For those of you with outdoor aviaries or cages for your birds, I am sure the consideration of insects has crossed your mind. Can they be harmful to your parrot?
Bees are not terribly fast moving and are really no match for the speed of your parrot. Any bee that gets close enough to your bird will be moving right on it’s way as soon as it realizes the speed and agility with which a parrot a parrot can manoeuvre that snapping beak. And if a bee were to make an undetected landing on your bird, it’s stinger isn’t really long enough to penetrate the feathers to make contact with the skin.
Bees really have no interest in stinging unless there is a threat perceived. A parrot that is outside sunning itself doesn’t really represent a threat and a bee might only make an appearance to check out what was for lunch in your birds bowl. In this regard, just let nature be and your parrot can look out for himself.
I must tell you, though, that a notification came through the BirdTricks customer service office not too long ago that was just horrifying. We learned that the large outdoor aviaries of a breeder were deluged with attacking bees resulting in the deaths of 12 macaws. We aren’t sure what caused the bees to attack, but birds can be overcome by swarming bees that will burrow under feathers and sting – the result can be fatal.
It’s a good idea to walk the area surrounding your aviaries to know if there are hives nearby. If bees decide to attack, your caged birds are helpless to escape.
Mosquitoes and gnats are annoying to everyone, parrots included. They, unlike bees, are not particulary concerned with the snapping beak and will remain in the area and do what they do best – bite. If you have a species that have patches of bare skin on their faces, like macaws, or if your bird is a plucker, you might notice the irritation of bites on their faces and bodies.
Apart from using bug zappers there really isn’t much you can do except to bring your birds in at sundown when the bugs are out in full force. The oil in citronella candles produce fumes that are unsafe for birds, and backyard foggers will coat the aviaries and perches with toxins. Neither are acceptable solutions.
You should know that birds are susceptible to West Nile Virus if they are bitten by a mosquito that has been feeding on an infected wild bird. It is a contagious disease that causes inflammation to the brain and can be fatal. It is considered to be uncommon in many places, but in those areas, such as Florida, where mosquitoes flourish there have been several reported cases.
Flies are not only an annoyance, but they spread bacteria and disease. They, themselves, are not harmful to your parrot, but are more dangerous to your parrot’s environment – or more precisely, the part of your parrots’ environment that ends up in its mouth.
Flies are generally the result of uncleanliness with food left lying around on the ground and unemptied garbage cans being the major contributors to the problem in the average bird home. If you feed them they will come…and lay eggs…and never leave.
Fortunately, fruit flies are not disease spreaders because with the foods we commonly feed our parrots, they do appear from time to time. The sticky traps work wonderfully in collecting fruit flies making it easy to rid yourself of them. Be sure to keep the traps, which look like wonderfully fun bird toys, well out of reach. There have many unhappy birds who have lost patches of feathers during the removal of fly traps that they have gotten into.
For the most part, under normal conditions, there is no reason to worry about flying insects with your birds. Birds are well adept at handling all things outdoors-y. That is their original stomping ground, after all.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.