Parrot winter care is so important. Our pet birds are from subtropical climates, generally close to the equator where they’ve adapted to very temperate climates and consistent photoperiods.
The farther away from the equator a parrot gets, the more prone they are to suffering the stressful effects of winter.
Sure, some parrots have adapted, like Brooklyn's flock of wild Quaker Parrots, but our captive parrots simply aren't wired to tackle winter or varied light periods of day and night.
Parrots are prone to getting chilled and sick in the winter. Their skin gets dry and itchy, their nasal cavities can become clogged, and their sleep is disrupted. All of these conditions stress a bird out leading to illness and stress related feather plucking.
According to Dr. Greg Burkett, the temperature "comfort range" for most parrots is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, however, they can withstand a little colder or a little warmer, especially if the temperature change is gradual. That doesn't mean that more extreme temperatures are desirable, though.
Anything that strays from how a parrot's body has adapted from their wild counterparts causes a parrot considerable stress. That said, a plump bird has a little more latitude with cold temperatures than a thin bird and if the room your bird is housed in has moisture in the air, your bird may fare better in the winter.
Combine chilling with dry skin and dry nasal passages and you've got a very stressed out bird. Fresh, clean water will help, as will ensuring that your bird has showers and running a humidifier.
Ultra dry climates will require a humidifier to keep your parrot healthy. Make sure to clean the humidifier filter and components frequently so as to not disperse mold in the air.
So, how do you safely keep your bird warm in the winter without your energy bills going through the roof?
Space heaters and heating pads are NOT a good option since many of them are made with Teflon as a safety feature. As you probably know, Teflon emits dangerous fumes that can kill your parrot within minutes.
Luckily, Infrared Heat Panels and Heated Bird Perches can be purchased and placed on or in the birdcage. These items are perfectly safe, as long as you make sure that your bird can't get to the electrical cord. And, keeping your furnace turned up 24 / 7 gets expensive fast.
Make sure to protect electrical cords to prevent electrical shock.
There are a couple of options when it comes to making your bird feel warm. Infrared heat panels have been used in the past however as of this writing I'm not finding any panels that are actually marketed for pet bird care.
Infrared waves travel through the air and when they touch a surface, heat energy is released regardless of the surrounding air temperature.
K & H Manufacturing makes two bird warming devices that use thermostatically controlled heating technology to prevent them from getting overheated. Not only are these products great for pet bird winter care but they're also an important part of your bird first aid kit.
When my bird, Peachy, got Avian Megabacteria a number of years ago the K & H snuggle up warmer literally saved his life.
In conclusion, planning ahead for how to keep your bird warm in the winter is important.
Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.
Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.
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