You should never feed cherry pits to birds. Cherry pits (along with a few other fruit pits) contain cardiac-toxic cyanide, which often leads to death in small birds and severe illness in large birds. However, it’s completely safe for birds to eat the flesh of a cherry.
What You'll Learn
Most people believe that since birds eat seeds, all seeds and pits are safe to eat (or at least gnaw on), so why bother removing the seeds from the fruits we give them?
Unfortunately, not all seeds are safe for birds (or even humans). Cherry pits, in particular, are extremely toxic to birds since they contain cyanide. Cyanide can cause severe distress and, unfortunately, death in some cases.
What Happens if My Bird Eats a Cherry Pit?
Although the flesh of cherries contains a wide range of healthy vitamins and minerals that birds need (calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber), the entire cherry is not safe for them.
It is common for birds to crack open or gnaw on nuts for fun or food. If they crack open a cherry pit, they will be exposed to the toxic cyanide contained within the pit. Cyanide poisoning prevents the cells of the body from using oxygen, and the cells die because of the lack of oxygen.
Because cyanide affects the body’s ability to use oxygen, the brain and heart are the most affected since they use the most oxygen. As a result, cardiovascular and neurological symptoms are the most common.
The signs of cyanide poisoning occur within an hour or two after exposure but are sometimes immediate. If you suspect your bird has been exposed to a cherry pit, you will want to look out for the following symptoms:
- Abnormal heart rate
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Strange colored droppings
- Abdominal pains
- Poor balance
- Falling from their perch
- Tail bobbing
- Abnormal respiration
Are There Other Toxic Fruit Pits I Should Be Concerned About?
Several toxic fruit pits contain the same chemical found in cherry pits. The pits you will want to be aware of include apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums.
There are also normal foods that you will want to keep out of reach from your bird. If ingested, the following can result in adverse reactions:
- Added salt
What if My Bird Ate a Cherry Pit?
If you suspect your bird has ingested a cherry pit (or any other dangerous foods), you should take it to the vet immediately to be checked.
The vet will check that the liver and kidneys are still working properly and that the bird is not exhibiting any symptoms of poisoning. The bird may be able to metabolize the chemicals and recover with minimal issues if it is a large and healthy bird.
Despite this, you should always have your pet checked by an avian vet to ensure its health since there is no way to gauge the amount of cyanide it has been exposed to.
How to Avoid Accidental Ingestion
Since the flesh of cherry is a delicious treat for your bird, there is no reason to deprive them of these snacks. However, you will want to ensure that the flesh is thoroughly washed.
Double-check that the entire pit and any pit fragments have been completely removed from the cherry you give to your bird.
If you let your feathery friend out of the cage to explore, make sure any area they might explore is clean and free of any toxic foods or substances. You should closely monitor your birds when they are out of their cage, in a less controlled environment, or when you feed them fruit that contains toxic pits (in case a fragment was missed) so you can act immediately.
Are There Any Safe Seeds or Pits for my Birds?
Considering all the previously listed toxic foods and seeds, it may seem like there is no fruit left to safely give to your birds in their entirety.
We all know that birds love eating seeds. Luckily, loads of seeds and pits are safe for birds to munch on. Safe options include grape, citrus fruits, squash, pumpkin, tomato, melon, pomegranate, and berries.
Although these seeds and pits may be safe for birds to ingest, ensure that the flesh is thoroughly washed before you feed them to your birds since the surfaces can contain other harmful chemicals (such as pesticides).
Observing birds chowing down on delicious snacks is one of the best parts of bird ownership and bird watching. Eating is a social activity for humans and most bird species alike. Sharing this with our feathery friends brings us closer to them. It strengthens our interspecies bonds, but more importantly, it is very cute. Because pet birds live their lives in captivity, they rely on their humans to keep them safe. Safety not only from predators, starvation, dehydration, and harsh elements, but also from poisoning and toxic exposure. Having the knowledge to keep your birds safe from these things will ensure that you have a long and happy relationship with a healthy bird for years to come.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.