Give up Smoking for You and Your Parrot


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Mom wrote this email to the arizonabirdtalk list and I pasted it onto our website Please feel free to join this yahoo list IF you are a resident of Arizona. We are at

Since I don't know many of you personally, I am not slamming anyone, but Judy asked about second hand smoke for our birds....
Bird's respiratory systems are much more efficient and effective than ours. Remember the Canary in the coal mine? The sensitive nature of bird's airways is why this trick worked for the miners to test the safety of the air they were breathing.
Birds are incredible athletes and need to be able to quickly absorb oxygen. The critical feature of their respiration sensitivity and efficiency is that there is more oxygen transferred with each breath.  In birds the lungs expand very little because the air goes through them into the air sacs and back through the lungs on expiration. Thus not only can a greater volume of air pass through the lungs, but since it passes through twice, gas exchange is more efficient.
They also differ in their respiratory rate; we people breathe about 16-20 breaths per minute and birds breathe anywhere from 25-40 per minute. .Diseases of the respiratory tract are the most common illness found in parrots.
The anatomy of their respiratory tract is very unlike ours...they don't have a diaphragm and their lungs have rigid walls (remember how they don't expand?). They have air sacs and much more area of capillaries.
The other aspect of the bird's respiratory system is it is used for cooling.
This is probably more information than you wanted to know, but it all shows why the effects of smoking, candles, pollutants, pesticides, other toxins are revealed much faster in our birds than in humans. It also helps explain why flighted birds are so much healthier than birds that are clipped. They need this exercise to keep the respiratory system exercised.
Of course, I wish people would stop smoking for their own sake, but also for the sake of their parrots. If you are a smoker, please don't be offended; I am on your side :)
Beth at

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