Ask Lafeber

Question:

May 25, 2022

Sudden deaths


Today my 3 birds died all at once. 2 8 year old love birds and a 2 month old parakeet. They were fine and 45 minutes later I heard them drop to the cage floors. Firemen checked for gas and carbon monoxide and found nothing. Everything in the house was as it was every day. They had been eating their own same foods for weeks. I have had pet birds for decades and they all died from old age. I am sick not understanding how this could happen.


Answer:

Hi Eileen,

I am so sorry for your sudden losses. It definitely points to an airborne toxin. It could have been something they ate, but they would have all had to have eaten it at the same time, and typically would not have died at the exact same time. When you have several that drop like that together, it pretty much has to be something in the air. Since the parakeet is young and you probably just got it, maybe he was sick, but, even an illness brought in by a new bird wouldn’t act on all three at the same time.

It’s good that you had the fire department check things for you. But, there are many things that can kill a bird and may not affect a human at all. And it only takes small amounts of something like carbon monoxide or gas to kill a bird. Since nothing like that was detected, then it was likely something else. But it wouldn’t hurt to get a detector in your home. I know you are devastated but when you are able, you need to sit and think about anything that could have killed them. Most fumes are toxic to birds, and many of these are used by humans and do not harm people. Things like candles, plug in air fresheners, any aerosols – hair spray, deodorants, room fresheners. Also some cookware – even safe cookware can kill a bird if you burn something. If your windows were open, it could have been something from outside. Do they spray for mosquitos in your area? Could a neighbor have sprayed for pests? Was anything used on the lawns? Do you have new carpet, furniture? Did you do any routine cleaning? It could have been something that seemed perfectly normal. It could have been something near or in the cages. Do you use any bedding? Some of those have oils that are toxic or dust that can cause an acute reaction in the respiratory tract. Those mite protectors that are designed to go in the cage can kill birds. Some new household items can come with a protective coating that has an odor. Again, I am very sorry to hear about this. It’s tragic and very alarming for you to not know what may have caused this.

Take care,

Brenda

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