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How To Tell if Your Bird Has Been Poisoned and What To Do About It Now

bird poisoning 

Birds poisoning is a frequent occurrence.  Bird’s have very unique bodies including specialized respiratory systems and digestive systems. They may be exposed to a variety of toxins and poisons in their cages or as they explore or perch around your home.


quotation markBird poisoning can occur through inhalation of fumes, consuming poisons, or even by absorbing poisons through their skin.


Lead paint from foreign manufactured bird cage bars or toys, consuming too much salt from human snacks such as crackers or chips or chewing on pop cans may lead to death or thousands in veterinary bills.  Look for bird cages, cage accessories and bird toys manufactured in the USA or by US manufacturers.

Symptoms of Bird Poisoning

Look for these common symptoms of bird poisoning. Depending on the toxin, your bird may display one or more of these common poisoning signs: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Lethargy 
  • Increased urination 
  • Blindness 
  • Tremors 
  • Excitability 
  • Depression 
  • Staggering or lack of coordination 
  • Falling from perch 
  • Convulsions 
  • Coma 

First Aid For A Poisoned Bird 

  1. Immediately get your bird to safety.
  2. Foreye contact, flush the eye with lukewarm water or an eye wash.
  3. Forskin contact, flush the affected area with water.
  4. Forfume intoxication, remove the bird from the area altogether. Head over to your vets office immediately.
  5. Stabilize your bird in a clean, warm, safe bird hospital cage. 

Call your veterinarian now!

  • Bring a sample of the poison and its packaging.
  • Bring a sample of the bird's most recent droppings.
  • Provide general supportive care. 

Common Culprits in Bird Poisoning

Respiratory Poisoning in Parrots 

  • Cleaning fumes 
  • General household cleaners
  • Paint fumes
  • Teflon
  • Exposure to chemicals that irritate your respiratory system
  • Insecticides
  • Bleach fumes 

Ingested Products

  • Chocolate
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Comfrey (herb)
  • Avocado
  • Fruit Pits and apple seeds
  • High fat, sodium or sugar foods
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Alcohol
  • Mushrooms
  • Caffeine
  • Tomato leaves
  • Dried, uncooked beans
  • Certain household plants
  • Human medication
  • Certain household plants 

(The following is a list of some potentially toxic plants. Be sure you correctly identified all plants in your bird's environment.When using these lists, ensure you use the Scientific Name to identify Plants, if uncertain remove the plant )

(Abbreviations: Spp=subspecies, Sp=species)

Plant Name

Scientific Name

Parts Known to be Poisonous

Acokanthera

Acokanthera spp.

all parts toxic

Amaryllis

Amaryllidaceae

Bulbs

American Yew

Taxus canadensis

Needles, seeds

Angel's Trumpet

Datura spp.,

leaves, seeds, flowers

Apricot

Prunus armeniaca,

pits, leaves, and bark

* Autumn Crocus

Colchicum autumnalle

bulb

Avocado

Persea americana

pit, leaves, unripe fruit, and stems

Azalea

Rhododendron occidentale

Leaves

Balsam pear

Memordica charantia

Seeds, outer rind of fruit

Baneberry

Actaia spp.

Berries, roots

Belladonna

Atropa belladonna

All parts

Bird of Paradise

Caesalpina gilliesii

Seeds

Bittersweet

Celastrus spp.

All parts

Black Locust

Robinia pseudoacacia

Bark, sprouts, foliage

* Bleeding Heart

Dicentra

all parts

Bluegreen algae

Schizophycaea spp

Some forms toxic

Bracken Fern

Pteridium aquilinum

All parts

Some forms toxic Boxwood

Buxus sempervirens

Leaves, stems

Buckthorn

Rhamnus spp.

Fruit, bark

Burdock

Arctium spp.

All parts

Buttercup

Ranunculus spp.

Sap, bulbs

Calla lily

Zantedeschia aethiopica

Leaves

Caladium

Caladium spp.

Leaves and rhizome

Castor Oil Plant

Ricinus communis

Beans, leaves

Catclaw Acacia

Acacia greggii,

twigs and leaves

Chalice vine

Solandra spp.

All parts

Cherry tree

Prunus spp.

Bark, twigs, leaves, pits

Chinaberry

Melia azadarach

All parts

Chokecherry

Birdcherry Prunus

seeds (stones),

Christmas candle

Pedilanthus tithymaloides

Sap

Clematis

Clematis spp.

All parts

Coral plant

Jatropha multifida

Seeds

Cowslip

Caltha polustris

Seeds

Crocus (autumn)

Cholchicum autumnale

All parts

Cycad, or Sago Cycas

Cycas revoluta

All parts

Daffodil

Narcissus spp

Bulbs

Daphne

Daphne spp.

Berries

Datura

Datura spp.

Berries

Deadly amanita

Amanita muscaria

All parts

Death camas

Zygadenis elegans

All parts

Delphinium

Delphinium spp.

All parts

Devil's Ivy

Epipremnum aureum

All parts

Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia picta

Leaves

Eggplant

Solanaceae spp.

All parts but fruit

Elderberry

Sambucus mexicana,

roots, leaves, stems, bark

Elephant's ear (taro)

Colocasis spp.

Leaves, stem

English ivy

Ilex aquafolium

Berries, leaves

English yew

Taxus baccata

needles, seeds

Euonymus

Euonymus spp.

fruit, bark, leaves

European Pennroyal

Mentha pulegium

False henbane

Veratrum woodii

All parts

Figs

Ficus spp

sap

Fly agaric mushroom (deadly amanita)

Amanita muscaria

All parts

Four o'clock

Mirabilis jalapa

All parts

Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea

Leaves, seeds

Golden chain (laburnum)

Laburnum anagyroides

All parts, especially seeds

Heliotrope

Heliotropium spp.,

leaves

Hemlock

poison Conium spp.

All parts, especially roots and seeds

Hemlock

water Conium spp.

All parts especially roots and seeds

Henbane

Hyocyanamus niger

Seeds

Holly

Ilex spp.

Berries

Horse chestnut

Aesculus spp.

Nuts, twigs

Horse Nettle

Solanum carolinense

All parts

Hyacinth

Hyacinthinus orientalis

Bulbs

Hydrangea

Hydrangea spp.

Flower,bud

Indian turnip (jackinthepulpit)

Arisaema triphyllum

All parts

Iris (blue flag)

Iris spp.

Bulbs

Ivy (Boston, English, and some others)

Hedera spp.

All parts

Japanese yew

Taxus cuspidata

Needles, seeds

Java bean (lima bean)

Phaseolus lunatus

Uncooked beans

Jerusalem cherry

Solanum pseudocapsicum

Berries

Jessamine, Yellow

Gelsemium sempervirens,

leaves, stems

Jonquil

Narcissus jonquilla

All parts

Jimsonweed (thornapple)

Datura spp.

Leaves, seeds

Juniper

Juniperus virginiana

Needles, stems, berries

Lantana

Lantana spp.

Immature berries

Larkspur

Delphinium spp.

All parts

Laurel Kalmia, Ledum

Rhododendron spp.

All parts

Lilly of the valley

Convallaria majalis

All parts, including the water in which they have been kept

Lobelia

Lobelia spp.

All parts

Locoweed

Astragalu mollissimus

All parts

Lords and ladies (cuckoopint)

arum sp.

All parts

Lupine

Lupinus spp.

All parts

Marijuana

Cannabis sativa

Leaves

Mayapple

Podophyllum spp.

All parts, except fruit

Mescal bean

Sophora spp.

Seeds

Mistletoe

Santalales spp.

Berries

Milkweed

Asclepias spp.

All parts

Mock orange

Poncirus spp.

Fruit

Monkshood

Aconitum spp.

Leaves, roots

Moonseed

Menispermum canadense

All parts

Morning glory

Ipomoea spp.

All parts

Mushrooms

Amanita spp. and many others

All parts

Narcissus

Narcissus spp.

Bulbs

Nightshades (all types)

Solanum spp.

Berries, leaves

Oak

Quercus

acorn, young plant

Oleander

Nerium oleander

Leaves, branches, nectar of blossoms

Pennyroyal

Mentha pulegium

All parts

Peach

Prunus persica,

leaves, pit, bark

Peony

Paeonia officinalis

All parts

Periwinkle

Vinca minor, Vinca rosea

All parts

Peyote

Lophophora williamsii

All parts

Philodendron

Philodendron spp.

Leaves, stems

Pigweed

Amaranthus spp.

All parts

Plum

Prunus spp.,

leaves, pit, bark

Poison Hemlock

Conium maculatum

All parts

Poison ivy

Toxicodendron radicans

Sap

Poison oak

Toxicodendron quercifolium

Sap

Poison Sumac

Rhux vernix

All parts

Poinsettia

Euphorobia pulcherrima

Leaves, flowers

Pokeweed (inkberry)

Phytolacca americans

Leaves, roots, immature berries

Poppy

Papaver somniferum and related spp.

All parts

Potato

Solanum tuberosum

Eyes and new shoots

Pothos

Eprimemnun aureum

All parts

Primrose

Primula spp.

All parts

Privet

Lingustrum volgare

All parts, includling berries

Ragwort

Senecio jacobea and related spp.

All parts

Red Maple

Acer rubrum

All parts

Rhododendron

Rhododendron spp.

All parts

Rhubarb

Rheum rhaponticum

Leaves

Rosary pea (Indian licorice)

Abrus precatorius

Seeds

Sage

Salvia officinalis

All parts

Sedum

Sedum

All parts

Shamrock Plant

Medicago lupulina, Trifolium repens, Oxalis acetosella

All parts

Skunk cabbage

Symplocarpus foetidus

All parts

Snowdrop

Ornithogalum umbellatum

All parts, especially buds

Snow on the mountain (ghostweed)

Euphorbia marginata

All parts

Sorrel

Rumex spp., Oxalis spp.

All parts

Spindle Tree

Euonymus

leaves, fruit, bark

Spurges

Euphorbia spp.

All parts

Star of Bethlehem

Ornithogalum umbellatum

All parts

Sweet pea

Lathryus latifolius

Seeds and fruit

Tansy

Tanacetum vulgare

all parts

Tobacco

Nicotinia spp.

Leaves

Tomato

Lycopersicon esculentum

stems and leaves

Tulip

Tulipa spp.

All parts

Vetches

Vicia spp.

All parts

Virginia creeper

Pathenocissu quinquefolia

Sap

Water Hemlock

Cicuta spp.

Waxberry

Symphoricarpos albus

Western yew

Taxus breviflora

Needles, seeds

Wisteria

Wisteria spp.

All parts

Yam bean

Pachyrhizus erosus

Roots, immature pods

 

Prevention

The best cure for bird poisoning is prevention. Bird-proof your home before your bird is exposed to or gets into a poisonous substance.

  • Teflon products
  • Cleaning solutions, especially aerosols
  • Heavy metals - use only reputable bird toys and bird supplies
  • Never give your bird pop cans to chew
  • Mop up all potentially poisonous spills immediately. 

References:

http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/veterinary-advice/poisons-and-parrots

Avian First Aid DVD by Greg Burkett, DVM

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