Parrots and pet birds in general are from hot, humid tropical climates with minimal variation in temperature and light throughout the year. Their body is adapted to humid, tropical temperatures and lighting. Imagine the jolt to their system, whether hatched in captivity or in the wild, when they must tolerate dry climates and sometimes bone-chilling temperatures.
Your parrot will need special care during the winter months if it is to thrive.
Most of us crank up the heat in the winter, drying out the air even more, and subsequently your bird’s nasal passages and sinuses dry out or become clogged. Dry air doesn’t allow sinuses to produce enough mucus or the mucus becomes too thick to drain. Then germs set in. Your parrot is more prone to respiratory infections during dry winter months, especially if it is already stressed out. Dry skin also becomes irritated and itchy. Some parrots resort to feather plucking in an attempt to relieve the itching.
Adding moisture to the air will go a long way to relieve dry nasal passages and skin. Use a quality humidifier and clean it according to the manufacturer’s directions at least weekly. The draw-back of humidifiers is when people don’t keep them clean. You may feel “slime” on the interior components. This is actually fungus and bacteria build up. The last thing you want to do is increase your bird’s chances of developing a respiratory infection by filling the air with bacteria and mold spores. Another way to moisturize the skin and nasal passages is to shower your bird, even in the winter months. Take your bird in the shower with you and rinse it off several times a week. The humidity in the shower will moisturize nasal passages.
In addition to itchy skin, birds are more susceptible to chilling and drafts in the winter. A bird’s body is adapted to thrive in 70-85 temperatures. Most of us don’t want to keep our homes that protect from drafts and chills. Did you know that a parrot’s average body temperature is around 104. While a birds comfort range is between 65- 85, keep your home in a cooler range to minimize drying out the air. Offer your bird a snuggly or a Snuggle up Bird Warmer so that it can warm up without having to heat the whole house.
Your bird’s highly efficient respiratory system makes it even more susceptible to household fumes and toxins. Household fumes tend to become more concentrated in the winter months when we have our houses shut up. You’ll want to be very careful to keep your bird in another room when using cleaning chemicals. Don’t boil water on the stove top as a method for adding humidity to the air. And, make sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed to monitor air quality.
You’ll want to make sure that your bird gets enough full spectrum light each day, too. Tropical climates, where our birds are from, have around 12 hours of daylight year round. But, the farther north you live, the shorter the day length is. Plan on supplementing your daylight hours with a bird safe light like the Featherbrite Universal Bird Light. Put the light on a timer to provide consistency.