Although zinc is an essential factor in the health of a bird, ingesting too much can harm or kill. Acute exposures to zinc can occur through incidental ingestions of metal objects (such as pennies minted after 1982). Chronic exposures can occur if a bird is prone to picking at galvanized steel or iron cages. Small amounts of zinc consistently consumed will accumulate in the liver, kidneys, muscle, and pancreas.
Common symptoms of zinc toxicity can present as excessive urine in the droppings, staggering or appearing off-balance, greenish diarrhea, weakness, weight loss, seizures, increased thirst, decreased appetite, and sudden death. Laboratory tests may reveal anemia, hyperglycemia, and elevated kidney enzymes. Zinc toxicosis can be confirmed with a blood serum test which will measure zinc levels in the blood. Levels of greater than 2 parts per million are considered strong evidence of toxicosis. There are treatments which can be utilized in cases of zinc toxicity; however prevention is the best option. Remove sources of zinc as best you can. Galvanized metal which has been electroplated is safe. Galvanized wire (hot dipped) is not. Make sure there is no flaking paint, or white rust on the cage. Check with knowledgeable suppliers before purchasing any new cages or aviaries. Older, antique cages should have the paint tested to
ensure its safety.