Does A Poisonous Bird Exist? Where Is It Usually Found? | Kidadl


Does A Poisonous Bird Exist? Where Is It Usually Found?

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Birds are characterized by the presence of sharp or blunt beaks of different colors, feathers of various colors, a heart that has four chambers, and bright, colorful wings that help them in their flight.

Birds peck for worms in the bark of trees, feed on fruits and flowers, or sometimes feed on insects' soil or while in the air. They are therefore considered omnivorous creatures.

However, on the other hand, birds often become a source of food for many animals and are preyed upon. In such situations, these species use or release toxins in order to protect themselves from their predators. Like snakes, they release venom when biting; in the same manner, there are few birds that can be poisonous to touch.

How many birds are poisonous?

Although birds do not release or inject venom as such, they themselves can be poisonous and can cause harm to whatever touches them. These toxic birds are therefore toxic in the manner of touching or eating them. You might wonder how these birds become poisonous.

Well, they feed upon the carcass of poisonous animals or insects, and as a result, when that particular bird is eaten, they pass on the poison. There are quite a few birds that are termed poisonous like Pitohui, the European quail, the spur-winged goose, the reed warbler, the bronzewing pigeon, the ruffed grouse of North America, hoopoes, and Papua New Guinea's birds called Ifrit. All the above species have some poisonous traits that make them toxic. Many amongst them, such as the reed warbler, and the ruffed grouse, have toxic substances in their skin or feathers that, when touched by predators, pose harm. While many of the above have poisonous tissue that, when eaten, can damage someone.

Only five birds have been confirmed to be harmful or dangerous regarding poison at this time by scientists around the world. Given the thousands of species of birds that have been discovered to date, the likelihood of only five of them being poisonous appears remote, according to scientists in the world. Because, in comparison to toxic or poisonous birds, the number of poisonous animals and insects is rather high.

One reason for this, according to science, could be related to documenting the toxicity of birds, which is more difficult than documenting the toxicity of animals, insects, or other organisms. Furthermore, the chances of becoming poisoned as a result of biting, clawing, attacking, or even simple contact is rather minimal.

Listed below are the birds that have been confirmed poisonous. While all of them belong to the class Aves, their orders are different.

Pitohui: So far, three Pitohui species have been identified as having poisonous traits. The level of toxicity differs among the members. The poison is stored in the skin and feathers of these birds, which the locals refer to as 'rubbish birds' because of the awful odor they create. They are dangerous if ingested without sufficient precautions. Despite their toxicity and unpleasant taste, they are consumed.

The following is a list of the three members:

Variable Pitohui: This bird is from the order Passeriformes and the family Pachycephalidae. Its scientific name is Pitohui kirhocephalus, and the variable pitohui is found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea.

Hooded Pitohui

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Pachycephalidae

Scientific Name: Pitohui dichrous

Found in: New Guinea

Rusty Pitohui

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Pachycephalidae

Scientific Name: Pitohui ferrugineus

Found in: Aru Islands, Australia, New Guinea, West Papuan Islands

Blue-capped Ifrita

Order: Passeriformes

Family : Unknown

Scientific Name: Ifrita kowaldi

Found in: Rain forests of New Guinea

The blue-capped ifrita is a tiny bird that accumulates its poisons in its skin and feathers. When these toxins come into touch with the skin, it causes numbness and tingling. The poison is thought to be acquired by the bird through the insects it consumes.

The Ifrit was originally classified as a member of the Cinclosomatidae family, but it now appears to belong to the Monarchidae family.

Little Shrike-thrush

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Colluricincla

Scientific Name: Colluricincla megarhyncha

Found in: Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea

Although this species has not been thoroughly investigated, those who were tested had definite amounts of toxins or poisons in their bodies. Batrachotoxin is the toxin found in the Little Shrike-thrush. The toxin present in the secretions of poison dart frogs is the same as this.

Spur-winged Goose


Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Scientific Name: Plectropterus gameness

Found in: Sub-Saharan South African and North African Wetlands

The poison supply of the spur-winged goose is thought to come from its diet; hence its toxicity is diet-dependent. They eat toxic beetles as part of their diet, and while they are unaffected by the beetles' poison, they do store it and are thus harmful to those who are eating them.

Common Quail

Common Quail

Order: Galliformes

Family: Phasianidae

Scientific Name : Coturnix coturnix

Found in: Europe

Quails are an exception, as they are one of only two birds whose toxicity is determined by their diet. Only during the migration season are they poisonous. Not all quails become poisoned during migrating. Only those who follow a specific route and are eating a specific food are impacted by the poison, and they eventually become poisonous. Despite this, quails are highly prized for their meat, which is devoured in large quantities every year. Because quail meat is popular, the phenomenon of getting poisoned by eating them has gotten a lot of attention compared to the other listed birds, and it's known as Coturnism.

Why is Pitohui poisonous?

You must be quite surprised to hear that birds can be poisonous. These creatures with bright feathers can cause harm is very surprising. However, it is hard to believe it is true that they indeed are poisonous.

Mostly these birds evolved in such a manner in order to protect themselves from predators. While some have toxic characteristics, others are poisonous to eat. Amongst these poisonous species of birds falls the Pitohui bird.

The hooded Pitohui is a poisonous bird that is found in New Guinea. Structurally the hooded Pitohui is medium-sized and is a songbird. They have a rich chestnut and black plumage. They were previously known as whistle birds belonging to the family of orioles.

These birds are poisonous in the manner that it contains a toxic chemical called batrachotoxin compounds which are present in their tissues, skin, and feathers. These birds derive this toxin while feeding. In other words, it is present in their diet. This toxin helps the bird in the detection of predators and also in defending themselves from various parasites.

Even hunters looking for birds are known to avoid this particular species. These birds are mostly found in hilly regions and in mountains. They mostly roam in groups. They live upon fruits, seeds, and other invertebrate creatures in the wild. They are called whistle birds because of their ability to produce a number of whistles to call.

Pitohui are poisonous birds and should not be consumed at any cost.

How do birds become poisonous?

Although most birds are harmless creatures that sing and make a variety of sounds. However, some of these beautiful creatures can even cause harm and are deadly. Even though we don't associate the word 'deadly' with creatures as bright as them, they are poisonous in nature.

Most poisonous birds have toxic characteristics in order to protect themselves from being hunted by bird hunters or eaten by other predators. Birds like Pitohui have poisonous feathers, skin, and tissue, which is because of the presence of a harmful chemical called batrachotoxin.

These birds are known to develop this chemical by feeding, or they gain it from their diet. This, in fact, protects itself from parasites. Some of the poisonous birds accumulate toxins from insects or various plants that they feed upon. For example, the African spur-winged goose gets its toxin from the poisonous beetles that it feeds upon. As a result, they have toxic tissues which, when eaten, are quite dangerous.

How poisonous is a Bahia scarlet bird eater?

A Bahia scarlet is a tarantula that is a bird eater. They are found in Brazil but nowadays face extinction. The name of the tarantula suggests its native place. This tarantula can grow up to 10 in (25.4 cm) and feeds upon insects and reptiles.

They are characterized by the presence of red hairs on their abdomen and are usually calm when they grow up, but when young, they are quite nervous. A female Bahia scarlet can live for about 15-20 years, while a male can live for about three to four years.

A Bahia scarlet bird eater looks more or less like a Lasiodora parahybana, but the latter is more aggressive. The female can grow up to 10 in (25.4 cm) and are quite heavy and big as a result they can break or die from a fall. Thus, people handling them must do that with proper care. They have fully developed fangs which they use to strike prey or predators. A strike of their fang can be quite painful. This tarantula can eat big insects, including birds taking into account their huge size. They can eat Dubia roaches on the go.

Will they attack humans?

Normally poisonous birds develop poison on account of feeding toxic plants or insects. They either have poisonous feathers or skin that, when touched, can cause harmful reactions. While there are birds having poisonous tissues which, when hunted upon and eaten, can seize a life. Thus, one must be extremely cautious about poisonous birds while hunting in the wild.

Normally, hunters are familiar with the birds having poison or poisonous features. They don't harm them or target them. In a manner, they can harm humans if they do not attack them deliberately. While birds like an ostrich will peck at you when disturbed, or a crow roaming in flocks can come and peck your head when caused harm. Mocking birds have sharply pointed beaks which can leave wounds on your skin though you might not die.

Thus, birds can be quite aggressive too, when you try to disturb their habitats. Now speaking about the poisonous birds, they do not attack humans, but sometimes humans mistakenly touch them. Hunters with no prior knowledge about these birds in the wild can touch such poisonous feathers, and in the same way, they might roast a toxic bird and consume it. Both can cause grievous injury and damage to a body. Thus, like a few aggressive birds, even if the poisonous birds don't run after you to strike you, if you try to disturb their habitat, you will bear their toxins.

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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