If you own a pet bird, or if you’ve ever done any research about what makes a healthy diet for pet birds, you have surely run across foods that are listed as being almost always fatal to birds. But have you ever wondered why these foods are so detrimental to birds? Here are five foods birds should avoid, and the reasons behind their toxicity.
Peanuts– Unshelled peanuts are often carriers of Aspergillus, a very common fungus (or mold) that causes food spoilage. Once your bird has ingested this fungus they will often experience respiratory problems that may not at first be apparent. The good news is that Aspergillus is not transmitted from one bird to another, but if the environment in which your birds live is contaminated, the other birds are likely to also become sick. Aspergillus does not respond favorably, if at all, to treatment, and so an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Most bird owners, and with good reason, choose not to take any chances and refrain from feeding peanuts to their birds.
Avocados– How can such a beautiful green fruit that is so delicious to humans cause such harm to birds? The Persin component in avocados is responsible for the irreparable destruction of the cells of the heart muscle which essentially causes the heart to fail. Toxicity has been shown to be caused by ingestion of the fruit, skin, stem, seeds, and leaves with the leaves being most potent. There are no tests known at this time that will definitively diagnosis avocado poisoning, and there are also no known treatments once the avocado has entered the bird’s system. Affected birds usually die within 24 to 48 hours.
Chocolate– The chocolate that a lot of us can’t live without is something your bird can’t live with. Chocolate contains a compound called Theobromine, which when ingested by birds can create havoc very quickly because their metabolism is so fast and efficient. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include hyperactivity, arrhythmia, diarrhea, vomiting, and death.
Caffeine– Great care should be taken with foods and liquids that contain caffeine. Think carefully about what you leave on the table, cabinet, or countertop when your bird is out of the cage. A momentary distraction such as answering the doorbell, telephone, or an email can be just long enough for your bird to drink your soda, coffee or tea ingesting enough caffeine to be fatal. Caffeine speeds up the heart rate causing seizure, heart arrhythmia, and eventually death.
Sugar– A diet with large amounts of sugar encourages the growth of yeast, which increases the possibility of yeast infections in your bird. This is an atmosphere conducive to fungal growth (or Candida). This could cause your bird to suffer loss of appetite, depression, lethargy. These all weaken your bird’s immune system making them high susceptible to disease and infection. It’s best to let your bird get its sweetness from natural sugars in fruits and vegetables.