Guy Fawkes night is one night of the year where regardless of where you live in the UK, you’re more or less guaranteed to hear fireworks going off – unless you happen to live in the Outer Hebrides or somewhere equally remote, and even then there are no guarantees of a silent night!
For many pet owners, Guy Fawkes night or bonfire night can be a very stressful event as we worry about our pets’ reactions, and have to contend with their fear and potentially out of character behaviours.
Plenty of advice is written for dog and cat owners in terms of keeping pets calm and safe when fireworks are in the offing, but fireworks and related stimulus can also have an acute, negative impact on virtually all types of other pets too, including pet birds.
If you own a parrot, budgie, cockatoo or any other type of pet bird, you might be wondering how to keep your pet bird calm and safe on Guy Fawkes night. Whilst there is no sure-fire way of keeping a pet bird calm on bonfire night, there are a number of things you can do to reduce fireworks stress on birds, and alleviate their potential fear.
With this in mind, this article will share some tips and advice on keeping your parrot or other bird calm on bonfire night. Read on to learn more.
If you have an outdoor aviary, your birds almost certainly nest in the bedding section of this from around twilight onwards, and this space should be secure and well insulated for their comfort and protection. Close your birds into this area when they’re all accounted for when fireworks are in the offing, as stress or nearby bangs might frighten your birds into flight or erratic behaviour, which might result in them entering the outdoor area again and being exposed to even further noise, light and stimulus.
Also, try to cover any gaps or window areas within this space to reduce the sounds and flashes, whilst of course ensuring that your birds can still get enough fresh air.
If your caged indoors bird is used to having their cage moved around and doesn’t find this upsetting, locate their cage in a well-insulated and quiet room for the period around bonfire night. This will again help to deaden some of the noise and light that can unsettle them.
However, if your bird’s cage is always left in the same place and they are a creature of habit, moving their cage will likely only add to their potential stress, so leave their cage where they are used to it being.
Closing the curtains just before it gets dark will reduce the impact of light flashes and deaden the sound of bangs to an extent, so don’t wait until fireworks have already started before you do this.
If your curtains are a little flimsy, add a blanket or another cover over the top to make them more effective.
Many birds – particularly those that are very personable like parrots – very much enjoy music and often have very specific musical tastes! Putting on your parrot’s favourite tunes can help to engage them and make them feel safe and happy, as well as of course deadening the sound of bangs from fireworks outside.
The sound of the TV for some background noise and reassurance can be helpful too, and carefully chosen calming music can help to ensure that your bird doesn’t get too stressed out on bonfire night.
Cover your bird’s cage during the usual times that you do this, but only cover them earlier than normal if your bird is getting particularly stressed out and unsettled. Birds are creatures of routine and habit and your bird may find it just as unsettling to have their routine changed by being covered early, so this won’t generally help.
However, if your bird is stressed and unsettled by fireworks, consider covering them a little early to reduce the stimulus.
Most birds, and particularly, birds like cockatoos and parrots that form strong bonds with their owners, like to listen in on your conversations and get to know the sounds of the voices of people they regularly spend time around.
Talking to your bird or even just chattering away in general can help to soothe your bird, give them something to focus on, and keep them calm even if a lot is going on outside.
If your bird is stressed, anxious or afraid, the safest place for them is in their cage. Don’t be tempted to take them out to try and reassure them, as they might panic when bangs and flashes go off, and potentially scratch you or take flight in a dangerous way.
Keep your bird secure and safe in their cage, and stay close by to reassure them if this is helpful for them.