HELP your bird cope with fireworks

Every culture loves fireworks!  From the 4th of July to New Year’s Eve, we celebrate with the triumph of bright, bursting fireworks. Fireworks engage almost all of our senses.  

They are great to be around if you are expecting them, but very scary for our pets that don’t expect them or understand them.  Pets often go into fight or flight mode during fireworks celebrations.

Put yourself in your bird's position.  Bright bursts of light, loud bang after bang after bang, and even the unusual smell of burning sulfur waking them up after they've been asleep.

Anything that is unexpected and out of the ordinary routine and involves sensory overload will freak your parrot out.

Wing flapping, feather chewing, screaming, and all fear-related behaviors may ensue. Some parrots are prone to developing ongoing trauma-related behaviors, so you'll want to ensure that you are there to help your scared parrot.

Anticipate that your pet bird may become extremely distressed during fireworks celebrations.  Comfort your parrot by staying nearby and preparing them and their immediate environment. 

But, you can also plan ahead, and the time is now.  Here's how to plan for the next big bang.

  1. SUPPORT A CALM DEMEANOR: Parrots are prone to anxiety, especially in new or unexpected situations. Even if your bird is not anxious, always plan to reinforce calm behavior rather than the anxious behavior. Label the calm behavior with a word like “settle.” When you notice your bird acting anxious, ignore it until it calms down.  Then, as soon as it calms down, offer it a delicious treat.
  2. FOCUS ON PARROT WELLNESS: One of the best things that we can do to prevent over-anxious behavior in the first place is to satisfy our pet bird’s wellness needs.  If you're unsure of what I mean by that head over to this blog. A well-nourished bird that's getting enough sleep, exercise, enrichment, and social experiences is more resilient.
  3. PLAN AHEAD FOR THE BIG DAY: Nevertheless, if you are anxious by nature, plan ahead to help it feel safer during the celebrations. Here are some tips:
    • Get your bird used to being in a sleep cage prior to the celebration. The sleep cage should be small and comfortable.  Remove the perch if you are afraid your bird will flap around and injure itself. Get your bird used to  the sleep cage being placed in a dark, confined room like a bathroom with now windows or closet. This will muffle the constant banging sounds and shield your bird from the bright lights.
    •  If you can't get a sleep cage, cover your bird's regular cage with a heavy blanket to shield it from the bright lights and loud noise.
    •  Play relaxing music for background noise.
    • Observe your bird for breathing difficulties. Fireworks displays come with the smell of burning sulfur.  Parrots have extremely sensitive lungs so anticipate that the smoke and smell may be irritating for your bird.  You may want to run an air cleaning system as a precaution.
  1. TRAIN & DESENSITIZE:  Not only should you be rewarding and reinforcing calm behavior, but you can also desensitize your bird to the sounds of fireworks.  Get on YouTube and search for fireworks videos. Play them for a half-hour or so each day.  Each day, play them progressively louder. Always be available to supervise your bird while playing the desensitization videos and make it a point to generously reward calm behavior. Also, act like you love the noise. Never try to desensitize your bird to the smell of fireworks.
  2. USE GENTLE BIRD CALMING PRODUCTS:  Avian relaxation supplements such asUnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Formula orUnRuffledRx Bird Calming Tea are very helpful in calming your parrots’ nerves on the big day.  These natural supplements calm anxieties in parrots with no side-effects.  Simply mix one of these supplements with your parrot's favorite fresh fruits and veggies for several days before the celebration.  

These five easy strategies may help your parrot cope with fireworks. For more individualized help, book a bird behavior consultation today.