Humans aren’t the only ones that need to beat the heat in the summer. Our feathered friends need to be kept cool, too. A bird’s body temperature is significantly higher than ours, ranging from 104-108 degrees Fahrenheit. Even those that originate from tropical habitats can still suffer from heat-related illnesses and injuries. Remember, wild birds can seek cooler locations in the shade, bathe themselves and take other measures to cool down. Caged birds need their owners to help them stay cool.
Birds lose heat to their environments in two ways. The first way occurs when the environment is cooler than the bird’s body temperature. The bird’s body heat naturally dissipates into the environment. Birds also lose heat through the evaporation of water from the respiratory system. What does this all mean? It means that hot, humid weather plays a double whammy on your bird’s health.
In order to protect your bird during particularly hot weather, it’s important that you’re aware of the signs of heat stress. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Gular flapping: This looks similar to panting because the bird opens the mouth and pumps its throat.
- Droopy wings: Birds will hold their wings away from their bodies when they begin to overheat.
- Listlessness: Birds stop being active when they’re too hot, generally because they become weak with heat fatigue.
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pet bird, take action immediately. Keep a spray bottle on hand to fill with cool water when needed. Mist your bird with the cool water, taking care not to scare your bird. A light mist is best; powerful sprays of water or dumping water will cause your bird to panic. Placing the bird’s cage in a cooler area in the shade or in front of the fan can also help your feathered friend cool down quickly. Remember, if you use a ceiling fan to cool the room down, keep your bird caged. You don’t want your bird flying into the ceiling fan blades, resulting in injury.
Although birds enjoy sunlight, you may need to limit your bird’s window time when sun shines directly through the windows. Move the cage to a cooler area during those times of the day when the sun is the hottest and brightest. Let your bird enjoy indirect sunlight during the early morning and late evening hours.