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Vet Blogger Was Wrong! Some Birds are Poisonous

The Vet Blog recently reported that the meat of all birds birds is edible for cats, dogs, and humans. Imagine my surprise when I read...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Apr 27th 2010


The Vet Blog recently reported that the meat of all birds birds is edible for cats, dogs, and humans. Imagine my surprise when I read the following blurb in the American Animal Hospital Association’s April, 2010 Trends Magazine.

Don’t pity the pitohui

Until recently, scientists did not think any species of birds were poisonous. (See, I didn’t just make it up.) However, they have now discovered several kinds, including one called the pitohui (pit-uh-HOO-ee). The hooded pitohui and its two close relatives, the variable pitohui and the brown pitohui, were the first documented poisonous birds. The black-and-orange hooded variety has a [nerve toxin] called homobatrachotoxin in its skin and feathers, with can cause tingling, buring, and numbness. Chomping down on one is like biting into a hot chili pepper, so predators stay away. The bird acquires the poison from part of its diet, the Choresine beetle. There is not much chance that one of the birds will show up in your waiting room, however; they live mostly in New Guinea, the island north of Australia.

The accumulation of beetle toxins in bird skins shows that you are what you eat. Fortunately, turkey and chicken are still considered non-toxic.

Photo: if you like spicy food, I’m your guy. By Berichard.