x-ray showing lead fragments in digestive system

Miss Scarlette

Miss Scarlette

Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning  can be characterized as either acute or chronic.

Acute poisoning occurs when a large dose has been ingested over

a short time. Chronic poisoning occurs when small amounts are

ingested over time and build up within your bird until it reaches a toxic

level. One of the problems with lead is it has a 'sweet' taste so once your bird

has discovered a source of lead it will continue to return to it.

Some Bell Clappers including those found in some bird toys

Lead weights - often inserted in the bottom of curtains

Lead based paints ñ especially prevalent  in older houses

Christmas decorations


Foil from the top of wine bottles

Pewter based products

Some types of ceramics

Mirror backs - including those found in some bird toys

These are a few examples, you may have other sources in your home.

Remember  birds often hide  their symptoms as a survival technique to avoid predators.

Loss of balance

Falling from perch

Uncoordinated movements


Lethargy  and Listlessness - a general lack of interest of anything happening around them

fluffing up

Feather plucking and  feet  chewing





An increase in drinking

Watery green diarrhoea

Sudden unexplainable squawks

Or it  may just be that you notice that your bird is just 'not well' and not their 'usual self'.

My opinion is to err on the side of caution, if you suspect lead poisoning, do not wait a day or two to see if your bird

improves, consult a vet immediately.

Early diagnosis (blood tests and x-rays)  and treatment offers the best chance of recovery. 

Your vet has a number of options for treatment such as; 

chelation therapy ( injections of  chelating agents to remove lead from the body ) and

tube feeding medication that binds metal in the digestive system.

REMEMBER: If you suspect lead poisoning consult a vet Immediately.

Death from lead poisoning can be swift as I sadly found with the passing of my Miss Scarlette despite the best

efforts of my avian vet and her team to save her.

written by hobo 2012

xray of his Miss Scarlette 2010


Symptoms / Indicators

What To Do

Dr Ross Perry shows the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning in Gill the Galah and treatments.

Gill eventually recovered well. For more Avian Vet videos from Dr Ross Perry you can visit his page or subscribe to him via YouTube