Parrot Winter Care
Parrot winter care is important. Our pet birds are from sub-tropical climates, generally close to the equator where they have adapted to very temperate climates and 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. Parrot winter care is very important. Parrots are prone to getting chilled and sick in the winter. Their skin gets dry and itchy and their sleep is disrupted. All of these stressors can cause anxiety and potentially lead to parrot 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 parrots 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 snd you've got a very stressed out bird. Fresh, clean water will help, as will insuring 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.
Many Heating Sources Are Not Bird Safe
So, how do you 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, there Infrared Heat Panels and Heated Bird Perches can be purchased and placed on or in the bird cage. 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.
Bird Friendly Heating Devices
Infrared Heat Panels: There are a couple of options when it comes to using a bird safe heat panel. Avitech makes an Infrared Heat Panel and an optional thermostat but it's a little pricey. The smallest one, a 35 watt, 11" x 11" costs almost $90USD plus shipping. And then they recommend the optional thermostat. You can Google Inrared Heat Panels and find a bunch of more cost effective options.
Thermostatically Controlled Panels: K & H Manufacturing, experts in heating devices for the pet industry, makes a Snuggle Up Cage Warmer in two sizes. This item mounts to the side of your bird cage and uses low 12 watt voltage to thermostatically heat the panel No need for an optional thermostat and more dangerous electric cords . Even though the cord is wire wrapped, you'll want to insure that your curious parrot doesn't try to bite it. The nice thing about panels is that your bird can move itself away from the heat source.
Thermo-Perch: Heated Bird Perches, developed by K & H Manufacturing have been around for a while. For under $50 USD, Thermo-Perches come in three sizes and in two textures, a textured plastic and a sand-coated style. These bird perches run kind of big, but the idea is for as much of the birds foot to be on the heated surface as possible. Just like you and I, your bird loses a lot of body heat from its feet. Make sure that your bird has access to other perches in the cage. Also, if your bird is ill or diabetic, make sure to check the bottom of its feet on a regular basis. On very rare occasions, we hear that a bird can lose the feeling in its feet and stay on the perch until it suffers burns.
In conclusion, parrot winter care involves keeping your pet healthy, hydrated and warm.
- Diane Burroughs, LCSW