Ask Lafeber


February 4, 2021

Adopting a bird…what should I know?

I have quite a few questions.

I’m planning on having my bird on my shoulder/with me most of the time. But that would mean me being downstairs where cleaning supplies are being used, and teflon pans are being used. Is there any possible way for that to work? Because I also heard that birds cages need to be around some action, and where theres movement, but I cant really do that.

Is it okay that there is no cover on the thermometer?

I cook a lot, can a bird be on my shoulder/with me if i have the oven on, or an electrical-powered hand mixer, or microwave on? How far away does the bird have to be from any of that sort of thing?

How far away do birds need to be from toxic fumes? Like, a few feet, it cant be directly aimed at them, or…??

Can a bird be on my shoulder when emptying freshly finished dishes from a steaming dishwasher/laundry machine?

When I find a breeder, ask them a LOT of questions. And also ask them if they have been human-raised and hand-fed, or if they’ve been raised by the parents.

Can I be sitting down in another room, close to the kitchen, while its being used and while Teflon pans are being used? Or is that too close for the bird to be around

If the cockatiel is screaming for attention, should I go over to them and try to calm them down with a treat or play time? Or will that encourage them to scream more? Or will it give them the idea that anytime they start screaming I will reward them?


Hi Simon,

It’s good to have questions, but what I’m seeing here is that you have a lot more research to do before you decide to get a pet bird. Basically everything you asked is a “NO”. Birds have very sensitive respiratory systems and any fumes can make them sick or kill them. If you get a bird, you need to get rid of all of your Teflon. If you use Teflon products, you will eventually end up killing your bird. It isn’t worth the risk. There are new products that are PFOA and PTFE free and those are safe. Unless you can find a label stating they do not contain those chemicals, then do not use it if you have a pet bird. You can’t have a bird in the kitchen with you while you are cooking because the bird can take off unexpectedly and get burned. Burns are typically fatal for birds.

A pet bird isn’t something to just carry around on your shoulder. In fact, it is best to avoid letting your bird on your shoulder because this can cause behavioral issues as well as the risk of you getting bit on the ear or face. Birds do need to be around people, but they need the safety of their cage when you are not around to supervise them, and when they are out, they should be on their cage, or a playgym or with you. Never leave a parrot out of their cage unless you are in the same room. A pet bird needs attention, but they also need to be able to entertain themselves with toys and enrichment items, because lifestyles change, birds live a long time, and you can’t guarantee you can always spend all of your time with your bird.

Good behavior should be rewarded, unwanted behavior such as biting or excessive screaming should be ignored completely. I would recommend that you talk to breeders and bird rescues, and limit your learning to legitimate sources such as rescue websites, veterinary websites or websites run by bird related businesses like ours. There are many well meaning bird owners who give very bad advice on the internet. I have a webinar you can view about common household hazards, and we also have webinars on our Youtube channel about all aspects of pet bird care. But if all you want is something to carry around on your shoulder, a plush parrot is your best bet. 🙂

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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