As the weather cools down, it’s important to remember that birds need additional care in winter. Many of our exotic and pet bird breeds are originally from warm, tropical climates and cold temperatures can be a health challenge. Here are a few guidelines for pet bird owners to keep in mind during cooler temperatures that will help them keep their pet birds healthy and happy.
Bird owners should move the cage to a draft free location, away from windows and doors. Moving your bird’s cage to a central location in the home can make a big difference in keeping deadly drafts and cold air away from sensitive birds. Shrink-wrap insulation kits can be used on windows and unused doorways in winter to keep cold air out and warm air in. Increasing the humidity indoors in winter is also good for birds, eliminating dryness and excess dander.
Remember that birds are sensitive to smoke and fumes that can come from wood, gas or kerosene heaters. Some electric heaters are treated with a non-stick coating, which can create fumes that are deadly to birds. Some radiator-style electric heaters can be effective, but be sure to check on possibly harmful coatings.
Bird owners should definitely have a cage cover on hand. Covering the cage at night will help keep birds cozy. Some birds enjoy snugglies and snoozies to help keep them warm at night. Heat lamps can be used, and infrared bulbs will create a glow that does not interfere with the bird’s sleep cycle. It’s important to choose only a bird-safe heat lamp recommended for avian use. Pay attention to the bulbs used in the heat lamp – any bulbs coated with polytetrafluoroethylene can emit toxic fumes when overheated. There are also ceramic heating elements that can be used for birds – from those that clamp onto the cage to heat panels that are placed around the cage. These are specifically designed for animal and avian use. Infrared heat panels that attach to the cage are also an energy-efficient way to keep your bird cozy this winter.
In addition to keeping your bird warm, you’ll want to ensure that heating your home doesn’t result in a lack of humidity. If so, there are a few simple things you can do to provide the proper conditions for your bird. Regular baths, showers or light misting should be continued throughout the winter months. You can also increase humidity in the home by using a vaporizer or humidifier designed for birds. Other options include placing shallow pans of water on radiators or in the oven when you’re pre-heating it, or simply leaving the bathroom door open when you shower to allow the steam into the house.
Feeding your bird a healthy, vitamin-rich diet throughout the year will help boost its immune system and stay healthier despite changes in temperature. Bird owners should make sure the winter diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables to maintain optimal health.
Of course, keeping a watchful eye on pet birds throughout the winter is important. As you make changes to your bird’s environment, be on the lookout for signs of overheating, such as panting, extended neck or holding the wings away from the body. Also keep an eye out for signs of any health problems – exposure to cold temperatures can lower the bird’s immunity and result in illness. At any time of year, simple bird care and monitoring will ensure that pet birds stay healthy and happy.