Parrots and Avocados


New member
Nov 25, 2012
I just found this youtube video that you might find interesting:

[ame=""]Parrots and Avocados - YouTube[/ame]
From what I have read, it's not poison to parrots but it's the fat content that will kill a bird via heart disease. ???

I fear that someone in the forum will be inspired by this video and will try feeding avocado to their birds.

I'd like to reiterate the video's moderator, "Do not try this at home"!!
Avocado is native to central Mexico, if your bird isn't native to that area trying this is not a good idea. I personally wouldn't risk it even if I had a bird from there.
Ten Toxic Foods for Bird Owners to Avoid
3. Avocado
The skin and pit of this popular fruit had been known to cause cardiac distress and eventual heart failure in pet bird species. Although there is some debate to the degree of toxicity of avocados, it is generally advised to adopt a "better safe than sorry" attitude toward them and keep guacomole and other avocado products as far away from pet birds as possible.

Things to Avoid
Avocado are toxic to birds and other animals because of a fungicidal toxin called Persin, similar to a fatty acid and present in the bark, twigs, leaves, skin and pit. This substance can cause resporatory arrest in budgies.

Persin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's from my understanding that avocado meat is considered safe, as long as the persin has not leached into the meat from the pit or skin. That said, why risk it?

Parrots in South America often eat clay, and it's assumed that they eat it for the mineral content as well as to detoxify the body from the foods that they eat. Most parrots in captivity do not have a way to detoxify themselves and I don't know about the wild parrots of America.
Avocadoes are blood thinners. Humans on warfarin (blood thinner) have to watch their avocado consumption. My unproven, unmedical and anecdotal theory is that it's the blood thinning feature of avocadoes that can harm our feathered friends.
It's from my understanding that avocado meat is considered safe

From what I have read the meat is fine, it's the seed and skin that have issues, as you've said.
Having said that, the kernels from peaches, apricots and cherries are supposed to be pretty bad too and I'd have no issues feeding the meat of any of those fruits.
But avocado appears to rank pretty highly on the "do not feed" list and as you say, why risk it?
Mine nabbed some out of my salad once. Because of all the "no-feed" lists that avocado is on, I really freaked, bothered my vet on a Sunday and everything. He explained it was the skin and pit/seed that was toxic and my bird would be just fine having consumed a chunk of meat of it. He was, and to this day he still LOOKS for avocado in my salad. :)
From what I understand, avocado is not acutely toxic to parrots, but will rather kill them over time when they eat it frequently. Looking at other foods parrots enjoy, there's no doubt many would LOVE avocados, and over years of eating them as frequently as any other fruit or vegetable, they will eventually die of fatty liver disease caused by the extremely high fat content of avocados. In fact, my bird actually pillaged the fruit bowl when my back was turned once and ate a nice big portion of an avocado (we now store them in the cupboard instead of the fruit bowl). I was in a absolute panic, but he didn't get sick, act lethargic, or anything. From what I researched after, it seems them accidentally getting a hold of it won't just make them drop dead, it's long term consumption of it. Kind of like a single 3x bacon chesse whopper wouldn't give you a heart attack, but eating them frequently over years and years will. Same concept. Just to be on the safe side though, don't feed your bird avocado.
I've heard of stories of people feeding dangerous foods... such as avocado, apple seeds, chocolate, coffee, etc. The coffee one with the cockatoo I thought was pretty darn stupid! All it required was common sense, as the coffee was causing the 'too to become aggressive and unhandable. Remove the coffee, and the bird, who could not be handled in years was suddenly very sweet and gentle again!

I think that as long as birds are not sensitive to the 'bad' foods, and they are constantly fed it, then the toxin will build up over a period of time and eventually kill them.

Feeding dog and cat food is also highly dangerous. I did hear of one cockatoo that went into kidney failure after eating dog food, and I don't think the bird was eating it for very long at all... and yet, I've heard of others eating cat food for months if not years.

Spinach, kale and parsley are some other dangerous foods that if fed as the sole source or main source of fresh foods, it will kill your bird, given time. Fed in small, minute amounts, it can be a healthy addition to the diet.

And of course beans... especially red kidney beans. Toxic if fed raw or undercooked or cooked improperly.
Phaseolus vulgaris - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I wonder if avocados are considered toxic because there is a higher possibility of the toxins leaching into the meat than say that of other fruit... apples, cherries, apricots, peaches, etc. If that's the case, then it would make sense why avocados are said to be avoided while others with toxic pits are considered safe.
A friend of my friend, they fed their Cockatiel Avocado recently and the bird died within the same day....They were devastated....The wild birds have the sense of eating certain food/minerals/etc. to combat the toxicity of whatever they're eating as there's another video of birds eating clay that takes care of the toxins.

We have adopted a "Rather safe than sorry" premise when allowing MAC different foods.

Avocados are not part of his diet or anything else where there may be a question of health problems.

We also have been making our own toys for quite some time. We want to make sure the hardware is Stainless Steel, the leather is vegetable tanned, any dyes are high quality food grade food coloring and the wood has been thoroughly cleaned and is not on the "hazardous" list.

We may be a bit anal about his care but there are too many sad stories out there for us to take any chances.
I wouldn't give my parrots avocado anyway, but even if it WAS 100% safe.... I'm not sharing my guacamole!!! Haha. :D
Something that we often do not consider when offering competing theories on controversial topics like avocados is that wild parrots, when eating known (to we humans) toxic substances, have access to materials/substances that counteract/neutralize toxic things in their diet.....we commonly refer to them as clay licks. Then there is also the consideration that what may be toxic to me may not affect you in the least.....(allergies and their triggers).

Hearing about a potential problem via anecdotal information might make me want to do my own research, but offering one of my flock something because the information I have at my disposal did not raise serious concerns in me, would strike me as irresponsible.

Anyway, here's something from one of the top veterinary schools in the US:

by Donna Muscarella Ph.D

I teach exotic avian husbandry at the Cornell Veterinary College and talk about avocado toxicity in my course.

Avocados are definitely toxic to parrots. They contain a cardiac glycoside ("persin") that leads to rapid cardiac arrest and death. There are studies that show that some species, including African Greys and cockatiels, are very susceptible to the toxin. I'm sure there are other species that are also susceptible

Even though many animal species are sensitive to the toxin, people are not. In fact, avocados are quite nutritious and contain a good dose of "healthy" monosaturated fats. So, I do enjoy eating them..but am very careful to clean the kitchen area and utensils etc. so that my birds are not accidentally exposed.

I too have heard of parrots eating avocado with no ill effects. (In particular, Amazon parrots who frequent someone's backyard in Florida.) It is possible that some species are more resistant than others. If this was the case, there would be genetically based differences in metabolism of the toxin. This is possible and does explain differences in sensitivity to some toxins in animals an in people. Whether this is true for parrots and avocados is not certain. It is also possible that some avocados or parts of avocados are more toxic than others. Toxicity may vary with ripeness or with the part of the avocado eaten. Perhaps in the wild, parrots learn from others which ones to eat - or what parts are safe. It is known that macaws in the wild learn what to eat from other macaws - they even eat clay which is believed to neutralize toxins found in the diet. Again, this is a possibility, but nobody knows for sure.

However, because avocados are so highly toxic to at least some species - and because there is no way to know this for a particular bird ahead of time- it is best to avoid feeding them.

Donna Muscarella Ph.D
Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

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