Feathered Friends Love Summer Too!

Here are some of the hazards you should be aware of

Summer brings heat, vacations and the desire to spend more time outdoors. Pet birds relish warm weather, fresh air and sunshine as much as we do! Unfortunately fun can quickly turn into unnecessary tragedy if certain precautions are not taken. Here are some of the hazards you should remember to watch out for:

  • Clip those wings - The best advice anyone can give you is to CLIP your bird's wings. It will keep him from harm when indoors, and help prevent his escaping through open windows or doors and flying away if outside of your home.

  • Indoor sunlight - birds like seeing the activity outside and enjoy the sunlight. If you have a cage in front of a window, be sure that there is a place in the cage which provides ample shade for your bird if he becomes too warm. Beware of overheating either the cage area or the room from direct sunlight. Make sure there is always fresh, clean water available, as this will help prevent dehydration which can occur
    rapidly.

  • Air Conditioners/Coolers - Air conditioning is safe for birds. In very hot and humid climates, air conditioning or other methods such as swamp coolers are a necessity. However, make sure that your birds are not placed directly in front of the air conditioning outlets where they may get a chill. If you use swamp coolers, they must also be cleaned periodically to prevent bacteria growth.

  • Windows and Screens - When it is hot, we all tend to open a window or a door. Before you open doors and windows, check that the screens are in place and in good condition. You don't want your bird flying out an open window or hurting himself on a torn screen. Another good reason to clip your birds wings.

  • Doors - In summer many of us go in and out of the house more often, increasing the chances of a bird flying out a door. Be sure that doors you open also have screen doors and that these automatically shut. Check the latches and closing mechanisms to be sure they are working properly.

  • Floor Fans and Ceiling Fans - It only takes a moment for a curious bird to investigate a fan. And a ceiling fan is an accident waiting to happen for an unclipped bird. Purchase fans with a guard around the fan blades. When unprotected fans are in operation, keep your birds in their cages or in other rooms. Remember, a bird with properly clipped wings cannot reach a ceiling fan.

  • Food and Water - Food spoils more quickly and water grows bacteria more quickly in the heat. Remove soft foods from cages after a few hours and change the water more frequently. Dishes should be thoroughly washed each day. Bedding is also another source of bacteria and mold growth, so it's a good idea to change this once a day too.

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  • Insects and Pests - Ants, bugs, rodents and other small pests seem to be part of the summer landscape. Check and double check any products you use to get rid of them. Read the labels thoroughly, as most are toxic to birds. For ants, try coating an area with lemon juice. Use fly paper for insects. Or a 5% Sevin solution. If in doubt about a product, check with your veterinarian.

  • Pesticides and Herbicides - These can be toxic to birds. Ask your service provider what products are being used, what the ingredients are and how long they remain toxic. If you apply these products yourself, read the labels. If you have your lawn or trees sprayed, prevent exposure to your birds. Keep the windows shut and check any units which can draw outside unfiltered air into the indoor air circulation systems. Many products sprayed on your gardens specify that the plants shouldn't be eaten for a number of days. If a product is toxic to you then it is probably more toxic to your birds. Be sure to wait at least the amount of time the manufacturer specifies before eating the plants in your garden or giving them to your birds. And be sure to thoroughly wash them first.

  • Porches and the Backyard - Your bird will enjoy a visit outside, even if it's just on a porch. However, be sure it is a pleasant experience for him. Set his cage where there is shade so the bird doesn't become overheated. Even with partial shade, do not leave your bird in the sun too long. Be sure that water is available. You might even spray your bird with water periodically to keep him cool. A dish of water with a little crushed ice in it can be placed on the bottom of the cage to provide a cool bath. Try a few short periods outside rather than a long one. If you see your bird fluffing his feathers (to cool off) or having any difficulty in breathing, take him inside immediately. Be sure that the cage is placed where dogs, cats and rodents cannot get to it. Be wary of wild birds. They may attack the cage or just frighten your bird as they fly by. Also be sure not to put the cage near grass or plants which have recently been sprayed with pesticides. It is best to stay outside with your bird at all times unless he is in something safe like an enclosed porch.

  • Going Out - Many of us like to take our birds with us when we visit or run errands. The birds enjoy the outing and the variety and we enjoy their companionship. Just remember to CLIP those wings. You might also use a harness. Most birds will wear them if you take the time to get them used to these devices. There are even companies now making bird diapers. These will help keep you clean when your bird needs to poop.

  • Automobiles - If you take your bird in a vehicle, NVER leave him alone with the windows closed. The temperature in the vehicle will quickly become hot enough to kill your pet in only a few minutes. It is a good idea to bring some food, water and a first aid kit, even for short trips to the store.

  • Vacations - Summer is also the time when we take vacations. What do you do about your pets? Take them with you, board them with a friend or commercial facility, have a friend or pet sitter come to your home to feed and care for them? There are pros and cons to each approach. Research each option and make your decision wisely.

  • Camping - There are many things to beware of if you take your bird camping. You have no control over what animals may visit your campsite. Prepare for adverse weather conditions - storms or very hot days. Plan how you will keep your pets warm or cool or dry. Bring extra food and a first aid kit for emergencies.

Summer can be a fun time for all of us if we just take a few simple precautions and prepare for the unexpected. Enjoy your summer!

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