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HomeCustomer ServicesNorthern Pet BlogFireworks, Parrots and Other Fears - A Guide to Helping Your Customers Manage

Fireworks, Parrots and Other Fears - A Guide to Helping Your Customers Manage

Published on Tuesday, 1st November 2016

Looking ahead it will soon be Bonfire Night and Diwali and not long after that New Year’s Eve. These celebrations normally see the increased use of fireworks, with their loud noises and sudden burst of bright lights.

As pet owners, we’re all too aware of how this fireworks season has a negative effect on our beloved pets, causing stress, anxiety and fear.

So I thought we’d take a moment and think about the many thousands of feathered friends who have to endure this too.

Firstly, lets remind ourselves that pet birds (unlike dogs and cats) are prey animals. They have evolved with their eyes on the side of their head, to enable them to spend long periods of their life looking over their shoulder. Some birds can even see better behind them then in front of them.

By nature, birds are neophobic, meaning they naturally want to retreat and avoid anything unfamiliar. By perceiving a new object or sound as a potential threat until proven otherwise, they increase their chances that they won’t end up as someone’s dinner!

This means birds and Parrots are constantly evaluating their environment and can become stressed much more easily than you may think.

Let’s look at some ways to help our pet bird and Parrot keeping customers reduce the amount of stress, anxiety and fear their birds suffer.

Tips for birds in the home…

  • Where possible put birds in a room without any windows.
  • Alternatively, cover any windows with blankets, to block out those sudden burst of light.
  • Covering the bird’s cage with a thick blanket can help muffle any loud noises, plus it helps make the bird feel more secure.
  • The additional use of a Parrot hideaway inside the cage can also help birds feel more secure.
  • The use of white noise machines or having the TV or radio on a little louder than normal can help drown out the noise of fireworks.
Please note, noise isn’t normally the problem, as Parrots are noisy by themselves, but the sudden appearance of an unknown loud noise is what frightens them.

If bird(s) don’t live in a cage it may be wise for your customers to utilise a travel cage. Even Parrots who have had their wings clipped have been known to fly off when scared.

Some pet bird owners have been known to play recordings of random noise, including those of fireworks to their birds – be it in the home or those outside in an aviary before firework season begins. The idea is that they eventually learn that unknown noises won’t harm them.

Tips for birds in outside aviaries…
Pet birds are prone to being spooked easily, and often take off in flight in panic. When it is late and dark this can lead to an increased risk of injury.

  • Planting tree and bushes can be good for those who want long term relief.
  • For short term relief, hay bale stacks can muffle sound effectively.
  • Plus, using fans (not aimed at the birds) to create white noise may ease their discomfort.
  • Talking to a Parrot as the fireworks are going off can help to reassure them and builds the trust between Parrot and owner.
  • If possible, bring birds indoors.

Some other common fears
it is only natural for our pet birds and Parrots to show fear responses in many other situations.

These can range from introducing new toys, perches and accessories to the colour of our clothes, new people, new pets or changing our appearance – yes, there’s been many reports of Parrots showing signs of fear when their owner returns home with a new hair colour and style!

What can be done to help eliminate or decrease fear?
Introducing pet birds to anything new is best done slowly, gently expanding the bird’s comfort zone.

Training really is the key. Desensitising is one training technique. Take a new toy for example, start by placing it in the same room but as far away as possible, and keep it below the eye line of the Parrot (because they are more frightened of things coming from above).

Once the bird indicates they are unconcerned about the toy, you can move it closer, until it’s right next to their cage. If they react in a fearful way move the items back away and start the process again. This process may take minutes, hours or days, but it must be done at the pace the bird sets.

Eventually most birds start to show an interest, and feel secure and will begin to engage.
This technique can be used to help pet birds and Parrots be at ease with items your customers might use to help their feathered companion through the stress of fireworks.

Above all a customer needs to be empathic if their feathered friend shows a fear response. The end result is worth it.

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