French Version

The risks of the holiday season

by Johanne Vaillancourt

Translated by Marlène Picard (Mooghie)


Winter is approaching, the first snow and the cold bring back all sorts of memories. The first snow and ... the holidays are just around the corner with all its ... hoopla! Shopping for gifts, the preparations (cooking, cleaning), the guests, etc. Lots to see and much to plan ... lack of time ... Phew! We neglect certain details, sometimes minor, sometimes ... very more significant. We are caught in a festive whirlwind and we forget some basic safety rules for our little companion parrot.

Our little companion is well aware of the turmoil. Every one of its senses are on the alert, especially its most developed sense... curiosity. All the new ornaments, the delicious dishes that are carelessly left on the table to cool, the little goodies lying around the living room and dining room: chips, chocolate and other sweets of all kinds. Visitors are great, we go to bed later ... way late ... Hey! Youhouou ..! Someone ...? Have you forgotten me?

Your holiday can be as happy as you have planned, if you ensure that your beautiful white Christmas does not become a somber day because of negligence.

Remember that avian vets are scarce in the holiday season and that a simple mistake can turn into an insane tragedy simply because of the lack of resources available.

Here is a little reminder to prevent a whole lot of distress in the festive season. I know most of you will say ... "Yeah .. Yeah .. We know all that." But it certainly cannot hurt to hear it again, can it?


Decorate safely

All parrots are compulsively curious and can cause much damage to your valuable and expensive Christmas ornaments and, accessorily, they can also seriously injure or intoxicate themselves. A detail you will say ... ... but not insignicant!

It is easy to believe that similar to its relatives, your parrot will imagine that the whole house is his and for him alone. So, it is not difficult for your little parrot to cross that oh so fine line and imagine that all these beautiful colours and decorations are new toys put there to please him. All these ornamental stimulations, the colours, the shapes, the glitter and the textures of Christmas decorations attract your parrot's beak like magnets. A dramatically decorated Christmas tree may seem in the eyes of your parrot the most beautiful and gigantic foraging toy in the world! Mega foraging orgasm ...!!!!


Let us therefore review the ornaments available before he does ...

Angel hair

Despite their enchanting name, these ornaments can cause very serious digestive problems for your parrot. They are made of fiberglass or plastic (most recently) and may clog the digestive system and kill the bird in a very short time. It can often require an emergency operation.

Christmas Tree Tinsels

They are made of plastic (recently) and the color is not toxic. However, the ingestion of the tinsels can also clog the digestive system. In addition, they can wrap themselves around the legs or fingers of your sweetie thereby creating a constriction and / or causing a reflex of terror in Mr. Panic.

Artificial snow

The artificial snow is made of plastic and is not toxic. It is the agent contained in the spray bottle that can be (Freon or other). Never spray artificial snow near a parrot. This warning is also valid for all aerosol sprays.

Christmas decorations

The best way to ensure that nothing bad occurs between your tree, your ornaments and birdie is to keep birdie at a respectful distance from all that glitters and / or choose natural decorations safe for the bird (fruit dried (without polish of course), pots, garlands of corn or cranberries, untreated wood, paper or cardboard, etc.).. Many Christmas decorations are made with cheap materials that may contain highly toxic metals for your parrot, such as zinc and lead.

Christmas tree

Christmas trees sold commercially are usually fir or pine. The trees are considered non-toxic to parrots. The firs are not recognized as toxic. Pines are also not considered toxic, but they can physically injure the bird with their sharp needles or if ingested. It is also very important to cover the water tray at the foot of the tree. The water in which pine needles were macerated becomes a very toxic poison. Cedars contain irritants and should not be used. Yews are downright toxic, even fatal for Coco. Most Christmas trees sold in the market have been chemically treated against fire ... Very, very dangerous to parrots. A Christmas tree, decorated or not, as majestic as it is, should be admired from a distance by our feathered aesthetes.

Christmas plants

Most of the beautiful plants that bloom during the holiday season and that are used as fleeting decorations are toxic to your parrot: poinsettia, holly, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, mistletoe, English ivy, Christmas cactus.

Electrical installations

Hide all electrical extensions, connections and outlets. The lights installed in the tree can look like large candies. In addition to the risk of electrical shock, broken glass is very sharp and can hurt your bird physically. Imagine if ingested ...! Read carefully the packaging of your interior Christmas lights to make sure they are not coated with a Teflon coating (very common now). Humans like Teflon, not parrots! Beware of halogen lights that get very hot and can cause burns to the bird.


The beautiful metallic wrappers may contain toxic substances (heavy metals), not to mention the risk of gastric obstruction if the parrot decided to have a little snack. Small packets of silica gel crystals are often found in packaging to keep materials dry, particularly electronics. These are not toxic to parrots, but in return can clog the digestive system if (again) ingested. Beware of packaging tapes. Just like the tinsels, they tend to curl around the legs, body or neck of the bird. There is a risk of strangulation or panic and they can also cause intestinal blockages if the parrot mistakes them for spaghetti.

The pretty bells

... with which we complete the wrapping of our gifts can seem to be perfect toys for our parrots. Sorry to disappoint you again, but often, these bells are made with cheap materials (heavy metals) and are highly toxic to Coco. Moreover, they are formidable traps for the beaks, the claws and even feet in the case of a small parrot. It is the same for other plastic or fabric embellishments put on packages, especially those that date back a bit. They can be painted with lead-based paint and thin metal pin inside the flower tissue may contain lead or zinc. If you wish to give a present to your parrot, use craft paper or wrappers made of cotton or linen, and wrap the gift in several boxes inserted into each other. Your parrot will love to demolish the boxes and shred the paper and will care little for the content!

Christmas Fragrances

If you want to create a special atmosphere at Christmas, (we all love our house to smell good when receiving guests), use infusions of orange, mint, cinnamon or cloves that you will simmer gently on a small heater. Delicious fragrance guaranteed even for birdie. The scented candles, incense, carpet deodorizers, potpourri, perfumes, aftershaves, plug-in air fresheners, scented sprays or other sprays, shepherd lamps, diffuser essential oil, etc. are all highly toxic for your parrot, even fatal.


Christmas cooking

Do you expect to cook a lot during the holidays? It is to be expected and it is fun! Your parrot could even become your no.1 food taster. Of course, some security rules are needed, because the busier you get in the kitchen, the higher the risks and, in the festive season, these risks are multiplied by one hundred.
The water boiling in a pot without a lid, the fryer filled with hot oil, stew gently simmering on the stove or the stove door left open while taking pies out of the oven. TSST ..! TSST ..! Better to have your flying food critic go play elsewhere. He will resume its work when everything is finished and cooled! Preparing the grub of the holiday season is definitely not the best time to spend time with your parrot!

Beware of foods toxic to parrots, your guests are probably not aware of the dangers of certain foods. Tell them what they can give or not give to Birdie, and everybody will be satisfied.

As we have been talking about these subjects for a while, you are perfectly aware that we do not use pots, pans, cake or bread pans, pie plates, or any kitchen appliance that contains Teflon (including waffle makers, wok, cheese grill, bread making machine, electric fondue pot, stove, table mini-grill, etc..) in a house where reigns Lord parrot. If you do not follow this friendly and disinterested advice, your actions might take the form of a regicide. Indeed, recent studies show that Teflon fumes (polytetrafluoroethylene) are created at a temperature as low as 285 degrees F, as low as that.

This odorless, colorless, harmless to humans or other mammals of the house, is lethal to 100% of all birds. See also text Danger/Teflon.

So, act for the well-being of His Majesty and he will rule much longer.

Never operate the self-cleaning of the oven if the parrot is INSIDE THE HOUSE. Better to bring it to the daycare the day of the oven cleaning.


Fire, fire ... Pretty fire ...

The candles do not mix with the feathers of birdie. Feathers burn fast ... Too fast! In addition, scented candles are to be avoided totally. They can seriously poison your parrot. It is also important to note that some imported candles may contain lead in the wick.

Make sure your chimney is clean (no creosote) and that ventilation is good. Smoke is an irritant dangerous for your bird. The artificial fireplace logs and logs of colors contain heavy metal salts such as lead, copper, arsenic, barium and selenium and can poison your parrot if it decides to nibble a little bit to taste. It should be noted that a number of toxic particles could be found in the smoke of these logs. Better to abstain.


Cigarette, alcohol and other decadent delights ...

Secondhand cigarette smoke can cause respiratory irritation. Allergic dermatitis may occur if you have nicotine on your fingers and stroke your parrot. Better to wash their hands after smoking. Tobacco smoking is also highly toxic to parrots, if ingested.

Marijuana smoke and the marijuana grass is ... you guessed it ... toxic to all parrots. To this list, we can happily add ecstasy, cocaine, alcohol, beer and other psychotropic drugs of all kinds.


Change in routine and visitors ...

During the holidays, we are literally exhausted. Dinners, parties, food too rich and plentiful, guests, family ... friends ... phew! All these changes can also cause stress to our parrot if activities are unplanned and the routine is disrupted. Try as best you can to keep a regular routine: getting up and going to bed, playtime or just together time. Do not isolate your bird in another room on the pretext that there are visitors at home (unless your bird is completely terrorized by visitors (strangers)).

Make sure he can easily sleep well by installing its cage in a quiet room away from guests and noise. (It does no good to cover the cage if you leave it in the middle of the room, where the festivities are taking place... your parrot will not sleep!).

Do not forget that every parrot has its own personality and that they do not react in the same way to stress and to strangers. Some will be delighted to meet so many people in the house and will quickly become acquainted with Aunt Alice and Cousin George.

But others, will find that Aunt Alice has a family resemblance to Cruella Devil and Cousin George looks awfully like Boris Karloff in his famous role in "The return of Frankenstein."

Be aware...! It is the same for your guests. It is possible that Aunt Alice, who carries an enormous glittering hardware and that Birdie holds in high esteem, finds that your little darling looks more like a Velociraptor in rut. Aunt Alice could, in a moment of incontrollable panic, have unfortunate and regrettable reflexes towards your parrot.

In short, do not force Aunt Alice to socialize with birdie. It is better perhaps .... to consider Cousin George....

The holiday season should be a time of rejoicing for all. Have fun, but be careful. These few precautions will give you peace of mind and will allow you to enjoy the moment and therefore to have a real happy holiday season ...

... It is my wish to all of you!




© Johanne Vaillancourt 2001



Chichou, cacatua alba, CAJV
Eolophus roseicapillus, Danièle Vappreau
Maely, cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata, Hervé Andaloro
M. Maggoo et Maggie, cacatua sanguinea, Guylaine Turgeon
Cacatua alba, Marie-Josée Ouellet
Cacatua leadbeateri, Danièle Vappreau
Maely, cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata, Hervé Andaloro
Maely, cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata, Hervé Andaloro
Coco, cacatua goffini, CAJV
Cacatua moluccensis, CAJV