Winter has hit the United States and most of Europe with a vengeance, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any respite from it for quite a while. This has been the first winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service office down in Tallahassee, Florida, in almost four years. There is also speculation that the deep freeze will be hitting Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas, which is an unusual weather pattern for these locations.
For those of us with companion animals, it’s a cause for concern regarding how to keep our birds warm.
So how do you manage to keep your animals warm in this expected prolonged deep freeze?
Bird Talk put that question out to our friends on our Bird Talk Flock Facebook group and some real pros answered our questions.
1. Use Heat Lamps
Sharon Lendon keeps chickens at her residence in Ohio. As everyone knows, it can get a little chilly in the Midwest, so Sharon hangs heat lamps in her birds’ enclosure and ensures that one hangs directly over their water source so that it doesn’t get too cold.
2. Move Cages Away From Walls
Another reader lost power for a week and moved her bird cages away from the walls, which were getting chilly, and positioned them toward the center of the room.
3. Worried About Power Outages? Keep a Generator on Hand
If you are lucky enough to own a generator and want to use it to keep your furnace going, ensure the generator remains outside your home and positioned away from any open windows and doors so the fumes from it cannot enter your home.
4. Use Oil-Filled Portable Radiators
The newest trend in small space heating is oil-filled portable radiators. The Bird Talk flock found that these highly effective heaters work efficiently and gently.
5. Use Heated Perches
There are heated perches you can use inside the cages to keep chilly feet and nails nice and warm. The heat from heated perches not only warms their feet, but it provides a gentle warming inside the cage.
6. Use Wall Heating Panels
There are heat panels available that you can hang near the sides of your cages, which gently radiate heat. This keeps your bird warm without the hazard of direct contact between the wall. And of course, this also offers a choice to your bird as to perch on that side of the cage where the panel is, or move away for a more cooler temperature should she choose.
7. Move Cages Away From Drafty Areas and Windows
Another reader suggestion was to move cages away from drafty windows and any exterior doors, especially if they are used frequently. This reduces that chances of draft hitting your animals. If this isn’t possible, you can simply cover enclosures with a warm blanket while you are using the door to bring in groceries or if someone is just coming or going.
Another reader uses a combination of bubble wrap (with the small bubbles) and then shrink wrap plastic on the entire inside of the window to keep drafts out.
8. Use Humidifiers
Humidifiers seem to be a common choice for those enduring cold weather. Moist air feels warmer than dry air and it’s also better for your skin as well as the skin and feathers of your flock.
9. Have a Gas Stove? Use It as a Heater
If you have a gas stove, you’re in luck. A gas stove will keep a small portion of your house nicely heated. Ensure that you have fans helping to gently move the air throughout the area where your animals are, but keep them from being too close to the stove while it’s running. You’ll be wanting ambient heat, not a direct hit from the waves of heat emitted from the stove.
What about fireplaces, you might ask? There are some safety concerns when it comes to gas stoves, fireplaces and birds. The Petcha.com article, “Birds and Gas Fireplaces” provide these tips and warnings:
The ultimate safety of any combustion appliance in your home depends on the quality of the product and correct usage. Is it certified by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or the American Gas Association (AGA)? Is the appliance the proper size for your home? Is your home well ventilated? My friend with the caiques has a large, well-ventilated, high-ceilinged house and uses the fireplace only for short periods of time; hence her birds have not been affected.
Use extreme caution when running any fuel-burning appliance inside mobile homes, campers and tightly sealed or super-insulated new or renovated homes. (Vent-free appliances may not be approved for use in such dwellings in your area; check with local authorities.) Fumes and gases will not readily escape such buttoned-up structures. Open a window for ventilation when such appliances are in use. Read and follow product instructions carefully.
Are any components of the fireplace coated with nonstick polymers or other chemicals that may outgas when heated? Fumes from over-heated nonstick surfaces maybe deadly to birds. Other chemicals and anti-corrosives possibly used in the production of stoves and other appliances may be toxic to birds.
Retailers may not be well informed about the safety of fireplaces in proximity to birds. Contact the manufacturers directly for technical questions. Ask for a Material Safety Data Sheet, which lists products used in the manufacture of the appliance. You can often download such data sheets online.
10. Use More Than One Strategy to Keep Warm
Another Bird Talk Flock member, Allison Berry of Maryland, uses a combination of strategies. She hangs curtains on tension rods to discourage doorway drafts. She also runs humidifiers to keep air moist. And finally, she uses reptile heat bulbs or incandescent bulbs for warming stations. This is a wonderful idea, as your birds can go near to bask in the heat and move away if she gets too warm.
As always, caution is your No. 1 priority in these conditions. Bird Talk wants you and your animals both with feathers and fur to be safe, stay warm and stay comfortable.