The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends — including the ones with feathers! As you transform your home into a winter wonderland, pay attention to these five potential holiday hazards to help keep the members of your flock safe.

1. Christmas trees – While the tree itself may not necessarily be toxic, live trees may be sprayed with various chemicals and fertilizers. Older artificial Christmas trees may also contain plastics that give off dangerous fumes if heated (for example, if the tree is near a fireplace). Aside from toxins, a tree could be an enticing place for your bird to explore. While a parrotlet or budgie might not cause much disturbance, a macaw flying into a tree could knock the whole thing over, potentially injuring itself.

2. Ornaments – Sparkling ornaments might have your bird’s eyes pinning with excitement (or squawking in alarm, depending on their personality), but they can pose a deadly hazard to curious beaks. Parrots love to explore by tearing things apart, but tiny pieces of plastic and metal can be toxic or pose a choking hazard. This applies to tinsel and garland, as well.

3. Holiday plants – Some of our favorite holiday plants can be toxic to birds and other animals if ingested. These include:

These plants are fine to use as decorations if they are not in a location where your feathered friends can get to them — just no kissing under the mistletoe!

4. Nonstick cookware – One of the greatest dangers to birds is nonstick cookware and bakeware. When heated, especially at higher temperatures, they emit odorless fumes that can kill a bird within hours. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or Teflon, is found not only in frying pans and bakeware, but also in places that you might not expect, like waffle irons, hair dryers, and space heaters. Always use the ventilation fan while cooking, and don’t keep birds near the kitchen. 

5. Candles – While the flickering light of a candle might add a beautiful ambiance to your holiday spread, the fumes that they emit can quickly cause respiratory problems in a bird. This is due to the materials used to make not only the wax, but the essential oils used to scent it and the wick as well. Instead, opt for bird-safe candles or flameless LED candles. To freshen up the air in your home before guests arrive, you can also boil cinnamon sticks with some orange.

Check out this video for some helpful hints about how to keep your birds safe this holiday season:

At Todd Marcus, we are always happy to answer any questions you have about caring for your feathered friends. Reach out to us at any time, and we hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!