Saturday, December 09, 2017

Winter Holiday Bird Hazards

Holiday Safety for Birds

We all want our winter holiday season to be a safe happy time of the year.  Here are a few suggestions and thoughts on how to help keep everyone safe during this hectic time of year.

Plants & Trees:  Birds should not be allowed to chew on the Christmas tree whether it is a live tree or artificial.  Unless you know FOR SURE that your live tree has not been treated with any chemicals or pesticides, it's best to keep your bird at a safe distance.  Also remember that mistletoe berries, holly berries, and Poinsettias are generally considered highly toxic plants to all pets.

Holiday Decorations:  Although not many of us today still use the silvery strands of tinsel, and if you do although it does not contain any lead, it is definitely not a good idea to let your bird chew on it.  Tinsel, strings of small beads, and some garlands can too easily tangle around tiny toes, legs or other body parts.  Not all tree ornaments are safe either so keep a keen eye on your feathered friend when enjoying the holidays.

Beware also of fake snow or tree flocking which can pose a serious hazard and possible injury to your bird.

Double check to be sure all electrical cords for holiday lights as well as extension cords to hold all the extra plugins are safely out of your bird's reach.  One small bite of an electrical cord can be deadly.

Aromas:   Most candles contain essential oils which can be very toxic to birds when burned.  Usually, the better the candle smells, the more dangerous it usually is.  Better to simply enjoy the look of holiday candles scattered around, rather than burning them anywhere near your bird. 

Also be aware of the dangers of potpourri and pine scented sprays to make your home smell like the outdoors as they also can pose dangers for your bird.

You can make our own wonderful holiday smells by simply adding some cloves and cinnamon to water in a simmering pot.  Just be sure the simmering pot does not boil dry and always unplug it when you leave the house.

Fireplaces:  Although your bird may have his own Christmas stocking hanging by the fireplace, make sure the wood you burn is safe.  Some Yule logs and holiday fire starters may contain heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and such.  A bird's lungs and air sacs are very susceptible to smoke so check to be sure your fireplace draws as it should up the chimney.  Making sure the room is well ventilated if you warm up your home with a nice holiday fire can save worry later.

Gifts:  Everybody loves getting and unwrapping presents, and your bird will too.  Just be sure to wrap your bird's presents only in plain paper or what you know to be bird-safe wrappings, and let the fun begin.  A plain lunch bag also makes a great wrapper for your bird's enjoyment of getting to the goodies. 

Edible Goodies:  First and foremost, be sure to keep your bird away from all the kitchen fumes.  Remember Teflon-coated or any nonstick cookware should never, never, never be used in a home with birds.  This type of cookware contains polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which is lethal to birds often causing death within only minutes.  Many self-cleaning ovens are coated in PTFE also. 

Share the healthy foods you prepare and keep the extra goodies at a minimum.  No matter how much your bird begs, he really doesn't need any of the extra sweet or salty holiday goodies.  Never give your bird (or allow anyone else either) alcoholic beverages, coffee or chocolate.    Keeping some birdie treats handy will help your bird feel included with all the family.

The Other Stuff:  If you entertain a lot during this festive time of year, you may want to designate a quiet place in a bedroom where your bird can be moved while there are lots of family and friends visiting.  This can be the designated stress-free zone (you might want to take a break there occasionally yourself). 

We hope you and all your feathered friends enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

                 Merry Christmas & Seasons Greetings from

                                     The Nature Chest Bird Shop

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sharing Thanksgiving Dinner with your Feathered Family

How safe is it to share your Thanksgiving feast with your bird?

Pumpkin is a great food for birds.  Nutritional and yummy, but best served to your bird before it goes into that pumpkin pie with all the added sugar.

Sweet potatoes are an awesome food to share with your bird.  Some birds like raw slices or small chunks of sweet potato and some prefer slighted cooked and softer.   Although white potatoes should not be fed raw, you can feed sweet potatoes raw if your bird likes them that way.  Again, give them to your bird before adding the extra sugar of most sweet potato casseroles.

Green beans are fun and good eating for your bird and loaded with Vitamin A.  Most of us use frozen green beans these days and that is just fine for your bird.  Can beans, not so much, as they will need to be rinsed well and they usually spoil quickly so if that's all you have, make sure you remove them from your bird's menu within about an hour of feeding.

Cranberries are another great food to share with your bird, but not the canned cranberry jelled dish.

How about some pecans too?  Pecans are full of nutrition but higher in calories than some other nuts, so feed sparingly, and before they go into the pecan pies.

Speaking of Nuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and so on, are usually available this time of year and
are entertaining, nutritious, and fun to play with if you are a bird, so bring on the nuts.

I know some are wondering "What about some Turkey?"  Well, your bird may like a very small taste, but it's not necessary and should only be given within safe time limits for all cooked meats.  And no, your bird is not a cannibal.  If you are a human and you like hamburgers, well what's the difference?


Teflon ( PTFE poisoning/toxicosis) kills birds silently and quickly.  Do not use cookware that contains this non-stick coating, and remember if you need to clean your self-cleaning oven (almost all self-cleaning ovens contain PTFE) after the holiday, remove your bird from the home for about 24 hours. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Parrots Helping Veterans and Vice Versa

There are many troubled parrots in rescue centers in need of loving homes.  They desperately need people who have patience and love to share as they begin to learn to trust and enjoy life.  Sometimes, in the same way, there are people who need love and a purpose of giving in life.  It can be an important step for birds and veterans as these men and women become a guiding light in a parrot's hope for a better future.

Not everyone is aware that just like dogs and a few other animals, parrots can also be registered as emotional support animals.  As therapy pets, parrots can provide a loving companion for many years for a veteran in need.

The group Parrots for Patriots is helping parrots and veterans at the same time.  You can click on the link in this paragraph to visit their website and see how they are helping both parrots and veterans, as well as learn how you can also help.  From Budgies to Macaws, parrots are finding love and giving it in return.

We hope this wonderful program continues to help veterans and birds in providing hope, love, and emotional support for both.

Here are a couple more links to read more about these programs.

Parrots as Therapy Pets for Veterans

How orphaned parrots help Veterans

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Does a Time Change Affect your Bird?

Daylight Savings Time, how does it affect your parrot?

You are either on it or off of it, unless you are lucky enough to live somewhere that does not change the hours of the day depending on the time of year.

I freely admit I am not a fan of time change.

Not only does it make me grumpy for the first week of change, it often makes a few of the flock rather grumpy too.  Just because the clock says they have an hour left of playtime, does not mean they want an extra hour of play time.  Most of mine will start letting me know in louder and louder voices that it's past their bedtime when the clock falls back.  Especially the cockatoos.

Don't even mention the fact that breakfast and dinner may fall an hour later.  According to my birds, meal time is non-negotiable.

It usually takes at least a week if not two, for most of my birds to settle into the new timetable.  However, I do have a few (cockatoos in particular again) who refuse to change their time no matter what the humans do.  They are on nature's time all the time. I have learned to live with it.

Instead of changing their timetable for a whole hour, sometimes making 10 minute daily changes over a course of a week or two, can make it a little easier for your bird to adjust.

Of course, you may be lucky and your bird goes with the flow and isn't bothered at all.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Halloween Safety Tips

There are still neighborhoods and areas that have giggling happy Trick-or-Treaters show up at their doors.  However, in many areas like my own, things have changed and you seldom if ever see children walking the neighborhood hoping to gather sweet treats.

If you do still get a few of those tricky visitors though, be sure to keep your bird safely away from open doors, scary costumes, and boisterous children (and sometimes even adults).

Since times have changed for many of us though, I thought a post about how to keep your bird safe at Halloween might be more along the lines of keeping the sweets from becoming birdie treats.

Sometimes I hear comments that chocolate must not be really toxic to birds because their bird ate a chocolate chip cookie, or some other chocolate treat and was fine.

I cringe when I hear these comments as yes, chocolate really IS toxic.  However not all chocolate is equal.  The dark cocoa found in Dark Chocolate Squares, Bittersweet, and Baker's chocolates are the most toxic and many people do not realize they contain also caffeine which is also bad for your bird.

Chocolate in any form should not be fed to birds. Yes, Bittersweet, Baker's and Dark Chocolates are more toxic than Milk Chocolate, but are you willing to take the chance that your bird has no problem?

It's not just chocolate treats either.  Those yummy sugary candies are no-nos too.  One candy corn may be a great sugar treat for a child, but that's a whole lot of sugar for a bird, especially a small one.

So keep the people treats for the people, and if you want your bird to share in the Halloween fun, pick up a few birdie treats, or even better, bake up some healthy bird treats of your own.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are truly a superfood.  High in vitamin A, providing calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and other wonderful healthy nutrients, makes them a winner for your parrot's diet.

Check your grocery store or local farmers market for the smaller edible pumpkins as a whole foraging food for larger birds.  Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes if your bird prefers cooked softer foods, and after completely cooling, let your bird's fun begin.  You can also cut the top off and remove all the pumpkin seeds (use the seeds later) for less mess if you prefer.

Larger pumpkins can be cut open, seeds removed, baked for about 45 minutes, then cut into smaller sizes and placed in freezer bags for lots of future foraging fun.  You may also cut the pumpkin into chunks before baking as well.

The pumpkin pieces or chunks can also be smashed in a food processor or blender and added to your favorite bird bread recipe or added to your bird's chop.

Pumpkins seeds can be prepared by rinsing well to remove the stringy gooey pumpkin pulp, pat the seeds dry with a paper towel, or spread seeds on the towel or paper plate and air dry.  Then place the pumpkin seeds on a large cookie sheet or cake pan (REMEMBER: DO NOT US NON-STICK PANS THAT MIGHT CONTAIN TEFLON).  You can lightly spray the cookie sheet or pan first with some non-stick cooking spray to help keep the seeds from sticking to the pan.  Preheat your oven to 250-300 degrees and bake the seeds for about 40 minutes.  Ovens can vary so keep on eye on the seeds to be sure they do not burn.  It helps to stir the seeds around about every 10 minutes as well to prevent sticking.  

You can serve the seeds to your bird as soon as they have cooled, as well as placing some or all in freezer bags or containers and freeze for later use.  Pumpkin seeds make great nutritional treats all by themselves.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Spicy Scents of Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year.  The rich colors of the trees and the spicy scent of the air.

I love bringing the outdoor crisp smells into my own home.  However living with birds makes me choose safety first.

Scented candles, potpourri, scented pine cones, table top and plug-in air fresheners, and so on and so on, all make a quick easy addition to the scent of fall in your home.


Those store bought goodies are not usually good for or safe to have around your bird.  Many of these ready-make items use some essential oils and these can be toxic to your bird.

Don't fret though, because it's so easy to make your own personal fall fragrances that are safe for your birds, other pets, or anyone with breathing issues or asthma.

It doesn't take much time either and can be quite fun to create what makes you smile in the morning.  Gather together some fresh or bottled spices and let your imagination swirl.

Standard fall spices include ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg.  Those make a good base to start with, then add anything your heart enjoys such as orange slices, lemon slices, or apples, and such.
When you have the right mix, use a small warming pot such as used for potpourri, or even a small size coffee pot that has a warm setting, or even just a small size sauce pot (NO TEFLON), add some water to your mixture and enjoy.  NOTE:  Never leave your warming pot unattended and especially a pot on the stove to prevent burning and safety issues.

As the liquid mix of water, spices and fruits warm, they emit the cozy feeling of fall that can last for hours or all day depending on how strong your scents are and how long you leave the warmer on.

Another quick idea is to create an arrangement by inserting cloves into oranges, sprinkle pine cones with spices, add cinnamon sticks, and set among fresh cut pine branches.

Enjoy experimenting with the different scents and amounts you like, and find what you love best.