TAKE EXTREME CAUTION AND ASSUME ALL BIRDS ARE AN EXPOSURE RISK TO YOURSELF. RESCUE SHOULD NOT BE ATTEMPTED EXCEPT BY HIGHLY TRAINED PERSONNEL.
Psittacines can be affected by poisoning, pollutants and spills into waterways and water resources. Events can be accidental or deliberate (as a result of human-wildlife conflict). Massive numbers of birds may be affected.
Chemical and oil spills may affect a few or hundreds of birds. Substances are very likely dangerous to humans and caution with PPE is absolutely necessary. Trained personnel must work with the birds ASAP.
Pesticide exposure is usually immediately fatal but can be treated if the agents are known. Psittacines may potentially be exposed by ingesting treated seed, being active in areas of agriculture, or the exposure may be intentional poisoning. If the birds survive, careful evaluation will be needed and any adverse or persistent consequences of exposure will preclude release.
Anticoagulant rodenticides are usually fatal but if a parrot survives to reach a rehabilitation facility, the prognosis is very poor and the bird suffers great pain. Non-anticoagulant rodenticides are responsible for bizarre signs which mimic viral, parasitic, traumatic or severe neurological disease. Some species can survive the intoxication but have permanent neurological deficits not compatible with release.
The most dangerous aspect of many herbicide exposures is the carrier. Parrots may be exposed in landscape, agricultural or horticultural situations. Recommendations for chemical burns above should help.
Heavy metals can pollute food and water sources and may result from destructive behavior and chewing.
What to Expect
The effect of toxic exposure depends entirely on the nature of the toxins. Some have multiple effects.
MASS CASUALTIES CAN RESULT FROM AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS inappropriately applied or accidentally ingested.
respiratory distress from chemical burns or primary toxicant
respiratory and integumental injury from carrier substances
GI issues (vomiting and diarrhea)
primary neurological toxins can lead to fall injuries, seizures, paralysis, disorientation, drowning, inability to drink or feed
apparently uninjured birds may exhibit extreme docility, extreme aggression, or extreme vocalizations
What to Do
TAKE EXTREME CAUTION AND ASSUME ALL BIRDS ARE AN EXPOSURE RISK TO YOURSELF. USE APPROPRIATE PPE WHERE POSSIBLE, AND IF THE TOXICANT HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED
Capture and contain injured birds
keep them in a warm, dry, safe and secure environment
unconscious birds should be left alone
do not force water or food in conscious birds
in conscious and aware birds, warm water can be gently dropped along the tomia (edges of upper and lower beak) to encourage normal licking and swallowing
once water is accepted, warm sugar water (1:4 sugar to warm water) can be alternated
do not offer free-access water until they are able to regain normal posture
offer food only after they are hydrated
contact appropriate rescue if/when possible
minimal handling and refrain from :staring at them all the time"
visual or audible contact with other birds is desirable
ambulant and non-aggressive birds may do better in small groups (5 or less)
The rescuer is advised to be extremely cautious. The best course of action is to contact trained personnel or agencies.
Decontamination should only be attempted by trained personnel.
severe respiratory injury and neurological impact generally do not lead to good outcomes
many birds will die instantly on contact or ingestion
expect a high mortality rate on birds that are found down on the ground and docile
environmental damage may lead to long-term exposure risks, starvation and water source pollution