Important Precautions for the Parrot Owner


A parrot's respiratory system is very sensitive to odors and fumes. The smell of spray cleaners, room deodorizers, candles or hair spray, to name just a few, are all very dangerous to your bird. To be safe your bird should be removed from the area in which cleaners of any type are being used.

I would like to stress how dangerous candles and especially room deodorizing "plug-ins" and Febreeze type products are. These should never be used in your home! Some people do believe it is safe to use them in back rooms away from your birds environment, but I personally do not believe they are safe to use anywhere in your home.

If you are painting your walls or doing any type of home remodeling it is best to let your bird visit grandma or a friend. The off-gasses of paints, glues, new carpets and other products used in remodeling can be very dangerous to your birds respiratory system.

Obviously cigarette smoke and drinking alcohol is dangerous to your bird also.

Teflon or Silverstone brand products are made with PTFE which release an odorless gas when heated which are not only dangerous to your bird but also to people. Keep in mind that teflon coatings are on many items not just your cookware. They can be on your hair dryer, curling irons, clothes iron, space heaters, oven liners, stove top burner liners, indoor grills, and numerous other items and appliances. Cooking / Roasting bags are coated with PTFE also. You should contact the manufacturer if you are in doubt, or simply do not use these items with your bird in your home. A bird who is placed in the back part of the home while teflon coated cookware is used can still be in danger. Household fumes travel in air vents and many times can be concentrated into one part of the home which could very well be in the back bedroom you put your bird in while cooking.

Self cleaning ovens should not be used with a bird in your home! The high heat that is used to break down cooked on foods emit a horrible gas which is very dangerous for your bird.

Dishwasher detergent chemicals are vaporized into the air as the washer cycles through the cleaning. Your bird should not be in the area where a dishwasher is being used. The fumes from a plastic item which falls onto the heating element in the dishwasher can also be dangerous to your bird.

Pest repellent sprays, fly paper, dog and cat flea collars, or any other type of pesticides should not be used around your birds.

While your baby was here we fed him from crocks placed on the bottom of the cage. So, your baby is used to looking for food on the bottom of the cage. Most cages have food bowl holders somewhere in the middle of the cage. I suggest giving your baby food and water both in the side cups and on the bottom of the cage for the first few days. As soon as you see the baby has found the side bowls then it is safe to feed only from the food stations attached to your cage. As a safety issue, it is important to always have bowls in food bowl holders of your cage. Birds have been known to get themselves caught and injured on open cup holders. If there are more food receptacles on your cage than you need you can use one of the empty food bowls as a toy box for foot toys.

All birds love to play and splash in open water dishes. For this reason I consider my birds water bowls to never be clean. I change the water as often during the day as possible as bacteria grows quickly in water which has had food, beaks, toes, and feathers dunked in it! I think water bottles are very good and use them in all my adult bird cages. However, I do believe it is important for all birds to have fresh water to splash in also. If you do teach your bird to drink from a water bottle, it is beneficial to let them have a bowl of water available at least for a few hours each day. Your baby has not been taught to use a water bottle yet. You must make sure you see your baby actually drinking from a water bottle before you take the bowl of water away from him.

A varied diet is important to not only your birds physical health but also to his mental health! Do not let anyone tell you that a 100% pellet diet is best for your bird. Although pellets are developed as a 100% nutrition imagine how boring your diet would be as tiny little hard nuggets! I see birds eat everyday and I see the excitement and eagerness they show when they see me preparing their fresh food bowls. Every bird in my care eagerly dives into a bowl of fresh food the second I put it in their cage. My pet Dixie knows that when I get the cutting board and knife out she is going to get something yummy.

Your baby has been fed a good seed mix, Zupreem natural colored pellets, our sprouting mix, and all types of fresh veggies and a little bit of fruit. The best veggies are the dark green and orange ones. I feed not only fresh veggies but also frozen. I never feed canned veggies as they are too processed and have too much salt in them. Too much fruit can sometimes give your bird a runny poop. One chunk of apple or one grape a day is plenty. You can read more about our diet on our web page.

There are many food items your bird should not be fed. Avocados, foods with caffeine in them, chocolate, apple seeds, pits from peach, plums, nectarines, high fat, sugar or salt foods, raw or undercooked meats or eggs are foods your bird should never be fed. Most foods which are healthy for you are probably ok to feed to your baby. (With exception to the avocado)

I don't consider any toy to be completely safe for all birds. Any toy can become a safety issue depending on how your bird plays with it. The best advice I can offer is to watch how your bird plays with his toys and to closely inspect the toys in your birds cage frequently to look for dangers. As a toy is played with and as it begins to be destroyed safety issues may arise.

Here are just a few toy issues you should watch for:
--You should watch for long strands of string from rope toys which can be wrapped around your birds toes or neck.
--Always make sure all quick links are closed securely and check them often as a bird can get his foot or beak caught in an open quick link.
--Toys which work like a pendulum in which a heavy chunk of toy hangs below a long chain or rope can be accidentaly swung around a birds neck or body. Sometimes new toys can present this danger or more often older toys which have had several chunks of toy chewed off present this danger.
--Toys which may have a small hole in which your bird can get his foot or toe stuck in. For example, I don't like giving my birds toys made with wiffle balls. Wiffle ball toys often have things stuck in the holes of the wiffle ball. I have had birds get their toes or foot stuck in the hole that was jammed with other things and the bird's foot was stuck and he could not get lose. Too small or too large of a hole in leather pcs. can also be a danger.
--Brittle plastic can cut your birds tongue, face, or legs as he plays and chews on it.
--Watch for openings or rings in toys in which your bird could put it's head through and get caught. All openings into or on a toy should be big enough for your bird to fit it's entire body through or not big enough for him to put his head through.

It is very important to have the appropriate sized cage for your bird. If the bars are not spaced correctly your bird could squeeze his head through them and the risk of strangulation is very possible! As a general rule I consider 1/2 to 5/8 inch to be the largest bar spacing to be used for small birds from caiques to cockatiels. Caiques can safely be in a cage with 1 inch bar spacing when older. But, caiques are tumblers and often tumble against the side of the bars. I have seen young caiques get their wing caught in cages with bar spacing larger than 5/8 inch. Medium birds from Jardines to Amazons can safely have up to a 1 inch bar spacing. Again, with young birds I consider bar spacing larger than 1 inch a possible safety hazard even for this size bird. You can not watch your bird 24 hours a day, and you do not want a safety issue to occur when you are not there to help your baby.

Advice to purchase the largest cage possible is often given to new parrot owners. Although I do think it is important to have a spacious cage for your new baby, I think bar spacing must be considered first. It would be lovely to have a macaw sized cage for your new conure, however, it could also be deadly as a cage this large will most likely have at least 1 inch bar spacing or more which is definately a safety issue.

It is very important for your baby's safety to keep his/her wings trimmed correctly. There are so many accidents which can happen to a fully flighted bird. If you decide to take special precautions so that your bird can be fully flighted please make sure that everyone in your home understands the rules of having a flighted bird.

Wing trimming is fairly easy to do, however, please have a professional show you how to do it. If you purchased your bird from me I will show you how to trim wings before you leave with your baby. However, I can not trim wings of your baby in the future as I have a closed aviary. A closed aviary means that I do not allow other birds into my home / aviary unless they have had at least a 60 day quarantine period.

Nail trimming is important also so that your baby does not get his sharp toe nails caught in toys. Care must be taken when trimming nails so that you do not cut the quick and cause bleeding. It is best to use corn starch to stop bleeding instead of Quick Stop. Quick stop is known to cause tissue damage and systemic poisoning.

In my opinion beak trimming should never have to be done if your bird eats a healthy diet and has plenty of soft and hard wood chewing toys. Your birds beak should be naturally maintained by his own self grooming. Keep in mind that some types of parrots naturally have a longer more pointed beak. As an example, mature caiques do have a longer pointy beak as they mature.

There are so many dangers outdoors for your bird, however, the benefits of sunshine for your bird are also important. The only way I consider it safe for your bird to be outdoors is in a cage. In some parts of the country having the cage covered by mosquito netting is also important. Never assume that your bird is safe outdoors even if your bird has his wings clipped. If your bird is frightened and with the right wind gust your bird can end up in a tree and too frightened to come down. It is just not worth the risk! Please only allow your bird outdoors in the safety of a cage.

I also consider wild bird germs a big danger to your bird. Not only the bacteria and viruses wild birds carry but also the parasites. I once had a lutino cockatiel that loved to sit on a window sill with the window open, (screened window of course), and she would scream and holler at my young son as he played with his friends. After a few weeks of this I found that my little cockatiel had picked up a wild bird parasite from the birds outside who had been eating at a near by feeder. She was easily treated and no harm came to her, however, I was lucky to have seen the mites on her lutino feathers. I am not sure I would have noticed them if she had been a grey colored bird. For this reason I think it is important to keep your bird away from all dangers of coming in contact with wild birds when they are outdoors.

When you bring a new bird into your home you should carefully quarantine the new bird from the rest of your flock for 30 - 60 days. Ask your vet for advice on how long he would consider quarantine to be necessary. It is impossible to do a perfect quarantine in most homes, but you should do your best to keep the new bird from your current flock. Even though you assume your flock and the new bird are all healthy there is a possibility that bringing in the new bird will cause stress to any one of your feathered family. This stress can cause illnesses to flare up and this illness could very well be deadly to your whole flock. Please discuss quarantine with your vet.

Polyoma is a deadly virus which your bird can be exposed to if he is around other birds. The most vulnerable bird is a young bird from the ages of 2 weeks to 5 months. If a bird of this age is exposed to the Polyoma virus it is almost always deadly.

A bird which is exposed to the Polyoma virus at a later age may survive without any signs of being ill, however, this bird will be a carrier and can expose other birds to the virus. A bird carrying the virus will show no signs of illness but will very likely shed the virus when put in a stressful situation such as a new bird entering his home.

So, if you have other birds in your home, I do suggest having your bird vaccinated. If you do not have other birds in your home and you do not plan on ever having other birds near your bird then I personally don't feel the vaccine is necessary. However, keep in mind that if you go to a pet store, a bird show, or anywhere there are other parrots you are risking bringing home the Polyoma virus to your bird at home. The virus is shed through feather dust and feces. If you are around other birds you are surely bringing home germs from their environment into your own home.

I am not a vet however, and these are my opinions on research I have done. You should talk to your Avian Vet about the Polyoma Vaccine.

Many bird owners have other pets in their home. I personally believe that a bird should never be trusted around other animals, not only dogs, cats, ferrets, but also other birds. Birds even of the same size can seriously injure each other in a tussle. Cat scratches can be deadly to your bird. Dogs can pounce on your bird and instantly kill them. It is very dangerous and you must be careful!

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