Bird-Proof Your House: Flighted Bird Safety Guide
There was only one instance of my cockatiel having a flying accident…
I brought him into the master bedroom which has a large mirror that he has rarely seen before. While in that room, he got scared of something, flew around, and hit the mirror almost at full speed. This left a pretty evident bruise on his beak:
Don’t worry, he’s since been cleared by the vet and is completely fine now 🙂
Although this flying accident had me extremely worried, I did not clip his wings.
I know a lot of owners decide to clip their bird’s wings after flight accidents. Instead, I made efforts to bird-proof the house as much as possible so he can remain fully flighted, happy, and safe within our home.
This article explains the various ways to bird-proof your house so you can keep your flighted parrots safe indoors without restricting their flight.
Preventing Your Bird From Flying Into Objects
As the story above highlighted, a risk associated with keeping a flighted parrot is the possibility of them flying into walls, windows, and mirrors. Below you’ll learn how to prevent these flight-related accidents and ensure your bird’s safety.
Stop Your Bird From Flying Into Mirrors
Mirrors are reflective surfaces that are often confusing to birds upon seeing them for the first time.
One of the best ways to prevent a bird from flying into a mirror is to teach them that it’s a solid object that they cannot fly through.
Let your bird touch the mirror, peck it, and whatever else you can think of to show how solid it is.
Do a few hard knocks on the mirror to further demonstrate its solidity.
If you bring your bird to the mirror and let them see their reflection, they’ll likely start pecking and it shouldn’t take too long for them to understand. Some birds might need to be shown a few times before they learn that a mirror is a solid object.
A few additional ways to make mirrors safer include:
- Completely covering them with a drape or curtain
- Add stickers or some decor to the mirror to show your bird that it’s a solid object that cannot be flown through
Stop Your Bird From Flying Into Walls
A bird with complete flight control and working vision will rarely fly into a wall. There are only a few scenarios that I can think of where a bird would hit a wall during flight:
- They got very scared and started flying in a panic
- The room is too small in relation to the bird’s size, causing them to hit the walls when flying
- The bird has been clipped and struggles with proper flight coordination
- There aren’t too many landing zones, causing the bird to fly longer than it would like to, leading to a crash landing
No matter why a bird flies into walls, there are 3 primary things you can do that will help prevent this from continuing:
- Increase their flight coordination skills through flight training
- Rearrange the room to give your bird more flight space OR bring them into a larger room to fly
- Install more perches and landing zones around your bird’s room
Parrots, being born and natural fliers, don’t have inherent issues with their flight unless it was inhibited or restricted in any way. Wing clipping during fledging has severe consequences on a bird’s ability to learn flight and to fly properly.
If there’s nothing wrong with the bird’s flight ability, yet they still crash into walls, their flying environment needs to be improved.
Keep Your Bird Safe From Glass & Windows
Super clean glass can easily be perceived by your bird as an open window…
Especially if the glass leads outside where there are lots of interesting distractions. Being birds, they’ll naturally become curious and will attempt to fly out of the window.
You already know where that attempt will lead.
Here are some ways to help deter your bird from flying into glass and windows:
- Just like with mirrors, you need to teach your bird the solidity of the glass so they know not to fly into it. As well as this, you need to show them where all the windows are in the house so they don’t get the idea that they can fly out of one but not the other.
- Cover the glass windows with curtains. Your bird won’t fly into the glass if they can’t see it.
- Attach stickers, posters, perches, or whatever you want to the glass to demonstrate its solidity. Your bird will see all the items attached to the window and realise it’s solid and cannot fly through it.
3 Ways To Ensure Your Bird Never Flies Away
Besides flying into things, some birds are at risk of flying straight out the door into the unforgiving wild. Whether you live in the city or in rural areas, the wild environment is extremely dangerous for pet birds.
You should do everything you can to ensure your bird cannot escape its home!
Below are 3 different ways to prevent your bird from flying away…
1. Keep All Doors & Windows Shut While The Birds Are Out
This is pretty much common sense…
But the best way to prevent fly-offs from inside the house is to just keep all doors and windows closed while your birds are out and about. To clarify, windows and doors can still be opened or cracked for some fresh air, but not in a way that would allow your birds to fly straight out.
2. Install Double Safety Doors
Adding to the “keep all doors closed” plan, you can add an extra level of safety by installing a second door on all your doors! Second exterior cages can be added to aviaries and even to the front and back doors of your house (if it’s allowed in your situation).
Yes, a setup like the image above would be expensive…
But if it’s within your budget and allowed in your housing setting, it’s a worthy investment in your parrot’s overall safety. By always keeping one of these two doors closed, the chance of fly-offs out the door is 0%.
3. Don’t Take Your Birds Outside Unrestrained
Whenever you take your birds outside, they should either be in a travel cage or carrier or attached to a harness.
If you have your bird’s free flight trained, that’s awesome! You can take them outside unrestrained!
Birds with clipped wings should never be taken outside without restraints as they can fly away. Despite popular belief, clipped birds are just as likely to fly away as fully-flighted birds. A strong gust of wind can still lift and carry them long distances with ease, even with flight restrictions.
Other Household Risks To Watch Out For!!
Besides the potential hazards discussed above, there are plenty of other items that threaten the safety of pet birds within most households. This article is not a full list of household dangers, but I want you to be aware of the most threatening items so you can bird-proof your home as best as possible.
Toxic Smells, Fumes, & Odours
Many everyday items we use in the household produce toxic fumes or odours that can harm our birds.
One particularly dangerous odour is from non-stick cookware. Brands such as Teflon and Silverstone coat their non-stick cookware (especially frying pans) with PTFE, which releases deadly fumes when set at high temperatures. Many birds have sadly died due to PTFE poisoning.
Other toxic fumes around the house include:
- Aerosol sprays (deodorant, perfume, hair spray, bug-killing sprays)
- Smoke (from cigarettes, marijuana, vapes, etc)
- Disinfectant odours (sprays, wipes)
- Most cooking fumes
Heavy & Toxic Metals
Heavy metal poisoning is one of the most common forms of poisoning in pet birds – BirdVetMelbourne
Within most households, there can be items made entirely or partly from zinc, lead, copper, and iron, all of which are toxic metals. To bird-proof your home, you must keep items made from these materials out of your bird’s curiosity and especially their beak.
A few heavy metal sources include:
- Nuts & bolts
- Galvanised items such as cages (The galvanisation process is when a metal, such as steel or iron, is coated with zinc)
- Costume jewellery
- Most modern-day coins (made from zinc and copper) – Source
The safest metal you can use for bird accessories is stainless steel
Fans & Spinning Blades
Any type of fan or spinning blade should be turned off while your birds are out of the cage.
The fast-spinning motion of all types of fans will attract your bird’s attention, which may cause them to fly directly into the fan. Depending on the type of fan and how fast it spins, this can have some extremely nasty consequences.
Ceiling fans and pedestal fans are your main concerns, but all spinning blades are hazardous.
However, fans are perfectly safe as long as the birds are in their enclosure.
Hot & Burning Surfaces
If you keep heating devices or lightbulbs (from lamps for example) near your bird’s cage, there is a risk of them flying over and burning themselves. Not only can they burn their feet from landing on hot surfaces, but they can burn their tongues if they decide to peck it.
A few other hot surfaces to be aware of include:
- Stove tops
- The top of certain microwaves after they’ve been used
- Boiling water
Anything that feels hot on your hand will certainly be sizzling on your bird’s feet, beak, or tongue.
Bodies Of Water
The last hazard I’d like to bring attention to is bodies of water that are deep enough for your bird to drown in.
The most dangerous ones are:
- Toilet bowls
- Boiling pots (will also COOK them)
- Sinks full of water
To keep your flighted bird safe, ensure they can’t fly into any of these when unsupervised.
Another note: when showering your bird, do not hit them directly with high-pressure water. Try to make the water bounce off another surface or gently fall onto your bird. Being directly under the shower head won’t drown your bird, but it could harm them. – VCAHospitals
Clipping a bird’s wings is not the only way to keep them safe in your house.
In fact, wing clipping is often seen as the “lazy” way to keep pet birds safe. Instead, you should aim to improve their flight ability while also making the home environment safer for flying. This is always the best option considering the harsh effects wing clipping has on pet birds.
Yes, bird-proofing your house takes time and effort…
But when it comes to the health and happiness of your birds, there’s no such thing as “too much effort”.
It’s all worth it to allow your feathered friend to do what they do best:
What have you done or plan to do to make your home safer for your birds?
Let me know with a friendly comment down below…