Dry Heating Air Can Harm Birds


As soon as the temperatures drop in autumn, the heaters in the living rooms are turned on. However, the resulting dry air can pose serious health risks to our birds. In addition to a pleasant room climate through regular airing, it is therefore important to keep an eye on the humidity in the bird room, especially in winter. But what methods are there to humidify the dry air?

How much humidity do birds need?

The level of humidity that birds need depends on their species, or to be more precise: on the conditions in their original habitat. In particular, tropical ornamental birds such as certain parrot or parakeet species come from areas where the humidity is sometimes 90%. But our living rooms at home are not rainforests: Such high humidity would quickly lead to mold forming in closed living rooms. So a compromise has to be found: the air humidity must be high enough so that the birds are not harmed, but at the same time it must not allow mold spores to spread unhindered in the air. A humidity of about 60% is desirable for most ornamental bird species. This protects the respiratory tract – including that of humans – from drying out and at the same time it is dry enough to prevent mold from forming.

Consequences of low humidity

Too little humidity sometimes has fatal health consequences for ornamental birds. The dry air dries out the mucous membranes, irritates the airways and lungs and weakens the body’s defenses. A cold or pneumonia can result. The eyes are also irritated, which can promote infections. Dry air also increases the risk of aspergillosis, colloquially known as “mould disease”. The fungi can affect the respiratory tract as well as the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system. The disease is usually fatal, if left untreated. Humans can also get aspergillosis.

Too little humidity can, among other things, cause the skin and feathers to dry out and cause itching. But it also promotes respiratory diseases and aspergillosis.

It makes sense to keep an eye on the humidity with an analog or digital hygrometer. In this way, you can quickly identify questionable values ​​and take action against them. Values ​​below 30% are a massive health risk for almost all birds.

By the way: Too dry (heating) air is also harmful for people. This is one of the reasons for frequent colds in winter, since the mucous membranes dry out and irritate due to insufficient humidity, making it easy for bacteria and viruses to play.

Tips & tricks to increase air humidity

Bearing in mind the health hazards that may arise as a result of (heating) air that is too dry, the aim is to increase the humidity to an optimum level. There are various options that can be used individually or in combination.

Water cups on the heater

An easy way to increase humidity is to place small bowls of water on the heater. The water in it evaporates and increases the humidity in the air. Here, however, it is very important to ensure good hygiene and to clean the vessels thoroughly every day. Otherwise bacteria can settle. In addition, the bowls must not be too deep to prevent curious birds from drowning in them when flying freely!

Important: Evaporators that are attached to radiators should not be used, as mold and germs quickly form here, which can be dangerous for both birds and humans. The water bowls serve the same purpose but are easier to clean.

Wet towels

Wet towels on a clothesline can also be a way to increase humidity. If you choose this method, it is particularly important to air the room regularly to prevent excess moisture from remaining and forming condensation on the window panes, for example. This is also an ideal breeding ground for mold and germs. However, experience shows that this method can only achieve a slight increase in humidity. It is therefore to be regarded more as an “emergency measure”.


Suitable potted plants also serve to increase the humidity in the room air. However, this only works if there are several plants. It is essential to ensure that the selected plant species is non-toxic to birds so as not to endanger them in free flight. The green lily, for example, is suitable, as it is easy to care for and does not pose a threat to the animals. Another benefit of houseplants is that they support Sc

Tip: Another problem, especially in winter, is not enough light. UV light, which the birds need to see colors and for certain metabolic processes, is blocked by the window panes. In winter there is also a short period of brightness. Birds should therefore be provided with a UV lamp all year round. Make sure to make them “flicker-free” with a ballast. Unlike us humans, birds can perceive the flickering, which, as you can imagine, is extremely uncomfortable for them.


Most ornamental birds need a humidity of about 60%. In their original habitats, the humidity is usually even significantly higher, but this cannot be implemented in living spaces due to the risk of mold. To increase the humidity, you can either use conventional measures such as a water bowl on the heater or use electric humidifiers. It makes sense to keep an eye on the room climate with a hygrometer. If the humidity is too low, the risk of diseases such as respiratory infections, pneumonia or the dreaded aspergillosis increases. In order to keep our birds fit through the winter, it is important to ensure adequate humidity.

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