Here are some tips on how to prepare for a natural disaster to keep your bird safe:
If You Are Staying Home:
1) During an emergency situation, keep your bird in a carrier in case you need to leave right away.
2) Keep the carrier in high spot away from potential flooding, and away from windows and doors.
3) Pack an avian survival kit to last at least three weeks. You will need it if you stay home because your water and electricity may be out for weeks. If you evacuate, you can easily take it with you if you pack the dry goods in covered plastic storage bins.
Things to pack in the survival kit:
- Bird food for three weeks (preferably dehydrated or freeze dried, species appropriate food)
- Dried, Organic Fruits and Nuts
- Canned Organic, sugar-free fruits packed in water or their own juice
- Paper towels
- Bottled water – think at least a half gallon per day
- Extra toys
- Extra food and water cups
- Unsalted, no sugar Peanut butter
- Avian first aid kit (hydrogen peroxide, Thieves Household cleaner, colloidal silver, medical tape, scissors, cotton balls, gauze, e-collar, styptic powder).
- Photos of your birds in case you are somehow separated.
- ATMs will be inaccessible, empty, or not working due to lack of electricity.
- Mosquito netting. If your electricity is out you will open your windows and flying bugs can get inside. Cover the cage area (but not the cage itself) with mosquito netting to keep pests away from your bird.
4) Attach a metal or hard plastic identification tag on your carrier with your emergency notification information in case you get separated.
5) Keep a spray bottle handy to mist down your pet birds
6) If your electricity is out, remember that candles, oil lamps, and torches contain deadly toxins to birds. Do not use these around your birds and make sure that your bird area remains well ventilated.
7) The city may drive around spraying mosquito repellent or may send helicopters to spray it over housing developments, especially if you are near standing water. When you notice this happening, move your bird away from the windows and place him in a closed room, like the bathroom, with an air purifier and ion charger (or diffuse pure essential oils).
8) Mold growth can occur if moisture has gotten into your carpeting or woodwork. Once your electricity comes back, make sure to thoroughly dry out your bird area and check for mold, which can be deadly to birds if inhaled.
If You Are Evacuating:
- Prepare all of the above.
- Most public shelters do not take pets, but some do. Find out right now which shelters in your area will allow you to bring your birds.
- Drive there as a “trial run” so that you know where it is when you need it.
- For entry into a shelter, bring proof of residency (driver? license, mail, etc.) in the evacuation zone or you won’t be allowed in. Remember that most shelters limit the number of pets per household.
- Pre-register with your local hurricane shelter if your county requires it and let them know you will be bringing pets.
- If you choose to board your bird, make sure that the facility is prepared in the case of an emergency and can withstand the storm.
- Ask a few relatives and friends if you can evacuate there in the case of a hurricane or flooding. When the time comes, choose the most likely area not to get hit by the storm. The more inland you go, the better.
- Have a safe, hard-sided carrier for every single bird or bird pair. These carriers stack more easily than cages and resist opening if they fall. Also, people are less tempted to stick their fingers into a carrier than they are into a cage.
- Along with the ID tag, tape a note card to the top of each carrier stating the bird’s name, species, age, and temperament. Include your phone number, and the phone numbers of any responsible friends and relatives Or write this info directly onto the carrier with a permanent marker.
- Equip each carrier with a perch, a food and water dish, and one or two toys if they are not already equipped.
- Keep fresh newspaper or paper towels on the bottom of the carrier -it should be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
- Keep your car fully fueled at all times.
- Anticipate the storm and leave early. The roads will be packed with other people evacuating as well.
- Before leaving, find a list of pet-friendly hotels near the area where you believe you will or could end up.
- If you end up at a hotel that doesn’t take pets and it’s your last resort, speak to the manager and explain that you’ve evacuated from a dangerous situation and that you desperately need a place for the night.
- Use caution when allowing your birds outside of the carriers in a strange place.
I hope you never have to use any of this advice, and I also hope you are well prepared in case you do. These tips can be modified for other companion animals.
Dr. Jeannie Thomason (Animal Naturopath) © 2017
Dr. Jeannie has her certified Veterinary Naturopath license. She works as a canine diet, nutrition, and health specialist. Dr. Jeannie is a co-founder of AmericanCouncil of Animal Naturopathy. She is an avid user and enthusiastically endorses our BirD-elicious! Origins Wild Diet species-specific foods for her own flock!