DISCLAIMER: Anecdotal advice throughout this website is intended for your information and education. It is not intended to replace your veterinarian's advice and expertise. PLANNED PARROTHOOD® will not be liable for any damages resulting from our own advice or that of any third party who has contributed to this website.
This must be done cautiously only when you can observe them for several hours. Always be sure to add an extra food and water cup, as there may be territorial intervention by the bird already in the cage. Have a net ready in case they start to fight. If possible, it's best to put birds together in a cage neither has been in before.
NEVER use ozone cleaners or ionizers. These cleaners actually do harm to human lungs according to the American Lung Association. See the USA Today article about this. A good air cleaner is one with a HEPA filter. The best place to mount such a cleaner is up high near the ceiling.
Most birds love to bathe, which is why it's best to give them a bowl big enough to do so at will. I will sometimes place the water bowl in a larger one to catch the excess water. Breeder hens need a large water bowl to keep their eggs moist. Restaurant supplies have stainless steel salad trays that you can attach to the cage by drilling two holes on one end and attaching with C-clamps.
Now there are battery operated misters that make spray misting very easy for a number of birds.
Some birds don't like to bathe because they are "dust bathers." They clean their feathers by preening with a special powder produced by specialized feathers. In the wild, some birds actually roll in the dust on the ground. Powder preeners are cockatiels, greys, and cockatoos. Many of the powder preeners also love a water bath too, though.
To get a bird to bathe, use a plastic paint tray. Such a tray is graduated and allows your bird to venture into the water at his own pace and to go to a desired depth. Also, there are little raised areas on the bottom of the tray which provide traction. - *submitted by Ann Eaton
BEDDING & CAGE LINERS
Tips for keeping your cage area clean:
BEDDING: With cage grates, you can safely use pine or aspen shavings or paper. Never use corn cob or cedar bedding. They're both toxic to birds!
CAGE LINERS: I recommend wet waxed deli paper (DelWrap) to preserve the cage pan. It holds the water well and comes in 15", 18", 20", 24" and 36" rolls. You can get it at a restaurant supply or ask a local restaurant or supermarket to get it for you. You can also find it online at PJPMarketplace.com The rolls come in 1000 ft. rolls, so they last a long time. You will also need a cutter to hold the heavy rolls. If you don't have time to read newspapers, you can still get roll ends at a low cost or free from your local news printer.
FLOOR LINERS: Plastic runner with grips for carpet and without grips for solid floors, shower curtains or shower curtain liners, wet waxed deli paper (DelWrap), or the lightweight bathroom wall panels (Marlite). WALL LINERS: To protect the walls, you can use the following: the lightweight bathroom wall panels (Marlite), heavy washable plastic, lucite, wet waxed deli paper (DelWrap), or a shower curtain or shower curtain liner.
HANDLING BIRDS: If you have a bird that is prone to biting when you pick it up, begin to pick it up from the rear of the bird's feet. They can't get to you so easily. This is a good way to teach a young bird to step up.
MIRRORS: *If you have a pet bird that resorts to screaming for attention, try attaching a mirror to the outside of the cage for him to see himself. The trick is to only use the mirror when he screams so he won't get bored with it. Also change positions of the mirror to keep him interested. This works with my macaw! - *submitted by Kelli Caution: Most mirrors are backed with lead. Be sure that they are inaccessible to the bird.
If you use the stainless steel bowls with the clamp-on ring, save your spare rings. I've found them to be the best deterrent for chronic bowl tippers. Just put another ring on top of the bowl. Tighten it down, then to remove the bowl, you just have to loosen one or two wingnuts, lift the upper ring up, remove bowl, then tighten back over bowl again when replaced. Works like a charm for the most persistent of birds.
Tips for the novice and experienced breeder:
BBQ BRASS BRUSHES, the long-handled ones, make great cage grill cleaners. They are abrasive and will also remove grill paint.
BBQ FORKS: make great cage scrapers and can reach into larger breeder sized cages. They also can be used to fend off attack birds. Please do not make contact with birds with the fork. It is meant only to keep a nasty beak at bay. Be especially careful not to get the tongs close to their face and eyes. Most birds stay far away from it, but the exception might fearlessly attack it.
CAGE, BROODER, NESTBOX BEDDING - NEVER use cedar or cedar shavings! The fumes can be toxic and cause irreparable damage, if not death, to your birds. The best alternative is plain large pine shavings or aspen. For nestboxes and brooders, oat flakes (like Quaker Oatmeal)or steamed rolled oats can also safely be used. Some breeders use cypress mulch and eucalyptus mulch, but care must be taken to ensure that there is no aspergillus fungus in any of it.
CUTTING CORN - Using a heavy knife to cut through thick fresh corncobs, place corn on cutting board, and hit with a rubber mallet. Credit goes to Andrea Wieboldt of Texas Llamas and Birds for this one.
LONG CAGES - After all these years I finally came up with a great nestbox cleaner and "beaver dam" cleaner that gets to the back of the cage to pull "stuff forward" - a metal kiddie hoe! $6.00 at Walmart.
REPAIR DAMAGED EGGS - You can safely use plain white Elmers Glue applied to a piece of tissue or better yet, Nuskin.
START HENS LAYING - If your new pairs are not laying eggs, try putting a fake egg of the size they would lay in their nestbox to stimulate them to brood and lay their own. You can find non-toxic non-breakable eggs at rock shows, flea markets, and some breeder supply companies. Some pairs take up to 5 years before producing, so don't be impatient.
Bird cage tips:
BBQ BRASS BRUSHES & FORKS, the long-handled ones, make great cage grill cleaners. The brushes are abrasive and will also remove grill paint.
CAGE DOOR HAZARDS - Be sure to secure those lift up cage doors before you leave your home. It was reported that a little parrotlet lost its life by lifting up the door, getting its head stuck under it and trying to struggle free. A plain easy to use dog clip will prevent this from happening. Watch the cage door spacing on some older cages. Birds will get a toe caught in between.
CAGE PAPERS - Some birds without grates or those able to get to the papers will tear up paper, especially hens trying to nest. If this gets unbearably messy, you can either add some clean deli paper to the top of the grate for them to chew or you can substitute plexiglass below the grate and just wipe it clean when needed (every 5 minutes?)
CLEANING GRATES - First power wash those grates unless they're brand new. Second, dry the grates thoroughly. Third, take wax paper and rub it on each of the spindles of the grate. The droppings just slip on down straight onto that new liner and won't stick to the grate.
WALL PROTECTION - Protect your walls behind the cage either by hanging a shower curtain (not within reach of the bird) or by placing or nailing a sheet of Marlite® or similar bathroom wall covering behind the cage.
ZINC POISONINGSome sources of zinc poisoning are a totally pelleted diet, homemade cages, some dog cages, older wrought iron cages, cage clips, c-clamps, toys that don't use stainless steel chain, and toothpaste tubes that roll up.
BLEACH is very caustic to cages and needs to be rinsed very well to protect the birds. There are other quarternary compounds (KennelSol) that are much safer if you feel the need for decontamination. Always wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from the chemicals. For general everyday cleaning, nothing beats plain white distilled vinegar.
Old toothbrushes come in handy for cleaning hard to get cage corners and food bowl connectors.
CAGE GRATES - First power wash those grates unless they're brand new. Second, dry the grates thoroughly. Third, take wax paper and rub it on each of the spindles of the grate. The droppings just slip on down straight onto that new liner and won't stick to the grate.
STEAM CLEANERS - While certain steam cleaners may have their virtues, you need to be aware of the fact that they usually need constant refills [except for industrial models that are heavier and harder to handle], that they can also strip paint from your walls and cages, that it can take a long time to soften poop that is hardened on the grates, that it doesn't clean the poop...just softens, that it can aerosolize fecal matter along with any other bacteria, viral particles and mold, and that the birds can be harmed from a squirt of steam should they get in the way.
VINEGAR - Plain white distilled vinegar diluted in water (approx. 10% vinegar) is the best for cleaning cages, bowls, toys, etc. You don't need to disinfect unless you have a sick bird.
Never clip nails or have them clipped by a groomer or vet if the nails aren't too long or sharp. Breeders should not clip their baby's nails unless they are very sharp after weaning. Once the nails are clipped, they will need to be clipped on a regular basis. The only other time that nails need clipping is when a bird has fatty liver disease. It might also have beak overgrowth in that case.
When towelling a bird to clip it's nails, be careful not to squeeze tight on the sides of the bird where the air sacs are. Also be sure that the towel is not covering the bird's mouth and nostrils. Never use human styptic to stop bleeding. It's toxic to birds. Use finger pressure, cornstarch, candle wax or bird styptic to stop a bleeding nail.
To try to break the nail clipping cycle, I recommend a concrete swing or perch. The swings are great because the birds have to cling harder to the perch to hang on. Just be sure to get the proper size which would be a thicker size than the normal wooden perch.
Owners: Try giving your bird a sprig of fresh millet spray. Some cockatoos relish it. In the wild, cockatoos are known to forage in different areas for different grains for a change of taste. African Greys relish it too.
In case you have to evacuate in a hurry, be sure to have enough carriers for your birds, bottled water, extra sets of food and water cups, towels, and a good bird net. A generator of any size is a must if you're handfeeding babies during a power outage. Always have gasoline on hand for your generator because gas station pumps will be out of power too. Another really handy item is a headlamp flashlight. It works great because you can feed your birds in the dark without holding onto a regular flashlight. Just be sure to keep enough batteries on hand. A small propane camping stove to heat baby food or boil water will also come in handy. Battery powered radios or crank-up short wave radios will help you stay informed of things while the power is out. If you own an RV, be sure to keep the gas tank full. A power inverter for your car can be wired up directly to your battery in case you need to transport babies in a brooder to another location. You can also run other small appliances with it. For more information on how to prepare for nature's fury, please click here.
BROKEN BLOOD FEATHERSIt is best to pull out the broken blood feather(s) if possible. If you cannot do that properly and are caught short with no Qwik-Stop, NEVER use human styptic. It is toxic! Use some cornstarch or melted candle wax to stop the bleeding. If you are able to restrain the bird and hold the wing while grabbing the feather near the skin, pull it quickly and firmly and then put pressure on the open follicle for several seconds to a minute so that it doesn't bleed. You may also have to have some wet papertowels on hand to clean up the blood to see which feather(s) is bleeding.
For a great article by Scott Lewis and Jean Pattison on capturing escaped birds. Click Here.
Tips on recovery:
Place bird's cage outside with food and water.
Put out as many flyers as you can in your neighborhood and distribute to local vets and local animal shelters. For outside fliers placed on poles, enclose flier in gallon ZipLoc baggie with zip side down. Place a flyer in the window of your car.
Recruit neighbors to be on the lookout for the bird and to pass the word on.
Call to your bird by its name, sing a familiar song that it likes, play a recording of its voice.
*If you have lost one of a pair of birds or other cagemates, try to put the cage with the other bird in it outdoors. Let the other bird call to it. Set up a trap with mosquito netting and a Hula Hoop over the cage. Attach a string from the Hula Hoop to the house that will release the net over the cage when the other bird goes into it. - *submitted by Susan Herbst
Tips on prevention:
Teach your bird a recall whistle. It may prove to be invaluable in the event that the bird ever escapes.
Use portable and cellular phones discreetly. Unless you're on a scrambled phone, your conversations may be heard on nearby scanners.
Empty all outside water containers so that the bird doesn't drown in one.
Use baby monitors from your aviary into your house.
Screen your calls about birds. Try to get a number to return the call.
Find out as much as you can about visitors to your aviary. If possible, get a license plate number from their vehicle (have someone get it while you are busy with the customer).
Be sure to get verifiable phone numbers and addresses of visitors to your aviary.
Do not ever mention to anyone what your security setup is.
Your guard dogs should all be housed outside with the exception of one. Some thefts have been purposely conducted during rainstorms when the dogs are inside.
Do not indicate to anyone the number of birds you have.
On your websites and social networking sites, do not list your address. You can give that information out later on by e-mail if you feel it's safe to. If you advertise very rare birds on your site, then don't even put a phone number in.
Ever wonder what to do with those beautiful feathers that you've collected? Buy a styrofoam circle and hang it in your aviary. Stick the feathers in it as you collect them. Adds a new spot of color to your aviary walls and can be fashioned in different shapes and designs.
If you have a bird that has flown into flypaper, the best way to get it off and to remove the gooey residue is to apply peanut butter to it. To prevent this from happening again, put your flypaper in a small empty cage or make a hardware cloth hanging enclosure for it.
FEEDING FRUIT and BEANS
DON'T FEED DRIED UNCOOKED BEANS - Doing so can be very dangerous, as several varieties of beans are acutely toxic when uncooked. Varieties known to be toxic include soy, black, red, yellow wax, and kidney beans. Cooking destroys the hemaglutin toxin. Most soybeans are GMO anyway. I avoid any soy products or products made with soy ingredients.
JUICY FRUITS - When feeding chopped or chunked juicy fruits such as oranges and pomegranates, mix some CheeriOs (not too many because they contain too much iron) in the bowl with it to absorb the healthy juices. The birds love the tasty oat rings. Treat the birds to a frosty summertime healthy topping of frozen blueberries. Don't let them poop on you for a day or you'll have blue stains on your clothing.
POMEGRANATES - Pomegranates are a very healthy fruit that most birds really love to eat. When in season and affordable, I feed them. To minimize the mess of cutting them up, I now wash them and cut IN the sink. This way, me and my kitchen don't look like Lizzie Borden afterwards!
SUMMERTIME REFRESHMENT - Plop a large ice cube in the bird's water bowl. They love to play with them and it will keep the water cool for a bit longer. Don't use ice shards or pieces that could cut them if they swallowed them right away. Their crops are very thin skinned.
Safe holiday tips:
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS WARNING: Check the box for a caution to wash your hands after handling lights. Evidently some lights have lead residue on them. Definitely keep the birds away from all lights. Thanks to Joyce Baum for this tip.
Keep flighted birds away from Christmas trees. If they ingest tinsel, it may harm their digestive system.
Flighted birds must be protected from frequent visitors who may leave a door open long enough for a bird to escape.
Sweet treats abound, so be sure to keep toxic chocolate out of reach from your birds.
Some scented candles may have neurotoxins in them. Best to use plain candles and not to have lit candles when birds are outside the cage.
Holiday Plants: like mistletoe, poinsettia, holly berries, etc. can be toxic to your birds.
Pine cones rolled in peanut butter make fun and nutritious holiday toys.
Stress: Be aware of signs of stress from high holiday activities - biting, plucking, irritability, screaming, etc. Some species are more prone to stress than others.
Food Gifts: Your company may bring you food in non-stick or other toxic wrapped containers. Be aware of the need to prepare or heat them in your own safe pans.
The following are some household hazards to beware:
WATERING CANS with water in them - or any container with liquid in it. If a bird gets loose, it can drown in the container.
CEILING FANS. Be certain to turn off all ceiling fans when the birds are out.
LEAD CURTAIN WEIGHTS.also found in fishing weights, some toys with weights, stained glass framing, solder, poorly galvanized wire, poorly dipped wrought iron, foils on champagne bottles, linoleum, old paint and grout, light bulb bases and in an odd assortment of decorations or ornaments. Signs of lead toxicity can include vomiting, depression, anorexia, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, seizures and other neurological signs. For any of these signs, see your veterinarian ASAP.
CEDAR OVEN PLANKS - The toxic fumes from using these in the oven can kill your bird as reported here: "A customer of ours had a tragic accident 2 weeks ago that took the lives of 2 of their pet birds - a Half Moon Conure and an Indian Ringneck. They were preparing dinner, making salmon and put it on a cedar board into the oven. Shortly after placing the board in the oven to bake, the one bird, who
was on the husbands shoulder, started to have respiratory problems and started to wobble and fell right off his shoulder. They had no idea what was happening. It was very sudden. They rushed the bird to the vet, but it died on the way there. Upon returning, they found the other bird dead in his cage. In doing some research, the husband found out that cedar is very toxic to birds. You also should not use cedar chips in a bird's cage on the bottom. This couple is devastated, to say the least.
WORKING FIREPLACES. Be sure to have a carbon monoxide monitor.
FIREPLACE LOGS - It is rumored that artificial "logs" that are chemically treated to burn and help clear the soot out of your chimney -- will kill birds. Maybe this is true if there is a problem with the flue in the fireplace. Packaged "logs" that are usually provided by motels with fireplaces are also supposed to be harmful. To be on the safe side, it's best to use natural wood. Remove colored comic sections before rolling newspapers into logs. The colored inks contain lead and can produce toxic gases.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS WARNING - Check the box for a caution to wash your hands after handling lights. Evidently some lights have lead residue on them. Definitely keep the birds away from all lights. Thanks to Joyce Baum for this tip.
ZINC POISONING - Some sources of zinc poisoning are a totally pelleted diet, homemade cages, some dog cages, older wrought iron cages, cage clips, c-clamps, toys that don't use stainless steel chain, and toothpaste tubes that roll up.
ZIPPER BEAK HAZARD - *Be careful when wearing zippered clothing around your bird. My bird grabbed a metal tooth from my sweatshirt, and got it stuck on his lower beak. I had to wrap him in a towel, and use a knife to pry it off. - *submitted by Shelley Rice
It's also expensive to replace broken zippers.
Be aware that parrots can separate an earring from its post very easily, not to mention the damage it can do to your earlobe. A macaw once flattened a ring that I was wearing and my husband had to take pliers to get it back in shape so I could remove it from my finger. Then I had to have it repaired. My Amazon removed a diamond stud from my niece's ear and the stud was never found. Besides the threat of ingestion by your bird, it can be expensive to replace or repair your jewelry. Always remove it before handling a bird.
Say Goodbye to:
FIRE ANTS - It has been said that the chemical aspartame (Nutrasweet™ Equal™ and other such branded products) can kill them. One packet kills the queen and the mound. A reference to the effects of this chemical is found at Sweet Poison. Another reference to a personal experiment is at My Aspartame Experiment.
FRUIT FLIES - #1: The natural way: Put leftover food from the bird's bowls in a zip lock plastic bag and leave the bag slightly open overnight. In the morning the bag is full of fruit flies. Zip up the bag and throw it away. It takes several days to capture all of them. #2: Yet another natural way: Put out a bowl of water and apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish detergent. This will attract them and they get stuck in the surface tension of the soapy water and drown! #3: Another method: Old fashioned fly strips do attract and catch them, and there is a pheromone trap that also seems to work. It is made by SureFire Products and is called the Fly Scoop which can be found in hardware stores. #4: The pesticide way: Camicide Formula 50 is safe around birds and is effective. However, even though it's a natural product, it is still a chemical pesticide. #5: If you drink wine, take an empty wine bottle and leave it out overnight. It will attract the flies. You can then cork it and toss it.
MICE B-GONE!- Some safe and effective mouse deterrents are as follows: the strange looking exotic fruit called "hedgehogs" or osage oranges. If you place these around the outside of your aviary or home and in the basement and pantries, you will not see another mouse. I'm off on a "hedgehog hunt". Another mouse deterrent is fresh mint leaves or peppermint oil. Place leaves, dried mint flakes or cotton balls saturated with peppermint oil near obvious rodent entryways. They apparently don't appreciate the smell. Creates a nice closet smell. Do not use Bounce™ dryer sheets since I've been informed that they contain dangerous neurotoxins.
REROUTE AND REMOVE ANTS - #1: Camicide Formula 50 is safe to use around birds and is very effective. #2: The ant canisters work well as the ants take the poisonous substance back to the colony, killing the origin of ants. Unless you can put them out of reach of the birds and other pets, don't use them. #3: Other suggestions from aviary warriors include sprinkling salt or yellow cornmeal in and around the perimeter of the building and in cracks and crevices. The salt eats away at the ant's armorplate and kills them. Be careful because salt can also erode cement and other surfaces too. #3: Ascorbic acid (eye wash thats used to clean a babies eyes when it' s born) is effective also, according to the exterminators. #4: Sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the perimeters of the house, birdroom or aviary is very effective. #5: Draw a chalk line around the perimeter where ants come in. They won't cross that line. NOTE: Stepping on and killing an ant will bring more, as they "check in and out", and if they don't return....searchers are sent out to locate that ant. Also, when squished they send out a chemical that warns other ants of danger and it needs help. That brings ants back to the scene.
ROACHES- Roaches must be dealt with ASAP because they are so prolific. If you can't afford an exterminator here are some safe ways to deal with them: BORIC ACID paste - Combine 3 teaspoons of boric acid with 3 teaspoons of sugar and 3 teaspoons of water. Mix the ingredients into a paste. They apply your homemade roach killer in areas where you’ve spotted roaches. When the roaches eat the paste, it leaves them dehydrated which will eventually cause them to die. They carry the paste back to the nest on their bodies and legs. The young eat it and also die. The paste should eliminate your roaches within 2 weeks. If it doesn’t, make more and reapply it. BAKING SODA paste. Again, make equal parts of baking soda, sugar and water and use the same as the boric acid paste. It is not as quick to kill as boric acid paste.
SEED MOTHS - Most seed that companies harvest now won't ship for a year. There are insect eggs on the seed when it's harvested. Nothing can be done about that unless you want toxic seed. Some companies use orange extract to repel the moths and larvae. I've found that the best repellent is BAY LEAVES! Take a knee high stocking, insert a paper towel or toilet paper cardboard in it, fill it with bay leaves, remove the cardboard roll, tie the stocking in a knot and place in your feed bins.
The moths start out as a tiny caterpillar that creates the webby lumps at the ceiling line in most bird rooms. They make that little cocoon then hatch out as a moth. The process takes from 30 to 45 days depending on the temperature and humidity. They do no harm but they are a nuisance. What works best to catch the moths is to set up a red night light near the ceiling and hang a fly paper next to the light. It catches them better than those traps, as the moths are attracted to the light. I would not leave the fly paper up all the time unless you are absolutely sure none of your birds can get out. It's a nightmare if a bird gets stuck on that paper. The fly paper can be enclosed in either a small cage for safety or in 1"x1" hardware cloth. I personally had a Quaker fly into one and break its wing trying to get off the gooey mess. I also had a large macaw whose tail hit it and got goo all over his tail. If that ever happens, peanut butter will quickly and easily remove the gluey goo.
A few different methods of prevention:
BEAR PROOF GARBAGE - Sunflower seed is like cocaine to a bear, so if you live in bear country, you need to take extra care with your garbage. The best advice is to keep your garbage inside your garage or an enclosed shed until just before garbage pickup. The only other thing that will deter them is mothballs. I take knee high pantihose, put a paper towel or toilet paper cardboard tube inside them, then pour mothballs into them, remove the tube, tie up the pantihose, and then tie a few inside the can and one outside. I haven't had any garbage messes since using this method. Also do not set bird feeders out or fill them during the spring and summer and until hibernation in November. Be sure to clean your barbeque grills after using them or the smell will attract the bear. Fruit trees and grapes will attract them. My neighbor had a drunken bear sleeping in her yard after eating fermented grapes from her vines. There are also bearproof garbage containers and enclosures available, but some are a bit pricey. There's a unique and effective one with a screw-on lid.
CATS- Birds should never be left unsupervised with any cat or even allowed to interact with a cat. Cats can carry the Pasteurella virus and Toxoplasmosis. Even a scratch or tongue lick from a cat can be fatal to a bird in which case the bird should immediately be seen by a vet.
DOGS- Birds should never be left unsupervised with any dog. Many cases that come to mind are a large dogs that wanted to play with a bird and in a flash unexpectedly pounce on it killing the bird. Dogs can also transmit regular worms and tapeworm to a bird.
FERRETS- Yes, according to veterinarian accounts, pet ferrets do frequently kill pet birds.
HAWKS, FALCONS, OWLS- A raptor will swoop down and grab a bird right off the perch or even your shoulder. Do not underestimate the agility and speed of these birds. If you see one circling, take your bird in the house immediately. I remember when the NY TImes reported the hawk attack on a chihuahua that fortunately was on a leash when it was abducted. The dog survived, but needed medical attention.
OPPOSSUMS- Care must be taken down South especially to keep oppossums away from birds because they carry a dangerous virus that is fatal to birds - sarcocystitis, or sarco for short.
RACCOONS- Never, ever leave birds unattended at night even in a large wrought iron cage. A family of raccoons will make short work of whatever is in that cage. Outdoor aviaries need to be elevated and double-wired or stainless steel meshed to prevent the same thing from happening.
Pomegranate stains will generally wash off non-porous surfaces easily and wash out of clothing okay, but what do you do if you get it on your carpet? There is an enzyme based product that will remove the stains called Wine Away.
STOP SCREAMING BIRDS
Don't fall for the gimmicks to stop a parrot from screaming. The latest is a strobe light that I don't approve of and can also eventually reinforce this bad behavior, most of which is not really "bad behavior" but either a plea for attention, an indication of some kind of pain or discomfort, a call for a mate, or a morning/evening ritualistic call. Squirting, strobes, screaming back and the like will only make the situation worse.
I've found that even a short burst of attention and petting can quiet a bird down. Another discovery I found is whispering. For some odd reason, birds love the "Psst, psst" sound and the whispering rather than talking to them. Of course, one of my Greys will whisper back to me sometimes in 50+ decibels.
Many strong substances should be looked into before using. It doesn't matter how well ventilated your bird's habitat is. An ounce of prevention will save your bird.
ALBUTEROL INHALERS: Use extreme caution to never use your inhaler near your bird. Never use a home nebulizer machine even in the same room as a bird. These respiratory drugs, such as albuterol, are reportedly deadly to birds.
ALUMINUM COOKING BAGS: The following is an account from a mailing list of another bad incident with a new product: "A lady in our bird club yesterday brought in a box of the new cooking bags made from aluminum and plastic made to go in the oven at up to 450..She used 2 at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. After 30 minutes she came back in to find her amazon pumping for air and its eyes burnt. A metallic smell filled the air. She knows this bird would have been dead in another 10 minutes or less. Other Amazons suffered eye irritations." Another current report of a bird that died while using these bags.
ALUMINUM FOIL - NON-STICK: This is also coated with silicone chemicals that may be unsafe for birds when heated. Better safe than sorry and having to use a little non-stick oil on the regular foil.
APPLIANCES: Apparently, manufacturers are coating parts of all types of appliances with deadly non-stick substances. Sometimes they include warnings of human respiratory ailments with the first use. New ceramic heaters also have this coating inside them and must be burned off outside first. I was warned by the seller of a new vacuum to use it outside first. Even after a couple of uses outside vacuuming the car with it, I can still smell the odor. Won't use it inside until it's gone.
SOME SCENTED CANDLES KILL! It has been reported that certain scented candles have caused the deaths of birds. Better to not use any and be safe rather than sorry. Many candles also contain lead wicks which emit poisonous fumes and also fragrances that contain neurotoxins.
NEW CARPET: emits formaldehyde fumes that could be fatal to birds. Will be waiting for more information from carpet companies and other bird owners on this. It takes years for new carpeting to outgas this toxin. It's been reported that Dupont's Stainmaster Carpet® has been fatal to small animals.
CARPET DEODORIZERS: From a grieving cockatiel owner: "My cockatiel died after I used a carpet deodorizer. The manufacturer of this well known brand product finally admitted it's not recommended for use around birds. They said they didn't need to put a warning on the product. I'm just broken hearted, and her mate is just lost without her"
CARS: Most NEW cars have all types of toxins in them from non-stick sprays on working parts to formaldehyde and stain-free substances in upholstery.
CHIMNEY CLEANING: Have it done properly by professionals who know that you have birds in case chemicals need to be applied during the process.
FIREPLACE LOGS: It is rumored that artificial "logs" that are chemically treated to burn and help clear the soot out of your chimney -- will kill birds. Maybe this is true if there is a problem with the flue in the fireplace. Packaged "logs" that are usually provided by motels with fireplaces are also supposed to be harmful. To be on the safe side, it's best to use natural wood. Remove colored comic sections before rolling newspapers into logs. The colored inks contain lead and can produce toxic gases.
FIREPLACES: If you use a fireplace for heat in the winter and have an airtight home, please be sure to place carbon monoxide alarms in your home. I personally know of a case where a cockatiel became ill and so did the owners of the newer airtight home because of carbon monoxide poisoning. They are fortunate to be alive.
LEATHER PROTECTANTS KILL: *Leather bag and shoe protectants are extremely toxic to birds and should not be used indoors in homes with birds. Even birds in adjacent rooms can be killed by the fumes. *submitted by Dorinne MacKinnon Best to spray the leather outside and let it air out.
SAFE OVEN CLEANING: Don't risk using that wonderful self-cleaning oven that does it all for you. Try making a baking soda and water paste and applying it to a cool oven. Heat for 30 minutes, let cool, then easily wipe clean! No dangerous fumes and it costs only pennies to clean with very little effort.
PERFUME: *Some perfumes, even some well known brands, contain neurotoxins in them.
PEWTER: *Pewter contains a high percentage of lead. Best to place pewter items out of reach of birds.
SELF-CLEANING OVENS: can be lethal. Birds have died when they're used even for regular baking.
SOFTENER DRYER SHEETS: may contain lethal neurotoxins. Replace with ¼ to ½ cup of white vinegar in the final rinse. Your clothes come out real soft and do not smell like vinegar at all.
SPRAY BOTTLES: Most of us use spray bottles to mist our birds or for spot cleaning. If you also use spray bottles in your bird room or aviary for pesticides or other cleaning solutions, be sure to label them appropriately. Accidents have happened where a helper has sprayed birds with a substance other than water. There are now new cordless power spray bottles for misting the birds.
STAIN RESISTANT SPRAYS
TOXIC FUMES: are produced from Teflon™ or Silverstone™ non-stick coatings that are applied to pots, pans, and new appliances such as cooktop ovens, self-cleaning ovens, hair dryers, toasters, etc. This coating must be burned off the new appliances before the birds are exposed to them. Care must be taken not to overheat pots, pans and utensils (even stirring boiling foods with a coated spoon).
NEW OIL BURNER FUMES: Outgassing of Teflon™ coatings can take 2 to 3 days to burn off from new oil burners, heating units including space heaters, and air conditioners. It pays to inquire with the manufacturer of almost any new product before installation.
TRUCK/AUTO EXHAUST FUMES: In the cold winter months, be aware of vehicles (especially trucks using diesel fuel) parked near your aviary running their motors if you have vents where the carbon monoxide can seep in. 4 wonderful birds died following a 30 minute warmup of a neighbor's truck as the attic fan pulled in the fumes from the exhaust.
DANGEROUS TOYS: *I have two friends with birds that have been caught in a parrot shaped pinata toy that has a sombrero sewn with thread. The birds chew the straw sombrero, the thread gets loose, the bird gets trapped. - *submitted by Terri
Any rope, fabric or fiber toy that can fray. Be sure to keep them trimmed so that the bird's nails don't get hung up or twisted around in them. I've been hearing more and more stories about the sleep huts and birds getting caught in the fibers that they tend to chew. If your bird is a shredder of fabric, avoid using these. You can make safe sleep boxes out of wood if you're handy. This is one example geared to conure sized birds.
Chain: If you're making your own toys, never hang them from a doubled up chain where the bird might get its head caught inside the chain as it spins around. Use single strand chain only.
It has just come to my attention that a Hagen toy, "Arcylic Orbit" has caused the death of an African Grey after it ingested the lead bell clacker.
Pine wood shims found at the hardware or lumber store make good foot held chew toys for birds and are inexpensive. I will caution you to be sure they are made in the USA to avoid formaldehyde in them. I also throw away any that appear to have mold on them or if they smell. The best source for a bulk order of 13 boxes of nice clean shims is Nelson Shims Direct. For smaller quantities, you can order by the box from Braxton Bragg. If you have a large aviary, invest in a miter saw and cut up clean pine 2x4s for the birds. They would rather have these foot toys than expensive hanging toys and they also make good nestbox bedding material.
BAGELS: Use dried bagels either as a foot toy or a strung toy. Mini bagels dried would be good for smaller birds. Please remember never to string any toy with a double strand of chain, rope or string, as the bird might get entangled or strangle itself when it twists around. Bagel holes should be much smaller than the bird's head.
BOTTLES: Take a plastic soda bottle or juice bottle with the plastic (only) cap and put some special bird treats inside. Watch the bird play with it trying to get them out.
BOXES: Most birds love to shred corrugated boxes. You can punch holes in smaller boxes, fill with treats and hang with safe rope in their cage.
CARDBOARD BOXES: Birds love to hide in them and also chew them up.
EGG CARTONS: Take half an egg carton (or a 6-egg carton) and either give to birds just to chew up or add some treats for them to forage for (food, shredded paper, etc.). Be sure that egg carton is clean and didn't hold any broken eggs!
LIDS: *We make toys out of sterilized lids (pop, detergent, etc.). We poke a hole in the center and put them on a non-coated hanger. My cockatoo takes at least a month to totally destroy it, then she moves on to her perches! - *submitted by Becki Ryan
LOGS: Hollow logs of safe pesticide free wood make good sleep huts.
MEASURING CUPS - METAL or HARD PLASTIC : Metal (preferably stainless) is best for its noise making effects. Cups can usually be hung through the ring hole in the top. Never double hang chain because a bird can get its head in the loop then twist around. Only use single chain or rope. The cups can be separated and used for treat cups or just placed in the cage for banging around. I found a great set of brightly colored heavy plastic measuring cups by Farberware.
PAPER PLATES & CUPS: Plain white paper plates to rip up and cups can be used either as a foot toy or filled with treats and hung from cage.
PAPER ROLLS: Put a roll of paper adding machine tape on a chain and clip it by both ends on to the cage. Birds love to shred paper. Paper towel rolls cut in half are fun for them, but I do believe that there is some glue that they're made with. Toilet paper rolls are dangerous because of the aerosols they're exposed to from each toilet flush.
PHONE BOOKS: Drill a hole in the top of the phone book and skewer it or chain it to the side of the cage for shredding. If phone books are too large, use paperback books.
ROCKS: River rocks used for aquariums or plain rocks found outside that are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected can be placed in a bowl for fun. Different shapes and sizes are best, but do not give sizes that are small enough for a bird to ingest.
SOCKS: Sock it to them with a new white sock. Just check periodically that there aren't any loose threads hanging by which they can catch a claw or ingest.
T-SHIRTS: Make hanging rag toys from your old t-shirts. You can let the strands hang singly or braid them. The birds love them. They also carry your scent for their familiarity. (That may be good or bad. LOL)
WHIFFLE BALLS: Small golf practice balls make fun foot toys for the bird to roll around in its cage. You can also hang with safe rope and stick veggie treats in the holes.
WOOD: Wooden popsicle sticks plain and in color can be purchased in craft shops. Wooden honey dippers, old-fashioned clothespins without metal, spools, wheels, discs, scoops, dowels, pine chunks (ask for free pieces at your lumber yard that are ends from cuts), alphabet blocks, pegs, clean pine shims, and wooden kitchen utensils all make interesting chew toys.
YOGURT CUPS: The hard plastic yogurt cups make good toys for birds to bat around the cage or to place other safe toys inside of.
First of all, I am not a big fan of using water bottles, but if you need to, here are some tips:
Be sure that your bird knows how to drink from a bottle before removing the water bowl.
Water nozzles can get clogged with seed and other matter. Constantly check to be sure that the water level is going down.
Bottles are not necessarily cleaner than water bowls. They can even be more work since they should be rinsed out daily and brush cleaned. Vinegar is best for cleaning unless you are using well water and in a hot climate where pseudomonas and other organisms grow rapidly in sitting water. Then A 10% solution of bleach in a spray bottle makes it easy to get inside both the bottles and caps for sanitizing with a thorough rinse.
I just heard a horror story about a water bottle. Someone gave me an emergency call about their cockatiel who did not look right. After checking the water bottle that she had filled more than 3 days ago, she noticed none missing. It was still full. The ball got stuck or clogged and the bird could not drink for at least 3 days!! Please, if you use these things (that I don't approve of), CHECK them! Even with water bottles, the water needs to be
changed everyday or you risk pseudomonas or other bacterium. Bottles also don't provide the bird with the option of bathing if it wants to bathe unless you mist the bird frequently or provide a separate bathing container. By the way, the cockatiel is miraculously okay! Close call though. - Submitted by a visitor.
*I found out quite by accident that some of the plastic water bottles will fit perfectly on my guinea pig water bottle caps. I had an extra that was just sitting around and I wanted to use it - tried it and a perfect fit. No sanitizing bottles - a little expensive though. However, in an emergency it might work better to have a case of the individual bottles hanging around. - *submitted
by Dorinne MacKinnon
TRAGIC WATER BOTTLE STORY: A bird breeder received a pair of sulphur crested cockatoos (among several other pairs) from a broker. This breeder put the birds in flights with water bottles only. The bottle clogged up in this flight, birds didn't drink for 4 days, dehydrated and died! Need I say more?
ZINC POISONING SOURCES
Some sources of zinc poisoning are a totally pelleted diet, homemade cages, some dog cages, older wrought iron cages, cage clips, c-clamps, toys that don't use stainless steel chain, and toothpaste tubes that roll up.
The lying and stealing Ant-Shrike bird of Peru sounds a call to alert the flock of predatory hawks. Many times, the alert is a false alarm so that the bird can distract the rest of the flock while he eats the choice morsels they've found. For a more detailed account of this wonder of nature and other amazing creations, go to the www.creationmoments.com archives.