Do you own a bird? If you do, you may not be aware that there could be hazards lurking in your home that could harm your favorite avian friend. Consider these top 10 household dangers for pet birds:
Birds’ respiratory tracts are much more sensitive than mammals’ to airborne toxins. Teflon or any other nonstick coatings on pots, pans and kitchen appliances (such as stoves and toaster ovens) can be a cause of death in pet birds. When these coatings are heated to very high temperatures (particularly if burned), they release microscopic vapors that birds breathe in, causing fluid to collect in their lungs. Birds can die almost instantly. Other aerosols, such as cooking fumes, spray cleaners and perfumes, can irritate their respiratory passages and should always be avoided around birds. Candles also should be avoided, as some have petroleum in their wax or lead in their wicks. These toxic substances can be aerosolized and inhaled by birds.
Q. My bird’s wings are not clipped, but she’d rather be on the floor with the dog and cat than up on a table, or window rod, or anyplace high. Why does she do this?
A. It’s really hard to say definitively why your bird prefers to be on the floor. She may just be feeling social — as you noted, the dog and cat are down there. Perhaps that makes it more exciting to be near them than to be up high.
The other possibility is that your bird isn’t that comfortable with flying. Flying is a learned behavior in birds, and if your bird was raised away from other birds and really didn’t have the opportunity to observe other birds fly, it’s possible that she is just more comfortable walking around than flying.
No need to worry, though; birds who don’t fly can be happy living in a household as long as they are kept busy and provided with adequate stimulation. Make sure she has ample time out of her cage with you, as well as plenty of toys to chew on and a good variety of foods to eat.
Q: My bird will lean her tail feathers against me and flap her wings. While she’s doing this, she makes clucking noises. What’s going on?
A: What you’re describing sounds like bird reproductive behavior. Reproductively active birds (both males and females) will demonstrate their desire to breed by performing a variety of activities (including clucking and flapping) designed to attract a mate, often while simultaneously masturbating on a perch, a toy or even an owner’s hand.
When birds are raised singly in captivity without other birds around, they commonly bond to their human caretakers and may attempt to mate with them in the same way they would with another bird. This can sometimes be very frustrating to birds when they are not able to mate and may lead to self-destructive behaviors such as feather picking and skin chewing.
If these signs occur, ask a bird-savvy veterinarian about how to best help the animal, as these behaviors can be signs of underlying conditions other than sexual frustration. If your bird does become sexually frustrated, she may just need other activities to keep her distracted. However, if sexual frustration leads to severe self-mutilatory behavior, your bird may require hormone shots or implants to lessen the behavior.