BIRDS OF A FEATHER DIE TOGETHER!!! Rum and Teflon Don’t Mix?


PORTLAND, OR:  One tantalizing revelation made by Corey Beffert during his famous Spreecast of Thursday, January 28, 2016 was that he had suffered the loss of some of his beloved birds in a mysterious incident that occurred, DNN thinks, last August.  The comment was buried in an aside, but repeated at least once more that evening and alluded to the next day.  DNN’s Clear Cider, who had been working with Corey on an unrelated story, attempted to gain clarification of the story over the weekend, but Corey’s current physical and mental state made gathering information impossible and also has put Cider’s article on indefinite hiatus.  However, despite being unable to get a straight answer from the source, DNN hs decided to run with it as a warning to other bird owners.

The story that Corey attempted to tell may have been garbled, inaccurate, or even completely spurious, but he did manage to repeat certain elements.  According to Corey, back in August 2015, he had awakened to an eerie silence in the early morning hours.  He got out of bed and tiptoed over to his bird cages.  There, in the dim light of the early dawn he found two of his parakeets and a cockatiel dead on the floors of their cages.  They were all males; a surviving female cockatiel had witnessed the night of death, but remained mute. No signs of foul play were evident; there were no signs of a struggle, no signs of forced entry into the cages, and the cages had not been ransacked.  The grounded avians had appeared to be in good health and spirits on the previous night.

Bird owner, Corey Beffert, months after the tragedy.
Bird owner, Corey Beffert, months after the tragedy.

Adding a bonechilling element of the supernatural to this incident was the fact that one of Corey’s bird-loving friends, who also had cockatiels, had had exactly the same experience “at the same time”, in which her male birds were found dead, survived by widows who told no tales.  DNN was not able to determine if “at the same time” meant on the same night, or just the same summer, but either way, we are forced to ask what could be the mysterious silent killers of Corey’s feathered friends.

While no autopsies were conducted on the perished poultry, bird lovers in the chat room quickly zeroed in on a likely culprit: Teflon.  Teflon, when it becomes overheated, emits an odorless and colorless gas, which is poisonous.  Teflon poisoning, which is also known as polytetrafluoroethlyene (PTFE) intoxication, is fatal to all species of birds, and can kill them within minutes.

Silent slayer of birds.
Silent slayer of birds.

PTFE toxicity occurs when Teflon-coated nonstick cookware is overheated. Excessive heat creates a gas emission, which is typically harmless to humans and other mammals. Unfortunately, birds are particularly sensitive to the airborne gas emission, even in small dosages. This is due to their high metabolic rate and unique anatomy; in birds, high levels of oxygen are emitted to their musculature system in order to fly.

Toxicity from PTFE causes severe edematous pneumonia, in which a bird’s lungs quickly fill with fluid which is then leaked into the airways.  The bird essentially drowns in its own bodily fluids.  It can occur so quickly that a bird owner might not even notice anything amiss until it is too late.

DNN has no way to ascertain that this happened to Corey’s birds; repeatedly asking the rum aficionado straightforward questions has gotten us nowhere.  Nonetheless, we do think that for some bird owners, it is easy to put a pan on a stove and turn on the heat, return to webcamming, get so drunk on rum that they forget that they are cooking something, and finally become aware that something is wrong only when they can smell the burning food and overheated Teflon.

So, if you are a bird owner, or thinking of becoming one, you’ll need to toss the Teflon cookware.  These days, there are non-stick pots and pans that use substances other than Teflon which do not have the same effects on birds.  Or, go the non-stick route and just put a little more muscle into cleaning.  It may or may not have saved Corey’s birds, but it might save yours.