winter bird care tips

8 Tips For Caring For Your Birds This Winter

In the brisk embrace of winter, our feathered friends deserve a little extra TLC. Join us on this journey of winter wisdom as we navigate the nuances of keeping your feathered friend warm, happy, and healthy throughout the colder months. Stay informed about winter bird care and let's make this winter a snug haven for our cherished avian companions!

By Diane Burroughs

Revised: 11/13/2023

Table of Contents

"Hey bird lovers! Winter can be a bit tricky for our feathery friends, right? But no worries, we've got your back! Check out my latest blog post for 8 super-easy tips to keep your pet birds living their best lives this winter. I'm talking everything from keeping your bird warm, winter hacks, and all the insider info to make sure your birds are happy and healthy despite the chilly vibes.
Don't let the cold cramp your bird's style—join me for a chat about making this winter the coziest and coolest for your exotic avian buddies!"

1) How can I help my birds stay warm this winter?

As temperatures drop in the winter months, it is important to take extra care of your birds to ensure their winter wellness. Here are 8 tips to help you provide the best care for your feathered friends this season:

1. Keep your bird away from drafty doors and windows. 

2. Set up a cage warmer or a heat lamp near your bird's favorite sleep perch to keep your it warm. Make sure that your bird can move away from the lamp if it desires. Heated perches are also available, but they've been known to burn a bird's sensitive feet. 

3. Provide a little extra protein and nutrition for your birds. High-quality bird pellets, a little egg, or legumes will do the trick. Also, healthy tree nuts and mealworms are good sources of protein and will help them stay healthy and strong during the cold winter months. 

4. Give your birds access to fresh water daily. Water helps them stay hydrated and will help keep their feathers soft and silky. A well-hydrated bird has supple skin which is easier to keep warm. 

5. Avoid household space heaters of all kinds. Propane heaters may put off an odor that birds are sensitive to. Space heaters are often made with PFTE, which also puts off dangerous chemicals which can kill a bird. 

2) Should parrots take baths in the winter?

bird bath spray

When it comes to winter wellness for your pet parrot, baths should still be part of the routine. Bathing helps to keep dirt and debris off their feathers, which is important for their overall health and well-being. Not only that, but a nice warm bath will also help wash away any dead skin cells or parasites that may have been lingering.  

However, when giving your parrot a bath during the winter months, it's important to make sure that they don't get chilled. Make sure the water temperature is warm (not hot) and that they are not left in the cold to dry off.

Gently towel dry them off as soon as they are done bathing and provide some additional warmth if needed. Keep them away from drafts. It's also a good idea to use a spray bottle with warm water rather than a full bath, as this will reduce the risk of chilling. 

By providing your parrot with regular baths during the winter months, you'll be helping to ensure that its feathers stay clean and healthy and that its overall well-being remains strong. 

3) How can I raise the humidity in my bird room?

Tropical parrots thrive on high humidity year-round. If you live in a climate where it gets cold, we recommend keeping them indoors during winter months when they need higher humidity levels than usual. Winter wellness for your feathered friends can be achieved through proper humidity control. To raise the humidity in your bird room, here are some tips: 

1. Place bowls of water around the room and mist the air with a spray bottle.

2. Bring the humidifier out and place it near your bird cage. Remember to clean and change the filter regularly so as not to spew bacteria and fungus into the room. 

3. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels in the room and adjust accordingly. 

4. Place a few bird-safe houseplants in the room to increase the humidity naturally.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your birds stay healthy and comfortable this winter!

4) How do you maintain vitamin D in the winter?

Maintaining winter wellness for your birds is essential in the cold months of winter. Birds, just like humans, need vitamin D to help keep their bodies functioning properly. Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium levels, strengthen bones, and boost the immune system. During the winter, when the days are cold and shorter and there is less sunlight, birds can have difficulty getting enough vitamin D.  

There are a few things you can do to make sure your bird stays healthy and has enough vitamin D during the winter season. Providing your bird with a full spectrum lamp that mimics natural sunlight can be helpful in providing them with adequate amounts of vitamin D. Additionally, you can add certain supplements to your bird's food such as UnRuffledRx Bird Calcium with vitamin D. These supplements are readily available and help ensure that your bird has all the nutrition it needs to stay healthy throughout the winter. 

It's important to remember that winter wellness for birds includes making sure they are receiving enough vitamin D. By following these tips, you can help make sure your feathered friends stay healthy this winter season! 

5) Do Bird's Get Cold Feet? 

With winter upon us, it's crucial to discuss how to keep our feathered friends warm and cozy – specifically, do birds get cold feet? Our tropical parrot companions, having adjusted to the temperatures in our homes, thrive in the 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit range.

Now, the burning question: do birds, particularly our exotic parrots, feel the cold? Unlike wild birds in the US equipped with a heat exchange system, we're uncertain whether parrots, accustomed to tropical climates, share this adaptation. It's a bit like pondering if they've got a built-in winter coat or if they rely solely on the warmth of our homes.

So, how can you tell if your feathered friend is feeling a bit chilly? Keep an eye out for signs such as shivering, puffed-up feathers, and a reluctance to move. Similar to humans, birds may exhibit moodiness and seek warmth when cold. If you notice these symptoms, it's time to adjust the temperature or provide additional comfortable spots for your bird.

Here's the critical part – being cold doesn't just make our parrots uncomfortable; it also makes them more susceptible to illness. Like humans, birds are prone to sickness when exposed to cold conditions. A weakened immune system and stress from the cold can pave the way for health issues. Therefore, maintaining warmth for our feathered friends isn't just about their comfort; it's a preventative measure for their well-being.

While we can't directly ask our parrots about their comfort level, we can take practical steps to ensure they remain snug during the winter months. Bird lovers, let's focus on adjusting the temperature, creating cozy perches, and staying vigilant for any signs of discomfort in our avian companions. After all, a warm bird is a healthy bird!

6) Can My Bird Catch My Cold?

Let's dive into a common question that might have crossed your mind: Can your bird catch your cold? Well, good news on that front – the cold virus that gives us the sniffles isn't something our avian companions need to worry about. However, there's a twist in the tale when it comes to their respiratory health.

According to Dr.Stephanie Bell, our feathered pals have a high performance respiratory system that allows them to fly miles a day in search of food. It's super efficient, which is awesome for them – except when it comes to respiratory infections and breathing dry air or fumes. Their efficiency makes them more prone to respiratory distress, and that's where things get interesting.

Here's the science behind it: Birds have air sacs and lungs that make for a streamlined respiratory system. However, this efficiency also means they can pick up on changes in their environment, like dry air, vitamin deficiencies, vitamin A in particular, that impair their ability to make mucus to surround bacteria and virus' they may breath in, and fumes from space heaters. While the common human cold virus doesn't make the cut, environmental factors and nutritional deficits can set off respiratory problems.

winter bird care

So, while your bird won't be sniffling with a human cold, it's crucial to be mindful of their respiratory well-being. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet with an appropriate amount of vitamin A, along with minimizing environmental irritants, can go a long way in keeping your feathered companion in tip-top shape. And that, my friends, is a recipe for a happy and healthy bird!

7) Do I Need a Winter Bird Cage Cover?

As winter wraps its chilly embrace around us, you might be wondering if your feathered friend needs a winter bird cage cover. Well, let's unravel this. While parrots are known to thrive in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the question of covering their cages boils down to a few factors.

First off, a winter bird cage cover can act as a shield against chilly drafts. But, if your bird cage is near a drafty door or window, it is imperative that you move it. Birds are highly susceptible to drafts. Bird cage covers can also block out light and sometimes even noise. Since birds thrive on 10 - 12 hours of sleep per night, a winter bird cage cover can help them get their rest. But if you turn your thermostat down below 60 degrees at night, you may want to consider a Snuggle-up bird cage warmers. These thermostatically controlled gadgets are like a heating pad for your bird's abode. They're designed to keep the temperature near your bird's sleep perch just the right temperature. However, it's essential to use them cautiously and follow the manufacturer's guidelines to avoid overheating. After all, we want our birds to be warm, not overheated.

Now, let's talk about sleep tents – those cute, tent-like additions to your bird's cage that seem like a snug bedtime retreat. While they might look adorable, it's crucial to be aware of potential dangers. 

First, the strings that often accompany these tents can pose a risk of accidental strangulation for our feathered companions. Birds, being chewy, curious creatures, might find themselves entangled in the strings during their nightly slumber.

Additionally, there's another sneaky side to sleep tents – they can inadvertently induce hormonal behavior in some birds. The enclosed space can trigger a sense of privacy, making your bird feel it's time to start nesting. This hormonal surge may lead to behavioral changes and could even result in health issues. So, when it comes to sleep tents, it's wise to prioritize your bird's safety by opting for designs without strings and being mindful of the potential impact on their behavior. Keep your bird snug, but always keep safety first!

8) Improving Bird Nutrition Over The Winter Months

avian nutrition
Brazil nuts and walnuts are high in Omega 3 fatty acids — important for immune health along with cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health as well.

When the temperature drops, so does your bird's immune system. Winter wellness is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pet birds. Ensuring that they get the proper nutrition during this time of year will help them stay healthy and strong during the colder months. But, bird's tend to be picky eaters so it is vitally important to learn how to get them to eat more nutritious food. Here is a great book to improve your bird's eating habits in as little as a few days. 

Optimal nutrition is essential for a bird's winter wellness. Here are eight benefits of optimal nutrition: 

  • Supports skin and eye health. 
  • Supports muscles. 
  • Boosts immunity. 
  • Prepares your bird for it's spring time molt. 
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. 
  • Supports your bird's reproductive health. 
  • Helps the digestive system function. 

  • In Conclusion...

    As we wrap up our winter bird care journey, remember that a little TLC goes a long way for our feathered friends. Thanks to insights from experts like Dr. Sophie Bell, we've learned that even subtle changes in temperature and humidity can impact our parrots' well-being. By keeping them away from drafts, maintaining proper humidity levels, and cozying them up at night, we're not just pet owners; we're guardians of avian happiness.

    So, as winter unfolds its chilly embrace, let's embark on this season with newfound confidence. Armed with practical tips and a deeper understanding of our birds' needs, we can ensure a winter wonderland of warmth and joy for our beloved feathered companions. Here's to happy chirps, snug perches, and a season filled with birdie bliss!"

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    Link to this blog:

    Orosz, S. (2014, December 2). Winter Prep For Your Bird.

    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.

    TAGS: #WinterBirdCare #WinterBirdCageCover #CanMyParrotCatchMyCold