How To Know If Your Bird Has Been Poisoned

How To Know If Your Bird Has Been Poisoned

Poisoned Bird

Birds may be exposed to a variety of toxins and poisons in their cages or as they explore or perch around your home.

Birds can inhale, consume or even absorb 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 toxicity or 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 Poisoning

  1. Remove the poison to prevent further ingestion.
  2. For eye contact, flush the eye with lukewarm water.
  3. For skin contact, flush the area with water.
  4. For fume intoxication, ventilate the room immediately - open windows, use a fan, or better yet, remove the bird from the area altogether.

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


What To Do if Your Parrot Has Been Poisoned 

What did you just spray, cook or clean?  Has your bird ingested a poisonous substance.  Try to recall exactly what may have poisoned your bird. Contact your

  • Veterinarian
  • Emergency pet clinic, or
  • Your local poison control center immediately
  • Call the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 4-ANI-HELP (426-4435). (Charges may apply.)


The best cure for 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.


Avian First Aid DVD by Greg Burkett, DVM


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