Bird Safety Outside the Macaw Cage, Parakeet Cage, etc.


More Bird-Proofing Tips: Suffocation, Socialization, and Poisoning Hazards Outside of the Bird Cage (Macaw Cage, Finch Cage, etc.) (Part 2)

Now the More Subtle Dangers Exist For Companion Birds in the Home

Part one of this article discussed how specific rooms around the house pose many dangers for companion birds of all sizes. Part Two covers house wide dangers, many of which are often missed even by the most careful of bird owners.

Birds spending time outside of their cages (macaw cages, for example) can be subject to poor air quality as well as many toxic household plants. Cages like a macaw's cage protects birds from many of these hazards, but owners must still shape their environments to welcome their birds during time outside of the bird cage. Time outside of the cage for macaws, parakeets, African greys and other breeds are crucial to avian health, so owners should be attentive to additional environmental elements, such as air quality, toxins and interactions with other children and pets.

Breathing Risks Outside of the Macaw Cage

Smoke and Fumes- Birds have much more sensitive respiratory systems than mammals have.  Small amounts of fumes that are barely noticeable to humans can be lethal to birds.  (Remember coal miners using canaries to sense dangerous gasses?) This is a hazard to parrots whether or not they are locked in a macaw cage, etc.  Because a bird's respiratory system can be devastated before an owner becomes alarmed, birds should not be exposed to any product that gives off smoke or fumes.  Here are some examples:

  • Cigar or cigarette smoke
  • Marijuana
  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Lighter fluid
  • Paint
  • Wood stains
  • Paint thinner
  • Paint remover
  • Turpentine
  • Mineral spirits
  • Cleaning supplies/disinfectants
  • Perfume
  • Hair spray
  • Room deodorizers
  • Air freshener
  • Nail polish remover
  • Scented candles
  • Potpourri
  • Glue
  • Permanent markers

Suffocation Hazards

Many birds enjoy searching for small holes or spaces to rest outside of macaw cages.  This can make the time outside of the macaw cage dangerous if an owner is unaware of a bird's whereabouts.  There are countless crevices for birds to explore, and their small bodies can wiggle inside of more places than their owners can imagine.  This can become dangerous if birds become trapped or if an owner accidentally injures them in one of their hiding places.  Because of these risks, owners should follow some basic guidelines when they are unsure of their birds' whereabouts outside of the macaw cage:

  • Check beds before adding multiple layers of fabric to make sure your bird hasn't gotten trapped between linens.
  • Check laundry baskets before throwing any clothes into a washer or dryer.
  • Cover all air ducts.
  • Use caution with fold-out beds or recliners.
  • Avoid sleeping with your bird.

Toxic Plants

There are plenty of toxic household plants that pose health threats to birds outside of their macaw cages.  Because many parrots are fed leaves inside of their macaw cages, these plants may appear to be a familiar attraction for them once they are let out to explore.  The level of toxicity depends largely on the type of plant, the amount of plant ingested and the species of bird.  The effects of toxic plant ingestion can range from mild gastrointestinal agitation, such as vomiting, to more severe symptoms that result in death.  An owner who suspects a bird may have ingested a toxic plant should immediately contact a veterinarian or poison control center.  Below is a list of plants that are considered toxic to birds. (A list of the most common offenders can be found here.)

  • Acorn
  • Amanita
  • Andromeda
  • Arium
  • Australian Flametree
  • Avocado
  • Azalea
  • Baneberry Beans (Castor, Horse, Fava, Broad, Glory, Scarlet, Runner, Precatory, Navy)
  • Birds of Paradise
  • Bishop's Weed
  • Black Laurel
  • Black Locust
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Bloodroot
  • Blue Bonnet
  • Blue Green Algae
  • Boxwood
  • Bracken Fern
  • Buckthorn
  • Bulb Flowers (Amaryllis, Iris, Daffodil, Narcissus, Hyacinth)
  • Burdock
  • Buttercup
  • Calla Lily
  • Caladium
  • Camel Bush
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Cascao
  • Castor Bean
  • Chalice (Trumpet Vine)
  • Cherry Tree
  • China Berry Tree
  • Christmas Candle
  • Christmas Cherry
  • Clematis (Virginia Bower)
  • Cocklebur
  • Coffee (Senna)
  • Coffee Bean (Rattle Bush, Rattlebox, Coffee Weed)
  • Coral Plant
  • Coriander
  • Corncockle
  • Cowslip
  • Coyotillo
  • Cutleaf Philodendron
  • Daphne
  • Death Camus
  • Delphinium
  • Devil Ivy
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dutchman's Breech's
  • Elderberry
  • Elephant Ear (Taro)
  • Ergot
  • Eucalyptus
  • Euonymus (Spindlestree)
  • False Hellebore
  • Felt Plant (Maternity, Air, Panda)
  • Fire Thorn
  • Four O'Clock
  • Foxglove
  • Glottidium
  • Golden Chain Grass (Johnson, Sorghum, Sudan, Broom Corn)
  • Ground Cherry
  • Heaths (Kalma, Leucotho, Peries, Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel)
  • Heliotrope
  • Hemlock
  • Herbane
  • Holly
  • Honeysuckle
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Horsetail
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Jack in the Pulpit
  • Jasmine
  • Jerusalem Cherry
  • Jimson Weed
  • Kentucky Coffee Tree
  • Lady Slipper
  • Lantana
  • Larkspur
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Locoweed (Milk Vetch)
  • Locust (Black, Honey)
  • Lords and Ladies
  • Lupine
  • Malaga
  • Marijuana
  • Mayapple
  • Mexican Poppy
  • Milk Bush
  • Milk Weed (Cotton Bush)
  • Mistletoe
  • Mock Orange
  • Monkshood
  • Morning Glory
  • Mushrooms
  • Naked Lady
  • Narcissus
  • Nettles
  • Nightshade
  • Nutmeg
  • Oak Oleander
  • Parsley
  • Peony
  • Periwinkle
  • Peyote
  • Philodendrons
  • Pigweed
  • Poinciana
  • Poison Ivy
  • Poison Oak
  • Poke Weed
  • Poppy
  • Potato Shoots (Tubers, Berries)
  • Privet
  • Pyracantha
  • Rain Tree
  • Ranunculus
  • Rape
  • Rattlebox
  • Red Maple
  • Rhododendron
  • Sand Box Tree
  • Skunk Cabbage
  • Sorrel
  • Spruge
  • Sweet Pea
  • Tansy Root
  • Tobacco
  • Vetch
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Wattle White Cedar
  • Wisteria
  • Yellow Jasmine
  • Yew


Socialization Hazards Outside of the Macaw Cage, African Grey Cage, etc.

Interactions with Pets- Birds can peacefully coexist with other animals as long as owners plan ahead and prepare for their interactions.  Cats and dogs, for example, are hunters by nature, and the quick movements of a bird outside of its macaw cage can attract the curiosity of these larger animals.  Wounds from other animals can be lethal to birds, thus owners must be cautious when allowing birds outside of their macaw cages.  Cats can climb, jump, and cling to places their owners might not expect; therefore, the macaw cage location must be out of the reach of these animals.  A bird with clipped wings can be helpless outside of its macaw cage in the presence of some pets.  Below are some additional guidelines for bird owners who also have other pets.

  • Never leave a bird in a room alone with another pet, regardless of how well they seem to get along together.
  • Place the macaw cage in a location where pets cannot climb onto it or push it over.
  • Cover all aquariums to reduce any drowning risk.
  • Deny birds access to cage materials for other pets such as hay bedding or litter boxes to prevent respiratory or digestive problems.
  • Deny birds access to heat lamps for reptiles to prevent burns.

Interactions with Children-Children can pose dangers to birds, and birds can cause injuries to children.  Children can harm birds if they mishandle them or are uneducated about them.  Supervision is key to teaching and encouraging appropriate socialization between children and birds both inside and outside of the macaw cage.

  • Educate children about what startles birds and what they are and are not allowed to feed them.
  • Teach them to avoid poking their fingers through the macaw cage bars or taunt/tease the bird.
  • Use proper judgment when determining the best time to allow children to interact with a bird outside of its macaw cage.  Take into account both the bird and the child's temperament.
  • Establish rules about the handling of the bird including when/how to feed it, who cleans the macaw cage, who takes the bird outside of the macaw cage, etc.
  • Always have a safe place where birds can retreat if they are scared or hurt.

The exhausting amount of household hazards for birds can overwhelm some new owners.  It can help to look at each room separately to identify many of these hazards and avoid allowing the bird outside of the macaw cage until each room is ready.  After bird-proofing one room at a time, an owner can open the macaw cage, but restrict access to only the safe room(s).  The task may be daunting, but it is nevertheless necessary for all bird owners. 

The BIG 3 Bird Feeding Links!
Play Top Cages
Play Stands
Window Seats
hand feeding of new cage birds can be done by pet bird owners
Knowing a companion bird is safe in its environment both inside and outside of the macaw cage can be a freeing and relaxing experience for both bird and owner. 

Nina Playtop offers a wide selection of playtop cages that promote avian health by providing safe and constructive ways for parrots to spend time outside of the bird cage.

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Bird Swings for Sale Bird Cage Buyers Guide - How to select the Prefect Bird Cage
Parrot Toys for Sale Contact Everything Birds