Valentine’s Day would seem to be one of the more bird-safe occasions of the year, but when you share your home with a feathered friend, there are still some special precautions to take! Think about the special presents you might give or receive.
The fumes from candles and perfumes can adversely affect your pet bird.
Perfumes & Pet Birds
Scents are wonderful, but pet birds are sensitive to the fragrant oils in perfume, cologne and similar luxury items. It’s tempting to sample a spritz of a new fragrance as soon as it’s unwrapped, but do so behind closed doors, away from your birds so that they do not inhale the aerosolized droplets.
Candlelight & Pet Birds
Scented candles are romantic, but they can have adverse effects on your pet birds. There have been reports of birds dying following exposure to air-freshening candles in particular. Essential oils and chemicals are added to candle wax to create fragrances. As scented candles burn, polyaromatic hydrocarbons are dispersed into the air, along with minute particulate matter. The particles are small enough to be inhaled, and they are also what causes those grey streaks known as "ghosting” on walls and ceilings.
Candles with metal-core wicks can release lead into the indoor atmosphere. Opt for fragrance-free, smokeless candles with cotton wicks, and burn them well out of reach of your pets and flammable objects. Don’t purchase candles made in developing countries or those with lax manufacturing standards, as they might contain harmful ingredients or components. Ventilate your home when burning any type of candle.
When it comes to candles, take every precaution not to expose your pet bird to them. Here are a few tips:
Never leave burning candles unattended.
If you have a fireplace, arrange candles inside, open the damper and light the candles. Close the glass fireplace doors and enjoy the glow! Smoke will go up the chimney and flames are safely behind glass.
Instead of blowing candles out, use a candle snuffer. This method reduces the amount of smoke dispersed into the air.
When burning a votive candle, pour water into the candleholder so it comes up about 1/3 of the way on the candle. The melted wax will come out easily at cleaning time!
Don’t burn candles on flammable surfaces. Use a glass or metal saucer or tray underneath candles, or double the glow and use a mirror!
Sweet Stuff: No-Nos For Pet Birds
Candy in heart-shaped boxes and decadent chocolate brownies are Valentine staples, but chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to birds and other pets. Offer your bird some safe sweets like dried papaya, cranberries or pineapple while you enjoy your candy. Purchase small packets of these and other treats at most well-stocked bird stores. Share fresh strawberries and other non-garnished fruit with your bird.
How about buying your pet a pomegranate just for Valentine’s Day? I call this special, albeit messy, delicacy "birdie caviar,” because my Amazons think it’s such a treat!
Visit the toy aisle in your favorite bird store for some wooden bird lollipops. These inexpensive hand toys make safe, fun Valentine gifts for your pet.
Wine & Roses
It’s always exciting to give or receive flowers. While roses, the most popular flowers for Valentine’s Day, are not inherently toxic, we have no way of knowing what they might have been treated with during shipping and storage, so be safe and display your bouquet out of reach of your bird.
Having wine or champagne with your special Valentine’s dinner? Look for wine with a parrot on the label!
Even though your pet bird might be curious about your drink, do not allow it to drink alcoholic beverages. Instead, offer your pet a small amount of grape or cranberry juice.
Afraid for using real candles? Use fakes! Battery-operated LED (light emitting diode) votive and pillar candles are becoming popular and these are particularly safe because there is no flame. Purchase them at mass-merchandise and specialty stores. You might have to look in several departments, under seasonal items, candles, night lights and novelties. Even though they pose no immediate danger, LED candles are not bird toys! Do not permit your bird to play with them because batteries and small parts can cause injury or poisoning.
More Valentine's Day Tips For Pet Birds
Let your pet bird celebrate the month of love with these tips:
Line your bird’s cage tray with Valentine gift wrap, but be sure your pet does not have access to the paper. Colored inks can be harmful.
Visit your local bird store or shop online for some heart-shaped bird toys! Some feature heart-shaped beads, while others are built around larger wooden hearts.
Bake this week’s birdie bread in a heart-shaped cake pan or put nuts and other goodies inside paper bags for foraging opportunities.