A definite chill is in air — temperatures are estimated to be as low as 40 degrees below zero this week in the Midwest. In fact, Chicago and other cities will be colder than parts of Antarctica, Alaska, and the North Pole! In these weather extremes, staying warm indoors is a must, and we must make sure we take our pet birds into consideration when seeking relief from the cold so that everyone can be safe and comfortable at home.
Keep The Warm Air In
If your bird is accustomed to a room with a view, he/she might have to forgo watching the great outdoors until the weather warms up. Home experts recommend closing the curtains and blinds to keep heat from escaping through the window. And locking windows can further seal out cold air. Offer your bird something else to gaze upon in the interim — draw or paint a picture for your bird to admire (or scrutinize!) or let him/her watch an animated feature or nature documentary on TV.
Another trick from home designers is to reverse the direction of ceiling fans, so that the blades turn clockwise and circulate warm air from the ceiling area down into the room. Here’s a handy link on how to set your ceiling fan to a “winter” setting. Keep in mind that having a bird in the home, even one with a winger-feather trim, means being extra diligent in making sure your bird doesn’t collide with a ceiling fan while it is in use. Even when not in use, play it safe and deter your bird from becoming accustomed to hanging out on a ceiling fan.
Know Your Heat Source
When faced with frigid weather, experts recommend having an alternative heat source other than using a home’s electric heater in case the heater goes out. From space heaters, oil heaters, to traditional furnaces, make sure the heat source you use is bird-safe. Here’s a detailed guide of heating options from Amy Hopkins of The Parrot Club that will help you navigate heating your home. And while your bird will appreciate a little warmth, don’t blast your bird with direct heat, and keep heating cords well away from beak’s reach.
Offer Immune Supportive Foods
Staying warm can also mean offering a little more food than usual, because the cold makes us burn calories faster. Opt for healthy selections , and keep in mind that this is also a good time to up your bird’s Omega 3 fatty acids food intake. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for immune health as well as cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health.
Take Advantage of the Downtime
If the weather is severe enough in your area, you’re likely not going anywhere until the polar vortex blows over. Make the most of this extra downtime by playing and interacting with your bird. Enjoy a karaoke morning; a lunch date with your bird (share healthy foods like whole-wheat pasta, blueberries, quinoa, etc.); or create a foraging playground for your bird.
Snuggle with your feathered friend, pop some popcorn for you, break open a bag of Popcorn Nutri-Berries for your bird, and check out a bird-themed series on Netflix. Beak & Brain: Genius Birds From Down Under (2013); and David Attenborough’s Life series: episode 5. (2009) are two that come to mind. Online rentals that are worth the download are Winged Migration (2003), a critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary about birds in flight in their natural world; and Life of Birds (1998) — David Attenborough looks to the skies for this series, watching 300 different species of birds as he uncovers the private lives of these clever, engaging conquerors of the air.