Keeping Your Birds Warm In The Winter

Keeping Your Birds Warm In The Winter

 November 3rd, 2011
Posted By:

Mitred conure

Q:  My bird room is unheated. Can I cover the cage with an electric blanket to keep my bird warm at night?
 – Carol B., Huntington, CA

A:  No! There are three real dangers to consider when using an electric blanket around a parrot:

  1. You never want to put anything electrical near your bird. Even though the insulated wire filaments that run through the newer electric blankets work on only 12 or 24 volts, the power cord that runs from the wall to the blanket is on 110 volts. And because that is attached to the blanket to power it, the parrot need only pull the blanket throught the cage bars to reach the cord with the dangerous amount of electricity coursing through it. I don’t think I need to describe the possible results.
  2. Another danger is with the overheating that could occur inside the cage. The fabric of a blanket is a too heavy and unbreathable to be used as a cage cover especially when heat is introduced and has no means of escape. The temperature can build up to unsafe levels iside the cage.
  3. A third danger is with the blanket fabric alone. Not only should cage covers be light weight to allow for ventilation, but one has to assume that the parrot is going to investigate the cover. Many parrots will pull sections of it inside for a good look or chew. The thick pile of a typical blanket leaves too much opportunity for entanglement as nails get caught in the weave and the filaments.

Electric blankets have come a long way in the last 10 years as far as safety goes. The newer blankets are much less a fire hazard. However they are simply not a suitable as a heat source for a chilly parrot.

You might try using a heated perch, or read this post on portable heaters that are bird safe.

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17 Comments on “Keeping Your Birds Warm In The Winter”

Donna in Texas  11/04/2011 7:45 am

What temp is unsafe for a bird. I live in deep south Texas, where our winters a very mild, with only an occasional light freeze.

Nancy McShane  11/05/2011 1:13 am

I live in North Florida, and when visiting neighborhood aviary’s, I always inquire as to how they deal with winter. Most have outdoor cages, and cover with plastic. I have a bird room indoors, where I use electric heaters with thermostats, and also cover with soft blankets if it gets really icy. My outdoor birds live in a screen room that has a hot tub. I can leave the top off the tub if I want to humidify. Also, last year I built 2×2 window frames with 10 mil clear plastic that I can remove in warm weather, and screw back in over the screens, when needed. I also have blinds inside that I can lower before it gets too cold in transition to keep out the wind. It is a tad chilly here tonight, we had a front come through with a Nor’ easter last night, and I am running my heaters. I have 6 nest boxes with Love Bird eggs right now so I want to keep them warm! When the babies are two weeks old, they will be relocated indoors to a 50 gallon aquarium, with a heating pad attached to the outside to keep it toasty! I have two Violet babies living there now, down to three feedings a day, and they love it warm! I have 40+ birds.

Patty  11/06/2011 1:07 pm

Hi Donna, If a bird is allowed to slowly become acclimated as the temperatures gradually get colder, the will be fine in temps in the low 50s and high 40s. Never in a freeze, though, and never without proper acclimation.

Lana Hawkins  11/07/2011 5:23 pm

I am by no means a parrot expert, but my Goffin, Max, escaped for three days and two nights outside where the temps were in the 40s F. I’ve had him for a year and he is 36 years old. He plucks his feathers and has kind of naked legs. His body temperature is extremely warm. He feels HOT when his bare legs tuch my neck when he is standing on my shoulder. Parrots normal body temps are around 105F.

I used to think that birds were really fragile and suceptible to chills, but I’ve learned that they are pretty durable creatures. Not saying you should let them freeze or anything. I cover Max in the evening because he wants to stay up all night and party. We need a rest from this extremely gregarious bird.

The cover is denim and he pulls it into his cage a chews on it.

Jack Moskovita  11/07/2011 5:36 pm

Better question yet is what to do if you have a blackout and yes, that happens.
1. Buy a small generator.
2. Since we rarely get blackout where I live, (maybe once every two years for a couple hours).
I have a 100 ft Motorhome electric cord, that I can run downstairs to the garage, then outside to the Subaru that has a AC converter in it. Very similar to using a generator. This way I can run a portable heater in the bird room. Do NOT run the car in the garage unless you open the garage door with the tail pipe facing out.

heidi  11/07/2011 5:45 pm

In addition to what was said above… Some parrot species apparently adapt to cold climates if they have time to do so. I bet many die if thrown into an unusual temperature range. But some parrots that seem to escape from places (homes, pet store/deliveries) in cold climates, seem to make it even outdoors. Even in Chicago. Or San Francisco (where it also can get cold). Our birds live in San Diego. We almost never use AC and use heat only when we are really cold when dressed in seasonably reasonable clothes. Our birds (living in the same area/house) do fine (I always think their feathers are really warm when I have the pleasure to ‘cup’ one of them, even in summer). I think one needs to keep an eye out for newcomers, because who knows what temp they were acclimated to. But after a reasonable time (e.g., after a run through an average local season) they should be able to acclimate. About electrical appliances: We keep these away from all our pets at all times (and just think how much birds love to nibble on things).

Rosemary Southard  11/07/2011 7:14 pm

Hello: I cannot believe what i was reading what people are doing with their birds. this is crazy would you want your birds to be cold? I dont. An electric blanket?????????????? what are these people thinking????? Keep your birds in a room about 71 or 72 degrees, and they will be fine. But 40 degrees??????????? people please. Birds like to chew things. electric blankets????? you need to be educated.

Katie Johnston  11/07/2011 7:25 pm

I have been drying our Titan with a hair dryer for two years, he loves it. We live in Southern Alberta which is VERY cold in the winter we let him dry outside in the Summer sometimes. He needs his showers as he is VERY dusty and it has taken me two years to get some feathers on him (with lots of cuddles) We don’t need a shiver after the shower any ideas please.

connie  11/07/2011 11:42 pm

I have tried over and over to swith my parrot that was given to me to eat pellets. he refuses. the food she gave me it seems like he just eats the flower seeds. Nothing else what do I do

karen  11/08/2011 9:15 am

i heat a towel and put it near the cage the heat goes into the cage without hurting them i love my birds and they like to be warm

kathy jackson  11/08/2011 9:48 am

how silly to ask that dum or what ! my birds are in with me all the time so as others say if im cold heating goe;s on in the room and thay do have cace balanets at nght but not electric,

Julie  11/08/2011 10:38 am

I wish you people with heating lamps,blankets, and humidifers would use your heads
and think about what your doing. All this artifical heat and electricticity could kill so easy.
Why not put yourself in the birds position and see how it feels being smothered, baked
and overheated. It would be hard to breath. They are at our mercy.
Just get your birds out of the cold put them in a warmer area of the house. Poor babies.

Maryann in South Dakota  11/08/2011 2:45 pm

Dear fellow bird lovers, I have all kinds of parrots, from sun conures to greenwing mc Caw , I had cove heating installed in my bird room, which only heats the surface , which means it heats the cover of the cage and that keep my babies warm at night or if it is cold in the daytime they are just fine. I live in a very cold state in the winter time.south dakota. I have baby Hahn’s and the nest box stays warm all the time.The are just 3 wks old now , so I don’t have to worry about them getting cold.

PETTING ZOOO  11/08/2011 10:55 pm


melody quinn  11/26/2013 5:49 pm

My babies LOVELOVELOVE their heated perches! Their little feeties are roasty toasty in the mornings!

Tracy  11/26/2013 8:04 pm

You can find ceramic portable heaters that have built in thermostats. Ceramic because you do not want a portable heater that uses any form of non – stick coating because when the non – stick coating reaches a certain temperature it puts off toxic fumes that will kill your birds.

Jamie carder  01/06/2014 7:47 pm

I am trying to find out if propane heat is toxic to birds? Does anyone know the answer to this question? We just bought a house that uses propane heat as a secondary heat source. The heater is in our bird room. I don’t want to use it of it is toxic to my birds. But if the power were to go out we would need to use it to heat the house. We are experiencing a rare cold front right now where temps are in single digits. Thank you