Cage Safety

Written by Deb White. Posted in Safety

Parrot Cage SafetyWhen considering the purchase of a cage for your bird, safety is a prime consideration.  The following categories provide an overview of the key safety issues you must consider and investigate:

Bar Spacing

Bar spacing is an important safety consideration when it comes to choosing a suitable cage.  The bar spacing must be narrow enough to prevent your bird from escaping the cage and, more importantly, from getting his head trapped between the bars.  Please refer to our Cage Size Guide for recommendations as to species specific bar spacing criteria.

Bar Gauge

The cage bars and welds must be strong enough to prevent your bird from bending the wire and/or breaking the welds.   Wire gauge is a measure of thickness.  The smaller the wire gauge number the larger the diameter.

Materials/Finish Type

Cages are made out of a variety of materials each with pros and cons and varied lifetimes.   

Metal is most durable of the materials commonly used.   Metal cages are typically powder coated iron or they made from stainless steel.

  • Powder coated cages  come in a variety of fashionable colors and  are less expensive than Stainless Steel.  The powder coat should be non-toxic and the cage should be inspected for signs of flaking.
  • Stainless steel is the safest, most durable, toxic free, easiest to clean cage material available.   If you can afford a stainless steel cage it will be the best cage investment you can make.

Acrylic cages may allow for an enhanced view of your bird but, it is reported, that they are not as durable as metal bar cages and they offer restricted opportunities for climbing.

Wood cages are most often used for smaller, non-destructive bird species (i.e., finches, canaries).   Wood cages are difficult to clean and definitely not recommended for hookbills who will ultimately chew their way out of the cage.

Construction Quality

  • Are the cage bars welded or fitted through drilled holes in the frame?  Drilled holes often allow for water, feces and urine to get inside the cage frame which often results in bacterial growth and rust formation.
  • Is the cage top securely fastened to the frame?
  • Are the locks and or latches adequate to contain your bird and prevent escape through doors or food hatches?
  • Do the perches fit securely?
  • Are there loose or accessible parts that a mechanical bird can disassemble?
  • Are the seams well fitting? Are there any sharp edges?
  • Are the welds smooth and rust free?
  • Is there fancy scrollwork that could pose a foot/leg entrapment hazard?

Buying a Used Cage

If you purchase a used cage, the most important thing you must do to ensure your bird's health and safety is to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to housing your bird in it.

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Cleaning Products Beware!

Written by Administrator. Posted in Safety

Safe Household Cleaners for ParrotsMany standard household cleaners contain very harsh chemicals and are potentially deadly to our birds.    Birds are very sensitive to chemicals and fumes, therefore, it is very important to relocate your bird to another part of the house when using chemical cleaners.    There are many stories on the internet of birds who have died or have become ill as the result of exposure to the chemicals and fumes from carpet, furniture, bathroom, glass and oven cleaners.  Several products have been linked to bird deaths (Carpet Fresh, Fabreze, Scotchguard, Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh just to name a few).

If not toxic, most cleaners are at a minimum respiratory irritants.  Bleach, for example, gives off chlorine gas which is very harsh on a bird's lungs and any product with an aerosol delivery system should be avoided entirely.  

Fortunately, there are healthier and safer alternatives for both you and your bird that can be used that are also very effective at cleaning.   The following articles provide further guidance on homemade and natural cleaners that can be used for all of our standard household cleaning tasks:

For cage related cleaning tasks, ALWAYS choose bird safe cleaning products such as those sold on the AvianEnrichment site over standard cleaners.

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Common Household Dangers

Written by Deb White. Posted in Safety

Parrots and household safetyOur home is supposed to be our safe haven and this should hold true for our parrots too!  The reality is that birds have to face many dangers in our "unnatural" environment.   Hazards lurk around every corner of our homes and it is our responsibility to do room by room "safety inspections" and remove any and all hazards.  Parrots don't have the requisite knowledge and experience to realize when they are putting themselves in harm's way.  They are very adept at getting into danger due to the combination of their curious nature, mobility and powerful beaks.
Most household related deaths are the result of either exposure to a toxic substance (via inhalation or ingestion) or due to a physical trauma.

Substances Posing Risk of Toxic Poisoning via Inhalation

Parrots are extremely sensitive to the quality of the air environment around us. Exposure to many pollutants and toxins can cause severe health problems, premature death and even an immediate fatality for your companion parrot.

A partial list of common household items that contain or generate toxic pollutants hazardous to birds follows:

  • Household cleaners (kitchen, bathroom, furniture polish, fabric protectors)
  • Teflon fumes (non-stick cookware, irons, self-cleaning ovens, etc.)
  • Aerosols  (cleaners, hairspray, deodorant, perfumes, etc.)
  • Insecticides (bug bombs)
  • Paint Fumes
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Smoke from poorly ventilated woodstoves and fireplaces. Never burn wood that has been painted, varnished or chemically treated because the fumes may be highly toxic.
  • Mothballs
  • Garden chemicals (fertilizers, insecticides)
  • New carpet fumes
  • Scented candles, Incense, Potpourri
  • Air Fresheners (aerosol & plug-in)
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Adhesives

Toxic Poisoning Via Ingestion (by mouth)

Our birds love to chew and they love to explore the world with their beaks.   If left unsupervised they can find many items around our homes that could be toxic if ingested.

  • Food Safety
  • Poisonous Plants
  • Heavy metal poisoning from chewing on:
  • objects containing lead (solder, old paint, lead weights, wine bottle foil, costume jewelry, pencils, leaded stained glass)
  • galvanized metal (zinc)
  • preserved wood products (arsenic)
  • Human medications and supplements
  • Spoiled food (mold, fungus)
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables (pesticides)

Physical Risks

Most physical accidents are the result of unclipped wings or simply a lack of supervision when your bird is out of its cage.   Almost all of the tragic scenarios listed below would be avoidable through the exercise of good judgment and a little vigilance:

  • Drowning in an open toilet, sink or fish tank
  • Broken neck from flying into window, mirror or moving ceiling fan.
  • Heat exposure in car
  • Burns from stove, boiling water, wood stove or fireplace
  • Other animals or small children - knocking over cage, playing rough, scratches, bites
  • Suffocated in bed by owner
  • Crushed by being stepped on
  • Strangled in unkempt rope toy
  • Poor environmental temperature control
  • Escape through open window or door
  • Killed by hawk or other predator
  • Entrapment due to overgrown toenails or beak.
  • Electrocution by chewing thru electrical cord.

The reader is encouraged to explore all the safety articles within the AvianEnrichment site as well as the abundance of helpful safety information available through other reliable sources.

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Emergency Preparedness

Written by Deb White. Posted in Safety

emergency preparednessWe all have the pictures of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath fresh in our minds and we've heard many heartbreaking stories of pets that had to be left behind.  Many people did not evacuate because they could not take their pets with them to the shelters.  The end result was the loss of many human lives as well as those of their animal companions.  Many more animals were displaced and have yet to be reunited with their owners.
In October 2006, President Bush signed the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act or PETS Act which amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.  With this law, each state and local government must have in place an emergency plan to evacuate people and their pets.  FEMA and the Humane Society of the US have agreed to work together in developing evacuation and sheltering plans for pets.  

You may not be exposed to hurricanes, blizzards, tidal waves, earthquakes, tornados, forest fires or floods; however, you can still be susceptible to gas leaks, fires, electrical outages, home flooding, hazardous spills, and water main breaks.  It is to your benefit to be prepared for any emergency.  How would you handle it?  Would you be prepared to get your bird out safely?

Every household should have an evacuation plan in place. The American Veterinary Medical Association has developed a helpful document Saving the Whole Family that contains some helpful information on preparing to evacuate all types of domestic animals including pet birds. Additionally, they provide an summary of the animal disaster plans and resources by state.

Some disasters provide for warnings days in advance.   As soon as the possibility of a pending disaster becomes known start taking steps to protect yourself and your birds.   Being prepared in advance will help you to evacuate efficiently, confidently and safely.

Key components of an evacuation plan include:

  • Making sure you have enough travel carriers available to transport all of your pets.
  • Keeping your carriers under or next to your bird's cages.  When time is critical this is much more convenient than having to retrieve them from the garage, basement or attic.
  • Pre-labeling each one of your carriers with the following info in indelible ink:
    • Bird's name
    • Your name and contact info
    • Vet's name and contact info
  • Preparation of an emergency evacuation kit containing:
    • Pet food in airtight container (7 day supply)
    • Bottled Water
    • Medications
    • First Aid Kit
    • Proof of ownership papers
    • Copy of Vet Records
    • Mister for bathing and keeping bird cool during hot weather.
    • Hot water bottle for keeping them warm in winter.
    • Food dishes & water bottle
    • Cleaning supplies & disinfectant
    • Cage Cover
    • Cage liners
    • Toys
  • Researching your options for escape routes and emergency accommodations (shelters, pet friendly hotels, friends, relatives) that are far enough away from danger and will accept your pet.
  • Having a photo of your bird in your wallet labeled with his band ID number for identification purposes just in case you have to leave him behind at a pet shelter.
  • Affix a pet evacuation sticker (available from the humane society) on your front door or on the front door of your refrigerator indicating the number of pets residing in your household.  Provide an emergency contact number in case the animals must be removed without your knowledge. Without this, rescuers may not be aware that there are animals in the home.
  • If you are going on vacation and someone is watching your parrot companion, familiarize them with the plan and the emergency kit.

In the Case of Emergency...

  • Stay calm.
  • Transfer birds to their carriers.
  • Call to make emergency shelter arrangements/reservations.
  • Leave immediately with your pets when ordered to evacuate or sooner if possible.
  • Load your car
  • Proceed to your pre-planned evacuation destination.
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Food Safety

Written by Deb White. Posted in Safety

Parrot Food SafetyOK, so we've made the resolution to feed our feathered friends a well rounded, nutritional diet.  What else do we have to worry about?

Toxins are Lurking!

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables need to be washed before feeding them to your parrot to remove bacteria as well as pesticide and fungicide residues.
  • All food must be checked for mold and fungal growth and discarded as necessary.  Mold and fungi can be toxic to your bird!
  • Food should be stored in appropriate containers at the appropriate temperature.
  • Fresh foods should be removed from your bird's cage after no longer than 2 hours due to spoilage and bacterial growth.
  • Use separate bowls for dry vs. wet foods.
  • Keeping food and water dishes away from each other will assist in discouraging your parrot from dipping its food into the water dish.
  • Dishes must be sanitized daily by scrubbing them out with hot, soapy water.  This should be supplemented by a disinfecting soak 2-3 times a week.
  • Fresh water must be available at all times.  Birds require fresh water at least once a day and sometimes several times a day in a clean dish.  Consider using  a water bottle to avoid contamination.
  • If you are serving hot foods make sure that they are sufficiently cooled to avoid crop burn.

Poisonous/Dangerous Foods

Just as there are foods we should avoid as humans, there are foods that are potentially toxic to your birds.

  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Seeds and pits from fruits  (apple seeds contain cyanide)
  • mushrooms (many species are potentially toxic)
  • onions (can destroy red blood cells)
  • commercially grown strawberries (extremely high pesticide residues)
  • tomato leaves
  • uncooked beans
  • uncooked eggs

In general, other foods that should be avoided include:

  • salty foods
  • refined sugars
  • fatty foods
  • dairy products (not easily digested)

Please note that the above is not a complete list of potentially toxic items.  If in doubt, consult with your avian veterinarian.

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Keep Your Bird Safe During the Holidays

Written by Deb White. Posted in Safety

Parrot Holiday SafetyWith the Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's holidays upon us we are all busy planning our family gatherings, gift giving and decorations.  The season brings with it unique hazards that we all need to be mindful of so that we can assure that our feathered family members are protected:

  • Pine and fir Christmas trees with soft needles are the safest.  Avoid sharp needle trees and artificial tees with metallic needles.   Also be aware that many trees are treated with pesticides as well as chemically treated so that they will last longer.
  • Colorful ornaments and dreidels can attract the attention of our curious and playful companions. Birds should be kept away from metallic ornaments that can break into sharp pieces resulting in cuts and wood ornaments that often contain lead paint.
  • Tinsel and angel hair can present entanglement and GI blockage hazards for birds.
  • Decorative electrical lights and cords are used in abundance during the season.  Make sure the cords are well hidden and keep your bird away from them.  Chewing the cords can result in burns and electrocution.
  • Holiday plants such as Poinsettia, Mistletoe berries, Holly berries and Christmas Cactus are all known to be either toxic or at a minimum severe irritants to birds.  
  • The yule logs that provide us with colorful flames contain heavy metal salts that are toxic if ingested.
  • Candles, potpourri and incense can contain volatile oils that are toxic to birds.  Flight into a burning candle can result in injury and or a tragic fire.   Keep flighted birds caged when open flames are present and purchase bird safe, unscented candles.   Boil simple herbs such as mint, cloves or cinnamon to scent your house.
  • Avoid using metallic gift wraps and bows as they may contain toxic metals.   If you give your bird wrapped presents use non-glossy, non-metallic paper, cellophane or tissue.
  • We humans tend to overindulge in food during the holidays.   Avoid the temptation to share fatty, sugary and salty treats with your bird.   
  • Be aware that large numbers of guests and parties can be a source of significant stress for your birds.   If having a party make sure your birds have a place to escape from the noise, smoke, late night activities and the people who may not understand and respect their needs.  

With all of the things we have to keep our parrots away from this season why not allow them to participate in the festivity of the season by decorating their cages with safe holidays toys?

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Outdoor Safety

Written by Deb White. Posted in Safety

Parrot Outdoor SafetyTime spent outdoors can be a very mentally, physically and instinctually stimulating experience for your bird. For optimal safety, this should occur while in an outdoor cage or aviary.
Your bird will enjoy the opportunity to experience the fresh air breezes as well as the many sights and sounds as well as benefit from the exposure to natural sunlight which is known to:

  • Stimulate the production of Vitamin D which is essential in activating the absorption of calcium which is necessary for bone and physical development.
  • Promote skin health and feather quality.
  • Stimulate breeding activity.
  • Strengthen the immune system.
  • Improve mental disposition.
  • Increase playfulness and activity levels.
  • Invigorate appetite.

Outdoor play time also exposes your bird to a multitude of new dangers that must be avoided.

  • Dogs, cats, kids can easily knock over a cage or open unlocked cage doors  resulting in the demise or setting free of your parrot companion.
  • Snakes, rats, and field mice can crawl into the cage trapping your bird.
  • Hawks and other raptors (falcons, owls) are everywhere and can easily swoop down and steal a loose bird or severely injure a caged bird.
  • West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, is a concern in many parts of the country.  
  • If allowed to remain outside a cage, your bird can quickly drown in a pond, bucket of water or a water fountain.
  • Heat Stroke
  • Your parrot companion may also fly into fire pits, open barbeque grills, or directly into traffic.

To make sure you bird is safe while outdoors:

  • Be sure that their wings are clipped.  Even a clipped bird with the correct wind can take off in a flash.
  • Never leave your bird outside unsupervised.
  • Keep your bird safely inside a cage or under your control while wearing a flight suit/harness.
  • Keep animals and wild birds away from your bird's cage.
  • Make sure your bird's cage is securely locked.
  • Provide your bird with access to shade and plenty of fresh water throughout the day to prevent heat stroke.   Misting your bird will also keep him cool.  Be alert for the signs of heat exhaustion.
  • If you let your bird sit in a branch or in the grass make sure that they have not be sprayed with any chemicals. Plant pesticides and fungicides, insect pesticides, and lawn fertilizers are all toxic to your bird.
  • Don't allow your bird to bathe in a wild bird bath to prevent disease.
  • Don't place your bird's cage next to the outdoor grill or fireplace as the smoke will irritate your bird's very sensitive lungs.
  • Due to the risk of West Nile virus,  don't take your birds outside during peak mosquito hours (early morning and evening) and do not allow standing water, where mosquitoes lay their eggs, to accumulate on your property.
  • Do not use insect repellents near your bird.
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Parrot Safety

Written by Administrator. Posted in Safety

Parrot SafetyIn the wild, bird's face many challenges in ensuring their day to day survival.  However, bird's face many more challenges surviving in our "unnatural environment."   They have to navigate and survive many household hazards that we often don't even think twice about.

Over the years we've heard of pet birds dying as the result of:

  • exposure to toxic fumes (teflon, cleaners, new carpet, etc.)
  • being stepped on
  • drowning in a sink or toilet
  • flying into a ceiling fan
  • being fed a poisonous food
  • being electrocuted
  • strangling on an unsafe or unkempt toy
  • being smothered in bed by their owner
  • escaping through an open window
  • breaking neck by flying into a window
  • being attacked by a family pet
  • being attacked by a hawk

Most of these deaths were the result of accidents that could have easily been prevented and many were the result of plain ignorance where the owners knew better but didn't take appropriate precautions.   There exists a growing body of information in regards to parrot safety and taking the time to learn from other's tragedies may save your bird, as well as save you a lot of heartache.

Our pet birds are dependent on us to ensure they are kept safe from harm in our homes and that we are prepared to handle emergencies.  Just like little children, our bird's curiosity can help them find very creative ways to find trouble if they are left unsupervised.Please take a few minutes to read the safety information contained within the AvianEnrichment site and then follow up by taking all the steps necessary to bird-proof your home just as conscientiously as you would to child-proof your home for a toddler.    

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles...Travel Safety

Written by Deb White. Posted in Safety

Parrot Travel SafetyAre you planning to take a trip with your bird?  If so, your trip will go much more smoothly if you take the time to do some advance planning.   Even short trips to the office or the vet's office require some preparation to ensure that your bird travels safely.         
Due to their innate curiosity, most birds enjoy traveling and, indeed, the experience can be very intellectually and socially stimulating for them.   However, some birds may not make suitable traveling companions if they are easily over-stressed by disruptions to their routine or if they suffer from motion sickness.  The first thing to consider when deciding whether to take your bird on a trip is how emotionally and physically well suited they are to travel.

To minimize your bird's stress, it is important to take steps to maintain your parrot's daily routines to the extent possible during travel.  The more you do to ensure they have a consistent diet, similar feeding schedules, sleeping hours, opportunities for bathing and interactive, social time with you, the more secure they will feel and the better they will be able to adapt.

The degree of advance planning and preparation required varies depending on the mode of travel, the length of the trip, the location to which you are traveling and the time of year.

Regardless, of your mode of travel the following always holds true:

  • Take your bird to the vet for a checkup.  Traveling can be very stressful to your bird and if they are already ill then their health could be further impaired by the stress.
  • Don't take your bird outside unless it is in a travel cage, it is wearing an avian harness or it's wings are properly clipped.
  • Check to make sure pets are allowed wherever you plan to stay.
  • Know the regulations of each state or country you plan to visit.  For example, Quaker Parrots are prohibited in several U.S. States.
  • The USDA maintains a helpful pet travel page with links you can follow to help in researching domestic and international pet travel regulations.
  • When traveling from state to state check the U.S. State and Territory Animal Import Regulations for "...the latest regulations on interstate movement of animals".
  • For international travel see the International Regulations for Animals listed by country.
  • The Animal Welfare Act requires that all birds traveling across state lines have a vet issued health certificate dated within 10 days of the date of departure.
  • If traveling to another country, make sure you have the proper documentation and health certifications before attempting to travel.   Be sure to find out whether there are quarantine requirements at your destination.
  • Research the availability of avian vets in the area where you will be traveling and take their contact information with you.
  • Check the weather projections, if it looks risky your bird may be better off staying home.

What to Pack

  • Take enough food and bottled water with you for the entire trip. You may not be able to buy your bird's favorite pellets and treats wherever you are headed.  Supplement his diet with fresh fruits and vegetables purchased locally.
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Cage/carrier cover
  • Mister
  • First Aid Kit
  • Vet contact information
  • Health Certificate

Choosing and Outfitting a Travel Carrier

Security and comfort are the two prime considerations when choosing a travel carrier.  If you are planning to travel by air then the travel carrier must be airline-approved and it must meet dimensional requirements if you plan to travel with your bird in the cabin.  Some of the key questions to ask in choosing a carrier are:

  • Is the carrier sturdy enough to hold up to the jostling and bumps (not to mention the beak) it will be subjected to during transport?
  • Is the handle strong enough for carrying and securing with a seatbelt when traveling by car?
  • Is the door latch secure enough to prevent your bird from forcing it open?
  • Is the carrier big enough to allow your bird to perch comfortably and turn around.
  • Can the carrier be adapted easily to hold a perch ? Be sure to use a perch with a good gripping surface and to mount the perch securely across the width of the carrier.
  • Can the carrier accommodate food and water dishes securely?
  • Does the carrier have good ventilation?
  • Will the carrier be easy to clean?

To make the carrier more comfortable and secure for your bird during a trip:

  • Make sure to provide some of his favorite treats.
  • Include some familiar hand held, destructible toys or soft preening toys.
  • Line the bottom of the carrier with a soft, absorbent towel.
  • If your bird is water bottle trained this will minimize the risk of spills and a damp carrier.   If using a water dish, don't fill it as deep as usual.
  • Provide some high water content fruits and veggies to eat to help prevent dehydration.
  • Be prepared to cover the container if your bird is easily frightened or subject to motion sickness.

Road Trips

Road trips can be a load of fun and taking your parrot with you can make it even more fun.  Before heading out on a long road trip you should acclimate your bird to traveling by taking him in his carrier on short trips around town.  Taking your bird for frequent rides in a car will desensitize your parrot making travel less stressful.   There are several common sense rules that should always be followed when traveling with your bird in a car:

  • Always travel with your bird in a carrier.  A loose parrot can quickly get itself into trouble and be very distracting to the driver.  Remaining in the container will be less stressful for the bird and less dangerous for all parties.
  • Traveling in a carrier will also prevent escape through an open window or door.
  • Secure your bird's travel cage/carrier with a seat belt.
  • If your car is equipped with front seat airbags always travel with your bird in the back seat because the air bag could cause injury if deployed.
  • When making stops never leave your bird unattended in a parked car on a warm or hot day.  Even with the windows cracked the temperature inside the car can rise to deadly levels within minutes.
  • Don't place your bird in direct sunlight.  Use a cover or sun shades.
  • Talking to your bird in reassuring tones throughout the trip will help reduce his stress.
  • If your bird suffers from motion sickness then keep him covered during the trip to reduce visual stimuli.  It has also been reported that fresh ginger slices added to their food and water before the trip will help ease nausea.
  • Be aware that birds can become easily scared by simple things we take for granted such as a big colorful truck passing by, tunnels, overpasses, windshield wipers and car washes.
  • Remove any heavy hanging toys that could cause injury by swinging into your bird.
  • Stop every few hours to check on your bird and give him a few minutes of attention.  Many birds tend not to eat or drink when the car is moving so you should take this time to encourage him to do both.
  • In cold weather, warm up the car first before placing your bird in the car.  Conversely, in hot weather make sure to cool the car first.
  • Adjust the air conditioning or heat to a comfortable level and don't place your bird directly in front of the air conditioning or heating vent.

Air Travel       

Air travel with your bird presents some unique challenges.  Never assume you can just show up at the airport and sneak little tweety into the cabin with you.  All airlines now charge a fee for a pet to fly, they must have a boarding pass to get through security and there are other regulations which must be met in regards to health certification.   The best way to ensure your bird's safety is to ask a lot of questions and to be sure to get answers that sound right before you book travel.

The most important thing to do, if you plan to travel by air, is to investigate the airlines rules and regulations far in advance of making reservations.   Some airlines do not accept birds on their flights at all and others restrict the types of birds allowed.   Reservations for air travel should be made as far in advance as possible, as the airlines that do accept birds place restrictions on the number of pets allowed to fly in the cabin to as few as one or two.

Please note that advance arrangements do not guarantee that your pet will travel on a specific flight. Airlines reserve the right to refuse to transport a pet for reasons such as illness, poor kenneling or extreme temperatures at origin, transfer or destination airports.


Considerations when Booking Air Travel

  • Book a direct and non-stop flight if at all possible.
  • Request a window or middle seat so your bird is not startled by aisle traffic.
  • Your pet will count as a "carry-on" item so pack accordingly.
  • Avoid traveling in inclement weather that could cause significant delays or flight cancellations (i.e., hurricanes, snowstorms).
  • Avoid traveling during times of threatened airline labor strikes
  • Avoid traveling on Holidays as you may experience delays and cancelled flights.
  • Weekday flights are usually less hectic than weekend flights.
  • When traveling in the summer, book only early morning or late evening flights when temperatures are cooler.    In the winter, mid-day flights are the warmest.  Note that carriers reserve the right to embargo pet travel during extreme temperature conditions.
  • Reconfirm your plans 24 to 48 hours before flight departure, especially during peak flying times.

Getting Through Security

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the governing body responsible for guidelines utilized by airports for the screening of all pets and their kennels, whether transported in the passenger cabin or via air cargo.

  • Have security personnel hand check the carrier and your parrot companion as the X-ray screening machines are so powerful that they will cause harm to your bird.   
  • You may be required to remove the bird from his carrier so make sure he is clipped and/or outfitted with a flight harness and leash.  
  • Do not take your bird out of its carrier inside the airport unless TSA personnel ask you to do so.
  • You will need boarding pass for your bird.0
  • Birds flying across state lines need a health certificate obtained from your veterinarian.
  • For easy inspection, maintain a clean, clutter free carrier.

Traveling With Your Bird in the Cabin

  • Your bird must stay in the carrier at all times during flight.
  • If your bird is prone to uncontrolled screaming, be aware he may be removed to the cargo hold.  Be prepared to cover the carrier to keep your bird quiet.
  • The carrier must fit under the seat in front of you.  The under seat dimensions vary by airline, class of travel and aircraft model so you will need to check whether your carrier will meet these specifications prior to arriving at the airport.

Shipping Your Bird as Cargo

Another alternative to carrying your bird in the passenger cabin is having them ride in the cargo hold.  Birds are placed into a pressurized part of the cargo hold, not with the luggage.  Two alternatives for cargo travel are available.  The first is more expensive.  Birds travel from “counter to counter” and are available for pick up immediately after landing from the inside counter.  The second options for the birds are to be shipped air cargo.  You must call the airline's air cargo office 24 to 48 hours before your flight.  The birds must be dropped off and picked up at the air cargo office at the airport.  Note that airlines will not ship live animals if the temperature is above 85 or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

The following guidelines are recommended:

  • Carriers must be sturdy and meet requirements of the airline.
  • A two day supply of food and water is recommended in case of delays.
  • Label the carrier “Live Animal” and indicate the upright position.
  • Label the container with your name, your bird's name, contact information and flight information.
  • Tape a copy of the health certificate to the container.

International Shipping

There are many restrictions on shipping birds internationally since 9/11 and the panic surrounding the avian flu.  Start planning months in advance.  Check with the country of your destination to find out what permits are needed.   Research what the requirements are for the length of stay, space availability, as well as other necessities of quarantine.  Some species are considered endangered and require additional permitting if allowed to travel.

Bus and Train Travel

At this time, neither Amtrak or Greyhound allow pets onboard at any time with the exception of trained service animals.

Hotel Tips

More and more hotels and motels are becoming pet friendly and there are many internet sites that are geared to helping people locate those establishments.  Always make sure that you investigate their policies before you travel as many charge extra fees or require cleaning deposits when you travel with a pet.  Other helpful tips include:

  • Always request a non-smoking room.
  • Don't leave your bird alone in the hotel room or at a minimum hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door to keep hotel staff from entering when you are gone.
  • Make sure the hotel cleaning staff don't use air fresheners or cleaning chemicals in your room as these may harm your bird.   Request linen service only.
  • Ask for a room with a refrigerator so you can keep your bird's cooked food and fruits and veggies fresh.
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Poisonous Plants

Written by Administrator. Posted in Safety

Poisonous Parrot PlantsUnknowingly, you may have toxic plants around your household which present a serious danger to your bird. Parrots instinctually enjoy chewing and shredding plants. If you allow your parrot unsupervised access to your home, you should take steps to make sure toxic plants are removed from your home.


The following is a partial a list of potentially harmful indoor and outdoor plants. 

Acokanthera Firethorn/Pyracantha Oak (acorns, foliage)
Alacia Flame Tree Olaxis
Amaryllis (bulbs) Flamingo Flower Oleander
American Yew Fly Agaric Mushroom/Deadly Amanita Parsley
Angel’s Trumpet

Four O’Clock

Peach (leaves, twigs, pits)
Apple (seeds) Foxglove (leaves, seeds)

Peanuts (if raw)

Apricot (pit, bark) Geranium Peace Lily
Arrowhead Vine Glory Bean Pear (seeds)
Autumn Crocus/Meadow Saffron Glottidium Pencil Tree
Avocado Golden Chain/Laburnum Peony (flowers, leaves)
Azalea (leaves) Ground Cherry Periwinkle
Balsam Pear (seeds, outer rind of fruit) Heliotrope Peyote
Belladonna Hemlock (including water the plant is in) Philodendron
Baneberry (berries, root)


Beans (all types if uncooked) Holly (berries, leaves) Pikeweed
Betal Nut Palm

Honey Locust

Pine needles (berries)
Bird of Paradise (seeds & flowers) Honeysuckle

Plum (leaves, seeds)

Birch Horse Chestnut/Buckeye (nuts, twigs) Poinsettia
Bishop's Weed Horse Nettle Poison Hemlock
Bittersweet Nightshade


Poison Ivy (sap)

Black Locust (bark, sprouts, foliage) Hyacinth (bulbs) Poison Oak (sap)
Bleeding Heart/Dutchman’s Breeches Hydrangea (flower bud) Poison Sumac
Bloodroot Indian Licorice Bean Pokeweed/Inkberry (leaves, roots, and berries)
Blue-green algae (some forms toxic) Indian Turnip/Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poppy
Boxwood (leaves, stems)

Iris/Blue Flag (bulbs)

Potato (eyes, new shoots, stems, leaves, green skin)
Bracken Fern Ivy


Broomcorn Grass Jack-in-the-Pulpit Primrose
Buckthorn (fruit, bark) Japanese Yew (needles, seeds) Privet
Burdock Java Bean (lima bean - uncooked) Pyracantha
Buttercup (sap, bulbs)

Jerusalem Cherry 

Caladium (leaves) Jessamine

Rain Tree

Calla Lily Jimsonweed Ranunculus/Buttercup
Candelabra Tree Johnson Grass Rattlebox
Cardinal Flower Jonquil Red Maple
Castor Bean (also castor oil, leaves)

Juniper (needles, stems, berries)

Catclaw Acacia

Jerusalem Cherry (berries)

Rhubarb (leaves)
Chalice Vine/Trumpet vine Kentucky Coffee Tree Rosary Peas/Indian Licorice (seeds)
Cherry Tree (bark, twigs, leaves, pits)

Lantana (immature berries)

Chinaberry Tree Larkspur Sandbox Tree
Christmas Candle (sap)


Scarlet Runner Beans
Christmas Cherry Lily of the Valley Shamrock plant


Skunk Cabbage
Clematis/Virginia Bower Locoweed Snap Dragon
Coffee Locusts, Black/Honey


Coral Plant (seeds) Lords and Ladies/Cuckoopint Snowflake
Coriander Lupines/Bluebonnet Snow on the Mountain/Ghostweed
Cowslip/Marsh Marigold Malanga Sorghum Grass
Crown of Thorns



Mango Tree (wood, leaves, rind - fruit is safe)


Cyad or Sago Cyas

Marijuana/Hemp (leaves)

Star of Bethlehem
Daffodil (bulbs) Mayapple (fruit is safe) Sudan Grass
Daphne (berries) Mescal Beans (seeds) Sweet Pea (seeds, fruit)
Datura (berries) Mexican Poppy Tansy Ragwort
Deadly Amanita Milkweed Tobacco 
Death Camas Mistletoe (berries)

Tomato plant


Mock Orange (fruit) Umbrella Plant
Dieffenbachia Monkshood/Aconite (leaves, root) Vetches
Eggplant (fruit okay) Monstera Virginia Creeper
Elderberry (leaves) Moonseed Water Hemlock
Elephants Ear (leaves, stem) Morning Glory Wattle
English Ivy (berries, leaves) Mountain Laurel Waxberry
English Yew Mushrooms (many varieties) Weeping Fig


Western Yew
Euonymus/Spindle Tree Narcissus (bulbs) White Cedar
European Pennyroyal


False Hellebore Nightshade Yellow Jasmine
False Henbane Nutmeg Yew (All types)

Sources:    American Medical Association Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants; Gallerstein, Gary A., DVM, 2003, The Complete Bird Owner's Handbook; R. Dean Axelson, Caring For Your Pet Bird; and various internet sources.

If you have a question regarding the safety of a specific plant ask your veterinarian, local green house, or the Animal Poison Control Center (AAPCC).

Click here for a list of Safe Plants.

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