Safety Alerts

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  Valley Aviary

Breeder's of Eclectus Parrots, Timneh African Grey, Great Billed Parrot, Cape Parrot

Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

You should have an emergency plan in place.  This includes a kit that is prepared for you and your animals in case you need to evacuate your home.  The following items should be in your kit and placed in a secure place like the garage or the trunk of your car.  They should be in a sealed, waterproof container.

  1. One week supply of food.
  2. One week supply of water.
  3.  A pet carrier for each pet.
  4.  Blankets or towels to keep your pets warm.
  5.  Gloves should be handy if you need to handle panicked birds.
  6.  A first aid kit.
  7.  Some toys.

To transport your bird in an emergency:

  1. Prepare a carrier for your bird:  Line the carrier with paper towel and a perch.  Also have food in the carrier.  We usually use grapes, celery, etc. (foods that have a high water content) instead of water that may just spill.
  2. Place your bird in the carrier.  If the bird is panicked cover with a towel (or use a towel to catch) and then transfer into the carrier
  3. If it is cold out, wrap the carrier in a blanket or towel.
  4. If it is hot out, bring a mister to keep the bird from over heating.
  5. Keep the bird in a warm, secure, quiet area.  Do not let the bird out of the carrier.


bulletIf you own other pets, never leave them and the bird unattended in the same room.  Other pets are often predators (dogs/cats/lizards, etc.) and the bird is prey.
bulletIf your bird is able to fly, watch out for ceiling fans, the bird getting outside, and other possible hazards.  
bulletDon't have the bird outside when there is a chance of a mosquito bite because of West Nile Disease.
bulletNever have your bird near a hot stove where it could burn itself.
bulletBirds are also prone to drowning because of curiosity and their love of water.  Make sure any aquariums are properly covered.  (this includes toilets)
bulletDo not cook with Teflon (non-stick) pans.  The fumes are fatal to birds.
bulletSmoking is also bad for your bird as is stepping on your hand if it has tobacco residue on it.
bulletScented candles, and air fresheners can also harm your bird.
bulletBasically, use lots of common sense. 
bulletREMEMBER NEVER give your bird chocolate, avocado, rhubarb, onions, caffeine, or alcohol.  Sugar & Salt are also not good for them. 

List of Disinfectants and their uses.  Virkon S is safe for use around our birds. 


Parrot Precautions and  Safety Alerts

This list of safety precautions does not cover every possible danger to birds, but the most common problems are detailed here. Please add any precautions unique to your birds and home, and print the list for your bird
sitter.  Carolyn

bulletFOODS that are dangerous to birds include avocado, guacamole, chocolate, cocoa, alcohol, caffeine, the pits of apricots, peaches, plums, prunes, and seeds of the cherimoya fruit, as well as foods containing large amounts of salt, sugar, grease, preservatives, artificial coloring, and other additives. Obvious dangers such as moldy foods and under-cooked or raw meat should be avoided. Parrots should be fed the same quality of food that is suitable for human infants.
bulletNUTS - Due to a recent parrot death caused by impacted nut shells, I'm collecting professional opinions on the risk of feeding nuts in the shell and will share them with the list as soon as the information is complete. So far, we believe that most of the problems with nut shells have been caused by the shells of the English walnut, which have hard shells. Pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, macadamia, and Brazil nuts also have hard shells. Pine nuts and Brazil nuts in the shells should never be offered to parrots because the shells can conceal nuts contaminated with mycotoxins such as deadly aflatoxin. These two nuts should only be offered out of the shell and very fresh, as evidenced by sight and smell. I hope that porous almond shells will prove to be safe because almonds in the shell are a favorite of many Eclectus parrots. Until we have a consensus of professional opinion, the philosophy of "better safe than sorry" might be wise. For those who choose to take the risk because their birds have safely enjoyed nuts in the shell for years, here are a few tips to minimize the risk:
*Do not offer nuts in the shell when birds are extremely hungry.
*Offer nuts in the shell only when you can observe and determine that only the nutmeat is eaten.
*Do not offer nuts in the shell as a "sock toy" or otherwise concealed from view.
*Never use walnut shell cage litter. Several parrots have eaten it and suffered impactions. It also harbors and   grows pathogens that can become airborne and inhaled, causing respiratory disease.
To read more about nuts in general, go here:
Land of Vos Nut Nutrition
bulletGRIT is not necessary for parrots and can cause impaction of the digestive system.
bulletPTFE treated products, such as Teflon and other name brands of non-stick cookware kill birds by releasing odorless, deadly gases when overheated.  PTFE is used in some space heaters, ranges, ovens, stove-top burner bibs or liners, heat lamps, irons, griddles, bread makers, woks, waffle makers, electric skillets, crock pots, popcorn poppers, coffee makers, roasters, curling irons, hair dryers, and more. Check labels before purchase.
bulletSELF CLEANING OVENS use extremely high heat to burn off oven debris, and in the process, create toxic fumes that can harm or kill parrots.
bulletCOOKING BAGS, especially those treated with PTFE emit harmful fumes during cooking that kill birds. Any substance that releases smoke and/or fumes when heated should be avoided in bird homes.
bulletKITCHENS, especially when cooking is in progress, are unsafe for birds.  The obvious hazards of open flames, hot ranges, open pots of hot food or boiling water are as deadly as smoke or other toxic fumes, even from dishwashers if a plastic item falls into a heating element during the dry cycle.
bulletCAGES should be made of safe metal with non-toxic paint, no sharp points that can cause injuries, proper spacing between cage bars to prevent strangulation, and no empty cup holders.  Birds have been injured or killed by getting stuck in empty cup holders in cages. Use empty dishes or fill
them with toys or treats, but never leave empty cup holders in a cage. Stainless Steel is the safest metal.
bulletLEG BANDS can cause the loss of toes, feet, legs and sometimes bird lives when the wrong size.  Microchips are a safer form of identification of lost birds. Leg bands should be removed only by a veterinarian.
bulletIMPORTED CERAMIC CROCKS often contain toxic metals that can leach into bird food and water. Stainless steel, Pyrex and other glass is safer.
bulletHALOGEN LIGHT FIXTURES such as torchier-style floor lamps create extreme heat and can kill birds that land on them. Choose only bird-safe light fixtures for bird homes.
bulletLITTER made of walnut shells or corn cobs can cause life-threatening impaction if ingested by birds. They also harbor fungal spores when soiled or wet. Newspaper is safer.
bulletMETALS such as lead, zinc, copper, and iron can cause metal toxicosis if ingested by birds. Some sources are galvanized cage and aviary wire, house keys, (especially gold colored keys), lead-based paints, metallic paints, paints containing zinc, linoleum, vinyl mini-blinds, foil from champagne and wine bottles, lead weights, bells with lead clappers, stained glass, some improperly-glazed ceramics, costume jewelry, mirror backing, copper pennies, zinc oxide, artist paints containing cadmium, and cardboard or paper with high gloss inks.
bulletQUIK-STOP and other styptic products should never be applied to avian skin. They are safe for bleeding toenails when broken or cut too short, but they destroy skin. For broken or pulled blood feathers, either cornstarch or flour are safer. Aloe gel can be applied first to help the flour or cornstarch to adhere to the wound and to help with pain and healing.
bulletCATS, DOGS, FERRETS (and many other pets) are a danger to birds. The slightest cat scratch can infect birds with Pasteurella bacteria and immediate vet treatment is required to save the bird's life. Never allow birds to interact with ANY pet without close supervision.
bulletFLEA COLLARS AND SPRAYS emit toxins into the air and should not be used in bird homes. Lice shampoo also contains dangerous toxins and should never used on birds.
bulletPESTICIDE SPRAYS, NO-PEST STRIPS,  AND FOGGERS poison the air and can kill birds.  Safer solutions are roach traps, ant bait, and other solid insect poisons that can be safely secured in the back of cabinets and other areas that are inaccessible to birds.
bulletSTICKY STRIPS for flying insects should always be enclosed in old cages or other containers accessible to insects but out of the reach of birds and other pets. Citrus oil or peanut butter can be used to safely remove sticky substances from feathers.
bulletWING CLIPS should be checked on the first day of each month to prevent flight-related accidents. Wing-clipped birds can often fly well enough to escape so they should be protected by a harness, leash, or carrier when taken outside.
bulletTRANSPARENT AND REFLECTIVE SURFACES like glass windows doors, and mirrors should be shown to flighted birds. Many birds can be trained to avoid large expanses of glass by repeatedly holding the bird on your hand and imitating flight toward the glass and then lightly pressing their beak, feet, and body against the surfaces. Decals can be used as a visible reminder.
bulletCEILING FANS should not be used in homes with flighted birds.
bulletOTHER DANGERS to birds are open windows and doors, hot pots and stove burners, open containers of water (sinks, toilets, tubs, boiling water), poisonous or thorny houseplants, electrical wires, medication, insect bait traps, and many other toxic substances.
bulletTOYS, both new and used, should be cleaned and examined for loose parts that could lodge in a bird's throat. Loose strings and threads can trap and cut off circulation to necks, wings, legs, and toes. Use only stainless steel (not zinc) "quick links" as toy fasteners and never use strings, chains or ropes long enough to wrap around a birds' neck or other body parts.
bulletWOOD SHAVINGS such as cedar and redwood are toxic to birds and should not be used in cages, aviaries, or nestboxes. Newspaper is a safer cage liner and pine or aspen shavings are safer nestbox substrate.
bulletPRESSURE TREATED LUMBER, conventional plywood, and particle board contain a variety of toxic substances. Untreated pine boards are a safer choice.
bulletHOUSEPLANTS and fertilizer including "fertilizer spikes" can poison birds so they should be kept out of their reach. Some of the most common poisonous houseplants are azalea, oleander, castor bean, sago palm, yew plants, dieffenbachia (dumb cane), asparagus fern, daffodils, flower bulbs, mistletoe, poinsettia, philodendron, and potato sprouts or "eyes".  Choose only non-poisonous plants for bird homes.
bulletCIGARETTES, CIGARS, PIPES, AND OTHER SMOKING SUBSTANCES should never be used in air space shared by birds.  Passive inhalation of smoke, including smoke from burning incense, damages the sensitive avian respiratory system, eyes and skin. Nicotine can settle on perches and other cage surfaces and cause the self-mutilation of feet and legs in sensitive birds, especially Amazon parrots.
bulletESSENTIAL OILS and potpourri oils should never be used in the breathing space of parrots. Perfume, hairspray, and other aerosolized grooming products also can damage the avian respiratory system.
bulletAIR FRESHENERS, including plug-in air fresheners and scented sprays are considered unsafe. Bird deaths from using Febreze in the home have been reported so until new research proves it safe, do not use it in bird homes. To safely freshen the air, simmer spices like cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and citrus rinds and provide fresh outdoor air whenever possible.
bulletSCENTED CANDLES release toxins when burned, so only unscented candles should be used in bird homes. (Be aware of the open flame). Beeswax candles are generally safe and unscented unless they are imported and contain lead wicks.
bulletCARPET POWDERS AND SPRAYS such as Carpet Fresh, as well as similar treatments for upholstery (like Febreze), often contain toxins which are dispersed into the air when they are vacuumed so they should never be used in bird homes. Carpets can be cleaned safely with solutions of water and baking soda, vinegar, or Grapefruit Seed Extract.
bulletCLEANING AND DISINFECTING PRODUCTS like pine oil, ammonia, mold and mildew cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners, furniture polish, oven cleaners, dishwasher detergents, furniture polish, car cleaning products, and laundry products, including bleach, can irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract of birds when used in their air space. Spray starch is also toxic to birds.
bulletHOME IMPROVEMENT PRODUCTS that create fumes include fresh paint, new carpet, drapes, furniture and flooring that uses toxic glues. The outgassing of toxic chemicals from new furnishings, paints, solvents, adhesives, various finishes, and other building materials are sometimes described as the "new smell" and can damage the avian respiratory system.
bulletMEDICATION and natural remedies containing tea tree oil, which contains the oil of the melaleuca tree, as well as all over-the-counter medications should be kept out of the reach of parrots.
bulletMOLD on food or in the air is dangerous to parrots. Aspergillus mold can cause the deadly disease, aspergillosis. It can grow on improperly handled and stored foods, especially grains such as corn. Excessive moisture in bathrooms promotes the growth of various molds in homes.
bulletCARBON MONOXIDE is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas produced by furnaces and other heaters. Birds in poorly ventilated, heated areas are at high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. It robs the blood of oxygen and can be particularly harmful to animals and humans with heart ailments when inhaled at levels often found indoors.
bulletDRY CLEANED CLOTHING should be aired outside or in an airspace not shared by birds until there is no remaining odor. The chemical "perc" (perchloroethylene) causes cancer in lab animals.
bulletMOTHBALLS and moth-repellent cakes and crystals contain paradichlorobenzene. It also is found in toilet disinfectants and in deodorizers, and it causes cancer in lab animals.
bulletDISEASE EXPOSURE should be avoided by quarantining all new birds from your existing flock or companion birds for one to three months. Taking birds to pet stores, bird fairs, swap shops and other bird gatherings can expose them to deadly, incurable diseases.
bulletHUMAN SALIVA contains pathogens that are deadly to birds. Never allow a bird to place its beak in your mouth or nose, nor to "clean your teeth".
bulletCLEANLINESS is important to the prevention of bacterial infections. Wash your hands frequently when working with birds and preparing their food and dishes.
bulletBOARDING BIRDS with other birds of unknown health status is an unnecessary risk to healthy birds. It is safer to have a friend or relative come into your home or keep your birds in their home during your absence.
bulletEMERGENCY INFORMATION AND INSTRUCTIONS should be left with your caregivers when you are away. Leave your vet's contact information as well as hotline numbers near the phone and advise your caregiver about potential emergencies and what to do.
bulletALERTS and warnings about newly discovered dangers such as new products that endanger birds are available on the BirdSafe E-list. 

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Copyright 2004 Valley Aviary

Last modified: November, 2007