California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Keeping Your Pet Bird Safe

Many Californians enjoy the company of pet birds which they keep inside their homes, on their balconies, and in aviaries. Pet birds allowed to interact or have contact with wild birds have an increased chance of exposure to avian influenza and other diseases.

Avian influenza is a bird disease that is transferred from bird to bird through contact with infected bird secretions, feces (bird droppings), and contaminated water or food. Bird owners should keep their birds away from all other birds (wild and any domestic birds in the neighborhood).

Take the following precautions to keep your pet birds safe:

  • Keep all wild birds away from food and water
  • Keep pet bird away from kitchen and dining area
  • Outdoor aviary should have solid roof and fine mesh panels
  • Keep new birds away (1 month) to ensure disease free
  • Use good sanitation practices
  • Report all illnesses

Practice good, clean habits with your pet bird

  • Clean food and water containers weekly
  • Clean stuck-on matter with soap and water, then apply disinfectant. Let sit 10-20 minutes before rinsing and drying off
  • Avoid using disinfectants near birds - may be toxic to them
  • Wear gloves when cleaning
  • Wash hands thoroughly after cleaning or after handling the bird
  • Change clothes after handling the bird or after cleaning the aviary/cage

Know disease warning signs

Watch for any of the following signs and symptoms among wild or pet birds. Early detection of signs of disease is important to preventing its spread.

  • Sudden death
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased or complete loss of egg production; soft-shelled, misshapen eggs
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing
  • Lack of energy and appetite
  • Swelling of tissues around eyes and in neck
  • Purple discoloration of wattles, combs, and legs
  • Depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, incoordination, complete paralysis