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Pet Birds and Plants, Part II – avoiding toxic species

Please see Part I of this article for an overview and a list of other toxic plant species. Many of the plants listed there and below are also toxic to mammals, and therefore should not be offered to hamsters, gerbils, mice, chipmunks or other pets. Insect-fanciers have an easier time – some of the most deadly plants are avidly consumed by stick insects, leaf insects and other herbivorous species.

Daffodil Daylily Diffenbachia (“Dumb Cane”)
Dracena Dragon Tree Elephant Ears
Emerald Feather English Ivy Fiddle-leaf Fig
Flamingo Plant Foxglove Fruit Salad Plant
Geranium German Ivy Glacier Ivy
Gladiola Glory Lily Hawaiian Ti
Hibiscus Holly Hurricane Plant
Hyacinth Hydrangia Impatients
Indian Laurel Indian Rubber Plant Iris
Japanese Yew Jerusalem Cherry Kalanchoe
Lilium Species (Easter Lily, Japanese Lily, Tiger Lily, etc.)
Lily of the Valley Marble Queen Marijuana
Mexican Breadfruit Miniature Croton (and other Crotons)
Mistletoe Morning Glory Mother-in- Law’s Tongue
Narcissus Nightshade Needlepoint Ivy
Nephthytis Norfolk Pine Oleander
Onion Peace Lily Peach (leaves, pit)
Pencil Cactus Philodendron Plum (leaves, pit)
Plumosa Fern Pothos Precatory Bean
Poinsettia Primula Privet
Rhododendron Ribbon Plant Sago Palm
Schefflera Sweet Pea String of Pearls/Beads Taro Vine
Tomato (green fruit, stem, leaves) Weeping Fig
Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow Plant Yucca


You can read about the symptoms of plant poisoning in birds and other pets at:


  1. avatar

    I wish that these sorts of lists (with no details about dosage, potency, or afflicted species) would be culled from avicultural publications. Besides, despite the toxicity reports of persin, Blue-grey Tanagers (Thraupis episcopus) and White-eared Bulbuls (Pycnonotus leucotis) are at least two species who eat and love avocado without any observable side effects.

  2. avatar

    Hello Sara,

    Thanks for your comment and interest in our blog.

    You make an excellent point. Toxins are never 100% effective, and there are one or more predators that can feed on every poisonous plant or animal. In fact, many such predators concentrate and store toxins from their food, and use these to toxins to thwart their own enemies. For example, monarch butterflies are rendered unpalatable by toxins contained in the milkweed plants that are consumed by their caterpillars; millipedes and other invertebrates are the source of dart frog skin toxins.

    I had intended this article as a general warning to bird owners who might not be aware of potential problems in this area. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of knowledge on the subject – just last week while consulting for a museum, I noticed that someone had used a potentially toxic vine as a decoration in a new conure exhibit (I removed the plant before the bird was placed into the exhibit).

    I usually suggest that people research the particular species they intend to keep with regard to various topics. I think it would be a good idea for me to do likewise with subjects such as the one covered in this article in the future.

    Thanks again for your time and interest.

    Best regards,

  3. avatar

    I found this post too late for two of my three finches. We think they were poisoned by a bunch of daffodils we left in the room with them. We had to close off the room because of some construction, and that evening we found the two had died. They had no contact with the cut blossoms; they were about eight feet apart from them, but the flowers were fully open. We can’t think of any other reason two would sicken and die within six hours. I was away at the time and my partner had mistakenly fed them egg supplement rather than seed food for two days, but I don’t think that could be the cause. Do you have any thoughts?

  4. avatar

    Hello Chris, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog and sorry to hear about your birds.

    Although daffodils do have a strong scent, all available research indicates that the plant is toxic only if consumed; extracts made from the bulb are also used to repel insects, but the scent of the flower is likely not the cause of your birds’ deaths. Also, toxic fumes would probably have killed the third bird as well.

    A sudden, complete change in diet for 2 days as you describe could actually be a quite severe shock to the system of a small bird with a very high metabolism. If there was also noise from the construction in the rest of the house, the resulting stress could definitely have left the birds more susceptible to the problems caused by the change in diet. The surviving bird may have been able to cope more effectively…such would not be unusual.

    The immune and other protective systems of birds weaken very quickly in response to stress. In zoo situations, a simple move to a new exhibit often leaves a bird open to a fatal infection by Aspergillosus (a fungus) that is always present in the environment and causes no problems at all to un-stressed individuals.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    I collect wild edible plants from my “backyard” and I want to share these organically grown greens(weeds) with Yellow headed Amazon.
    I wonder if I can apply that knowledge safely> I have found no lists of wild edibles for parrots.
    Example wild plant list in my ecozone:
    (I may use common names for quicklist)
    Chenopodium album
    Oxalis (not good in large quantities due to oxalic acid)
    Comments? Additional wild edibles I can feed my bird if free from chemicals and heavy metals?

  6. avatar

    My rule of thumb is that if my chicks eat it, the parrot would also be safe…

  7. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Of the plants you mention, dandelion (leaves and flowers) is safe. Unfortunately, the others do not appear on any lists of either safe or potentially toxic plants for birds.

    I’ll be writing an article in the future on the use of the bark, branches and leaves of various trees…I’ll see if I can turn up anything on the other plants you mention and will include anything I find in that article. You can subscribe to RSS feeds on this blog if you would like to be alerted when new articles are posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  8. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for bringing up this interesting point.

    I’m assuming you are referring to chickens? Unfortunately, although it likely is often true that what they at would be safe for parrots, such cannot be relied on entirely.

    Chickens have evolved to feed on an entirely different, and usually more varied, diet than most parrots, and, as regards Amazons, they are also originally native to a different continent (Asia). Plants that chickens feed upon could, in rare cases, be toxic to other species.

    Enjoy your birds, Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  9. avatar

    Hello, I can not recognize how you can add your website in my rss reader. Are you able to Aid me, please

  10. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our Blog. You can subscribe to ThatBirdBlog via RSS feed here.

    Good luck and enjoy…I look forward to your future comments.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  11. avatar

    Hi, I had some cuttings a neighbour gave me of various geraniums (including one which is called lemon geranium with a strong perfume) and pelagoniums in my laundry. I woke up this morning with two dead in the nest on 7 eggs and the young bird dead at the bottom of the cage. Could the gases from the geranium cuttings have caused this?

  12. avatar

    Hello Jayne,

    I’m not aware of any cases of poisoning via fumes, although geraniums are toxic if ingested. Fumes from Teflon cooking implements, self-cleaning ovens and such are toxic, some in low concentrations. The incident is troubling…as you know, birds are much more sensitive to all sorts of gasses than are we (canary/coal mine connection). I suggest that your home be checked for leaks that could be dangerous to people…gas, carbon monoxide, etc..again these can kill birds in tiny amounts. Geraniums may just have been a red herring of sorts, hiding another problem. Sorry I could not be of more help, please keep me posted, Frank

  13. avatar

    Hi All, I recently had three finches in my laundry and placed a bucket with cuttings from a lemon scented geranium in the room and all three were dead some 10 hours later. Just a warning to everyone to be careful with highly perfumed plants near tiny birds.

  14. avatar

    Thank you, Jayne,

    Interesting..was this a live plant or something artificially scented?

    Best, frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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