I’m sitting here writing this blog post feeling as though I am recovering from a weekend drinking binge. The truth of the matter is, I don’t drink.
We recently took in a new resident in our Providence Exotic Bird Sanctuary. One never knows what they are going to get when a new bird arrives at their sanctuary. No matter how much screening one does, there are always hidden surprises you find after the former caregiver leaves and you are left to care for the bird on your own.
A number of bed sheets were left with this bird and they wreaked of that infamous “drier sheet smell.” We immediately took them out of the sanctuary and washed them; we didn’t want our birds or us to smell the VOCs. However, we noticed the lingering drier sheet smell in the sanctuary and kept wondering where it was coming from.
In a couple of days I noticed one of our birds who had formerly suffered from seizures was beginning to once again suffer from smaller seizer-like activing. I came down with a migraine to beat the band. The smell of drier sheets lingered on.
I finally noticed that every time I approached the bird’s “beautiful furniture-styled wooden cage” the smell of the drier sheets became even stronger…then it hit me. The wood had soaked up the smell of the drier sheets and all of the VOCs!
Evidently the former caregivers didn’t only use drier sheets containing VOCs, but also used air fresheners that contained the same toxic chemicals. I would imagine their home was filled with these toxins.
One of the reasons they relinquished their bird was because it had become “more than a handful” to care for. And indeed I can tell you this bird is way more hyperactive than it should be for its species.
Part of that is due to the VOCs, it has been documented that VOCs can cause hyperactivity. (1) They are also harmful to the respiratory system adding to or causing asthma. (2)
At any rate I now understand why I and our other avian resident have been suffering so many ill-effects this last week. Needless to say the “beautiful furniture-like wooden cage” is going to have go, or at least go outside until it is thoroughly aired out. I cannot allow this to affect our sanctuary residents, or me for that matter.
Now I know why this new resident is so hyped up…it needs to be detoxed from the VOCs that have permeated its very being. I have noticed that every sound literally sets this bird off into a screaming tantrum.
Folks, if you are using chemical air fresheners, drier sheets, fabric softeners and the like in your homes please, please stop. “Clean” doesn’t have a smell. However, I will say this, not all VOCs have a smell. So be sure to read the labels on your cleaning items. If they contain chemicals, just don’t use them. In our home and sanctuary we use the basics; food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and sometimes Oxy Clean. I have multiple chemical sensitivities which I consider a blessing considering we care for birds in our home. MCS forces me to be aware of their extremely sensitive senses. I don’t think many people realize how sensitive birds are…but they are. Everything about birds is so, so much more sensitive than humans. We take for granted they can tolerate what we can, but it is not true. This is one reason why so many birds are suffering so in our human environments.
Remember the Canary in the coal mine? We should keep that at the forefront of our minds at all times. Birds cannot tolerate the same toxins we can. In short we need to detoxify our homes right down to the minuscule levels. What we think they cannot smell, hear, feel or taste they actually can…just because we can’t doesn’t mean they can’t. Just like dogs hear what we cannot…the same holds true for birds…probably even more so.
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