Winter Bird Care: How Help Your Subtropical Pet Survive Dry, Cold Winters
Most parrot species originate from temperate, tropical climates with high humidity and minimal seasonal changes. In the rainforest, there are minimal lighting changes between the seasons. A parrots body is adapted to flourish in tropical rainforest conditions that are hot and humid where the average temperature is about 77° +/- Fahrenheit. The rainforest climate has very little temperature variation and the light cycle, being near the equator, changes little, as well.
Most of us parrot lovers live much farther from the equator and we experience more drastic changes in temperature, humidity and light. If you live in regions of the U.S., UK or Europe your environment has drastically different temperature, humidity and light cycles than that of a rainforest. So, how do you care for a parrot in the winter?
Humans adjust to harsh winter conditions easier than a caged bird. For instance, if we have dry skin, it is easy to use a humidifier, apply soothing bath oils, slather on lotion, and drink more water.
A caged bird may have no choice but to suffer dry, itchy skin, and dry eyes. They're also prone to congested nasal passages, especially if your bird is deficient in vitamin A. Simply put, dry winter weather can make a parrot miserable.
Dehydrated skin bone chilling cold and leaves a parrot prone to illness. Winter cold is a major source of physical stress to our parrots. Long periods of dry, cold conditions may weaken your birds system and leave it vulnerable developing a feather plucking problem or respiratory infections as well as a multitude of other infections.
Stabilize Your Birds Environment
To help our birds "weather" the winter it is important to stabilize temperature, humidity and light exposure. Parrots will need a highly nutritious diet, as well. Frequent bathing and moisturizing skin is important. You'll need to insure that your bird doesn't get chilled after a bath. Showering with your bird on a shower perch washes away dirt and bacteria and moisturizes nasal and skin. You can regulate lighting from full-spectrum bird lights.
These items will help you care for birds in the winter:
- Red Palm Oil:Red palm oil is rich in vitamins, including vitamin A & E. It's also a rich source of Omega's critical for skin and soft tissue health.
- Heat Source: A heated perch, such as the Thermo-Perch, offers parrots an easy to access, stable source of soothing heat. The heated perch works by passing warmth through the feet, a body part where parrots lose a lot of body heat. Keep your bird’s favorite perches in the cage too, but put the Thermo-perch in the bird cage in the winter months or when temperatures dip below 60°. A heat source is also essential when your bird is stressed or ill. Be sure to manage the electric cord so that you parrot is unable to chew it. This is a photo of our stressed bird in a Wingabago sleep cage with a Snuggle Up Bird Warmer attached to the door. We plug it in at night when our thermostat is below his comfort zone. The Wingabao fits perfectly in a Snap N Go Stroller for easy mobility.
- Bird Lights: Full Spectrum bird lights provide important health benefits for birds that can't get 12 hours of sunlight a day. These bird lights duplicate natural sun light allowing even captive parrots to enjoy the benefits of sunshine. While many bird light brands proclaim to simulate natural sunshine make sure to buy bird lights that are recommended for parrots such as Featherbrite Bird Lights.
- Specialized Bird Bath Sprays have recently been developed with a bird's sensitive skin conditions in mind. Natra Pet Bird Bath Spray rinses dust and dander off of feathers while restoring essential skin softening preening oils. Clean feathers and supple skin are essential for winter bird care. Birds with itchy skin may resort to feather plucking to cope with the irritation. A new bird bath spray from Natra Pet contains both Aloe Vera and natural bird preening oils to sooth itchy, dry skin and bring the color out in your birds feathers. Your parrot will feel so much more comfortable with the soothing effects of Aloe Vera and the skin moisturizing natural preening oils. Did you know that preening oils actually coat feathers for improved insulation? We all know how uncomfortable it feels when your skin is dry. It makes you feel cold and itchy. Natra Pet Bird Bath and Aloe vera spray for parrots helps to soothe itchy skin, promote healthy preening and reduce dander.
- Humidifier: Just like people, birds thrive in humid conditions. Birds thrive with moist skin, nostril’s, and eye tissues. Dry skin and nasal passages leave parrots to health problems. Supple skin withstands minor scratching, bumps and bruises while keeping toxic agents outside of the body. It stretches and flexes, whether it is our nostrils, eyes or body skin.
So, now you know how to care for a parrot in the winter.