If your bird startles at the sound of a slammed door, car alarm or other loud, unexpected noise, the Fourth of July might not be the easiest holiday for your feathered friend to handle. Here are some preemptive steps to take to help your bird remain stress-free around Independence Day.
- Understand that Fourth of July festivities don’t just start at sundown on the July 4th — or end on the same day. Some people set off fireworks the day(s) leading up to the big day, regardless of whether fireworks are illegal in their particular municipality. In 2016, July Fourth lands on a Monday, so anticipate random blasts the weekend leading into the Fourth, as well as the days following the holiday — when some are tempted to use up leftover fireworks.
- Rethink bringing your bird outdoors. With sunny weather it’s tempting to want your bird to join in on the outdoor fun. But if you’re relying on your bird’s wing feather trim to keep him/her from flying away, be aware that many birds are capable of flight even after a recent wing-feather trim. If your bird is harness-trained and you choose to take him outside for some time in the sun, remind yourself not to get too close to the barbecue (the smoke of which can irritate your bird’s respiratory system), other pets or near items he could injure himself on should he become startled and jump off of you. And realize, that most birds would not appreciate a first-row seat to a fireworks show, so if your street is host to fireworks displays, keep your bird in his/her cage indoors.
- Opt out of offering Fourth of July leftovers. Food that’s been baking in the sun a good part of the day, including fruits and vegetables, should be tossed into the trash (or compost!) and not tossed into your bird’s bowl. If you’re hosting a Fourth of July bash, stash some of the fresh produce and other healthy food you’re prepping for guests in the fridge for your bird to enjoy over the upcoming days.
- Give your guests the bird-rules rundown. Make sure every houseguest knows that offering your bird a taste of their food or opening the cage or poking fingers through the cage bars is a no-no. Better yet, post a rules list near your bird’s cage — you might want to point out that the sound of fireworks might put your bird on edge, and your normally docile parrot might uncharacteristically lash out to protect the area in and around the cage.
- Turn the TV on or play a music CD for your bird to help lessen the sound of fireworks. This doesn’t mean blasting music, which in and of itself can stress a bird. Go off of a listening level that would be comfortable for you. Some pet bird enthusiasts and behaviorists recommend creating a CD of calming music specifically for the feathered members of your household that you accustom your birds to. When potentially stressful events like the noise from July Fourth celebrations pop up, your bird will associate the music with calmness.
- Cover your bird’s cage and/or move him to a sleep cage in a quiet room. Let your bird enjoy a peaceful bedtime while you enjoy the light show.