Pet birds bring joy to a household, but their companionship comes with great responsibility. Birds are highly sensitive to chemicals and other toxins, so it is your duty to ensure that your bird’s environment is safe. Your feathered friend’s life depends on your consciousness of the effects of his exposure to harmful chemicals.
Rule of Thumb
As a general rule, think twice before you spray anything or release any kind of airborne chemical into the environment. Your bird’s respiratory system is so fragile that something you might not think twice about could cause your feathery friend to experience respiratory failure and die within minutes of exposure. Even mundane activities like misting yourself with perfume or body splash can harm your bird if he is close enough to inhale some of it. The best way to keep your bird safe is to recognize that all chemicals are potentially dangerous to him.
Owning a bird means you’ll have to get creative when it comes to eradicating insect problems that may creep into your house. Though you may have simply reached for that can of insect spray in the past, doing so with a bird in the house will kill more than just the insects. If the infestation is extreme and you must spray, remove your bird from the house, allowing the space to air out for several hours before bringing him back. While some professional exterminators claim their insecticides are bird-safe, removing him from the area for a few hours is a suitable alternative to leaving him there while the pest controllers do their thing.
Common Household Toxins
Many common household products release fumes that can be highly toxic to your bird. Being conscious of how the products you use may affect him can help keep your feathered friend healthy and safe. Doing your nails or dyeing your hair in close proximity to your bird, for example, could prove dangerous for him due to harmful chemicals emitted into the air. Maintain a safe distance between your bird and the kitchen -- because Teflon and other nonstick products are known to release vapors that can be toxic to birds. Avoid exposing your bird to the fumes released by most cleaning products like bleach, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaners, window cleaners and floor cleaners. Remove your bird from a room in which cleaning products are being used, and allow the room to air out for a couple of hours before bringing him back into it. Maintain a safe distance between you and your bird when and after you apply deodorants or perfumes, and never use scented candles, plug-ins, air fresheners or incense around your bird.
Taking the better-safe-than-sorry approach, assume any substance that releases fumes is harmful for your bird. Remove your bird from the house before painting, and keep him out for several hours until the walls have dried and the fumes have dissipated. If the odor of paint is evident, it is not safe to bring your bird into the area. Smoke of any kind is also toxic to your bird, so keep him away from cigarette, cigar or marijuana smoke at all times.
Kristina Barroso is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, a break-up survival guide, in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.