An avian vet called Dr Laurie Hess lists several things that we may not know about that can poison birds – whether tame or wild.

Heavy metals, especially lead, zinc and copper. There are many places where you will find these – such as paint, linoleum, soldering wire, zips, twist ties and dozens of other things at which birds will peck away. Watch for the soldering on stained glass windows or those Tiffany lamps, lead painted window and door frames and metal bell toys, etc. Dr Hess says these toxic effects are treatable. The symptoms are vomiting, clenched toes, imbalance and even seizures.

Avocados, particularly the leaves, are poisonous to most birds. Some survive happily on avos, but others don’t, so best steer clear of them. Symptoms are heart failure and respiratory disease.

Caffeine. NEVER be tempted to give your bird a sip or two of your coffee, coke or tea. Neither should you pop your dregs into the bird bath outside. Your avian companions will get an increased heart rate, arrhythmias, hyperactivity and even cardiac arrest.

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Chocolate. Birds love chocolate, just like most of us, but the effect on our little feathery friends is disastrous.The cacao, caffeine and theobromine all lead to tremors, hyperactivity and again, cardiac arrest.

Onions and garlic. The sulphur compounds in onions can cause the rupture of the red blood cells and can irritate the mouth, esophagus and crop, which often causes ulcers.

Garlic contains an element called allicin which sometimes leads to anaemia in birds.

Salt and fat. All those salty chips and popcorn, crackers and pretzels are BAD for birds. The salt leads to an upsetting of the electrolyte balance, creating extreme thirst, dehydration and kidney dysfunction.

Like butter, fatty meats and too many nuts create fatty buildups that clog the arteries and can lead to heart attacks.

Fruit pips and apple  seeds should not be fed to your birds. They contain a small amount of cyanide. Avoid these pips – apple, pear, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums. Other fruit seeds and pips are OK.

Artificial sweeteners. Although not too much research has gone into birds, it is lethal for dogs. Rather keep it away.

Smoke and aerosols. Birds are extremely sensitive to both. Keep well away. Even the candle smoke will affect bird’s lungs and air sacs and they can suffocate before you know it.

Teflon. When non-stick cookware is heated to a high temperature it gives off microscopic vapours that can lead to instant death for birds. It stands to reason, in any case, that birds should be kept in well ventilated areas and away from kitchens.

Source. Dr Laurie Hess. Vetstreet.com.