Hi! I'm Tony! I'm your Household Safety Expert Bird! You know, there are lots of hazards in the home that we need to be careful to avoid, and we need to be teaching our humans how to make the home in which we share with them as safe as possible. So let's see what kind of trouble we can get in -- err -- get away from!
Now, not all of our human owners agree on whether or not we should have our wings clipped or not, but we are not going to argue that point here at birdsafe.com. We would merely point out that each has its advantages and disadvantages, and that a home should be designed and maintained with bird safety in mind. There are many hazards associated with allowing birds to have full flight in a home. With that in mind, here are some tips on making a home, or area of a home, safe for flighted birds. Home safety for birds is as important as home safety for children!
Flight Safety Stories (click to open):
With a companion bird, it is better to be fanatical with cleanliness rather than to rely on disinfectants to prevent disease transmission in a dirty, contaminated environment. Good hygiene involves the frequent cleaning of a bird's enclosure and is far more important in the prevention of disease than the sue of disinfectants. Organic debris (food, excrement, feathers) must be physically removed before a disinfectant will be effective. Water and food containers should be physically scrubbed or placed in the dishwasher on a daily basis to prevent the accumulation of slime and algae.
"Avian Medicine: Principles and Application," Ritchie, Harrison, and Harrison, Wingers Publishing, Inc., 1994
Household Hazards can also include hazards outside the house. Of course birds can escape and fly off, whether flighted or not at times and must be constantly monitored, there are also hazards that pose serious threats to birds. Wild bird bacteria is a big one. This story relates that hazard.
There is a myth about steam cleaners sold today (Vaporetto, Delongi, etc.) that they "sterilize" and "kill germs and bacteria," when in fact they do not quite live up to what they say. There is some evidence that steam cleaners will kill E.coli and Salmonella, but the companies' evidence from this is strictly from "temperature" data and they cannot support their claims with any specific device-related testing. Assuming that their claims are true that the units kill these bacteria in as little as 1 second, just imagine how long it would take to cover an entire cage making sure that the nozzle of the unit is close enough to each square centimeter of area that you are hitting it with the proper temperature. Also, there is no evidence at all that steam cleaners will kill what we should really be concerned about with birds, Polyoma, Giardia, Beak and Feather, Avian TB, etc.
Birdsafe's opinion on steam cleaners is that while they may be great cleaning devices, if you have or suspect a problem with a virus, bacteria, etc., you should use a bleach solution, or some other disinfectant (see Disinfectants above) to disinfect your cage in those situations.
Lead is extremely toxic to birds. It can be found in the following:
"The Bird Care Book" by Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld, V.M.D. "The Parrot in Health and Illness" by Bonnie Munro Doane "The Complete Bird Owner's Handbook" by Gary A. Gallerstein, D.V.M. "Avian Medicine: Principles and Application" by Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison
Candles and birds do not mix! From my experience as a firefighter, I cannot stress enough the dangers of candles. Do not use them as an emergency light source in power outages, use flashlights and lanterns. Scented candles are toxic to birds (as are air fresheners of all kinds -- and Febreze fits in this category and should be avoided with birds in room). Many other candles contain lead coated wicks and are extremely hazardous to birds.
Carbon monoxide is the "silent killer." It is an odorless, tasteless gas given off by fuel-fired appliances. It kills by displacing oxygen in the lungs. Since birds breathe so many times faster than we do -- up to 45 times a minute, and the fact that their lungs allow them to take in oxygen, or lack of oxygen, on both inhale and exhale, it is vitally important that they not be exposed to carbon monoxide.
The number one preventative action you can take is to have your fuel-fired appliances checked regularly for proper flame adjustment. This includes your furnace, hot water heater, gas dryer, gas stove/oven, gas fireplace. Any fuel-fired heaters, such as kerosene heaters, or propane heaters (Mr. Heater and the like), SHOULD NOT BE USED in a home with birds. There are many safe electric substitutes on the market should be used in stead.
Secondly, install carbon monoxide detectors in you home, one in each room with a fuel-fired appliance. Purchase and install detectors that have a digital readout starting from ZERO. This is important. While most carbon monoxide detectors won't sound an alarm until it reads around 30 parts per million of carbon monoxide in the air, this might be too late for your birds. By knowing constantly what the level is in your home you might save your birds' lives. A house will generally normally have 2 to 3 parts per million. This is due to the normal combustion of pilot lights and just general introduction of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. If you notice the reading starting to climb at any time, say if it nears 10 parts per million, you should start opening the house up and airing it out to see if that lowers the reading. Remember, there are atmospheric conditions, particularly if you live near high traffic areas, where the CO level may be higher OUTSIDE your home, so carefully watch the reading as you open the windows. If the readings go down after opening the windows, close up the house again and see if the reading rises again. If it does contact your local gas company or local fire department as a NON-EMERGENCY, and state that you may have a carbon monoxide problem. They will be able to help you determine the source.
Put simply, no-stick coatings containing PTFEs , should NOT be used in a home with birds. While it is true that they only produce harmful gasses when overheated, the fact that there is very little if any degree of error if they are overheated, we as humans make too many mistakes when cooking. Please do not use these products in a home with a bird under any circumstances, no matter how far removed from the cooking area the birds are.
Similarly, self-cleaning ovens omit toxic fumes when cleaning, and this has been shown to be the case through the life of the oven, NOT JUST WHEN NEW. These ovens are dangerous to use around birds. Let's get down on our knees and use a little elbow grease and clean our ovens by hand with a little nontoxic cleaner and scrubber sponges!!
There is some useful information provided
by DuPont concerning making your home safe for your bird at:
The following items have been known to contain PTFEs
Birdsafe Story Bird: Moose
Birdsafe Story Bird: Wilma
We must be careful at times when we have more than one bird out of their cages at a time. We must know our birds, but more importantly we must know our own limitations on being able to watch them and react quickly. Zorro's story illustrates this, but also illustrates a good outcome can come from quick medical attention.
Birdsafe Story Bird: Zorro
When our birds are outside of their cages, they can find all kinds of trouble in our homes. Please make sure that you: A) Bird proof the rooms as much as possible; and B) Know where your birds are when they are out. Birds are highly intelligent, and that intelligence lets them find trouble in the strangest ways: