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Holidays, Parrots and Stress

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parrots and stressWell, we’re on the countdown to the holiday hustle bustle.  It’s that fun time of year for us but not so much for our birds.  If you're a parrot lover, than you know about holidays, parrots and stress. With the intelligence of 5 year old but the emotional intelligence of a 2 year old, your parrot is bound to respond to changes in routine and absorb the stress levels of the holiday season. 

Most birds thrive on predictable routines in terms of who’s in the home, waking up and going to bed, feeding time and cuddle time.  Birds may feel vulnerable and stressed out with all of the changes in routine, strangers in the house and even the sights and scents of the season.  Let's talk about how to minimize the holiday related stress your bird may experience.

A Birds Eye View of stress

  • New Strange Stuff: As you’re dragging out boxes and bins full of holiday gear, imagine how your bird may react to all the “strange stuff.”  From a huge tree with blinking lights to wall hangings, colorful red and green throws, candles and more. It’s enough to make any bird feel a little “flighty.” All of this strange stuff makes your parrot’s world seem unpredictable and may put your bird on sensory overload.
  • Respiratory Distress: Between all of the cleaning solutions, fumes from cooking and seasonal fragrances, your bird’s respiratory system may get quite irritated.  You see, birds have a highly efficient respiratory system which is extremely sensitive anything other than fresh, clean air.  Add dry nasal passages from low humidity and your bird is very susceptible to a respiratory illness.  Plan on adding some humidity back into the air and keep your bird away from holiday fragrances.  Carefully monitor cooking, oven cleaning and household cleaning solutions, and other fragrances. Teflon® in particular is deadly to birds.  Evacuate your bird if you plan to clean the oven.
  • Adequate Sleep: Birds require a good 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleepin a dark room.  But, how do you insure that your own holiday festivities and house guests don’t make for a tired, angry bird?  You may want to invest in a sleeping cage during this time of year.  House guests, LED lighting, music and even the scents of the season could easily disrupt sleep. A sleepy, nervous bird is apt to develop behavior problems, so invest in a sleeping cage and put it in a darkened quiet area away from the hustle and bustle.
  • Routine: Try to keep your normal cuddle or family time routines as much as possible so that your bird gets the loving it needs.  Even though it may be difficult, keeping predictable routines intact is important for your bird’s mental health. Remember, birds are flock animals and you are their flock and sense of comfort.

Parrots and Stress Symptoms

While a stressed bird may have a variety of symptoms, watch for mood changes, repetitive behaviors and general signs of lethargy.  Consult your avian veterinarian if you become concerned about your birds well-being.

  • Biting
  • Screaming
  • Feather picking
  • Appetite changes
  • Fluffed up and lack of energy

Parrot stress busters

Your bird needs as much predictability as possible during this time of year when you are stressed out and your home is so busy.

  • Maintain your bird’s diet, sleep and bonding routines.  Do not attempt to change your birds diet until after the New Year when thing settle down.
  • Make sure to add bird vitamins and plenty of leafy green, orange and red vegetables to keep vitamin A, calcium and trace mineral levels at adequate levels to boost the immune system.
  • Keep your bird groomed including aiming for daily showers.  Moist nasal passages are designed to capture airborne bacteria and fungus.  Your tropical bird will suffer nasal dryness in most winter conditions.
  • Many birds alleviate stress with chewing and foraging toys.  Birds have an innate need to forage and chew.  Now is the time to provide toys to satisfy these stress busting needs.
  • Consider a cage cover or a sleep cage.  Your bird needs 11-12 hrs. of uninterrupted sleep in a dark, quiet location.  Even LED lights on trees and decorations cause havoc with sleep
  • Unless your bird is well socialized to new people, consider limiting interactions with guests. Again, a cage cover can shield your bird from its stranger danger frights.
  • Consider natural avian calming supplements such as Avicalm or chamomile to calm the nerves
  • Learn about avian first aid.  A frightened pet bird may injure itself in the cage or even when it gets the flight frights.  Double check that your bird first aid kit is well stocked and ready for any emergency that may happen.  Keep your avian vets number available and handy.

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