Although most types of pet birds are native to tropical habitats, warm summer weather can still be a threat to their health. Birds handle heat better than cats and dogs because their normal body temperature is around 104 degrees Fahrenheit. But because they lack sweat glands, any increase in body temperature can cause heat exhaustion. Heat stress in birds is a serious concern and must be treated immediately. Here are some tips for protecting your bird in the summer heat.
- Make sure cages are kept away from direct sunlight. Keep in mind that the sun changes direction throughout the day and the cage’s location may need to be altered accordingly.
- Air conditioning and ceiling fans are useful options for keeping your bird cool. Even if the air being circulated is warm, it will help pull heat from the bird’s body. Be careful not to direct the airflow directly at the bird, however. Gel-based freezer packs in a Ziploc bag can be placed in the cage to help cool down the air.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables will be a welcome addition to your bird’s high-quality seed-based diet. Your bird’s preferences may vary, but fresh apple pieces, parsley, cucumber, and moist lettuce leaves are great options to offer as treats. Food spoils more quickly in the heat, so for this reason make sure to remove any uneaten food after a couple of hours.
- Make sure there’s an abundant supply of clean, fresh water—for both drinking and bathing—in separate containers. Your bird may also enjoy being spritzed with cool water from a water bottle. Besides cooling them down, it also keeps the feathers in condition, helps grooming and enhances coloration. Just take care not to startle your bird with the misting.
By following these tips, you can ensure your bird stays cool and healthy in the summer heat. However, it’s helpful to be aware of the signs of heat stress. One of the first signs that your bird is not feeling well is the lack of preening or grooming, usually followed by fluffing up in a ball and being very quiet, or sitting at the bottom of its cage. Another signal of heat stress is your bird panting with an open beak and its wings spread away from the body. If you notice any of these signs or your bird’s behavior changes suddenly, contact your vet immediately.