During the hotter summer months, air conditioning systems help many Americans stay cool at home. While you and your other family members may appreciate the fact you can crank up the air conditioning, other inhabitants of your home may find the change in temperature harder to cope with, and it's important to understand how your air conditioning can affect your feathered friends. Learn more about the effects an air conditioner can have on a pet bird, and find out what you need to do to keep your animals safe.
How birds keep cool
Many bird species live in tropical climates, so their bodies have adapted to find ways to stay cool in hot temperatures. Birds don't have sweat glands, but they do have other physical attributes to help them cope with the heat.
Birds can stay cool in several ways, including:
- Rapid breathing, which allows heat to dissipate from their bodies more quickly
- Holding their wings out to allow heat to escape
- Allowing heat to dissipate naturally from small areas of bare skin
- Releasing heat from their bills
Birds also know how to behave differently when it's hot. Many birds can pant just like a dog, while most species will often just take it easy when the weather gets too warm. Some species will bathe in water, while others will simply seek shade and stay out of direct sunlight.
Pet birds and ideal temperatures
Pet birds are surprisingly hardy in certain conditions. Tropical birds can often survive relatively low temperatures, while other species can cope relatively well when the mercury starts to go up. Temperature changes generally only become dangerous when the bird has to cope with a sudden increase or decrease.
Overall, according to one veterinarian, most pet birds are comfortable with a temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. What's more, unless the temperature suddenly changes, they can also live happily between 40 and 90 degrees, even if the bird is young.
Making sure your bird can cope with your air conditioning
Birds don't fare well in stagnant air. Indeed, if a bird is close to moving air, he or she can often cope with heat, as the breeze makes sure the bird's core temperature doesn't go too high. Crucially, however, you shouldn't expose the bird to extremes.
A cage 12 to 18 inches away from an open window or a gentle fan will create a healthy environment. However, if your cage is right in front of an air conditioning vent, you may create conditions that are dangerous for the bird. Sudden temperature changes can lead to respiratory problems in birds, which dust particles from the air conditioner can also exacerbate.
Similarly, an outdoor bird won't cope well with a sudden change in temperature. For example, if you bring an outdoor parrot into a cool, air-conditioned room on a hot day, you can cause serious health problems for the bird. In any situation, it's crucial to slowly acclimatize the bird to the change. As such, if the bird shows signs of heat prostration, you should cool the little fellow down with a gentle spray of cool (not cold) water. You may also need to take the bird to a vet.
Nonetheless, if your air conditioner runs at a relatively steady temperature, an indoor bird will adjust well after a short time and can live quite happily in this environment.
Problems with birds and air conditioning
Some birds can cause allergic reactions, which your air conditioning system can exacerbate. Most birds create feather dust, which is an allergen for some people. Constant preening and feather flapping can expel this dust into the air.
Once the allergen gets into the air, the air conditioning system can quickly circulate the feather dust around the house. Some large species of bird (like parrots) can create substantial amounts of this dust.
In this case, it's a good idea to talk to an air conditioning company about extra filters in your air conditioning system. More sensitive filters can capture this type of powder, stopping it spreading between rooms. If you have somebody in the house with an allergy, you can then at least keep the bird in one room, without any risk that the air conditioning will spread the allergen further.
Indoor birds can often cope well with your air conditioning system, but it's important to take care. Talk to your vet for more advice about the steps you can take to keep your bird comfortable indoors. Additionally, to get more sensitive filters for your air conditioning system, check out an HVAC site like http://www.cblucashvac.com.