How important is humidity in winter?

How Important is Humidity to Your Bird?

Very low humidity levels increase dry skin, itchy skin, and even flakiness for your bird.  It can cause over-preening and even feather destruction in an attempt to help relieve the itchy dry feeling of skin and feathers.  It also usually affects humans with dry flaky itchy skin in the winter and if you suffer from any skin conditions such as Eczema, Psoriasis, and other skin issues, you know first hand how dry skin can aggravate this problem.  Too dry air in the home can also contribute to sinus and allergy problems, in both birds and people.

Most of our parrots are originally native to Rainforests around the world.  The average humidity level in most rainforests is about 80% humidity, and sometimes as high as 90% during some seasons of the year.

The average home in the winter months with the heat running to keep us warm, has a humidity level of only about 15-20% humidity at best according to many studies done on home environments. 

Wow, that is indeed quite a difference in levels of humidity in nature vs. humidity in the average winter home.  Of course, we do not need to maintain such a high humidity level of 80-90% in our homes for our birds to be comfortable.  However we definitely need a little more than 15-20% not only for our parrots, but for us humans as well to enjoy great benefits.  The average recommended humidity level for comfort and health in the winter in our homes is about 40%.  

So how do you add some extra humidity to your home you ask?

A great start is by adding a cool mist humidifier in the room where your bird spends most of its time as the cool mist will help tremendously.  This will add the much needed moisture to the air.

There are also warm mist humidifiers on the market but these are not the best choice in my opinion.  Reasons being the hot water can present a burn hazard, for example if the machine were to leak or tip over.  This is a good safety reason for cool mist humidifiers over warm humidifiers for homes with small children or pets. According to the Food and Drug Administration "although it might go against what you were told as a kid, warm mist humidifiers can also cause nasal passages to swell and make breathing more difficult." One final drawback is that warm mist humidifiers use more energy to heat the water enough to create the mist.  Cool mist humidifiers are more energy efficient and in today's economy who doesn't want to save a little.

A second method of adding some moisture is simply adding a tabletop water fountain to the room which will also add some much-needed moisture to the air.  You may be amazed at how fast that fountain needs filling as the water evaporates into the air adding the moisture needed.

Adding safe plants to the room can also be a great way to add some extra humidity, and if you choose plants wisely, they will also help clean the air of pollutants while adding some moisture.  Plants increase humidity in the air through a process called evapotranspiration.  Plants can raise humidity as they undergo respiration and photosynthesis.  You water the plants, the plants absorb the water making food, and then later release as much as 97% of the moisture back into the air through transpiration and evaporation.

(Safe plants can include bird palms, spider plant, ferns, snake plant, bamboos, and such.  If you are not sure about a plant please check out our Safe Plants lists by clicking HERE.   

A fun way to add moisture to your bird's feathers and skin is to make sure your bird enjoys his or her baths in the winter too.  Showers and spray baths will add moisture directly to feathers and skin.  Just make sure baths are early in the day allowing the bird to completely dry before any cooling of the house at night, or let your bird preen and dry off in a heated room until dry enough to be moved back to the cage.

By adding one or more of the above suggestions to your winter routine, not only will your bird receive some of the extra humidity needed, but you may find the humans benefiting as well in the improved air quality.

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