How to Beat the Heat!

Shortly after spring, summertime commences and with it, the heat! Walk in to your local hardware or electronics store and I am sure you will see air conditioners and fans flying off the shelves. Many parrot owners believe in the myth that you must keep your birds acclimated at balmy temperatures upwards of 75 and 80 degrees!

Energy Saver/Energy Efficient mode AC Preset

Energy Saver/Energy Efficient mode AC Preset

While many tropical bird species do seem to weather such warm temps without a problem, in my personal experience they also do just fine with slightly cooler temps, anywhere from the low 60’s to mid 70’s (Fahrenheit). So, do not feel like you have to suffer this summer due to your tropical pets, but do be diligent with your safety precautions around the house.

For starters, make sure any air conditioners you own are checked out for any defects such as chewed or broken wires. Air conditioners should also be thoroughly cleaned out and air filters replaced (preferably annually). Placement of your air conditioner is also a big concern around birds; make sure not to blow cold air directly on or near any cages or bird play areas.

The air conditioners I use in my own home are the typical window kind, fairly new models with HEPA air filters and multiple controls so I can maintain a pre-set temperature. This auto button pre-set is ideal for homes with pets such as birds. You can set your AC to 70 degrees, for example, and the AC will automatically turn on and off to maintain the pre-set temperature. This is also much more energy efficient!

Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Set

Creative Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Set for easy identification

Fans also pose a large danger to birds of all sizes. Even large, inquisitive parrots can get toes, feet, wings or beaks caught in moving fan blades. Ceiling fans are also very dangerous if birds are left out of their cages. Be sure not to leave your fans on while birds are out in the same room, and be sure to label your ceiling fan pull chains!

ACs and fans are two of the biggest dangers this summer, but don’t forget about the extreme heat, either! Ice cubes in water bowls and cold fruit in moderation make a great treat and provide your bird with something cool if it’s getting too hot for them and if you do not have the luxury of an air conditioner. If you bring your bird outdoors to enjoy the weather, make sure they are safely in a travel carrier and not near any pools or deep bodies of water. Also, moving your bird from a sunny room in the house to a shady one during the worst heat of the day can also help prevent overheating.

Your bird will love this warmer, sunnier part of the year (especially us New Englanders!) but make sure they always have access to fresh water and shade. Hopefully these tips will help keep you and your birds safe and cool this summer, so enjoy the sun!

Cockatiels outdoors

Make sure your bird enjoys the outdoors in safety! Provide secure enclosures, access to shade, water, and food.

 

Spring has sprung!

Spring has sprung and with it, lots of sunshine and warm weather we all enjoy! This time of year poses many potential dangers to our feathered friends, even those that stay strictly indoors. 

This time of year invites family, friends, and children over after spring cleaning has commenced. Many are running in and out of your house to take advantage of the weather; where is your bird amongst all this coming and going? Many birds are lost each year, and not just those that get to go outside. Doors that are opened for even a second can be an opening for your bird to fly outside. 

But my bird has clipped wings! you might say. Even birds with clipped wings can still fly to a certain extent. If a bird is spooked or is trying to follow a favorite person, they could fly right over your head and out the door. Getting them back can be nearly impossible as an indoor bird may panic once outside in the big world, and can fall victim to predators such as hawks or wind up low to the ground near traffic.

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Enjoying the view!

Windows also pose a danger this time of year. While many curtains may be drawn during the winter, open windows or those with the shades drawn up can be fatal to indoor birds. Make sure your birds are aware that clear glass is not an opening to the outside, or they could injure themselves flying in to the window.

A great way to prevent this possible accident is to have desirable perching areas in front of the windows. This way your bird has somewhere fun to sit, eat, and play while taking advantage of the great view outside! 

Despite the possible dangers, spring is an invigorating time of year. Your feathered kids will love the new found sunshine pouring in to your home. Don’t forget to give them a great view with some of this fresh air, they enjoy this as much as the rest of us!

The Urban Parrot – how to manage intrinsic behaviors in your home

Parrots are wild animals; I know many people do not think of them this way as they sit in our living rooms and pet stores. However, they have not been bred over centuries like dogs and cats. The intrinsic behaviors their wild counterparts have are the same behaviors your pet bird acts on in your home.

And act they do – whether it be chewing your furniture or clothing, screaming, flying, climbing and more. Many parrots are re-homed as a result, with no effort put into correcting the problem. However, these natural behaviors are to be expected with parrot ownership. The trick is getting creative about how you can better manage these behaviors at home!

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Foraging for Nutriberries with hanging buffet ball

In the wild, parrots fly miles every day in search of food. At home, we serve them food in a cup. Nothing interesting or engaging about that, is there? Humans at least get to forage at the grocery store, but birds have no choice in the matter.

When we take away choices from our pets, they will often behave in ways we wish they would not. When we give different options, however, our animals will be more engaged and productive in the activities we have provided them. Getting creative in how you serve your birds food is a great way to motivate them to engage in foraging activities just as they would in the wild.

“…motivation is generally influenced by many factors that can be intrinsic (e.g., genetic or physiological) or extrinsic (i.e., in the animal’s environment).” [Amdam & Hovland]

 

Figuring out what you can change about your bird’s environment at home can help motivate them to engage in desirable activities, replacing the undesirable (ie: your bird can not scream incessantly if [s]he is busy searching for food).

There are many foraging toys on the market to help switch up how you serve your bird’s food. Some of my favorites include stuffing pellets inside cholla wood, seeds or nutriberries inside paper bags or boxes,  and even serving food inside wiffle balls or similar products at the pet store.

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Foraging for Nutriberries with pine wood foraging toy

In addition to changing the way you serve your bird’s food, make sure they have plenty of opportunities to chew appropriate objects as well.  You can find plenty of wood bird toys at your local pet shop. My bird’s favorites are cholla wood, and bottlebrush perches they can peel the bark off of. If your bird likes to preen more than chew, you can buy toys made of sisal rope, palm leaf, or cotton. The options are endless; it is just a matter of figuring out what your bird prefers!

With such enrichment activities to mimic our bird’s natural behaviors, we can manage the excessive screaming or inappropriate chewing that can take place in our households. Giving these tips a try, and rotating the toys available to your birds to mix things up can make a world of difference in their behavior.

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Encourage appropriate shredding and chewing with boxes or paper bags you can hide your bird’s food in

If you need more ideas to get started, check out

Foraging Toys

Behavior Works – Enrichment

Foraging for Parrots