Warnings To Keep Your Bird Safe
(Check out this page often, we will keep you updated on the latest warnings.)
For Holiday Warnings Go Here!
Animal Poison Control Hotline (staffed 24/7)! 888-4ANI-HELP or 888-426-4435
Bird HotLine Directory!
[We are dedicated to helping companion birds have a safer, healthier, and happier life. We take all warnings seriously. We realize that many of them may not be totally accurate. It is our policy that it is better to be safe than sorry. For that reason we will list all warnings we receive. It is up to you to determine if the product is actually safe. It would probably make good sense not to use the product until you make that determination. That is what we are going to do. --Bird HotLine]
[Little Critter died today. . . . It is hard to write this through the tears. And the tragedy is there was nothing we could have done to save this little sweet bird because, you see, he wasn't our bird. He died from something that is causing more little innocent, precious, loving birds to die every day than all the other warnings on this page put together.
He died of neglect.
Please, if you have a bird suffering from this or know of one who is please do something. Open yourself or that bird's family to the wonder of birds.
Neglect shows up in many ways. A bird confined to his or her cage for a lifetime is neglect. There comes a moment when he or she will not even leave the cage when the door is opened. The little creature has become so broken that the only security left is that small confined space. A bird needs exercise, the opportunity to explore, and contact with other loving beings.
Then there is neglect in diet. A bird whose diet consists of seeds and water will not be a healthy bird, have no chance to develop to his or her full potential, and his or her life will be drastically reduced. A sick bird who isn't taken to a bird vet because the people in the house (we usually refer to them as his family, but not in this case) don't recognize he is sick or don't want to spend the money, is slowly and painfully dying of neglect.
And lastly the one neglect that if resolved would solve all the rest . . . love. A bird just like a child must be able to give and receive love. With love they blossom into caring, loving, aware, intelligent, awesome little beings. Without it they die. Maybe not right away, but a little bit every day.
There is one good thing that came out of Little Critter's death (that's not his real name, the people in the house just treated him like a colorful plant and never even gave him one), at least he is out of his misery. --Bird HotLine]
Metal in Candle Wicks are toxic says Aimee Any kind of a candle with a metal wick, including all candles in glass, give off either lead or zinc fumes which are dangerous to children and birds. Common cause has some info on it on their site. My grey had an elevated zinc level and has a picking problem; didn't know why. After the news did a feature on the dangers of these candles to children, now I do! Check candles and see if it has a little wire in it. If it does then it makes a huge amount of zinc or lead airborne which is inhaled, or then settles as dust to be ingested.
Thanks for all your tips. Lost a dear cockatiel to an avocado, and a wonderful amazon most probably to a gas leak. Aimee
[Bird HotLine says - Look at this MSNBC web page on the subject (sorry address is very long)]:
Barbara wrote in about Toys and Parakeets 1. Ladder (plastic) too close together, parakeets can't get their body through. 2. Ladder (wood) glued together, it can get loose. 3. Mirror has wire, discard it. 4. Plastic perch with small beads, can choke or swallow them, throw it away, don't buy it. 5. Mirror with cup, don't put it together, parakeet can put his leg around and see another bird, and injure himself. 6. There are toys out there, but you need to look and see if they will not harm your special guys, or do what I did, I go to party stores, look for bracelets, and special hearts that can be hung, for swings, go to the toy store, buy little cars, my two parakeets love their special toys, I made for them. We buy toys for our children, and see that their ages match with toys, why can't we check out the toys for parakeets and other birds. Thank You for letting me, get this out to all of you.
Avocado & Chocolate We received this email from a Bird HotLine visitor: "I've just lost my beloved Umbrella Cockatoo, Caesar, to what is suspected to be avocado poisoning." [Bird HotLine:We are devastated by the loss of Caesar and we hope that we all learn from this tragic situation. Do not allow your birds to even get close to an avocado. They may take a bite without you knowing it. Also don't allow them to eat chocolate. They are both toxic to birds. This warning is dedicated to Caesar.]
Toys with rings I want to share with you what happened yesterday. We were horrified and shocked to find one of our cockatiels had hung himself on a toy. It is one that has the key ring on the top that you use to connect it to the cage. We never dreamed that a cockatiel could get their head through that little ring, but we learned the hard way they can. My little Wyatt is dead because I took for granted that his toy was safe. I want all my friends to realize that we should never take for granted that manufacturers have all the facts about what they produce. Doni and I are taking every toy with a ring and replacing it with something else. We realize this is a freak accident, BUT, if it can happen to one.....
By the way, I bought the toy from Pet Warehouse's catalog. I've bought lots of them, all labeled for cockatiels. Hope you share this information and maybe we can prevent another tragedy. Dani
Moth Balls We have been told by a couple of Bird Vets not to use Moth Balls in your house if you have birds.
House Plant Product Warning Earl warns: I have such faith in my parrots' ability to recognize things they can and can't eat that I want to warn people concerning house plants, that the problem may not be the plant itself, but pesticides and other chemicals that are applied to them. I was in the wholesale orchid business for almost 20 years and did use various chemicals in the controled environment of the greenhouse -- fertilizers, mineral retardents like copper sprays, sterilizing agents, fungicides and bactericides -- all of which have a certain period before the toxins degrade and change into less harmful substances. Some -- which I did NOT use -- persist over long periods of time and are very toxic to wildlife and carry label warnings concerning birds and fish. Sometimes plants are purchased after having been treated and other times a homeowner will treat the plant themselves without reading the product label. While some products are applied to and remain on the plant surface, others are systemic and remain in the plant tissue for specific periods of time.
Bad plants for birds: http://www.cockatiels.org/badplants.html
Safe plants for birds: http://www.cockatiels.org/safeplants.html
Cage Bedding Only use paper on the bottom of the birdcages. Almost everything sold over the counter as bedding, can be harmful one way or another for the birds. Birds have died from ingesting the corncob bedding and other materials used as flooring for the cage. Cedar is never to be used for anything.
Teflon and all Non Stick Utensils and Appliances: If a non stick surface overheats it sends out toxic fumes that are fatal to birds. This means if you accidentally leave a non stick pan on the stove and it overheats your bird is dead. It doesn't matter if the bird is in another room. If you can smell cooking in that room, then he will get the fumes. According to vets, they suffocate over a one or two hour period of time and it is heart wrenching to watch. There is no way to reverse the process once it begins. It just isn't worth it.
Also be aware that other products can contain Teflon, like some DRYERS, (even HAIR DRYERS), SPACE HEATERS, IN-DOOR BARBECUES, GRILLS, WAFFLE IRONS, IRONS, SELF-CLEANING OVENS (someone wrote in to Ann Landers, according to a reader Elizabeth, that she had lost all her canaries due to her self-cleaning oven) etc. Some space heaters even use a Teflon coating that burns off during the first few uses. We always run a new space heater in the garage (there is no door to the house) for a day or so before using in the house. We also have reports that the same advice goes for new furnaces. Run the furnace for a day or two without the birds in the house to burn off the Teflon coating.
More Teflon coated products are coming on the market constantly so be diligent about this danger. If you buy something that heats up, ask yourself "Does this product contain Teflon" then check it out. There is no such thing as being too careful when it comes to the life of your birds. Update 8-14-2002 Don't forget about other people doing work in your house. Here's a very sad story from Michelle: In April we had a small piece of carpet cut out and replaced in the living room. I notified the repair man that I have birds in my house and cannot have any fumes, teflon used in my home. I have a amazon and a moluccan cockatoo. They assured me that there were no fumes or toxic material being used. 4 hours later my moluccan Roxy started to throw up, we rushed her to an emergency 24 hr. vet who didn't know a thing about birds. She gave her a injection of antibiotic and she soon after went into respiratory distress and died at 1:15 am. We did not do a necropsy on her. I found out the next day they had used carpet glue and a Teflon iron to repair the carpet. Even though I took Roxy upstairs to another room while the work was being done she died anyway. A part of us died too that night. I'll never know for sure exactly what she died from but I believe this was the cause. Many people have asked my then why is my amazon OK? I don't really know. Let everyone know you cannot trust workers in your house, they don't know what they are using in your house and they know less about parrots!!! [From Bird HotLine: Consider turning off all vents (air circulation devices like a furnace) and putting towels at the bottom of the door to your bird's room if there is any remote possibility of toxic fumes. Of course removing the bird for 48 hours is best and there should be absolutely no bad smell when the bird returns.]
New Clorox unsafe for pets according to an email from a Vet. [Since this came out new information as come to light. Go to this site for information that seems to disprove this warning. We have chosen to leave the warning on so you can make your own decision. Bird HotLine.] Have you noticed that Clorox has changed? It's now Ultra Clorox and should be avoided at all costs. It took me weeks to get Clorox to respond to my query and then I found this Clorox Bleach, long a favorite with pet owners/animal workers-businesses for its simple chlorite (5.25% sodium hypochlorite with "inert ingredients") changed its formulation. New CLOROX ULTRA is sodium hypochlorite AND sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide is one of the ingredients of LYE. It was added to make bleach work faster. While lye is used in making basic soaps, it is also very difficult to rinse off surfaces. DO NOT USE ULTRA CLOROX around pets (or children)! Do not use Ultra Clorox to disinfect floors, kennel runs, carriers/crates, litter boxes or feeding/water dishes! Because felines groom their paws, it is dangerous to cats. This is a warning to ALWAYS check labels on any "new & improved" product labels. Safeway brand Ultra Bleach DOES NOT contain any lye & is simply a stronger version of sodium hypochloride (simple bleach), with additional chemicals.
Check for Ethanol alcohol in your spray products. Jane warns: Ethanol (alcohol) in any form is fatal to birds and most household products and toiletries contain this. I just use a damp cloth now to dust, all spray deodorants are banned, and the moths and flies now get swatted. I think all these companies should be made aware of the lethal potential of using alcohol in products which causes neurological as well as biliary disorders in pet birds. I got the info from the internet where research has been done.
Herpes in Quakers Duffy wants Quaker owners to know: I am currently dealing with a Quaker (Joker) who has Herpes, which lies dormat in Quakers until under great stress or injury. Joker broke his leg Thanksgiving which kicked in the herpes, which in turn started the mutulating. I hope this helps a few people knowing that herpes can be a cause of self mutulation. If nothing else you can have your vets check for this possibility in your feathered loved ones.
Onions may not be good for birds Michelle reports that onions are poisonous to dogs, and the talk amongst breeders and bird clubs is that onions are also poisonous to birds. When ingested they interact with digestive juices and release a toxic chemical. My bird club is now warning people not to feed their birds onions for this reason. They say a little piece now and then (whew! in my case) isn't harmful, but a steady diet may result in poisoning, and it's difficult for the vet to detect from tests what the problem would be.
Leg Band Dangerous Jackie wrote in to say: My greenwing macaw, Bruno, bent his leg band so bad it was stopping the circulation. If I hadn't acted quickly it could have ended tragically. [We have received many stories about birds dying as a result of hanging from their leg band. Consider removing the leg band. We were surprised how easy it was to do by our Vet and it sure saved us a lot of worry over the years because as with kids you never know what stunts they are going to pull. Bird HotLine]
Febreze now says they have removed the zinc chloride from their product and it is now safe around birds. They do say not to spray with the bird in the room. We have also had reports that the fragrance may also be harmful. What concerns us most about all products when they say they are safe around birds, but to remove the bird from the room while it is being used, is that the manufacturer assumes that the bird remains in the cage. Since we know they don't and are into everything--our clothes, furniture, drapes, etc.--we worry about what may happen if the bird ingests the product after the fact. This is a general comment and not specific to Febreze.
Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh carpet deodorizer We got this message: "My cockatiel died after I used it. Company admitted it's not recommended for use around birds. They said they didn't need to put a warning on the product. I'm just broken hearted, and her mate is just lost without her. Loretta"
Warning about OFF Insect repellent! I wanted to let people know of an experience I recently had. Last week a friend came over to hold a Bourke (Bourke's Grass Parakeet from Australia) she is planning to buy. She washed her hands like always. In less then 5 minutes he was having a seizure. I called a friend and after looking and answering questions it was realized that it was from the OFF Insect repellent she had sprayed on her shirt. Either he had inhaled the vapors or nibbled on her shirt and ingested some. He had them for 24 hours; 5 days have passed since the last one. I feel I am lucky the outcome could have been far worse. I just wanted to get this information out there. Angie
The 3M plastic window treatments--used for drafty windows--give off fumes that are toxic to birds when, as directions tell you to do, a blow dryer is used to make them "smooth" and adhere better. A member lost birds that way. Deanna
New Furnace: Another member lost his Blue and Gold Macaw after having a new furnace installed. The furnace apparently had some parts that gave off toxic fumes during their initial start-up phase. Apparently it's best to keep birds away during the first couple days a new furnace runs.
"Material Safety Data Sheet" Being a past Safety Director, I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. Any product you buy, you can receive a "Material Safety Data Sheet" (MSDA) from the MFG. by calling them and requesting it. MSDA Sheets will list all chemicals in the product, "It Is Required By Law". You may want to pass this on to all Bird Patroller Members so they can obtain the information about the products they are using in their home's. Lonnie Bird Patrol member.
MSG I also wanted to let you know that feeding your birds anything with MSG in it can be deadly. I had the most wonderful Mullucan Cockatoo named Sammy that I lost overnight because some guests fed him Chinese food with MSG in it. I was unaware that they did this. The Vet told me later, after his death that that was what caused it. Thank you, Ruth [Please note you can find MSG in a lot more food than just Chinese food, look at the ingredients of the food you buy. All of the following ingredients contain MSG. Bird HotLine Gelatin, Calcium Caseinate, Monosodium glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Textured Protein, Monopotassium glutamate, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Autolyzed Plant Protein, Yeast food or nutrient, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Autolyzed Yeast. Click on the following for further details: http://www.msgmyth.com/hidename.htm]
Organic bird bedding. We've been seeing birds die of grit impactions for years now, as we slowly (but hopefully surely) get the information out to the bird owning public. So, please, don't risk your bird's life. Not just babies eat cage bottom materials, adults can, and do as well. And birds of all ages can die from that behavior. So, no walnut shell bedding, corn cob bedding, kitty litter. Plain old newspaper, paper towels, brown paper bags or on a roll, etc., work just fine. You can see and evaluate daily droppings catching any changes before the problem is overwhelming. Color, size, consistency and number of droppings are all VERY important. Sure it's easier to "keep clean" if you only change bedding once a week or so, but who knows what's going on with the droppings if you cannot see them?
House Plants: Today our little Chi Chi died. He was a black masked lovebird. Three months old, a new addition to our family for Christmas. He was his daddy's little boy that's for sure. Anyway, today he died in his Dad's hands. The cause of death was a house plant. A very large Jade plant we have had for years. Apparently they are fatal. Last night while I was in the kitchen, I noticed Chi Chi in the plant. I don't know how he got there. He got through the night but died slowly today. He slept fitfully in his dad's hands until mid afternoon and then quietly passed on. Anyway, plants are scary, keep the babies away from all of them unless you know for sure it's safe. It happens so fast. We all miss him. Darrell, Tammy and Baby [Please check all house plants to see if they are toxic to birds. There are a great many that are. --Bird HotLine]
Apple seeds: Someone wrote in to say: "Did you know that apple seeds are toxic to birds? They contain cyanide." [The apple part is just fine. Most birds love apples. Just be sure you keep them away from the seeds. --Bird HotLine]
More warnings as we receive them, so check this page often.
Holiday Warnings! We all know how rushed the Holidays are! We're running around buying presents, cooking goodies, wrapping presents, and generally going bonkers! It's easy at this time of year to get distracted and forgetful, especially toward our winged friends. With that in mind, we're posting a few Holiday Pointers for you on the Bird HotLine. Take a few minutes to read each section to help avoid a possible holiday emergency or tragedy.
Purchasing a Bird as a Christmas Present
We've all heard stories of the problems animal shelters had after 101 Dalmatians was in the theater. Well-meaning folks bought tons of puppies for children at Christmas, only to turn them over to animal shelters a few months later when they found out how rambunctious and ill-fitted these puppies were for life with their families. Birds are becoming extremely popular in the United States as pets, and we're seeing some of the same problems as a result. Before you decide to buy your child a pet bird for Christmas or any other time of the year, please do research as to which species best fits your family. Talk to a bird club member in your area, visit a breeder, read books on different species. It is absolutely essential that you understand about diet, sanitation, toys, interaction. Even many of the smaller birds such as cockatiels and Quakers can live up to 15 to 20 years. Are you and your child ready for such a commitment? Are you willing and able to provide sometimes expensive proper veterinary care during the life of your feathered friend? Are you prepared to give the same amount of attention and love for years to your pet bird that you started him with during Christmas when he was brand new? Please help us avoid the tragedy of unwanted pet birds by doing research BEFORE you buy.
The Hustle and Bustle of Christmas
Birds love routine, and sometimes at Christmas we're so busy we often forget our feathered friends need our attention. Be prepared at Christmas for some "bad behavior" such as screaming or biting. Keep in mind our friends don't understand why we're tired from shopping or baking. Keep some special "Christmas Treats" on hand (Nutraberries or other special bird-friendly muffins or goodies you can bake yourself) and make sure to lavish some attention on your friend. If you are going away for the holidays, prepare NOW to get a responsible pet sitter who understands birds, or make arrangements for a trusted friend to come in and take care of your baby in your absence. Make introductions beforehand so your bird sees the person at least once, and you can show the caretaker what foods and treats, and in what proportion, to feed your bird. Visits of at least once a day are absolutely necessary for clean food and water.
Birds get their comfort from repetition, so when new things all of a sudden appear in their environment they can get stressed or fly in terror and hurt or kill themselves. So bird owners should keep the decorations out of sight of the bird, and especially consider that any unfamiliar item (especially if it moves or flutters) above your birds may be interpreted as a predator. I remember bringing a balloon home one day, only to open the door to hear screams of panic and attempts to escape or hide by my birds.
Also of course Bird Owners should make sure the birds can't get to the decorations because they will get curious and may sample some intriguing items. Cords especially look delicious enough to chew, and it only takes half a second for a bird to bite through an electrical cord and get a very serious shock which may result in death.
Don't use automatic moving items, like remote control cars, dolls that walks etc. in front of the bird. They do not understand and fly in terror and kill or hurt themselves.
Many traditional Holiday plants are also poisonous, so really it's better to be safe than sorry. No holly, mistletoe, Jerusalem cherry, poinsettias, flowering bulbs such as paper whites, etc. Remember this rule of thumb for holiday plants: "When in doubt, DON'T!" It only takes a half second for an inquisitive bird to gulp a delicious looking Jerusalem cherry, and if you're lucky you make it to the vet's office in time. You can use artificial flowers, but don't allow your birds to chew them, as the wires that stiffen flower stalks and petals often contain zinc or lead compounds, both of which are deadly for birds.
Scents from candles, pine room sprays, room deodorizers can be deadly. No potpourri, please. Instead, use herbal potpourris you prepare yourself. Bowls of lavender flowers, dried basil leaves, lemon verbena, cinnamon sticks with dried orange peels, all make great scent potpourris that won't poison your bird. Don't use an essential oil diffuser either.
The Christmas Morning Frenzy
Don't open packages with the bird on the floor, in the excitement they can be stepped on. Also, a smaller bird may get hidden in the papers and inadvertently picked up in a bundle and put in the trash bag. Sound impossible? Believe me, it's not. To be safe, keep your bird in his cage until ALL packages have been opened and ALL ribbons and papers have been cleaned up and thrown out. Don't leave open bags of colorful papers and ribbons lying around, they are way too tempting to play in. Immediately throw out any cellophane or plastic wrapping, as it can suffocate birds.
Also, NEVER give your bird ribbon to chew and shred. She could get the ribbon tangled around her neck and inadvertently hang herself in the cage; she could ingest the ribbon which may cut her crop and intestines, or choke her, or cause impaction of the crop. If you wish, keep a color paper plate (not styrofoam) handy. When it's time to open presents, make a big deal of giving your friend the plate to chew and shred while you're "shredding" your Christmas Presents! What fun, eh??!!
The Holiday Kitchen
The kitchen can be a dangerous place for birds. Self-cleaning ovens and Teflon pans can be deadly if overheated, and first time used room heaters with Teflon can be deadly. Folks who bring dishes that need to be cooked at your house should be told to bring ONLY non-Teflon or non-stick dishes. NO EXCEPTIONS. If they bring their food in a Teflon pan anyway, saying "oh, I'll watch it! It will be fine!" Immediately bring out your own pans and pots and insist. How many times have we gotten distracted and left the fire burning under a pan or pot on the stove? Oh yeah, we've all done it. Well, it only takes one time, and once a bird inhales Teflon or nonstick fumes there's no way to save him or her. It's a terrible and painful way to die, so take no chances, please! And it doesn't matter if the bird is in the living room, or on another floor. The fumes travel throughout the house.
Also, keep the bird out of the kitchen when cooking. There's the Teflon danger, yes, but also a bird could easily fall into or fly into a pot of boiling water, or land on a hot burner.
It's Time to Eat!
Okay, whew! We got through the worst parts! We usually have plenty of company for the holidays, so lay down a few bird-friendly rules for your visitors. NO ONE is allowed to feed your bird "treats" except you or under your strict supervision. Children should be told to keep their fingers out of the cages for their own safety. While it's fun to feed a bird treats, imagine a child feeding chocolate to your bird, or many salty nuts, or maybe a piece of apple that has apple seeds on it. Please, it's up to you to lay down the bird laws and keep your friend safe!
You may wish to move your bird's cage into the dining room when you sit down for a formal dinner. Keep his cage close to you, and have some "holiday food" for him to eat. After all, he's a member of the family too! Baked yams with no butter or salt makes an excellent treat for your friend while you eat. Carrot sticks, pieces of turkey, potato with no butter, salt or gravy, steamed broccoli, etc., all make great "Christmas Dinner" treats for your bird. Make sure all warm foods are just that: warm, not hot. Just above room temperature is perfect.
No matter how much your bird begs other people for food, never allow guests to give food treats to your bird unless they are bird people too and know what's good and what's bad for birds.
Use caution when new people come to your house for the holidays. Make sure your bird can't accidentally get outside as guests come through the door, and make sure folks don't stand talking with the door open. Cold drafts can be deadly for birds, along with getting out the door. Please also ask your guests not to smoke around your birds. If it seems they will die without a cigarette, ask them to step outside. Remember, nicotine and all tobacco byproducts are poisonous to birds, whether ingested or inhaled!
If you have guests who are afraid of birds, keep your birds in their cages. You don't want somebody in a panic swatting at your bird, or kicking her, or stepping on her. It's best to leave your bird in her cage when lots of guests are in the house partying. Folks as a rule don't look down when they're moving around, and your bird can easily be stepped on and killed.
During a party, it's best to keep signs on the cage, such as "Keep your fingers out! I Bite!" or "Do Not Feed the Parrot!!!" Better yet, if you can, move your bird to a quiet bedroom until the party is over. I don't know why, but some idiots think it's funny to give alcohol to a bird, so don't take chances. Also, make sure all cups and glasses with alcohol, and all leftover food, are cleaned up after the party before your bird gets out and roams around.
These Holiday Bird Tips have been brought to you by Steve and Sandy of the Bird HotLine, and by BirdSlave. We hope you find them helpful for a safe and happy Holiday Season!
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