Top 10 Bird Hazards

Download the PDF
Although we all like to think that we always have our bird's best interests at heart, it is impossible to foresee every single household danger that our avian friends can get into. But it is wise to be aware of the most common dangers to our pet birds, so that we can avoid those situations. And, of course, it is an excellent idea to have a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand at all times, in the event that a mishap does occur. Be sure to discuss emergency plans with your avian vet and have a list of emergency phone numbers available.

Many birds die before their time as a result of mistakes made by their owners, either unintentionally or through ignorance. Learn about the top ten reasons birds die, and just perhaps, this information may save some birds' lives.

Water, whether in a bottle or bowl, should be checked daily.

Deprivation of water can also have fatal results. The most common reason for this happening is due to a water bottle malfunctioning. If the delivery tube's ball sticks, or if a bird stuffs an object into the tube, effectively blocking it, a bird will be deprived of water. If an owner doesn't check that all water bottles are working every day, or if it is not noticed that the water level in the bottle is not going down, it may be days before an owner recognizes a problem. Rarely, the unthinkable happens and a bird's water bowl may go unfilled for days, or the bird may empty the bowl, which goes unnoticed, resulting in fatal dehydration.

Not a decision to be taken lightly, but if a bird is to be allowed outside of its cage inside your home, it is advised that its wings should be clipped enough so it is able to glide gracefully to the ground.

Flighted birds run the risk of flying into ceiling fans, mop buckets, windows, mirrors, escaping if guests arrives, attacked by another pet, falling on stovetops, in ovens, in boiling water, fireplaces, even drowning in toilets.

Upon impact, your bird can develop concussions, bleeding inside the brain, fractures, lacerations, ruptured air sacs and other serious, potentially deadly injuries, however. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


NON-STICK COOKWARE AND OTHER HOUSEHOLD ITEMS with non-stick surfaces made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE/Teflon) can be toxic to birds. The gas released when cooking is extremely dangerous to birds and can result in death. Items such as: Irons, ironing boards/covers, George Forman grills, waffle irons, glue guns, and heat-lamps with a PTFE coating should not be used around birds.

PASSIVE INHALATION of cigarette, cigar & pipe smoke can cause chronic eye problems, skin irritation and respiratory disease. Birds that live in homes with smokers may develop coughing, sneezing, sinusitis and conjunctivitis. Second-hand smoke will cause a bird to develop secondary bacterial infections, as well, which can prove fatal. Second-hand smoke from marijuana can also cause severe depression and regurgitation. Burning foods, over-heated cooking oils, incense, candles*, and smoke from a fire can cause fatal inhalations.
*Look online for Bird-Safe Candles

DISINFECTANTS AND HOUSEHOLD CLEANING AGENTS release fumes thatcan be toxic or fatal to birds. Chlorine Bleach, Phenols, Febreeze, and Ammonia can all have dangerous vapors that can cause irritation, toxicosis, and even death.

COMMON HOUSEHOLD AEROSOL PRODUCTS such as Perfume, Deodorant, and Hairspray, or Pump-sprays with Propellant can cause respiratory problems in birds. They may cause severe inflammation and difficulty breathing, and after large or direct exposure, death can occur.

OTHER CONCERNS: Remember, birds are 90% lungs.
  • Natural gas leaks can cause sudden death.
  • Any type of heater, used improperly or with inadequate ventilation can be deadly to birds.
  • Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, can also be fatal to birds and humans. Anyone with pet birds should have a working carbon monoxide monitoring device in the home, preferably near the room where the birds are kept.
A bird with properly clipped wings may develop the "cute" habit of climbing down off of its cage to seek out favorite family members. A bird walking on the floor may be easily injured by people
who don't see it. They could be stepped on, crushed by a sliding glass door, vacuumed, stuck in recliners, fold-out beds, could chew electrical cords, finds a mousetrap, goes into washers and dryers with the clothes.

Birds should never be left unsupervised outside of the cage. Even if your dog or cat, and other bird may have acted completely trustworthy around a pet bird, he/she should never be trusted.
Any animal bite should be considered life-threatening. The bacteria found in the mouth of mammals may cause fatal septicemia (infection in the bloodstream).
Cat bites are considered most dangerous, as the Pasteurella bacteria, is extremely hazardous to birds. Even a simple puncture by a tooth can result in a fatal infection. Scratches from claws are also extremely dangerous.

  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Apple Seeds 
  • Salt 
  • Tomatoes/Tomato Leaves
  • Mushrooms 
  • Dried Beans 
  • Onions
  • Caffeine 
  • Celery 
  • Alcohol 
  • Various Plant Species
Avocado should not be fed to birds. The skin and pit of this popular fruit had been known to cause cardiac distress and eventual heart failure in pet bird species. Although there is some debate to the degree of toxicity of avocados, it is generally advised to adopt a "better safe than sorry" attitude toward them and keep guacomole and other avocado products as far away from pet birds as possible.
Chocolate is digested in a different way by birds, and the metabolite, theobromide, is very toxic to them. Baker's chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic, and milk chocolate, although less toxic, is still a forbidden food for birds.

Apple Seeds: Believe it or not, apples - along with other members of the rose family including cherries, peaches, apricots, and pears - contain trace amounts of Cyanide within their seeds. While the fruit of the apple is fine for your bird, be aware that in addition to the poisonous seeds, there may be pesticides present on the fruit's skin. Be sure to thoroughly cleanse and core any apple pieces that you share with your bird to avoid exposure to these toxins.

Salt: While all living beings need regulated amounts of sodium in their systems, too much salt can lead to a host of health problems in birds, including excessive thirst, dehydration, kidney dysfunction, and death. Be sure to keep watch over the amount of salty foods your bird consumes.

Tomatoes, like potatoes and other nightshades, have a tasty fruit that is fine when used as a treat for your bird. The stems, vines, and leaves, however, are highly toxic to your pet. Make sure that any time you offer your bird a tomato treat it has been properly cleaned and sliced, with the green parts removed, so that your bird will avoid exposure to any toxins. Fresh tomatoes are high in acid that may cause ulcers.

Mushrooms are a type of fungus, and have been known to cause digestive upset in companion birds. Caps and stems of some varieties can induce liver failure.

Dried Beans: Cooked beans are a favorite treat of many birds, but raw, dry bean mixes can be extremely harmful to your pet. Uncooked beans contain a poison called hemaglutin which is very toxic to birds. To avoid exposure, make sure to thoroughly cook any beans that you choose to share with your bird.

Onions can cause a fatal hemolytic anemia in dogs and cats, but since birds' red blood cells have a nucleus, this may protect the cells from the severe injury that occurs in other species. However, until this topic is studied, it is best to not feed onions to birds.

Caffeine is also metabolized differently in birds, which also results in toxic compounds. There is some data that indicates that some varieties of avocado are toxic to birds, with perhaps the skin and pit being the most dangerous parts.

Celery isn't necessarily harmful for parrots. Just remove the stringy section that can cause bowel blockages.

Alcohol although responsible bird owners would never dream of offering their pet an alcoholic drink, there have been instances in which free roaming birds have attained alcohol poisoning through helping themselves to unattended cocktails. Alcohol depresses the organ systems of birds and can be fatal. Make sure that your bird stays safe by securing him in his cage whenever alcohol is served in your home.
Because birds are such social creatures, many owners allow their pets to be included at mealtime. While sharing food with your bird is a lot of fun - not to mention wonderful for your pet's emotional health - there are many common human foods that can be harmful or even fatal to your bird. Owners need to know which foods are fine for sharing, and which pose a serious risk. Read on to find out the top ten foods that are hazardous to your bird's health.
Plants: Some plants can be toxic, for a full list please go HERE.

There’s tons of information online as to what is ok and not ok to give your bird. If you’re unsure, look it up.

Although originating from the tropics, exotic birds cannot tolerate excessive heat.

When placing a cage outside, the morning starts off cool, but by noon the temperatures drastically shift. Shade, water, and supervision is a must. 

No living being should ever be left in a car unattended. Temperatures inside a car will rapidly reach lethal levels. If the bird's body temperature rises high enough, it will seizure and die. This can also occur if a bird's cage is located by or directly in front of a window, with no shade or bath to escape the sun’s heat. 

As cute as it is, you should not go to sleep with your bird cuddled against you, in the blankey, or anywhere near where you sleep. If you are sleepy and it’s nighttime, chances are, your bird is also sleepy and they need to be put in their cage. (FYI Parrots need between 10 and12 hours of undisturbed sleep every night.)

Birds that are allowed to sleep in bed with their owners are at risk for suffocation or life-threatening trauma (lodging between the bed and the frame, under a pillow, or rolled on top of). Even though an owner has slept with the pet bird for a while. It has happened all too often to allow such a risk.

Although it is fun to take birds to bird events and even bird stores, it can be very dangerous. Infections can be spread to them, even through the air, and even if the owner is diligent about not allowing any direct contact. A bird can carry a disease, and be able to pass it to others without appearing ill. 

For survival in the wild, birds possess the ability to hide illness very well.

Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD), Chlamydiosis (psittacosis), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) and Pacheco's Disease may all be spread by birds that MAY appear healthy in physical appearance.

Many bird owners make a common mistake when adding a new pet to the family. Regardless of the origin of the bird, and any testing run on the new bird, it should be quarantined for at least one month, preferably two, before it is introduced into the home. If the bird is harboring an infectious agent, the
stress of moving the bird to a new home may precipitate it breaking with signs of clinical illness.

Many baby birds have died as a result of hand-feeding mishaps. Unweaned baby birds should not be sold or given to inexperienced hand-feeders for this reason. It is not necessary for a baby bird to be hand-fed by the family purchasing it in order for it to become "bonded" to them.

Most commonly, babies are kept at the incorrect temperature, if it’s too cold it will slow down their gastrointestinal tract, which can be fatal if not corrected in time. If the baby is forced to eat, it may struggle and end up inhaling the formula, resulting in aspiration pneumonia causing the baby
to suffer for days.

Hand-feeding is best left up to those with experience.

  • Squeezed too hard by a young child.
  • Lands on edge of drinking glass, reaches down for liquid, falls in head first, and drowns.
  • Comes in contact with sharp object on kitchen counter.
  • Bird bites finger, clamps on, person shakes hand to get bird to release, bird hits floor or wall and dies
  • Introduce sick bird into home without quarantine.
  • Walks on another bird’s cage, results in toe-biting, and bleeding to death.
  • Toy induced injury.
  • Placing bird in outdoor cage in the morning, water evaporates, bird bakes in afternoon sun.
  • Eats/chews on something it clearly shouldn’t.
  • Wanders on floor, getting stepped on

No comments:

Post a Comment