These questions pertaining to a bird’s senses have come up in recent weeks. Since they are all related, in a way, I decided to tackle them all in a single post…
Q: My husband loves it when I wear perfume but I don’t know if the smell is too strong for my birds. Should I keep away from the birds when I wear it?
– Jennifer K., Auburn Hills, MI
A: I would imagine that, as a rule, most animals would prefer to smell your natural scent. It gives up a lot of information about you – including exactly what your frame of mind is at any given time. An animal with a particularly keen sense of smell, such as a dog, can tell just by sniffing the air if you are afraid or if your have aggressive intentions. You can see where this would be helpful to them.
Parrots, however, do not have a very advanced sense of smell. It is just slightly better than our own. I typically choose not to wear perfumes around my birds, but I have noticed no change in them when I do. Unless you notice that your bird doesn’t like being around you when you are wearing your favorite fragrance, I don’t see any reason you should avoid it.
Q: Are jalapeno peppers too hot for my parrot to eat?
– Karl W, Augusta, GA
A: There is an chemical in peppers called capsaicin that gives hot peppers their heat. It creates a pleasant eating experience for some humans and a painful one for others. Birds, however, are unable to detect the capsaicin in peppers and are oblivious to the temperatures of even habanero peppers which are known to be the hottest.
Birds love hot peppers and they are healthy for them. I serve them all the time.
Q: We live near the airport and planes fly over our house all day long. It isn’t too loud for us but I am afraid it is for my cockatiels because their hearing is so sensitive. Should I be worried?
– Jess & Jason V., San Antonio, TX
A: A parrot’s hearing is not so much more sensitive than ours as it is more detailed. They hear things differently than we do. For instance, where we might only perceive a single tone of sound, they will hear several.
Sound volume that is too loud for you would also be a problem for your cockatiels. But more often overlooked are the sounds that are unnerving to our birds because they can’t identify them or are upsetting to them in ways we can’t fathom because we hear them differently.
Always watch your bird’s reactions to the things that go on around him, whether they are heard, seen or felt. If you see signs that something is upsetting in the environment, you should look into making appropriate changes.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.