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Birds and Holidays: Seasonal Safety Tips

December 01, 2023

Happy holidays! The yearly flurry of seasonal events and activities is now in full swing. Dogs and cats are often featured prominently on charming holiday cards and advertisements. We can’t forget our feathered friends, though!  Birds also make their appearances on many holiday decorations. If you happen to have feathered companions, it’s important to give them some extra TLC during this busy time. Just like other animals, birds can face certain hazards over the holidays. To help keep your avian friend safe, a Seminole, FL veterinarian shares some helpful tips for seasonal bird care in this article.


Can I Leave My Pet Bird Home Alone?


People with cats have the upper hand on this one. You may be okay leaving Fluffy alone for a few days as long as someone comes and checks on her. Our feathered friends, however, require more daily attention than that. Polly needs to be given some time out of her cage every day. This is crucial to both her mental and physical health. Boarding or finding a pet sitter to stay at your home would be ideal.


Are Christmas Trees Safe For Birds?


Christmas trees can actually be quite dangerous to Polly. For one thing, fir trees usually have sharp needles. These can cause puncture wounds or splinters, both of which can cause infection. Also, many of the trees that are sold as Christmas trees are treated with chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides, fire retardants, and dyes. None of these are safe for your little buddy, either.


The decorations are another risk. Those pretty ornaments may well attract Polly’s attention. Unfortunately, many are sharp or delicate. Be mindful of objects like tinsel, lights, garlands, popcorn strands, and ribbons: these could pose a serious hazard, and are both choking and entanglement risks.


What Other Holiday Hazards Should I Be Concerned With?


We’ll skip over the tree, since we discussed it already. Bird owners should be aware of many other dangers. Plants are another thing to be concerned about. Many seasonal plants, such as holly, ivy, and mistletoe, are toxic to birds. You’ll need to be careful when hanging fake plants, as they can tangle up your pet. Candles are also unsafe, as are stringy and ropy items, like tinsel and ribbon. 


What Holiday Foods Are Unsafe For Birds?


Many of our favorite dishes and items are poisonous to birds! Don’t let Polly eat avocado, caffeine, chocolate, fruit pits, garlic, or onions. Salt, sugar, and fat are also dangerous to birds, as are meat, dairy products, and junk food. If you’re hosting guests, be sure to ask them not to feed your bird without asking. For more information, consult your Seminole, FL veterinarian.


Toxic fumes for birds?


Our feathered companions have extremely sensitive respiratory systems, which is why it’s crucial to ensure that Polly stays in areas with good air quality. This is especially important during the holiday season. Items such as scented candles, potpourri, wax burners, and room sprays should never be used near your winged pal. Additionally, cooking fumes can also pose a significant danger. Non-stick pots and pans, such as those made of Teflon, emit vapors that are harmless to us but toxic to birds. Furthermore, the dry air from furnaces can also irritate Polly’s lungs. That may not seem like much of a problem in Florida, but the fact that we rarely use furnaces actually makes it more of a concern, as there could be a lot of dust in those ducts. Consider investing in an air filter and/or a dehumidifier. For more detailed information, don’t hesitate to consult your Seminole, FL veterinarian.


What Is The Best Way To Protect My Bird From Holiday Stress?


Birds can get quite agitated and frightened by things like commotion, visitors, and changes to their environment. Holiday parties count for all three. If you’re having company, keep Polly in her cage. Give her plenty of free time before your event starts, so she won’t feel cooped up. You may also want to consider putting your winged buddy in a quiet back room, especially if you’re entertaining a lot of guests and/or your company stays over. Watch for signs of stress, such as erratic behavior, feather pulling, and strange vocalizations. You might also want to give her some new toys to play with. 


Is There Anything Specific I Should Get My Bird For Christmas?


It’s probably safe to say that Polly wants more than a cracker! Fill your feathered friend’s stocking with toys, treats, and perches. You can also recycle some smaller empty boxes, and turn them into foraging boxes. Make sure there are no strings, tape pieces, or sharp edges, and fill them with crumpled paper and small treats. Just make sure you choose safe items. Don’t give your pet anything with small parts or sharp edges, or anything made or coated in toxic materials.


How Does The Christmas Bird Count Work?


This season is a perfect time for supporting valuable causes and organizations. Bird lovers may already be acquainted with the Audubon Society, a conservation group dedicated to safeguarding wild birds and bringing attention to the challenges they face. Every year, the society organizes the annual Christmas Bird Count, which takes place from December 14th to January 5th. 


The event involves counting as many birds as you see and/or hear in a designated area or circle. Each circle is about 15 kilometers wide. Circles are only counted once, on a specific day. The event takes place over a few weeks, but that simply allows time for all the circles in various locations to make their counts. The goal of this activity is to provide data and information about wild bird populations, which will then assist researchers and conservation groups. Participation is free, but you must provide your own transportation and any necessary gear. More information can be found here.


Is It True That Partridges Live In Pear Trees?


It’s impossible to write a holiday bird blog without mentioning the classic Christmas carol, which may very well be the only song that mentions swans, geese, colly birds, French hens, and turtle doves. All of these birds have some unique qualities. Take swans for example – their tendency to mate for life and swim alongside their partners is quite fascinating. Ever wonder what a colly bird is? Most likely, the term refers to blackbirds, since “colly” means “black, like coal”. (If you thought  the song was actually saying “calling birds,” you’re not alone.) Then, there are turtle doves, sweet, gentle birds who, despite their name, have no connection to turtles whatsoever. And lastly, there’s the plump partridge. There are more than 92 types of partridges. None actually reside in pear trees, but that only makes the song more fun.


The holiday season can be a wonderful chance to spend time with your pet bird, and perhaps spoil her a bit. Just make sure to avoid common hazards, such as those listed above, and try to reduce any stress or disruption that may agitate or distress your feathered buddy. 

Here at Dr. Kathy’s Veterinary Care, Inc, your Seminole, FL animal clinic, we wish you a wonderful holiday season. Feel free to contact us anytime.

Posted in Exotic Pet Care