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Exotic Birds and Toxic Plants

Much controversy surrounds plant toxicities in birds. Those known to be toxic to mammals have been considered poisonous but may not affect birds. The potential for poisoning depends upon the species of bird and whether the plant was just chewed or actually ingested.

Oral and upper gastrointestinal irritation are the most common symtoms in plant toxicities. Some known toxic plants include avocado, black locust, caster bean, clematis, lily of the valley, oleander, philodendron, poinsettia, rhododendron, yew and virginia creeper.

Cyanide poisoning has occurred from consumption of large quantities of apple seeds, cherry pits, and immature almonds. Mycotoxions can be found in poorly stored seed, peanuts, millet spray, silage and pelleted foods. Humidity and heat promote mold growth on a variety of foods including corn, beans, cheese , bread,fruit juices, and meat.

Clinical signs are sudden death, loss of appetite, weight loss and depression, as well as immune sustem alterations. Theobromine in chocolate is also an avian toxin and is only a problem when the bird ingests a considerable amount compared to its size. Depression, vomiting, convulsions, and even death are the clinical manifestations.


Pesticide toxicity depends upon the use or exposure and birds can be more sensitive than mammals to its effects. Clinical signs are similar to mammals and include loss of appetite, diarrhea, bowel slowdown, clumsiness, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Other manifestations include inability to breathe normally with congestion, slow heartrate and respiratory failure.


Birds should never be sprayed with anything other than water. The avian species cannot regulate their body temperature if any compound has matted the feathers together. Oils and petroleum products can cause hypothermia, dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, pueumonia, and hemolytic anemia.

Courtesy of AspenWing Animal Hospital, Dr. Jolynn Chappell D.V.M. Loveland, COI will be adding to this blog daily as there is a lot of information on this subject. If your interested in a brochure of this please contact, Catherine Grant at

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