Keeping your birds cool during extremely hot weather

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Most of the birds we keep in aviculture are indigenous to warmer areas like Africa, Australia, South America and South-East Asia. Though they typically tolerate to high temperatures better than humans, but extremely heat, prolonged heatwaves, and poor aviary design can result in heat stress and even death.

Zebra finches bathing by Jim Bendon

Baths

The most obvious way to cool your birds is to provide them with a birdbath that they can frolic about in. To prevent drownings, the water needs to be shallow enough that no bird can become completely submerged.

In hot weather, it may be necessary to replace the water frequently. Warm water is a hotbed for bacterial infections, especially when bird droppings fall in it. The last thing you want is your birds drinking infected water. Baths should be cleaned out daily.

Misters and Sprinklers

Misters and sprinklers can lower the ambient temperature of the aviary. Misters designed for greenhouses can be configured to switch on automatically throughout the day, which comes it handy if you’re not able to supervise your birds throughout the day.

To prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, it’s important that no part of the aviary is permitted to stay wet throughout the day. Mist that passes through the aviary without ever settling on the ground is ideal.

Semi-Frozen Foods

During hot weather, I treat my lorikeets with nectar slushies. Their wet lorikeet food mix is prepared into ice trays, frozen, and then fed through the food processor. The birds go nuts for it and usually consume the whole bowl straight away.

Foods for other types of birds can also be frozen, or at least chilled. Parrots love really cold grapes, while finches will enjoy picking at refrigerated cucumber.

Fans

Fans are more useful for smaller cages, or aviaries where airflow is lacking. Make sure birds are always able to escape the draught.

Closing Thoughts

Good aviary design is going to help your birds stay cool far more effectively than any of the above suggestions. Shaded areas, materials that stay cool, and areas that allow for airflow must be considered when designing an aviary.

Lastly, heat related bird deaths are caused by stress. When it’s hot, don’t do anything to exacerbate their stress levels, like entering the aviary, mowing nearby laws, or trying to catch birds.

Last modified: January 29, 2017

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