Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Holiday 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 are 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.
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!
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
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.
Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook. Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable. I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.
Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly.
Thanks, until next time,
Video: Quaker Parrot Singing “Jingle Bells” (traditional and “unique” version!)
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