Holiday Dangers & Pet Birds

by Monica Gonzalez published: 11/30/02


Proper care and safeguarding from harm is the truest form of being a responsible pet bird owner.  Each year we sadly hear of how pet birds have become injured and/or deathly ill.


The excitement of the holiday to come is a busy time. Lots of planning, shopping, cooking and happy gatherings. Unknowingly, we get caught up in the festivities and forget about our feathered friends. Knowing they are instinctively inquisitive, there are many dangers awaiting their curiosity.


This article serves as a guide to bring safety awareness to pet bird owners.



The winter holidays bring lots of high activity and visitors in our homes. This can be stressful for your avian companion who may not be accustomed to this behavior. Please be considerate of them and try to keep your pet bird on his or her regular routine for feeding and playtime. Ensure they get plenty of love and quiet rest. It is important to be conscientious of their well being and look for signs of stress. Stress can lead to abnormal behavior (screaming, biting, plucking, etc.) and/or illness. If you feel your pet bird is uncomfortable, please provide them with an area where they can rest and feel safe.


Decorating the Home

Decorations are only up once a year. Your pet bird will be inspired and assume the decorations are new toys for him or her to play with.

·  Please ensure all electrical cords are concealed.

·  Review package warnings with regards to holiday indoor lights to ensure there is no Teflon coating on them.

·  Hang ornaments out of your pet bird’s reach.

·  Tinsel, if eaten, poses as a potential problem with respect to intestinal obstruction. As an alternative, consider a natural garland made of cranberries or popped corn.

·  Some gift wrappings contain toxic substances. If you have a special gift for your feathered family member, please use plain, uncolored paper to wrap it in.

·  Please avoid the temptation to tie ribbons or bows on your pet bird. We all know how curious beaks can lead to potential issues such as strangulation, or if eaten an intestinal blockage can occur. The colors and textures are an added attraction for parrots and it is best to keep gifts out of a “beaks” reach.


Please make your home as bird safe as possible!




Please keep in mind candles, potpourri, incense, room fresheners, carpet fresheners all have fragrances. These items are extremely toxic to birds. A good rule of thumb: Chemicals that ordinarily irritate humans may pose as a toxic substance to pet birds. A natural alternative would be to use a covered pot with plain water along with either fresh mint leaves or cinnamon sticks, and slices of apple over a low heat on your stove.

Also note: Imported candles may contain lead in the wicks and should be avoided altogether.


Holiday Traveling

Planning to take your pet bird along for the holidays? Be sure they are welcome when visiting friends and/or family. Perhaps finding a reputable pet sitter would be optimal for your pet bird. Check with your avian veterinarian or local bird clubs for  recommendations. Trust your instincts; your pet bird depends on it.



Pet birds have a very sensitive respiratory tract and are vulnerable to toxic particles in the air.  Be cautious when cooking. If food burns and smoke is present birds could be at risk. Be cautious of new cookware and remove your pet bird from the cooking area. Do not use any Teflon/non-stick cookware. Non-stick coated products release toxins in the air which are lethal to pet birds.  If your bird has been exposed to smoke or fumes get them in an area of good ventilation and seek immediate veterinary care.

Please avoid candy out in the open. Chocolate is often fatal to animals, especially parrots.  The foil wraps on candies can cause internal injuries if swallowed.  The foil can act like a razor if swallowed and ingested. Keep all candies and their wrappers in a secure place for the protection of your feathered companion.

AVOIDAlcoholic beverages, Pits or seeds from Apples, Cherries, Peaches, Avocado, Chocolate, Dairy products. Birds cannot digest dairy products. Raw onion, uncooked meat, poultry, fish, undercooked eggs. Caffeinated products: Coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and cocoa. Any type of sweets (cake, candy, glazed goods, etc). An overdose of sugars can be toxic. Death can be caused by a build-up of toxins already in the system. Avoid foods with high sodium levels (crackers, potato chips, pretzels, etc.). Salty foods have been known to cause seizures in some pet birds.


Toxic Holiday Plants

Please be cautious of holiday plants that pose as a threat to your pet bird. Specifically naming a few: Holly, Poinsettias, Philodendron and Mistletoe are toxic, if eaten. Please research all plants’ toxicity levels prior to purchase.

The holiday season is an exciting time for us all. Play it safe and take a few simple precautions to protect our beloved feathered friends. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!





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