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Proper Housing for a Pet Parrot

Expert Question

Hello. I’m asking this question for my friend who has a Timneh and a cockatiel. She has to live with her 84 yr old mother whom is recovering from a fall. Right now she has the birds in the guest room, but wants to put them in the living room so they can be where the action is in the household. However, there’s a gas fireplace in the living room. (The living room, dining, and kitchen all share the same open space.) The fireplace is vented to the outside and there’s a working carbon monoxide alarm near it. Do you think it would be safe for the health of the birds?
Thank you, Cindi

Expert Answer

Cindi, It appears that your friend has installed safety precautions and that the fireplace is bird safe. But there are other considerations about putting parrots “where the action is” as you state it….

Will they be able to sleep comfortably and in quiet once the sun goes down and their natural day is ended, or will they be kept up by noise and humans and television, etc.?

A vented fireplace is usually free of toxic fumes, but that does not mean the air in the living room is always perfect for small psittacine lungs.  Fires burn oxygen and unless there is a fresh air window open and proper ventilation, carbon dioxide can rise indoors in the winter. While humans would perhaps not notice such stale air, over several months it could be more troublesome for birds.

It might be a good idea to keep the parrots’ sleeping and feeding cages in the guest room, but to provide play stands and areas in the living room where they can frequent and visit and interact with their humans. This also has the advantage of changing the monotony of always keeping the birds in the same cage spaces, expanding their lifestyle if you will.

As an aside, another need for our pet birds in the winter is to have at least two hour three hours of direct sunlight each week. This means sun through a screen but not a window glass since that blocks some of the beneficial rays. Sunny afternoons can be used in small carry cages where parrot are given some shade with a towel or such on their cage while being able to move out into direct sun for health reasons. By and large, the brighter the room, the better for the birds in the winter as long as it does not overheat or make them feel unprotected.

Good luck,


EB Cravens
About EB Cravens

“If we TRULY believe our captive-raised hookbills are important to world parrot conservation, we must work ceaselessly to ensure that these same psittacines retain as much of their wild instinctual behavior as is possible,” affirms avicultural writer and hobby breeder EB Cravens, from his small organic farm on the slopes of the Big Island Hawaii.

“Our goal is to birth and raise only a few baby parrots who know that they are parrots, but choose to befriend humans, because humans are nice to them… feed them… and are fun to be with!”

EB has bred, trained, raised, kept and rehabilitated more than 75 species of psittacines during the past twenty plus years both at his home and while managing the notable exotic bird shoppe, Feathered Friends of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His emphasis on natural environments for birds, the urging of babies to fully fledge during the extended weaning process, and the leaving of chicks for many weeks inside the nest box with their parents in order that they may learn the many intangibles of their species, have succeeded in changing for the better the lives of so many captive parrots.

A science writer by training, he was for years a regular contributor for AFA’s Watchbird Magazine and the Companion Parrot Quarterly. EB currently writes a monthly column entitled “The Complete Psittacine” in PARROTS Magazine out of England; and another, “The Hookbill Hobbyist” down under in the well-regarded Australian Birdkeeper. His monthly series of articles “Birdkeeping Naturally,” is sent out to bird clubs and individuals around the U.S.

“As devastating pressures continue upon avian species in the wilds,” he says, “it is critical that those keeping birds in captivity do so with responsibility and foresight.”