Avian Expert Articles

Summer Safety

African grey parrots
photo by Lisa Bono, CPBC

It’s is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Your plans are to go outside to enjoy the day, take in the sunshine and feel slight breeze on your skin. You want to take your parrot out with you to get vitamin D and some fresh air. After all, they were not meant to be kept in an indoor environment. Their health needs are much like ours — fresh air and sunshine included.

Sadly, this time of year we see so many ads for lost parrots. Some are escapees due to accidents, but others are caused by a lack of protection while being outside with owners. Many of these scenarios can be avoided by taking simple safety precautions and knowing your environment.

Safe Options To Enjoy The Great Outdoors

There are several options available for pet owners to explore. I have found the safest option is to have a smaller cage if your plans include staying outside for a longer period of time. Some cages are designed to collapse down for storage purposes. If you are using a collapsible cage, please be aware of the connections and the materials they are made from.

This storage feature also makes them more susceptible to falling apart when being lifted up or moving around. Be sure to check the security of the food dishes and doors. I suggest using small zip ties to attach the bottom plastic case to the cage itself. Use these also on the food doors in the event a cage is dropped for some reason, the cage parts will be held together. If you are using the cage option, make sure you place your bird in the cage while INSIDE your residence for safety. Do not open any cages outside for any reason.

bird carriers
Lisa Bono readies the flock for a walk.

Another option is a backpack-type case designed for parrots. I happen to own a few of them, and they are fantastic for travel. However, not all are created equal.  Make sure the product you invest in is made from materials that are, for the most part, chew-resistant. Some carriers are made with a plastic mesh. It can be seconds before your parrot realizes this and chews their way out quickly. Others are made with stainless steel mesh; this is the protection you want. With that said, always inspect the carrier before each use to make sure a curious beak did not find a crevice to work at and open up a hole.

Lately, I am seeing more carriers being made of acrylic. While this is the best option for known destructive beaks, be aware that they can get very hot inside with the sun and heat. I urge you if you have this type of product to make sure enough ventilation gets in the carrier and keep it out of direct sun. Some acrylic carriers offer an optional wire door that can be purchased as an add-on. I highly suggest this option if you plan on using this type of carrier.

Stretch Your Wings With A Harness

African grey parrot on harness
Sammy in her harness.

There are several manufacturers of avian harnesses. Whichever one you choose, take the time to inspect the harness each time you put it on for any signs of weak spots due to a bird chewing while wearing it. Curious beaks can cause damage quickly. Purchase the correct size for your parrot according to weight. You want that product to perform correctly, and it can only do so with proper placement and monitoring. Do not use any products that are made for raptors or tie anything to a bird’s band. This is a common practice overseas and some countries. A raptor’s leg structure is much different than psittacines. Raptor legs are stronger, with more muscle mass, and designed to carry prey. Using an incorrect tether can break or damage a parrot’s leg.

Lost & Found

Do not be fooled with the false sense of security of clipping wings and thinking that will keep your bird safe outside. A bird with clipped wings can and will fly. There are many different factors that can come into play that can help carry your bird away. All parrots still have all their wild, fight-or-flight instincts intact even though they live in our homes. If they are startled while outside, they will take flight. If they are caught in a wind stream or sitting up on higher ground than surrounding property, they will get some height as well as distance and can get into a tree.

Being on social media I see several lost birds each day. A bird with clipped wings does not have the ability or agility to escape predators. It will not know where to find food or where to keep safe. It is our job as stewards to keep them safe, happy, and healthy.

In my years I have personally assisted in retrieving several birds. I’ve been bitten by a dog and dredged through pricker bush swampland. The time out trying to locate them or watching them while they flew from tree to tree was heartbreaking. I have a 50/50 recovery rate, and I still think of the ones that did not make it home.

People say to me time and time again that “my bird has been coming outside free for years,” “his wings are clipped,” “he’s never flown” or “he loves me too much to fly off.” Please do not think this. Your bird depends on you to know better and provide safety.

5 thoughts on “Summer Safety

  1. I have three Australian Zebra Finches

    I live in Williamsburg Virginia
    I love my Finches so much

    Any suggestions to keep
    them going strong and happy
    Thank you

    Sarah
    Zeebie Lover

  2. Great advice. My macaw had clipped wings (never again!) And always went to the apartment laundry room with me. A truck air brakes (unseen one street over) startled her and she flew. I searched all day and was extremely lucky to get her back just before dark. Hard lesson learned.

  3. I purchased two, female, peach faced love birds age 1 & 2. They came with clipped wings.
    My question is this: is it necessary to have their beaks trimmed down? They seem fine & eat plenty.
    Many thanks,
    C. Crocker

  4. Hello. I have a three month old cockatiel and she has not yet been clipped so she still flies. I have a huge lanai and I live in Florida and she loves to be out there on her swing and in her tree and I hate the thought of clipping her wings. When I talk to people half of the Opinions are to clip her wings and the other half or leave them alone. I live alone I’m 64 years old and occasionally my grandchildren come to visit. Should I clip my cockatiel swings while she’s young? Thank you.

  5. Don’t leave your bird in its cage unattended outdoors. I have heard horror stories of raptors, raccoons, and other varmints killing the bird.

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