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FEATURE


This problem is no better illustrated than by a case I dealt with some years ago involving a collection of house pet birds. The open-plan kitchen/living area housed an African Grey and a Senegal, when a neglected non-stick- coated saucepan boiled dry on the hob and filled the area with acrid, smoky fumes. The owners smelled the smoke, and rushed into the room to find their beloved birds gasping and dying before their eyes. An adjacent room contained an indoor aviary with a number of cockatiels. The owners opened all doors and windows to clear the air, but within a few more minutes, these birds all started to gasp and cough, and all had died within the ensuing 24 hours. Upstairs, one of the family’s children had three budgerigars, and although the noxious smell was far less noticeable on this floor, these birds too developed difficulty in breathing and a dry cough. Fortunately, with good ventilation and anti-inflammatory treatment, these birds did recover, as their exposure to the toxin was less than the downstairs birds.


08 46 BIRD SCENE


Less severe effects may be found with the smoke from over-heated cooking oil. Outdoor hazards such as bonfire or barbecue smoke – particularly if plastic or rubber are burning – will harm aviary birds nearby, or indoor birds near open windows. Milder levels of respiratory distress may result from the use of ‘plug-in’ air fresheners, scented candles, or aerosol sprays such as hair lacquer or furniture polish, or paint fumes. In summary, birds have ultra-efficient respiratory systems, and are therefore extremely susceptible to damage from noxious contents in the air that they breathe. At the risk of repetitive information and recycling already- published articles, everything possible should be done to publicise the dangers of all these fumes to our companion birds.


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