Dangerous to Birds

(updated 1/2/07)

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The world is a dangerous place. The natural habitats of birds are quite dangerous but birds living in the wild have developed instincts through evolution within their environments to help them to survive many of these dangers. In the captive environment, there are many different dangers than those possibly faced in the wild. The problem is that birds have not completely adapted to their new captive environments and it is up to us to help to protect them. There will be new postings to this page on a regular basis until I can no longer think of dangerous things (that's a long time).

Raccoons are very common in most parts of North America and many other parts of the world and can be extremely dangerous to birds housed in outdoor aviaries/caging. Often several individuals will work together to terrify a bird
or birds in an aviary until one of the raccoons is able to grab a toe or wingtip. Once this happens, the hapless bird is then literally eaten through the wire. "Lucky" birds might survive an attack missing a leg or a wing. Please do not think
that it is impossible for a raccoon to get to your outdoor cages. Please build "raccoon-proof" cages/aviaries for any birds housed outdoors.

Rope made from three or four intertwined strands can be very dangerous, even potentially lethal, to pet birds. I personally know of four larger psittacines (three macaws and one Eclectus Parrot that were playing with rope toys and were able to open the stands, insert their heads between these strands, and strangle themselves. I do not recommend rope toys for pet psittacines (parrots).

An open toilet can be very dangerous to pet birds. Imagine seeing a drowned bird floating in a toilet. Unfortunately, I have seen this and it was not a pretty sight! It only took one incident for me to become obsessive about keeping toilet lids closed.


Many people already know that avocado can be lethal to parrots if consumed. It is not known if it is just the flesh of the avocado and/or the pit that is the dangerous part. I was not sure if I believed this to be true until I saw the results of eating avocado with my own eyes several years ago. My neighbor and I had donated a pair of African Greys to another young man who was in our neighborhood. He loved these birds and cared for them well. One morning he appeared on my front porch, sobbing, with the dead male Grey and two dead Grey babies. He hadn't even known that the birds had laid eggs nor that they had chicks. He also had the very ill female in a small cage. I asked him to bring me their food tray as it looked like a toxin to me. Indeed, there was a large partially eaten avocado in the middle of the food dish. There were scraping marks on the pit that had been made by the birds' beaks. My young friend had given them the avocado because he had a tree in his yard and the birds had been consuming more food recently (feeding the chicks, of course). Our avian veterinarian could not save the female bird either so this was the sad end to the neighborhood breeding project!

An operating ceiling fan can be extremely dangerous to a flighted bird. When moving, the whirring blades can be difficult to see and a bird can fly right
into the blades with serious injury or death resulting. Do not put a bird that is capable of flying loose in a room with a
operating ceiling fan.


For the same reason that ceiling fans are dangerous, swinging doors can cause great harm to birds. A bird will often try to follow its owner as the owner leaves the room. Even a bird that has clipped wings
will sometimes leap off its perch after and owner or walk along the floor behind its owner. A bird does not understand the danger of a swinging door can be hit or crushed as the door swings back.
I do not recommend that birds be kept in an area where there is a swinging door.

One of the leading causes of death of small pet birds is the human body rolling over and crushing the defenseless small bird while the person is sleeping.
This is a tragic way to lose your little pet.
PLEASE don't EVER sleep with your pet bird; not even a nap. Never. Ever.

Fumes from burning Teflon are toxic to birds! This can kill VERY rapidly.
I have also heard of cases whereby a new central heating system has emitted fumes that have killed birds.
Do not accept the manufacturer's assurances that it is safe for your birds!

I know of another case of a new pizza stone that emitted fumes the first time it was used and that killed a young Moluccan Cockatoo.


In Search of a Pan That Lets Cooks Forget About Teflon

Even if the manufacturer states that there is no teflon in the product, the fumes from self-cleaning ovens can sometimes be toxic or fatal to birds. To be safe, I recommend removing birds when an oven is being cleaned
and for birds to remain out of the area for twenty-four hours.

Read this cautionary tale! MURDER BY OVEN


If a bird has unclipped wings, it can easily fly into a glass window, seriously injuring or killing itself. I know of several cases where birds have been left partially paralyzed as a result of such accidents. If you have large glass windows in your home where a bird has flying access, I would recommend clipping the bird's wings.


Never allow your bird to chew on metal of unknown composition. Stainless steel, aluminum, and cage bars and paint in modern bird cages is safe. If a bird has heavy metal poisoning from ingesting heavy metals
such as lead and zine, the feces will often appear t be very dark green or black and "tarry". This is known as melena. and is an indication of digested blood in the gut tract.
Other symptoms of heavy metal poisoning include lethargy, trouble standing and/or flying, respiratory distress, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Seeing a tarry stool from your bird is an indication that the bird is quite ill and should see an avian veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!

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