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Holiday Season Treats and Cautions for Parrot and Finch Owners

Yellow Naped AmazonHoliday visits and celebrations, pleasurable as they are, can also bring some nasty surprises to both people and pets.  A bit of planning now can help make the upcoming season safe and enjoyable for you and your birds.

Stress, Noise and Late Nights

Responsible bird owners know that certain holiday treats and, of course, alcohol, are bad for birds.  But many overlook the important role that sleep plays in bird health (please see article below). If you entertain late, or will be out often during the holidays, keep in mind that most birds need 10-12 hours of sleep in a dark, quiet environment. If necessary, move your pet’s cage to an area that is off-limits to guests, and shut the room lights via a timer if the rest of your house will be lit after the usual “lights-out” time.  Maintaining a stable day/night cycle is good for your birds mental and physical health.

Holiday parties can mean a house stocked with loud, tipsy guests, excited children and unfamiliar dogs. Each of these “creatures” (especially, those influenced by alcohol!) may take liberties with your pets that they otherwise would not. If it will be difficult for you to monitor all that is going on, consider keeping your birds in a locked room while parties are in progress (or “raging”, as the case may be!).

I’ve worked with parrots that thrived in hectic surroundings, such as busy nature centers and classrooms, but these individuals were exceptions.  In general, parrots regard strangers and unusual events as threats. It’s important to remember that, however tame they may be, parrots are not domesticated animals, and remain governed by instincts and behaviors that have evolved over many millions of years.

Canaries, Finches and other Birds

All birds are highly aware of their environments, even though most do not show this as obviously as do parrots.  Wild finches, canaries, doves and softbills Christmas Treeare on the menus of a wide array of predators, and they are, therefore, exceedingly cautious by nature. I’ve even had small birds die “of fright” in my hand…please keep the delicate natures of your smaller birds in mind as the holidays approach.

Un-caged Parrots

Parrots that adjust well to strangers, and which spend time out of their cages, face different risks than do their shyer cousins.  Most of these threats are well-known, but they bear repeating. Shiny ornaments, unique foods, ribbons, toys and electric wires may all be dangerous to curious pets.

Also, think carefully before offering your parrot a taste of those special holiday foods that may come your way.  Since they may not familiar to you, take time to read the list of ingredients.  Some hold unpleasant surprises for birds (and us!), even if they “appear” healthful…there’s a lot more than just “fruit” in the typical holiday fruit cake, for example!

Bird-Friendly Treats

I’m not a complete Scrooge…there are many tasty, nutritious surprises that you can buy or make for your pet birds, and for wild ones that you may feed. Please see the article below for holiday snacks that are quite simple to prepare, and check out our line of treats for pet and wild birds.

Gifts for Bird Owners

parrot eatingNeed a gift for the bird owners on your list? From simple “build your own bird toys” to extravagant, mansion-like cages, the options are limitless.

In my opinion, Joseph Forshaw’s classic Parrots of the World makes an unbeatable gift for parrot enthusiasts.  Covering the natural history of every parrot species and subspecies, it goes way beyond what can be found in typical pet care books, and is an enjoyable read besides.



Further Reading

Video: Quaker Parrot Singing “Jingle Bells” (traditional and “unique” version!)

Making a Christmas Tree for Birds

Homemade Holiday treats for Pet and Wild Birds

Sleep: the Key to Teaching Your Parrot New Words?

Yellow Naped Amazon image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Matt edmonds
Christmas Tree image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Marlene Thyssen


  1. avatar

    I am goinng overseas for two months and need my birds taken care of is this possible with you and if not can you recommend soemone

  2. avatar

    Hello Gabriel,

    Thanks for your interest. I can check for options, but would need details – where you are located, types and numbers of birds, dates, and so on.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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