Protect birds from loud noises and falling firework debris.
By Tov Danovich.
The hen has to wake up as soon as the fireworks start. I was on the beach in Key West, Florida, with hundreds of other people watching
Fourth of July show over the water. The smell of sausages and bug spray was in the air.
Key West is one of the places in the United States that has been overrun by flocks of feral chickens. While I was walking around downtown, I saw birds hiding in the bushes or flying up a tree as night fell. They mostly take care of themselves. When a hurricane passed, I watched them face the wind and take refuge behind the big trees. But the fireworks were something else. I could hear peeping between the explosions. A hen was walking across the sand with half a dozen chicks. It was still egg-shaped and fluffy, and it was no more than two days old. I saw them all move
The time the fireworks went off as if it were a strobe light. I knew that many studies have shown that fireworks affect people with PTSD, sensitive dogs, and most wild animals. But it hadn’t occurred to me until that point that chickens might get upset by the sound, too.
“Fireworks go off near our house and they’re not legal in the city we’re in, but our neighborhood rebels on the Fourth of July and New Year’s,” said Jess Bagdanoff, who keeps a small flock of chickens. Ventura County, California. The fireworks are big enough that it’s like having a professional show in the neighborhood. Her birds were too young to be outside during the Fourth of July last year, but she had been in her barn for a few months by the time of the New Year’s festivities. “All three of them
“There are soft peeled eggs everywhere,” Bagdanov said of the following days. “I felt horrible, as if I had harmed my animals.” She’s already worried about what she’ll do when the Fourth of July comes around this year. “Should I bring them inside or take them to my parents’ house?” The neighbors, unfortunately, wouldn’t stop partying.
“Certain species of birds are really sensitive to sound,” said Dr. Marley Lintner, DVM, who directs Avian Medical Center in Oregon. “You can tell when there are earthquakes because the African gray falls on the perch
at night.” You seldom see chickens come to visit after the 4th
July with serious issues. “The chicken was very stable.” while dogs
It can be brought to a quiet room or given sedatives, it’s hard to tell
What do you do for a flock of sound sensitive chickens?
Preparation and protection
For those who do have issues, Dr. Lintner says she has had no luck with anesthetizing birds of any kind. “We just keep them as confined as possible.” For some flock owners, this may mean bringing birds into the home or
Straw bales are piled up to insulate the barn. If the barn has large windows,
Covering them with a cloth or similar material will help prevent flocking
Exposure to flashes of light while trying to sleep. Some people also recommend playing soothing music as a type of white noise for
Fortunately, even if herd owners like Bagdanov do have swarms laying some shelled eggs in response to stress, the problem usually resolves indoors.
some days. The noise and flashes of fireworks can be harsh on birds, however
As long as they are healthy, this should not cause serious problems.
Pick up the pieces
However, there are other things to be aware of if you set off fireworks in your yard and have free chickens. Colors in fireworks
Made by imploding heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, aluminum, and mercury, to name a few. The Pet Poison Helpline lists fireworks as “mild to moderate” toxic to animals and notes that the severity of health issues will depend on “the type of firework and the amount ingested.”
Common “bang sounds” that make a satisfying cracking sound when thrown on a hard surface contain pebbles mixed with silver.
Unexploded ordnance can be extremely harmful to curious chickens. Because of the way the gizzards pulverize the material, the birds are particularly suspected of heavy metal poisoning. (Zinc toxicity is very common in backyard poultry and comes from finding and pecking at pieces of galvanized metal.)
“The majority is cardboard and most of it burns,” Dr.
But, he adds, “I don’t want my chicken getting into the loose stuff,” Lintner said.
Chickens seem to have an uncanny knack for finding small scraps of whatever is left in the yard. Most of the worst materials will be used in fireworks during an explosion, but it’s still best to stay safe and pick up any leftover scraps around the yard before letting the flock out. This makes setting fireworks on a paved surface such as a patio or driveway that can be swept a better option than doing so
on the grass.
Many people are now rethinking the use of fireworks in celebrations due to the negative effects it can have on people and wildlife alike. The Key West Hen and Chicks I saw would certainly have been happier if we had gone without such an explosive celebration near their place. After chatting with
Neighbors about moving their fireworks away from your coop and making sure you pick up debris from sparklers, and other firework houses, can go a long way in keeping your chickens safe and happy.
Tove Danovich is a writer based in Portland, Oregon who catalogs her flock’s antics based on Instagram @BestLittleHenhouse. You can also find it at Twitter @TKDano or on its website