Fire and Fear

I live in southern California. Several past fire seasons (yes, that’s one of the seasons here) have seen flames coming down the slopes of the valley I live in. I have feared for the lives of my pets and my family and my friends. If you believe in climate change or not, you can’t deny the world has seen its share of Acts of God. Mother Nature is not pleased.

The news reports cover people evacuating horses, dogs, cats, and other pets. With these as well as birds, their fight or flight response will kick in. A scared cat will escape from a rescuer and head into danger. People, as well, might drive into smoke and get turned around. And smoke is more often the killer than the fire itself.

You should understand the respiratory system of all birds if you hope to keep them healthy. Do you understand why a self-cleaning oven might kill your birds while not harming you or your dog? Because our lungs breath in and breath that same air back out. Birds breathe in, push the air through air sacs, hold the air in for a longer time before it exhales from the air sacs, not the lungs. So they are exposed to toxic fumes much longer than we would be.

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This is why air fresheners, scented candles with lead wicks, and non-stick pans might be deadly to your parrot but not you. And also why you need to evacuate your birds out of a fire zone much sooner than you or your mammal pets have to go. The danger is greater for avians.

101517cag in carrier

If you have African grays in your flock, you need to know that they are rather anxious birds to begin with. Keeping them calm can be a challenge. Be sure to have a carrier that they are familiar with, let them play in it and get used to the sensation of being in it.

When fires were close to my home, my problems were: Did I have enough cages to evacuate the flock and did I have or could I get a hold of someone who had such a vehicle. I totally envy a neighbor who has a huge truck plus a trailer with a full cage enclosure on it. Not only would that solve my evacuation issues, it would also make future moves easier.

101517 parrot rescued from fire

Parrots in house fires have been known to help themselves be rescued. But a wildfire is different in that nearly every resource in the area is already at maximum effort fighting the blaze. Early safe evacuation is the best choice. I know bird breeders in a nearby area that evacuated and left their outside birds in place because they had no other options. I think some people would just open the cages and let the birds take their chances against the flames. That seldom works out for the birds who otherwise might be fine. The friends were allowed back after a day just to give food and water to the birds. Their home and their aviaries were untouched, but they did the right thing by evacuating.

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Just as I was about to post this, I came across an article on the subject of evacuating a lot of birds with time short and space at a premium. Thank you, BirdTricks, for solving my biggest problems.

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My heart and thoughts are with everyone impacted by this amazing force of nature. With every day, the winds might die down, the containment might be closer at hand. Wherever you are, may you and your family be safe. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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