I know the weather is changing and sunny days are becoming more frequent. We’re all ready for spring and the adventures outside that come with it! Let’s take a second to talk about the dangers of bringing your bird outdoors, and how to safely go about it.
First, lets talk about clipped birds. While I do not believe wing clipping is the best thing for your bird, and there are other ways to go about training and taming them, let’s just touch on taking a clipped bird outside. Your bird may not be able to fly very far inside with clipped wings, but that may not be the case outdoors. A gust of wind on a nice breezy day is all it takes to carry them off into the trees. If that happens and you’re lucky enough to still be able to see them, they can be quite difficult to get back down. Plus, a bird that is clipped will not be likely to escape predators like cats or birds of prey.
Now on to harnessed birds, or birds in flight suits with leashes. While these are great for keeping a flighted bird close to you and unable to fly off, again we can not forget about predators. A hawk flying high above can easily see your bird sitting on your shoulder and can swoop down and take off with them. Please do not think that simply because you are there or that you have a large bird (like a cockatoo or a grey) that a hawk will not try to take them. They’re not afraid of you and will take an opportunity if it presents itself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard folks say “I don’t have any hawks where I live so it’s safe.” It’s not! There are hawks everywhere. The US has 25 different species of hawks and all pet birds are on the menu as far as they’re concerned. This doesn’t mean not to use a harness or a flight suit. All I’m saying is be cautious, don’t become complacent, be observant for your bird’s sake, and don’t keep them outside for too long.
What about cages, strollers, and backpacks? It’s a great idea to bring your bird outside to enjoy the weather in a cage. Keep in mind it needs to be an appropriate one; bar spacing cant be too far apart, and all the doors need to be secured. While outside, this isn’t a good time to change/clean their cage, or top off their food and water. A bird can easily escape and fly off that way. Have those things set to go before you bring them out. While your bird is in the cage it is still vulnerable. If it’s a weaker type of cage that can easily be bent, then any kind of animal could come along and harm them if you’re not there keeping a close eye. I’ve read posts and seen photos of birds, such as parakeets, sitting in their cage on someones covered porch and a hawk attempting to rip apart the bars. A heavy duty cage is even better but I still recommend being there to keep an eye on your bird. Sometimes things can frighten them while outside, where they may not be used to being and feel exposed, causing them to thrash or slam into the bars inside their cages. Typical wounds and injuries from this can include small things like bruised wings and beaks, or major issues like broken blood feathers or getting caught in a toy. It’s best that you’re there to keep watch, and quickly bring your bird inside and assist if need be.
Strollers are a really fun way to safely take your bird out for walks and fresh air. Again, the main thing I recommend here is not to leave them unattended. The carriers attached to strollers are soft, usually mesh. A predator could still do some damage to the carrier, and your bird.
Backpacks for pets are also a lot of fun. They’re hard bodied and clear so your pet is safe but can enjoy the view. They have many ports for ventilation and also for installing perches. Like the strollers, the space isn’t too big and the sides are soft, so your bird can’t do very much damage to themselves if they get spooked and fly into the side. I really prefer the combination of my bird enjoying being out and about in the backpack while wearing the flight suit. The suit is cute, and it keeps the pack from getting messy, so it helps their feet remain clean while they’re in it.
All in all, while there may be some dangers and risks to bringing our birds outside with us, I believe there are ways to make it safe and fun for everyone. So please keep these things in mind as spring and summer approach and we all get the itch to bring our fids outside!