or sauces and even a sink full of water may be possible dangers. All cleaning products present possible hazards.
Open toilet bowls and full sinks or bathtubs are possible perils to a bird. Pet birds do not swim well and may be unable to escape if they fall into a toilet. There are often dangerous cleaning products in a bathroom as well. Various drugs that are kept around most households are potential dangers to your bird. Keep these products locked up and away from your bird.
Cats, dogs and ferrets can be a potential danger to your bird. These animals have a natural hunting instinct and your bird may become the victim. Never leave these animals alone together unattended. In some cases, birds do get along well with other household pets. Always make introductions under supervision. Consider keeping your bird’s wing feathers unclipped so that they can escape more easily from a prowling dog or cat.
Mirrors and Windows
Sometimes birds may fly into mirrors or windows. Hanging curtains, decorations, or applying a sticker to the surface may help deter this.
Any open container of water should be considered a danger zone. If the bird flies into it, it may drown.
Birds generally seem to enjoy a certain amount of commotion and may become vocal and playfully excited by vacuuming, the sound of an electric razor or the normal activities of people about the house. Excessively loud noise from televisions, stereos, construction or even appliances such as vacuum cleaners or food processors may cause undue stress to some birds. Remember the bird is captive in your home and cannot freely escape these sounds. Exposure to any reasonable noise should be limited to the bird’s normal waking hours. Ideally your bird should have 10-12 hours of quiet, dark time for sleeping. This may mean that you need to provide a second, small (travel-sized) cage just for sleeping in a separate room.
Plants (See – Poisonous plants information sheet) Fans
Never allow a bird to fly while a fan of any sort is running (particularly ceiling fans). The bird cannot see the blades while they are in motion and can be severely injured or killed.
Birds love to chew and the soft, rubbery, chewable coating of electrical cords may be very enticing. Due to the potential danger of electrocution, facial burns and fire, electrical cords must be hidden away or unplugged when your bird is out.
Open Windows, Doors
Flight is great exercise for your bird. However, not all living
situations will allow for your bird to safely fly within the house or outdoors. If there are many members of the household and a likelihood that doors or windows will be left open, it may be best to have your bird’s wings clipped (see Wing Clipping). If you leave your bird flighted, please consider the following steps to ensure their safety:
Recall train your bird: This involves teaching them to fly to you when they hear a call or sounds you make. This is important so that if they escape and are out of sight, you will be able to relocate them and have them fly back to you. Keep the training fresh and perform it often—a great way to play with your bird!
Allow your bird to fly regularly in the house so that they have good flight skills. Birds that do not fly regularly often seem to panic and fly too far away too quickly so that it is hard for them to find their way back. They also seem reluctant to fly down from the top of a tree, possibly due to lack of confidence in their ability to descend and land.
Get screens for all doors and windows that open.
Lead is commonly found in many places around the house. Examples include curtain weights, fishing weights, older plumbing and electrical solder, older paints, certain types of putty, plaster or ceramic glazes, batteries, pellets from air rifles, certain linoleum, stained glass windows, Tiffany lamps, the leaded foil from wine bottles, some costume jewelry and zipper teeth. Lead is soft, fun to chew on and easily swallowed. Also known as heavy metal intoxication, lead poisoning is life threatening and needs immediate veterinary attention. Contrary to some beliefs, there is NO lead in today’s pencils or newspaper inks. Common symptoms of lead intoxication include weakness, stumbling, seizures, regurgitation, and green, loose urine or urates (the liquid white/clear part of normal droppings).
Most pet bird toys are considered safe for you bird. It is important that you check all toys for loose or open clasps, removable or chewable parts, peeling paint, peeling metal and sharp edges before offering them to a bird.
Cleaning agents, insecticides, pesticides, mothballs, deodorizers, paints, solvents, makeup, personal hygiene products and chemicals, pharmaceutical products, matches, and automotive products are just some of the products that must be locked away from an inquisitive bird.