I know this may come as a surprise to you, but our beloved feathery pets don't handle cold too well. Despite having colorful plumage and cuddly down, the rain certainly beats them when Winter rolls up.
See, most bird species kept as pets, including parrots, are not native to temperate regions up North. They are naturally present in the tropics, where the average annual temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
As such, any reading south of 65 is unfamiliar territory.
However, this does not mean you can't keep a pet bird North (or South) of the world. Most popular species like cockatiels, budgies, and conure are hardy and can manage the coldest Winter with proper care.
You only need to make sure you bring your birdies in during Winter, preferably once the temperature goes below 60 F. If you have a well-insulated cage with enough blankets and heating, you can still house your birds outside, but err on the side of caution.
Now, if you have a companion parrot that you've housed in the house all its life, I do not recommend letting him outside during cold weather. It won't matter how well your coop is insulated. Your bird is still not used to anything less than room temperature.
How Do Pet Birds Survive in Winter (How to Help Yours)
On their own, all birds have a way of coping with cold weather. According to this article in the Washington Post, most native, non-migratory species grow extra feathers (their version of a Winter jacket) to prepare for winter.
Even so, pet birds raised in the house may not grow extra feathers, but they shiver and puff up to keep themselves warm. By trapping air in the feathers, your bird creates a toasty layer of warmth around itself.
But keep in mind even with these adaptations, your birdie will need your help when it's cold, more so if you've raised it in a home environment.
So, what should you do to help your birds cope with cold weather?
Well, here is a quick scan list, discussed right below.
- Position the cage in a safe, central spot away from drafts.
- Use cage covers, blankets, and tents to keep your birdie warm.
- Heater and heat lamps go a long way, and you should consider them.
- Use deep litter and newspapers to layer the bottom of your birdie's cage or pen.
- Put compatible birds together. They'll keep each other warm.
- Feed your feathery friend extra food during Winter since they use up plenty of energy to stay warm.
How to Keep Your Bird Cage Warm in Winter
The first thing I do is move my birdie's cage from doors and windows to keep him from exposure to icy drafts.
A pet bird exposed to drafts can quickly develop a respiratory infection, such as Pneumonia, which is hard to treat, and he may succumb before you realize he is sick.
Now, if you suspect there are drafts elsewhere in your house (away from doors and windows), be sure to cover your birdie's cage, more so at night.
You can use blankets, sheets, or even store-bought cage covers, as long as they are breathable but not flimsy or dusty.
Remember to cover only the back and sidewalls, but leave the front of the cage open to allow sufficient air to get in.
There is a need to make sure your house is well insulated, especially around the windows and walls as well.
Keep your birdie's pen or cage in a safe, central spot where heat is not being lost from your home.
I like to move my bird's cage away from walls, both for better aeration and to keep the moisture from the surfaces getting to my bird.
Concrete is particularly poorly insulated. It allows cold air to pass through the wall easily, so if you live in a stone building, the more reason you have to move your bird's cage to somewhere in the middle of your house.
Essentially, a space heater is an ideal solution for an overly cold house, but take precautions when using one around your bird since some like gas, propane, and kerosene types produce fumes potentially harmful to birds.
Room heaters also reduce the relative humidity inside a closed room. That makes the air feel dry, which can be harmful to birds.
So, to be safe, only use an electric space heater in a well-aerated room if it's the only option you have for keeping your cuddly, fluffy pet warm.
Alternatively, buy a heat lamp designed for use around birds to keep your feathery pal warm and cozy.
Now, since birds have feathers around most of their body apart from the feet, a heated perch is another brilliant solution to keep your bird warm.
Fortunately, it's easy to tell when your birdie's legs (and feet) are cold since they tend to stand on one foot and tuck the other one inside their plumage.
Another thing to do to help your bird through the cold season is to line the bottom of his cage with warm, cozy material such as newspapers, bird litter, or wood chippings.
I prefer wood chipping and birds litter to newspapers when it's cold because they don't dump fast as papers do. Plus, chippings and litter create a deeper mass, which is warmer.
If you have a large cage, you can even get your bird a tent, which acts as a shelter within the space your bird lives. The tent gives your bird the option to snuggle into them when it's too cold.
A tent, combined with a cozy bottom layered with bird litter and the cage covered with a blanket, should provide enough warmth for your fluffy pal.
Two more things you should consider when looking to shield your bird during the cold season are feeding and housing.
You'll want to offer your bird a little more than you would because they'll need more energy to keep warm, and if you can house him with a mate, do so for them to cuddle and warm each other up.
Thats all for this post, see you in the next one.
Have fun with your little feathery pals🐦🦜.