The days are getting shorter and the temperatures start to drop… Winter is coming! Although we humans might enjoy playing in the snow, our little feathered friends don’t like the cold all too much. Because budgies originate from Australia, their bodies are not built to withstand sudden temperature drops. They do get a thicker feather coat in the fall, but we still need to help mother nature a little. In this article, I will help you identify threats that come along with the cold season as well as offer some solutions to keep your budgie warm.
Should I move the cage?
The most common problem budgies face during the winter is getting ill from cold drafts. Ideally, you want to place your birds’ cage near a window so they can benefit from the sunlight, but in the winter it might not be such a good idea. Close to windows is where cold drafts are most likely to occur. Aside from that, your windows can get freezing cold during the dark months, which also radiates cold into your home. Especially at night, when the temperature is at its lowest point, you might want to keep your budgie away from there. Another important factor during the night is the lack of warmth that your budgies generate themselves. Because they are physically inactive while sleeping, they cool down much faster than when they are playing and flying around.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to protect your birds from cold drafts. The first one is to check all the window frames close to the birds’ cage for damage. If there is any damage, move your birds’ cage immediately until it is repaired. Another thing you can do is hang up some thick curtains. Due to the density of the fabric, they don’t let as much cold through as most curtains. Make sure to avoid leaving gaps between the curtains and the walls. Lastly, you can also put a cage cover over your birds’ cage during nighttime. For this, it is very important to use more breathable fabric because you don’t want your budgie to suffocate. This works similarly to the curtains but is less effective. It is however a great addition to it!
Prevent dry skin
Dry skin during the cold season is something people don’t often think of when preparing their budgie for the winter months. It can, however, cause some nasty issues for your bird, like itchiness or flaking skin. Due to their feathers, it’s difficult for bird owners to keep an eye on the condition of their budgies’ skin. Therefore I’d say, better safe than sorry! To prevent your birds’ skin from drying out it’s important to keep the air humid. Some people advise getting an air humidifier to solve this issue. That’s a great solution, but let’s face it, it’s also a very expensive one. If you don’t have the money to purchase an air humidifier you can also place some bowls of water on top of your heaters. This way the water evaporates into the air. This can go very quickly, so make sure to check and refill your bowls daily if you decide to use this method.
Another thing you can do to help prevent dry skin is to offer baths daily. This can be done by letting your budgie splash around in the sink while lukewarm water is running softly. Or you could let them sit on the shower curtain while you are taking a shower yourself. This way your budgie can wash itself in the mists the shower produces. There are also special shower perches available to let your bird sit in the shower with you. Don’t place them directly under the water, but rather in a spot where they get splashed by some of the drops on the side of the water stream.
Avoid these dangerous mistakes
Something I see in a lot of bird cages, especially during the winter, are bird tents, huts or other hides. Please avoid these at all costs! There are 2 major issues with these tents. The first issue is the materials they are made from. The fabric can contain loose threads and fibres. Your budgie can mistake them for toys to play with or they can try to preen them. This can cause them to accidentally ingest some of them which can, in turn, cause a blockage in their intestines. And I can almost hear you thinking ‘But what if I make a tent myself from safe materials like popsicle sticks?’. Although I really love the idea of making your own bird supplies from safe materials, this is where the second issue comes in. Your budgies will likely see them as a great place to build a nest. This can trigger hormones and unwanted egg-laying. So in conclusion, don’t put them in your birds’ cage.
Another dangerous mistake that I often see people make is that they use space heaters that blow out hot air. The major issue with this is that these heaters often contain Teflon. Teflon is a coating material that is also used in a lot of non-stick pans and contains chemicals that are spread into the air when heated. Although not dangerous to us humans in these quantities, they are highly toxic to pet birds, especially small birds like budgies.
Hopefully, this article helped you identify the possible dangers that come along with the cold season, as well as offer some useful solutions. Your budgies deserve to be warm and cosy during the winter, just like you!