Dangers to be aware of
1. Cookware: Non-stick or Teflon coated cookware
When heated, non-stick cookware releases a chemical into the air that causes immediate death in some birds. Parakeets and Cockatoos have been found to be particularly sensitive to Teflon. All bird owners should immediately discard (or at least never use) any non-stick cookware and replace it with stainless steel. Teflon is also found in a huge number of household appliances – hairdryers, toasters/toastie makers, bread machines, straightening irons, clothes irons etc etc.
Caution is essential when using these in your home. Hot pans/cooling pans etc are also a serious hazard to your bird. Never have your bird in the kitchen when you are cooking as accidents happen far too easily – even a hot kettle could burn. Halogen hobs and electric cooker tops can also cause serious injury if unsuspecting bird lands on it after pans have been removed. Gas – carbon monoxide…. Need we say more.
2. Doors and Windows/Mirrors
Always have a ‘parrot security’ check before allowing your birds out of their secure environment. Doors and windows are easily forgotten – especially in summer. Check all doors and windows. Doors and windows also have hinges and can cause serious injury if toe, wing, leg or any part of the body is caught. Doors can also easily be closed on birds and cause serious injuries – whether it is closed by us or a strong draft! Baby door safety wedges are great – although mine like to eat them! Some people consider plane glass windows as a hazard and as a result clip birds wings – I’m afraid I completely disagree with this.
If you think the bird may injure itself on a glass window use net curtains (and yes they will probably use then as an activity toy!) or put decorative window stickers on (we do it at Christmas so why not all year? – just maybe not the snowman!). A bird should not be clipped because of our concerns of fashion and household décor. Mirrors can also be a concern for birds flying into them – remove them – simple as that.
3. Toxic Food
Parrots are a lot like toddlers — everything goes in their mouths! Ingesting toxic foods is a big hazard to companion birds in the home, and can cause illness and death. Protect your parrots by making sure that all your chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, pop, crisps etc. (please see toxic food lists) are kept away from your bird’s cage and are secured when your bird is allowed out.
4. Other Pets
Stories of pet birds getting along with other pets like dogs and cats are heard a lot, but bird owners must never forget that no matter how sweet their dog or cat is, it is still a predator to your bird. Dogs and cats have an instinctual prey drive that can compel them to chase and capture your bird, or could even injure your bird by trying to play with it. This has sadly led to the severe injury and death of countless companion birds throughout the years.
Please supervise your pets closely if you decide to allow them to interact, or better yet, allow your bird a play space that is secured away from other household pets. Also consider is your bird safe from other pets when you are out. Cat claws can easily access a cage and the bacteria from the tiniest of scratches will kill if untreated. Dogs have a habit of licking bars to get any treat the parrot may have left – consider bacteria and what other things old Rover may have been licking or eating! The danger doesn’t end with cats and dogs — uncovered aquariums pose a drowning hazard to birds, and should be secured as well! Also consider compatibility of other birds. Do not assume they will get on – do not risk it – always supervise birds when out if the cage.
5. Household Appliances and Stuff!
Ceiling fans are responsible for the death and injury of hundreds of companion birds every year, although this is not a huge problem in the UK we should also ensure electric fans and their blades are not accessible to birds. As a precaution, make sure to turn all fans off while your bird is playing outside of the cage. Other household items, such as electrical wires, ovens, and even toasters can pose shock and burn hazards as well. Make sure that these appliances are secured or not in use if your bird is out at play. TV Cables, phone wires, power cables should all be secured away from access. Plastic piping used for plumbing is a good way to cover and protect cables and reduce any risk.
6. Improper Sanitation
This is something that can be overlooked – we assume all bird owners know to keep the bird cages clean! It’s extremely important to keep your bird’s cage as clean as possible — not only for your birds comfort, but for his health as well. Birds are naturally very clean creatures. They are designed so that their waste drops below their homes to the earth, where it supports other life-forms in the ecosystem. When dander, old food and waste is allowed to accumulate on a cage floor, the bacteria can cause respiratory and intestinal problems and death and could be a risk to human health too.
7. Household chemicals/Air quality
Most household chemicals can pose safety hazards to companion birds, from spray cleaners to scented oils and everything in between. Birds have extremely sensitive respiratory systems and can be easily overcome by fumes. Some cases of exposure to cleaners and fragrance sprays have led to the bird’s death. To avoid the risk, use a bird safe cleaner on cages and any other surfaces that your bird may come into contact with. You should also never use products like candles, scented oils, and incense in your home. Plug in air fresheners (or battery sensor operated ones), deodorants, hair sprays, oven cleaner, perfume, carpet freshener, nail varnish, paint and so on. Also consider open/gas fires/ burners and anything that impacts on the air quality where your bird has access.
Parrots are not the world’s best swimmers. While many birds enjoy a perch in the shower with their favourite human companion, open toilets and filled bathtubs can spell disaster for your bird. To reduce the risk of drowning, make sure that all toilet seats in your home are kept in the down position (also consider the chemicals and bacteria in a bathroom), or better yet, close off bathrooms completely when your bird is playing out of the cage.
9. Uneducated Humans!
It’s sad but true — your visitors can be a safety hazard to your bird. Bird owners know that we must interact with our birds differently than with cats, dogs, or other more common pets. People that don’t know any better, however, may try to grab your bird to hold it, or may unknowingly offer your bird a piece of toxic food. Make sure that your houseguests are aware of the rules for interacting with your bird, and enforce them! Also ensure your children know the rules for their protection as well as the birds.
Both holiday and everyday decorations in your home can be potentially hazardous to your bird. Shiny or brightly coloured items are a virtual beacon for parrots — they are inexplicably attracted to them and will not think twice about tearing them apart with their beaks for fun! These items can harbour toxic chemicals in their dyes, cause electrocution, can have sharp edges that could cut your bird, or could have small pieces that could be ingested, causing an intestinal blockage or worse. Protect your bird by making sure that all your decorative items are well out of the bird’s reach, both around the cage and out of it. There are so many more things than this that are hazards. Work on the basis that your bird is as vulnerable as a new born baby but as inquisitive as a toddler and you will be on the right lines. If in doubt; check! There is loads of information out there you just need to find and read it but this should be a start to get you thinking and becoming more cautious.
11. Smoking around your bird
As you can imagine considering the above comments regarding air quality, smoking around your bird can be severely detrimental to your bird’s health.
Many household plants can be toxic – always check an online safe plant list using the latin name of your plant to know whether or not it is safe to be in your home.