Foods that are prohibited and not recommended for domestic birds

Birds have a different diet to ours, and foods we enjoy eating can sometimes be fatal to them. Coffee, chocolate, but also alcohol and tobacco, must never be fed to birds. The same goes for sweets, chewing-gum and other sugary foods.
Meat, cold meats, cheese and dairy products, fish, shellfish and seafood are not suitable for caged birds which are granivorous (seed-eaters) or frugivorous (fruit and berry-eaters). Very small quantities of meat can occasionally be given to large insectivorous birds, but this is not their favourite food, and you must ensure that it is fresh and free from contamination.

However, eggs can be fed to all birds, but only in small quantities, during breeding and fledgling-feeding periods. Stale bread and dried bread can be occasionally fed as crumbs to large granivorous birds. However, it must not be fed if it is salty or sugary. No appetizer biscuits for birds, whether caged or wild birds! The salt would be fatal to them.

Honey can only be used if it has been heat-treated, or if cooked, to eliminate any Clostridium botulinum spores present. Raw honey should not be fed to birds as they are unable to eliminate these spores, which could be dangerous for them.


Some plants should be kept away from birds, regardless of species. Plants known to be poisonous to humans are often also poisonous to birds. You should therefore avoid: hemlock, lily of the valley, yew, bay-tree, Datura (wild or cultivated).
Ensure that house plants with toxic or irritant sap are kept out of your birds’ reach (Ficus, Croton, Dieffenbacchia, Draceana, poinsettia, Anthurium, yucca, Philodendron, snake plant, aloe vera, Jerusalem cherry, caladium, certain types of bonzai, Datura) and bulb plants.

Outside, you should also make sure your aviaries are kept away from: wisteria, jasmine and star jasmine, clematis, ivy, honeysuckle, Solanum, hemlock, Datura, deadly nightshade, mistletoe, lily of the valley, buttercup, certain types of mushrooms and bulb plants, among others.
Also pay attention to plants that have been treated with pesticides or possibly exposed to pollutants and contaminants: these products can prove to be poisonous or dangerous to birds.


You need to know what type of diet your birds require, so as to feed suitable products. Avocados, which are very oily, are not recommended in any situation.

Priority should be given to untreated fresh fruit, and any seeds should be removed (apples, pears), along with stones (peaches, apricots, etc.) as these contain cyanide derivatives which are very dangerous or even fatal to birds. Garlic, onions, shallots and all produce in this category are prohibited due to their sulfur compound content. The same goes for green tomatoes, raw potatoes and other solanaceous plants (Solanum), due to their alkaloid content. Avoid mushrooms, especially raw, as they contain soil particles and can carry bacteria or spores which can be dangerous for birds.


Advice written by Dr Padiolleau, HOPI Veterinary Surgeon.