Happy Holidays! The seasonal hustle and bustle has officially started! Dogs and cats often steal the spotlight in those cute seasonal cards and commercials. Fido and Fluffy are always adorable, but let’s not overlook our feathered buddies! Just like all our other animal companions, birds face several potential hazards during the holiday season. To help keep your feathered pal safe, a Fayetteville, NC veterinarian shares some tips for seasonal bird care in this article.


Can I Leave My Bird Home Alone?


Kitties are quite independent, and are often left home for a few days. Though we would always advise boarding, Fluffy may do just fine by herself for short periods, as long as someone checks on her. Birds, however, require more daily attention. Polly needs to be allowed to spend some time outside of her cage every day. She also needs fresh food and water, and a basic spot-clean of her cage. We’d recommend boarding or finding a pet sitter to stay at your home.


Should I Let My Bird Perch On The Christmas Tree?


This may sound like a cute photo opportunity, but it’s actually very dangerous. For one thing, fir trees tend to have sharp needles. These can cause puncture wounds or splinters, both of which can result in infection. Moreover, most of the trees that are sold as Christmas trees have been treated with pesticides, herbicides, fire retardants, and dyes, none of which are safe for your little buddy. Decorations are another concern. As a general rule of thumb, anything sharp or shiny is unsafe. Birds are naturally attracted to shiny objects, and may try to eat, play with, or otherwise interact with ornaments. Ropy and stringy materials, like tinsel, light strings, garlands, popcorn strands, and ribbons can easily entangle or even suffocate your bird buddy. 


What Other Holiday Items Are Dangerous To Birds?


As we’ve already discussed the tree, we won’t go over it again. However, bird owners should be aware of other dangers. Plants are another danger. Many popular seasonal plants, such as holly, ivy, and mistletoe, are poisonous to our winged pals. Polly could also get tangled up in fake plants. Other potential hazards include window dressings, such as lights and hanging decorations; candles and fireplaces; anything small or sharp; and plastic bags or wraps.


What Are Some Unsafe Bird Foods?


Don’t let Polly eat anything that contains avocado, caffeine, chocolate, fruit pits, garlic, or onions. Foods high in salt, sugar, or fat also should not be fed to your feathered friend. For more information on safe and unsafe foods, consult your Fayetteville, NC veterinarian.


What Fumes Are Dangerous To Polly?


As you’re likely aware, our feathered companions have delicate respiratory systems. Polly must be housed in rooms with good air quality. This becomes an even bigger concern during the holiday season. Avoid using scented candles, potpourri, wax burners, and room sprays around your little friend. Additionally, be cautious of cooking fumes, as these can pose a significant risk. Nonstick-coated cookware, such as Teflon pieces, releases fumes that are harmless for us but can be poisonous for our avian pals. Additionally, the dry air from furnaces can irritate your pet’s lungs. Consider investing in an air filter and/or a dehumidifier. 


What Is The Best Way To Protect My Bird From Holiday Stress?


Whenever you have company, it’s best to keep Polly in her cage. Give her lots of free time before your guests arrive, so she won’t feel cooped up. Birds are often a bit nervous, and many feel uneasy with a lot of commotion. You might want to put your winged buddy in a quiet back room if you’re hosting many guests or your company will be staying over.


Also, be on the lookout for signs of stress, such as erratic behavior, feather pulling, and strange vocalizations. Spend more time with your pet if she seems uneasy. You may also want to give her some new toys to distract her. 


What Are Good Holiday Gifts For Birds?


Don’t forget to fill Polly’s stocking! You can also repurpose some smaller empty boxes. You can provide toys, treats, and perches for your feathered buddy. There are also lots of great DIY options. You can make your winged pal all sorts of cute toys, using things like plastic shower curtain rings, playing cards, popsicle sticks, and beads. Ask your Fayetteville, NC animal clinic for more information. 


What Is The Christmas Bird Count?


Many people turn their attention to charitable causes at this time of year. For those who adore birds, the Audubon Society may already be a familiar name. This conservation group works tirelessly to safeguard wild avian species, document the threats they face, and educate people about conservation. The Christmas Bird Count, held annually from December 14th to January 5th, is crucial to all of those concerns. 


Despite not being widely known, this event has been occurring since the early 1900s. As the name suggests, the Christmas Bird Count revolves around observing and recording the number of birds seen and heard. This event is organized by the Audubon Society, with each count occurring in a 15-kilometer-wide circle on a designated day. The purpose is to gather data about wild bird populations, which greatly aids researchers and conservation groups. Participation is free of charge, but you will need to provide your own transportation and any necessary equipment. You can learn more on the website here.


Do Partridges Live In Pear Trees?


We couldn’t write a holiday bird blog without mentioning the iconic Christmas carol. While swans, geese, colly birds, French hens, and turtle doves may not be very popular pets, they each possess some interesting and unique qualities. For example, swans are known for their lifelong monogamous relationships, and for their romantic habit of swimming alongside their mates. And if you thought the lyric “colly birds” was actually “calling birds,” you’re not alone – many others made that same mistake. In fact, it’s often printed that way. However, the Library of Congress clarified this point in a blog post a few years back. But what exactly is a colly bird? It’s likely a description for blackbirds, since “colly” refers to something black, like coal. Then there are turtle doves, which, contrary to their name, are not associated with turtles in any way. Lastly, we have the cute little partridge.  There are over 92 different known species of partridges. None of them reside in pear trees. We still like the song. 


How Do I Help Wild Birds?

Don’t forget about Polly’s cousins! Simply setting out bird feeders can be a great help for wild birds, who often struggle to find food in the colder months. You may also want to look into supporting a bird conservation agency or perhaps a bird rehabilitation center. Planting native flora can also help, though of course, you may need to wait for spring.


Polly is a great addition to any household, and can definitely enjoy some fun holiday treats and traditions. Just be careful to avoid exposing your adorable pet to seasonal dangers, which include food, fumes, decorations, and, of course, stress.


All of us here at Academy Pet Hospital, your Fayetteville, NC pet clinic, wish you a happy holiday season. Please contact us at any time if you have any questions.