Birds are amazing creatures, intelligent, affectionate, fun, playful and… very susceptible to shock from injury or relatively small changes in their environment. That’s why knowing how to keep your bird cool in a heat wave is an important part of bird care!
If you thought of them as a highly tuned sports Nascar you wouldn’t be far off the mark. They have a very lightweight body, with bones that contain “air sacks” that make flight easier, just about every feather on their body has a purpose and it only takes a few snips off a few feathers and your bird can be rendered flightless.
But where they really compare to a Nascar is in their “tuning”.
Birds run hot. In fact, your average bird has a standard core temperature of around 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius, and are very susceptible to overheating.
Birds need an incredible amount of energy for flight and their whole bodies are geared around this, including a very fast metabolism and a relatively large heart that beats at up to 1000 beats per minute, or around 10 times faster than the human heart during exercise.
The bad side of this is that being such a highly tuned and sensitive animal, if your bird is overheating and you don’t pick up on it, he or she could die rapidly.
So this summer it’s important that you take care and monitor your birds regularly as well as follow the tips below!
1. Look out for the tell tale signs of overheating. If your bird is breathing through the mouth or panting, holding his wings away from his body, or is on the floor of the cage behaving in an anxious or stressed manner, these are all tell tale signs that your bird is starting to overheat.
2. Keep your bird at an optimum weight! Birds are just like humans and a poorly thought out diet can make your bird overweight which introduces him or her to the same sorts of complications as overweight humans, one of which is overheating. So make sure that you introduce “live foods” to your bird’s diet to ensure optimum weight and health. Organic Bird Sprouts are an excellent, nutritious choice!
3. Make sure your bird has some shade if it is in an outdoor aviary. It’s a nice idea to let your bird get some fresh air outside and enjoy the sunshine, but just like us, too much direct sunlight can rapidly cause overheating, or sunstroke in humans. Avoid this by making sure that your bird ALWAYS has some shade and so can escape the sun whenever it wants.
4. Make sure that you have a “misting” bottle on hand. A good quality mister will allow you to cool down your bird when it does show signs of overheating, and should also be used regularly during the day as a way of maintaining your bird’s core temperature. On a fun note, birds LOVE to bathe and get wet, and you’ll find that your bird will really enjoy these “baths” and often will lift up it’s wings and feet so that you can wet those hard to reach places. This can be a lot of fun for both you and your bird, while also helping to make sure that he or she doesn’t overheat.
A word of warning though, never spray your mister directly at your bird, otherwise they will quickly develop an aversion to both you and misting. Spray near or next to your bird and allow them to enter or exit the mist at will. As the trust grows between you and your bird this becomes less of a problem but take care in the beginning, as birds and lose their trust very quickly and take a long time to get it back.
5. Make sure that your bird has plenty of water. Make sure that your always have a bathing dish full of fresh, clean water at the bottom of the cage and that it is replaced at least daily. Also make sure that your bird has plenty of fresh water to drink, and this should be replaced daily as well. Nasty bacteria grow quickly in a water dish that contains food particles or other debris.
And there you have it! If you follow these tips you should be able to keep your bird safe, healthy and happy through the summer.